Monday, 27 October 2014

Sewing Machines Blocks For my Bee Mates

I am Queen Bee this November.  This is my first year participating in an online bee.  Throughout the year, I have made easy blocks and more difficult ones, some I loved, some I don't want to make again, but there isn't a single one I regret doing.  I really enjoy the idea of getting together as a group to work on a common project.

Now, it's my turn to be Queen Bee and after much pondering, I kept coming back to this fabulous quilt by Cheryl Arkison.  I don't want to make an exact copy of her quilt, though.  I am asking my bee mates to make a simple sewing machine blocks using any technique they want.  Here is one idea:

My version of a sewing machine block

The rest of this post is written with my bee mates in mind, but if you are interested in the instructions for the block above, read on...

The General Idea

This quilt will hang in my sewing room, which is mostly aqua with touches of red and white.  I would like to see a variety of sewing machines in different sizes and different techniques: paper piecing, traditional piecing (improv or with precise measurements), appliqué... anything goes... subject to Rule Number One:

Rule Number One

This is supposed to be a low-fuss, simple block.  Do not complicate things my making an intricate pieced background, or choosing a paper pieced block with a hundred pieces.  Because that would make the rest of us look bad...


The finished block will be 9" (vertical) x 12" (horizontal). 
No need to trim if it runs a little large, in fact, aim for a 10 x 13 unfinished.
Make sure there is at least 1" of background on all sides around the machine.


The main colour scheme is - no surprise here - aqua, red, pink and white.  Don't worry about your fabrics being "modern".  1930s, solids, flowers, geometrics, I love them all.

A favourite combination

 ...but feel free to include another bright colour such as yellow, green, or orange if you want.

Other happy colours

Just make sure to include at least one colour of the first group.  In other words, a yellow machine on a red background = OK; green machine on orange background: NOT OK.

Don't feel that you have to have a dark machine on a light background.  You can also have light on dark, or dark on dark, as long as there is enough contrast.  Oh, and it's OK to use more than one fabric for the background or the machine, subject to Rule Number One.

How to Make a Sewing Machine Block

Here is the pattern /method for the block I made.  You can replicate this block, or use the same method to change up the sizes and draw your own pattern:

1 - Draw a 9 x 12 rectangle on graph paper.  Here, each square represents 1/2".  Draw your sewing machine and break down in logical pieces.

2 - Number each piece.  I used letters for the background and numbers for the machine, to keep them separate.  Then figure out the measurements.  I find it easier to write down the finished sizes, then to add 1/2" to my cutting sizes.  If your fabric is directional, make sure you identify which is the vertical and which is the horizontal measurement.

I crossed of the pieces as I cut them...

3 - Get cutting.  Here are all my pieces, ready to sew.

4 - Piecing time.  You are all experienced, so that part should go well, but in any event, here's how I proceeded:

- Sew the little triangle of background on piece 1
- Sew 1 and F
- Sew 2 and G
- Sew C & D to each side of 4

- Sew 1F to 2G
- Sew C4D to E

- Take 1F2G and add 5, then 3
- Add B and H
- Add A and 4CDE

Make this machine, make it bigger, make it smaller, leave it as is or add a needle, or a spool holder...

Paper pieced blocks

Are you a paper piecing fan?  Got a good sewing machine block pattern?  Feel free to use it.  I looked around, hoping to post some suggestions, but the only free pattern I could find was too small and would need to be enlarged.  This is why I can't recommend it, but if you want to give it a try, please do.  Try not to get too complicated, though.  This block by Charise Creates is beautiful, but it would make everyone else's block look too simple.  Again, stick to rule number one.


Do you enjoy appliqué?  If so, then perhaps you want to appliqué your sewing machine, using your favourite method.  Machine appliqué?  Yes.  Raw edge? Go for it!  I am a bit of a traditionalist, so for my other sample block, I am using the needle turn method, using freezer paper as a template:

1 - Draw your shape on the dull side of freezer paper

I went antique machine this time
2 - Cut your shape and iron on your chosen fabric.
One of my favourite Kaffe Fassett fabrics
3 - Cut the fabric leaving a 3/8" seam allowance.
4 - Pin on your background.

Those tiny white pins are great for appliqué, but I could only find four...

5 - Using your freezer paper as a guide, gently roll the seam allowance under the paper and handstitch in place.  You may need to clip the curves.

My favourite appliqué method

I am not quite finished, but come back in a couple days and the finished product should be there.


You can embellish your block - again subject to rule number one:  perhaps you can add a needle or a spool holder, or you can embroider your name, your blog name or your initials where the sewing machine name would normally be?  If you feel your machine would look so much better with one or two buttons to represent some sort of dial - then you can include the buttons and pin a note where you want me to put them and I will make sure they make it on the finished product.

I hope you enjoy making a sewing machine block and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone is making!


  1. What a great block. Can't wait to see what creations you'll receive from your bee mates.

  2. So great Dominique! and wonderful tutorial :)

  3. Can't wait to see your beemates creations rolling in!

  4. This is a very inspirational post. Thanks for the instructions on how to draft a block!! Very clever. I just might have to play with this today!


Yay! Comments! I love reading all the comments and do my best to respond, (though sometimes, life gets in the way).