It’s time for our all-new Modern Block of the Month sew-along with designer Alyssa Lichner from Pile o’ Fabric! You can learn more about Alyssa and see some of her quilt designs in her introduction. Our first BOM series was tons of fun so we’re excited to do it again. (You can sew-along with the first series any time; jump right in.) This second BOM series features extra-large blocks and it’s a great way to learn some new skills. You can also download a PDF version of the block tutorial each month (see below). Our second Modern BOM series runs for six months; we hope you’ll sew along with us!

Here’s our BOM2 Flickr group. Share your version of this block within two weeks in the pool and we’ll give a $30 gift certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! to one lucky sew-along participant!

Modern BOM 2 // Up From Here // March Block #1

Welcome to the Sew,Mama,Sew! Modern BOM 2. Each of our six BOM blocks are a “jumbo” 24.5″ before sewn into the quilt. The finished quilt measures 62.5″ x 88.5″ which is a large throw/twin size. If you’d like to buy yardage for the full quilt here are the full requirements:

Full Quilt Yardage:

Fabric A: 1/2 yard (Kona Khaki)
Fabric B: 1 1/8 yard (Kona Azure)
Fabric C: 1 3/4 yard (Kona Curry)
Fabric D: 3/8 yard (Kona Snow)
Fabric Background and Borders (BG): 5 yards (Kona Charcoal)

I look forward to quilting along with you all for the next six months! Before we begin making our blocks I would like to go over a few prerequisites:

Keys to Precise Piecing

Starching Your Fabric

I believe one of the absolutely most crucial steps to achieving precise piecing when quilting is the use of starch. Properly starching your fabric will stabilize the fibers in the fabric which can help prevent against stretching and distortion along the bias. I have a detailed video tutorial at my blog Pile O’ Fabric which walks you through how to properly starch your fabric in preparation for cutting.

Accurate Cutting

Once you have starched your fabric it’s time to cut. The more accurate your cutting is the more accurate your piecing will be. Here are some things that could help the accuracy of your cuts.

  • Install a new sharp rotary blade and make sure you are using a fairly new cutting mat. If your mat has too many slashes in it, it can effect your cutting.
  • Use a ruler grip like Omni-grid Invisigrip. This can stick to the bottom of your rulers to help prevent against slipping.
  • Do your cutting on a clear open table, preferably one in which you can walk completely around. If at any time when cutting you need to switch directions you can walk to the other side of the table instead of having to rotate your fabric.
  • If cutting along the width of fabric (WOF) be sure to check often that your cut line is still straight. You may need to trim up your yardage every so often, before cutting again.
  • Before you cut a piece double check you have the right measurement. Check twice, cut once.
  • After you have cut, check your pieces one more time to make sure they are perfect. Even a slight 1/8” or wonky corner will affect your overall piecing.

Perfect Scant 1/4” seams

One of the most important keys to precise piecing is accurate seam allowances. If each seam allowance is one tiny hair off and you have 20 seam allowances, you will have a considerable problem. Usually when your blocks come out too small it’s due to an incorrect seam allowance. You may often hear quilters say to use a “scant” 1/4” seam allowance. Basically this is a seam allowance that is one stitch width shy of a full 1/4”. There are several ways to achieve a scant 1/4”.

  • Test your seam allowance on a scrap and measure it. The stitch line should fall under the 1/4” mark on the ruler, not outside of it. Then sew two pieces together and press your seams open. Measure the seam allowance that is pressed open; it should be exactly 1/2”.
  • Use a 1/4” piecing foot for your machine and make sure to piece a stitch width shy of the edge. (Some machines even have a scant foot.) If you can’t find a special foot for your machine you can mark the “sweet spot” on your machine with painters tape.

To Pin or Not to Pin?

Another important step to achieve accurate piecing is using pins. Now I can’t say I use pins every single time I am piecing something. Oftentimes I use pins when I really need something to stay in place, or when I am piecing long rows together. Another option besides pins is using a little dab of Elmer’s Washable glue in the seam line. Press the glued seam with a hot iron to heat set it and you’re ready to sew; nothing should move. The glue is temporary and will not harm your fabric. When you’re ready you can pop the seam back open.

Pressing your Seams

Finally, the last key to achieving accurate piecing is pressing your seams as you sew. I strongly encourage you to have a hot iron and pressing board right beside you and your machine as you are piecing your blocks. You will see in this BOM that I am not the type of quilter that presses my seams the same way every time. Sometime I press open, sometimes to the dark, sometimes alternating, etc. I usually press whichever direction will help the piecing lay flatter and come together more accurately. In the instructions for the BOM I will always be sure to mention which way to press your seams for each step, so keep an eye out!

Up From Here Block

Tool List:

  • 6.5” X 24” Ruler
  • Rotary Cutter and Rotary Mat
  • Heavy Starch and Iron (I use Best Press Starch.)
  • Sewing Pins
  • Matching Thread (I use Aurifil 50wt.)

“Up From Here” Block Yardage Requirements:

Block Cutting Instructions:


Fabric A: Kona Khaki
– (1) 4.5″ x 4.5″
– (1) 4.5″ x 8.5″

Fabric B: Kona Azure
– (1) 4.5″ x 4.5″
– (1) 4.5″ x 8.5″

Fabric C: Kona Curry
Fabric C is used for two of the arrows in this block, but you can optionally use a 5th color which would make Fabric E (which I have done in my print version of the block).
– (2) 4.5″ x 4.5″
– (2) 4.5″ x 8.5″

Fabric D: Kona Snow
– (1) 4.5″ x 4.5″
– (1) 4.5″ x 8.5″

Fabric BG: Kona Charcoal
– (3) 4.5″ x 4.5″
– (2) 4.5″ x 8.5″
– (2) 4.5″ x 12.5″
– (2) 4.5″ x 16.5″

Block Instructions:

Step 1: First begin by pressing the fabric you plan to use for this block with starch and a hot dry iron. (Refer to pressing tutorial for accurate pressing instructions). Then use the Block Cutting Guide to cut out the pieces for the block.

Step 2: Lay the pieces out right side up in the order of the block diagram.

Step 3: First begin by piecing the pieces in each column. Start with column one and piece the two pieces together with a scant 1/4” seam.

Step 4: Press your seam OPEN. Piece each of the six columns in this same way.

Step 5: You should now have all six rows pieced together with each seam pressed OPEN.

Step 6: Before you begin piecing your columns together you will see that some of the seams from column to column will need to be carefully lined up.

Step 7: Now we will piece each column together. Lay column two right sides together with column one and carefully line them up. Place pins 1/4” from the edge so that when you sew you wont run over pins or have to take them out.

Step 8: Press all the column seams OPEN. The block should measure 24.5”. You now have a finished Up From Here quilt block!

Up From Here in Solids

Up From Here in Prints

For each block I will be making a version in some fun prints. In the print block I used five different Comma prints and a coordinating Kona Solid for the background.

Here are the exact fabrics I used this month:

I hope you guys have fun making this super sized block. If you would like to print this block lesson out you can download the PDF version here. Be sure to share your BOM progress in the Modern BOM2 Flickr Group!

Designed by Alyssa Lichner