Splendid Sampler block #92: a splendid tip for matching seams

Beth BradleyHave you been sewing along with the Splendid Sampler? It’s truly inspiring to see quilters from around the world sharing the love of quilting together. I’m really honored to be a part of it, and also excited to share a little bit about my block today!

Download Beth Bradley’s Double Bees block at the Splendid Sampler website.

When I thought about designing a block, my grandma immediately came to mind. She was a talented quilter with a fabric stash as big as her basement, and I was lucky enough to have her as my first sewing teacher. Now that I’m grown up, I often think, how do you honor someone who taught you how to do your favorite thing? I think the answer is to share it with others whenever you get the chance. So, Double Bees is a little tribute to my grandma and all of the other sewing teachers who generously pass on their gifts.

RELATED: Get a sneak peek at The Splendid Sampler book

The block is a twist on the classic Honey Bee block. Bees are symbols of both hard work and sweetness—an excellent combination in my opinion! A traditional Honey Bee block usually has a nine-patch unit in the center, which creates a group of four bees:

honey bee
Classic Honey Bee block

In my version, I placed a small four-patch unit in the center in order to make just two bees that represent my grandma and me (two ladies with “B” as our last initial—hence the name Double Bees!).

The Splendid Sampler - Honey Bee block

The intersection of the four-patch is the focal point, so ideally the seams match up just right. The key to getting them to do that is nesting the seam allowances. Nesting means that the two shorter seam allowances point away from each other, making a perfect little edge to line them up at the intersection. Follow along to see what I mean!

Here are the four 1½" squares for the four-patch unit laid out in two rows of two. If you’re using directional fabric, be sure to orient the pieces the way you want them to end up.

Four-patch unit

Join the two squares in each row.

Join squares

Here’s an important step: Press the seam allowances of each pair toward the dark fabric. This ensures that you won’t see the seam through the light fabric from the right side, and it also means that the seam allowances will be pointing in opposite directions from each other.

Press seam allowances

You’re ready to nest! Place the two pairs right sides together. On each pair, the fold of the fabric from pressing the seam allowances creates a tiny little edge that will fit perfectly against the other. You’ll be able to feel how nice those seams match and lie flat once they’re aligned:

nesting-seams

DSC_4240

Now that the pairs are snugly nested, it’s time to sew them together. You could certainly pin them exactly at that intersection, but I like to keep them matched by touch. After placing the unit on my machine, I rest my pointer finger on the intersection so that I can feel the seams staying nested as I sew. Easy!

Sew nested seams

Hurray, it’s a match!

Seams nested

Now you can press open the four-patch unit and square it up as needed. There are a few options for pressing, but my preference for a tiny unit like this is to press the seam allowances open to help the block lie flat. You could also press them in one direction, or try Jo Morton’s clipping trick, which works wonders for small blocks.

Finished four-patch unit

Happy sewing, and thanks for stitching (and nesting) along with me! If you haven’t joined The Splendid Sampler Facebook group yet, there’s still time!

Who taught you how to sew? Tell us in the comments!

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