Tulip Block - help with the Seminole piecing section of this block
There is nothing wrong with the instructions on the block, except you have to cut and sew everything exactly correct in order for it to work out. So I made a few adjustments to the cutting so that you have a little wiggle room to trim things up instead of hoping it comes out right.
Cut out your strips for doing the seminole piecing as directed and sew them together as directed. Your piece should look like the section below.
Trim this so that it is 2" high. Do not worry about the short sides. We will be adding triangles to those sides in a minute. I took a photo of how I lined up my ruler to trim. Notice that I have a smidge more than a 1/4" seam allowance on the top and bottom. The important thing is that the center row of squares on point is in the middle of the 2" height of this piece. I am only looking at the three middle squares for the seam allowance. The first and last middle squares are deceiving because they don't have the side triangles sewn on yet. I had to place a piece of paper over my ruler to block out the glare from the light over my cutting table. The 2" line on my ruler is peaking out just above the paper.
Instead of cutting 1 5/8" squares and cutting these on the diagonal, up that to 2" squares. Cut them on the diagonal to make (4) triangles. You will only use (3) of these triangles per block. Save the extra one for the next block. Sew the first one on the top left corner.
Then trim off the excess points to prepare the unit for the next triangle.
Sew the second triangle onto the edge you just trimmed. The third triangle goes on the bottom right corner to make the unit rectangular.
Trim this again so that it is 2". You will only be trimming off the excess from the triangles. Then measure how long it is. The pattern says it should be 2" high by 8" long. Mine was only 7 3/4" long. The pattern says to cut (2) 2" by 1 1/2" pieces and sew these on either short side of this unit. I cut (2) 2" squares instead. After sewing these onto the short sides you need to trim this to 2" high by 9 1/2" long. Half of 9 1/2" is 4 3/4". You can see in the photo below that I placed the 4 3/4" line on my ruler right at the top and bottom tips of the middle square. The pen is pointing to the 4 3/4" mark on my ruler. This will ensure that this part of the tulip is centered.
Below is what the finished unit should look like. It measures 2" high by 9 1/2" long.
Sweet Pea Block - alternate cutting instructions for the Flying Geese Units
If you would like to use your Wing Clipper ruler to make the flying gees units then you will need to cut a couple things differently than what is listed in the pattern. The background (1) 4 1/4" square needs to be (1) 4 1/2" to use the Wing Clipper. And the (4) "accent" fabric 2 3/8" squares need to be (4) 2 1/2" squares. OR If you would like to make the flying geese units with the Flip and Sew method (like the roof on the Barnyard Block - Step 2) then you will need to cut (4) 3 1/2" by 2" rectangles for your background instead of (1) 4 1/4" square AND you will need (8) 2" squares instead of (4) 2 3/8" squares.
Some tips and tricks for making the Spotlight block (May's block)
Suggestion 1: From scrap fabrics, cut enough fabric to make just one unit. One unit is just a quarter of the block. Follow these instructions to make one unit. If it comes out alright then go ahead and make your "real" units to turn into the blocks. If it doesn't, try again using scraps until you are happy with the unit.
Suggestion 2: There are bias pieces in this block. Starching your fabric BEFORE you cut it can help. I don't like to use real starch because of the "dandruff" effect. I prefer to use Mary Ellen's Best Press in a mister bottle. Mary Ellen's Best Press is a "starch alternative". It provides the stiffness and body of starch to your fabric without the "dandruff" effect. The mister bottle dispenses the starch in a very fine mist onto your fabric. It allows for better coverage and you use about 30% less starch while getting better results. BUT any starch is better than none when you are dealing with bias edges.
Step One: Make your half square triangles just like the pattern tells you to and trim them to the proper size. See your instructions for the sizes.
Step Two: In the instructions there is a set of four diagrams for this step. The second diagram is wrong. Pay attention to the photo below so you can get your triangles sewn to the proper sides of the half square triangle. Notice that the seam is already sewn and is along the right hand side in the photo below. Notice that the bottom edges of the triangle and the half square triangle line up. This will eventually be the outer edge of your unit. This is important! The top of the triangle is sticking up, but the bottom edge of the triangle lines up with bottom edge of the half square triangle.
Step Three: Press the seam toward the triangle and trim off the excess fabric at the tip.
Step Four: Place the second triangle along the top edge and sew. I placed a pin along the edge you need to sew in the photo below. Again, look carefully at the photo. The left edge of the triangle you are going to sew on is even with the left edge of the half square triangle underneath. The point on the right edge is hanging off, but that will get trimmed off soon. The left edge if the triangle and the half square triangle underneath are the outer edges of your unit. You will not trim off anything from this edge at the end, so make sure they are even before you sew.
Step Five: Again, press the seam toward the triangle you just attached. You don't need to trim off the extra point because you are going to do that when you prepare that edge for adding the rectangle.
Step Six: Place a ruler along the edge where the rectangle will go. The triangles you just finished adding were cut a little larger than they need to be. You need to fix that before you add the rectangle. Place your ruler so that the 1/4" mark is right at the point of the half square triangle. Trim off the excess fabric.
Step Seven: Press the rectangle in half to mark the center. You will need the center mark to go all the way across, so just fold it in half and press it with your iron or your finger nail. The crease is your center mark. You can also mark the center with a pen/pencil, just make sure that any marks you make are in the seam allowance or will wash out. This is why I prefer to just use the crease as my mark. The pin is at the crease in the right hand photo.
Step Eight: Place the crease right at the point of the half square triangle. This point is not at the edge but rather it is 1/4" in from the edge. The easiest way to make sure you are pinning properly is to stick a pin up from the back of the half square triangle and then through the crease of the rectangle. Then you can take a second and third pin and place them on either side of the first pin. Once the second and third pins are in place you can remove the first one before you sew the seam. I have done this before so I was able to get everything in place with just the one pin.
Step Nine: Sew the seam and press toward the rectangle. Now you need the last triangle. You need to find the center of the long side. Again, press it in half with your iron or finger press to make a crease. You could also mark with a pen/pencil, just make sure the mark won't show later. Match up the creases and/or the marks and pin. This step is pretty crucial since you won't have a lot of extra fabric to trim off. **Notice how the point of the last triangle lines up with the bottom left corner of the half square triangle.**
Step Ten: Sew the seam and press toward the triangle.
Step Eleven: Now you need to square up the unit. The bottom left corner has already been squared up when you made the half square triangle. You can not trim any from that half square triangle. Line up your square with that edge. It really helps if you have a 5" square for this step like I do, but isn't crucial. In the photo below, I only trimmed off excess fabric from the right hand side and the top side.
Below is my completed unit along with what I trimmed off, which isn't much.