Monday, January 25, 2021


 This Block of the Month quilt is available FREE to Star Members of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. It was designed by Wendy Williams exclusively for The Quilt Show for 2021. It is not too late to start--you will learn a lot.

NOTE: If you are a Star Member--be sure to WATCH THE VIDEO--lots of important info there too.

This month we go to the center of the quilt to make a Mariner's Compass. The pattern has excellent, step-by-step instructions with photos--take the time to read them. Wendy used two pretty blues for her Compass: 


I used my two favorite kit fabrics, a shiny gold and shiny purple, for mine: 

Last summer as I was making the sample quilt, I was so focused on getting it done, I didn't take photos of the process. No problem, I made another one: 

Using Freezer paper for paper piecing was new to me and I found it very enjoyable. I was eager to share this process so I wrote a detailed blog about making this Mariner's Compass last June: Freezer Paper Foundation Piecing.  I will touch on the most important instructions again here. 

Helpful things to know and do for this month:

1. First, as always, it is absolutely essential that the 1" scale box is exactly 1". Much has been written about printing on the Forum--each person has to figure out what the correct settings are for their printer. 

2. Here you can see that Section 1 and Section 2 look very much the same BUT--the darks and lights are located opposite of each other. Be sure to take the time to fold all the lines on the patterns, in both directions, just as we did in Month 1, before starting to sew: 

3. It is easy to get the colors mixed up--use a pencil to write your colors on the paper to keep it all straight, especially if using more than just one light and one dark. I suggest after you cut out your fabrics, using the cutting instructions in the pattern, lay out all your pieces to be sure you have them in the proper order.  It is really easy to sew the wrong piece in the wrong place--ask me how I know...  NOTE: the LARGE piece, 8" x 3", is for piece F, the largest point in the Compass.

4. When piecing angles like these, it can be tricky to get the pieces lined up accurately before sewing. I use a few pins to test the placement before sewing to be sure the fabric will cover the paper completely after sewing. Pin on the sewing line, open the fabric and double-check. If it's right, sew it. If it needs to be moved just a bit, do that, re-pin and try again. 

5.  As pieces are added, they are pressed over, onto the freezer paper--the waxy side. The excess is trimmed 1/4" away from the line--using one of my favorite tools, the Add-A-Quarter ruler:

6. If you haven't tried the Edgestitch Foot yet for Freezer Paper Foundation piecing, you really should. Sometimes called the Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot, or the Edge-Joining Foot, or the Topstitch foot, most machines have this foot available. I learned about it in January from the Forum, and WOW--how I wish I had known to use it last Summer as I made the quilt--such a help! I was still able to use the single hole throat plate and keep the needle in the center position. The guide runs right along the edge of the paper--no more stitching through the paper--just keep your eye on the guide:

7. Each fabric is added in turn until the paper is covered with all the fabrics needed. When the pattern is completely stitched, carefully trim 1/4" away from the sewing line--see Step 6 below first!  Then carefully remove the unit from the Freezer Paper--and the paper is ready to be used again! A real bonus if doing a block with many of the same units. I used the two paper patterns to make the 8 units needed, 4 of each. So I only had to print 1 sheet of Freezer paper to get ALL the patterns needed for this 14" block:

8. Trimming the outside curved edge is tricky with a rotary cutter. I used good quality scissors, I am a fan of Karen K Buckley's Perfect Scissors--to trim exactly 1/4" away from the dashed line, creating the seam allowance. You want the Compass points to be 1/4" away from the outside edge. 

NOTE: when joining the wedges, I recommend you start at the center point and sew to the outside edge to prevent the seam allowances at the outside edge from becoming stuck:

9. When joining units together that put more than 4 fabrics at one point, I always pre-check the center by machine basting, BEFORE sewing the center seam. Here are the two halves, ready to be sewn together:

10. Using a long stitch length, I use at least 5.0, carefully pin the center and then baste, about 1" on either side of the center: 

11. Take it out of the machine, hold your breath, and check yourself. If it meets YOUR approval, turn the stitch length back to the proper size, and sew the entire seam, pinning all along the edges. 

If it doesn't meet YOUR approval, it's a simple matter to remove the basting stitches, fiddle a bit again, re-pin, baste again and check. I was happy with this:

12.  This center point is probably the most important part of the entire quilt because your eye will go right there and it is a high contrast spot. It is worth your time to get it as accurate as you can:

13. Here is the way I pressed the back. The longest seams are pressed open--these are the seams that join the 8 wedges. Do what makes you happy: 

14. The finished size of this Mariner's Compass is 14". That means the Compass with seam allowances should measure 14.5" now. 

15. All the outer edges are bias so take care to handle gently. If you have a place on a wall you can put it, do that, so you can admire your handiwork. Even using a piece of cotton batting to put the Compass on will allow you to see it but not handle it excessively. The piece of batting can be draped over a chair if wall space is limited.

Next month we are back to Small Houses #3 and #4--same size as Month 1 but different windows and doors. 

Be sure to share your work on the Forum--there is a specific category to SHOW  YOUR MARINER'S COMPASS. We want to see and cheer you on.

Let's quilt. 



  1. The 10C/D foot is actually my favorite foot - after the 1/4" foot 97 of course. That is a great tip - I wouldn't have thought of it either.

  2. Thank you for making January 25 the new February 1. Appreciate the early release!

    1. People are zipping through this one—what will they do until March 1?

  3. This second Mariner's Compass really glows! I love the colors and the batik background.
    I have made two Mariner's Compass blocks using that same method. It works wonderfully well.

    1. Yes, this makes me want to start another 32 or 64 point Compass.

  4. freezer paper is plastic coated not wax coated