Tips and Tricks for Successful Construction of Galaxy

The pattern assumes that makers have a working knowledge of paper piecing.  There are many excellent on-line resources so I am not going to delve into "how to paper piece" here. I am going to suggest a few tricks for making the non-conventional New York Beauty blocks featured in this quilt.  

Also, at the risk of being super repetitive (since I stress this in the pattern), it is absolutely critical that the pattern is printed at 100%.  It will not fit together properly if this one important step is not taken.  Please re-read the pattern instructions on this point.

Blocks 1, 2 and 3 are straight-forward New York Beauty blocks, which are really just spiky drunkard's path blocks, and are constructed as such.  Blocks 4 and 5 have been stretched to ellipses, so there are a few tricks to making them successfully.  

All blocks (1,2 3, 4 and 5) will go together much more easily if the centres are marked on each piece and matched up with the centres on the joining pieces.  For blocks 1,2 & 3, this is easily accomplished by simply folding the fabric pieces in half along the joining edge and marking the fold. For the larger pieces of  Block 3, I also recommend marking the quarter points in the same way (fold each half in half).  However, for blocks 4 and 5, simply folding in half will not work.  Another method must be used.

Using Block 4 as the example:
Measure the stitching line of the curved edge of pattern piece A with a flexible measuring tape and mark the centre point with a line that is perpendicular to the stitching line.  The mark should extend into the seam allowance (pix below - it is the centre although it doesn't look like it - it's because the pix was taken on an angle - I'm a good quilter, but not such a great photographer - this disclaimer holds true for all following pix).

Using a light table if you have one (or a window if you don't), line up the stitching lines of pattern pieces A and B, as shown in the pix below.  Mark the centre line on B exactly over the mark you made on A.  Extend the mark into the B seam allowance.

When the pieces are separated, they should look like the below pix.

Use the same process to mark centres and quarters as shown below.

It sort of looks like the pieces won't fit together, but they do (below - again, it is the angle of the pix that make the block look not quite square - but it is).  The pieces all fit together on the stitching lines.  On outside curves, the seam allowance gets bigger, on inside curves, the seam allowance gets smaller.  This is why the pieces in the pix above look like they won't fit together.  But the stitching lines are exactly the same length so magically, they will go together just fine!

Here's the real thing ....

Blocks 4 & 5 are not symmetrical.  If you are not using fabric that looks the same front and back, the pieces must be cut right sides together, as shown below.  Alternately, cut one, then flip the pattern piece over and cut the second one.

I cut the corner pieces on a fold

Once you've done all the paper piecing and you're ready to stitch the pieces together, transfer the centre/quarter marks that you marked on the paper pieces to the fabric pieces (below).

When constructing a block, I start from the small "inside" piece and work my way to the outside corner piece.  

I rarely pin anything but when I'm working with curves like this I do pin.  

Pin the first two pieces together at the centre mark and at each end (also pine the quarters on the larger pieces).  Be sure to keep the ends even.  They may not want to go that way, but force them - you're the boss of the fabric.  See the pix above and below.

Above and below - I've included these pix to illustrate that when they are pinned like this, curved pieces really look like they will never go together.  If yours look like this, then you are doing everything right!  They do fit!  As I explained earlier, it's just the geometry of the circle/ellipse that causes this distorted look.  Have faith and keep going.  

Start stitching carefully at one end and, using your fingers, gently ease the two pieces together being sure to stay on that 1/4" seam line.  General wisdom is that the fuller side is down against the feed-dogs, but rules are made to be broken so if the other way around works better for you, go with that.  Use a short stitch length - I use 2 or less - and stop frequently to realign the fabric.  The tighter (smaller) the curve, the more careful.  Longer, more gentle curves are easier.  Just take your time and work your way along the seam.  Be sure that when you start that the two pieces are lined up evenly and, similarly, at the end, be sure they are even.  This is important if you want to end up with a square block (and you do!).

Note that the ends are pinned so that they line up with each other (below).

Here is the proof that those curves actually go together very nicely to make a really cool block (above)!

Finally, note the colour placement when you are piecing the paper pieced rings: the two blocks are pieced in the opposite order from each other.  

I hope you have a lot of fun making this quilt!

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