This post is a part of the R-Burst Quiltalong. After I get some technique explanations out of the way today, I'll be back tomorrow with the specific instructions for cutting and piecing the R-burst block.
Let me start by saying, you don't need to necessarily assemble your R-burst blocks in the way that I'm about to share. The block is just a grid of 2" squares, and you can use whatever method makes you comfortable. You could sew squares to squares and assemble the block in strips, or you could even use fusible interfacing or wash-away interfacing to sew up the whole block in one go.
I do think chunking has some advantages. You don't have to buy supplies like wash-away interfacing (yikes, that stuff is a tad pricey, isn't it??), and you don't have the extra stiffness of fusible in your quilt. For me, I can get better accuracy this way than with row-style piecing.
So how does it work? The idea behind chunking is to assemble in quadrants or chunks rather than in rows. As an example, let's look at a 16-patch block. We could assemble in rows, and then sew the rows together into a block:
Row construction method:
12 seams between squares
3 seams between rows (matching 3 seams each)
Alternatively, we could assemble in chunks, then sew the chunks together into a block:
Chunking construction method:
8 seams between squares
6 seams between sets of 2 blocks (matching 1 seam each)
1 seam between rows (matching 3 seams)
The number of seams and the total length of stitching is the same for both methods, but chunking makes accuracy easier because you mostly match fewer seams at a time. The more pieces there are in your block, the larger the advantage. With our big 81-patch (yikes) block, you really see the difference.
Trim-as-you-go Scrap Piecing
When I'm working with scraps, I like to use a trim-as-you-go technique rather than cutting everything right at the start. It might seem like this would take a little more time since you trim repeatedly, but you only trim each edge one time. When you get further in the block, you are trimming multiple edges in one pass, which you can't do if you cut the pieces to size individually. Also, overall this technique gives better accuracy.
To trim-as-you-go, start by trimming one edge each of two scraps, along the grain. If you already have a grain-straight edge that is even, score! No need to trim. Sew the straightened edges together.
Once you have more than one seam, you need to make your cuts at the right position instead of just the correct angle. Trim 2.25" from the seam parallel to where you will sew, or 1/4" more than the finished size for each square.
If you are assembling from strips (jelly roll or yardage) it makes more sense just to cut things to the right size from the get-go. You also get the benefit of being able to strip piece your blocks. If you don't want your blocks to all look identical, strip piece in sections and then mix the sections up so that each block looks different. When you assemble, put your blocks in different orientations as well. Once you finish, it's hard to tell that fabric A is always next to fabric B, especially if you have a lot of different fabrics in the quilt. The quilt below is 100% strip pieced and all the blocks have identical fabric placement, they were just rotated during assembly:
|You don't notice unless you are looking for it, right?|
I'll be back tomorrow with the specific cutting & piecing instructions for these blocks. In the meantime, any questions?