Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along – Technique and Mario Block

This is part of an ongoing series of posts for The Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along I’m hosting here on my blog. You can join in at any time! You will find the links to all steps here. Please share your makes on Instagram with #supermariobrosquilt. Also please feel free to join the Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along Flickr Group. This post reviews technique and the Mario block, which you can find in the free quilt guide that you can download here.

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♪do do da do. Da do da do…do do da do do do da do do do♪

Ready? It’s Mario time!

Let’s jump right in and try not to get bounced off the bridge by Bowser. No GAME OVERs here.

The Technique:

We’re all coming at this quilt along from different skill levels, so I’m going to try to explain every detail I can. I want this to be something everyone can do because I know you can! And the very first step is cutting fabric. I wouldn’t always cover this step but we are cutting small pieces and I think that deserves an extra dose of attention.

All fabric for the blocks (read NOT sashing) will be cut at 1.5″ square. And that is pretty little. But with the number of blocks I wanted to include and trying to keep the quilt at a reasonable size, this is where we are. So, a couple of tips for cutting small squares.

  • put in a new rotary blade. Trust me. You are cutting small strips and a dull blade will tug those strips out of place easily. It might not make a big difference with larger pieces, but when your strips are 1.5″ wide you notice right away if it gets “wonky”.
  • fold your fabric at least in half or fourths to cut strips. I personally find the fabric more stable when cutting through multiple layers. The fabric holds itself in place. Don’t make the strips so long that you are not able to cut them in a single pass with the rotary blade.
  • as you cut your strips, leave them as close together as possible. Just pick your ruler and move it along the fabric. Then to cut the squares, turn your CUTTING BOARD instead of your fabric. By keeping the fabric in place you are leaving less room for error. Cut off the edge to give you a clean edge on all of your strips and cut at 1.5″ widths again. You are left with perfect squares!

Mario QAL

The Stabilizer…

Oh I know that there are lots of questions on this! First off let me reassure you that you DO NOT NEED the stabilizer in order to make this project. It is a tool to make the process go more quickly and get more perfect seams and hopefully help you avoid design mistakes. But I know that it is expensive, so please don’t run away because of it. Also, there are alternative options to the stabilizer like a grid interfacing…just be aware that everything has it’s pluses and minuses.

That being said, I’m going to give my directions for using the Pellon Stick-n-wash Stabilizer.

This product is very fun! It has a true paper side and a fabric like side. The paper side peels away to reveal an adhesive surface that you simply press your fabric on to. No ironing!

To help me line everything up perfectly and give myself seams to sew later on, I choose to draw my own grid onto the FABRIC side of the stabilizer. (Don’t do the paper side! You peel that off and throw it away!)

Mario QAL

As you can see above, I use my ruler and cutting mat along with a pencil to draw lines 1.5″ apart. For ONE block, you will need a piece of stabilizer that is 27″ long with lines drawn for 18 columns of fabric squares. The stabilizer is not 27″ tall, so you will need an extra piece that is also 27″ long but only 5 rows of fabric tall. (Go ahead and draw lines on the whole 2 piece because you can use partial pieces for multiple blocks)

Turn the stabilizer and again draw lines 1.5″ apart along the length of the piece.  You are left with a 27″ pieces with a 1.5″ square grid.

Now for the FUN!! Laying out all of those little fabric squares. This step will be the same for every block, but as you can see here I obviously am working on the Mario Block. So the fabric arrangement clearly changes with each block, but all are the same size with the same total number of squares.

Print off the PDF pattern for the week with character we are making. (The Mario link is at the beginning of this post) The PDF will tell you which color you need and how many 1.5″ squares of that color are in the block.

Peel back the paper in small sections and place the fabric on the adhesive following your grid and the PDF pattern for fabric arrangement.

Mario QAL

Now it is time to sew! And it is easy peasy. Just fold the stabilizer along each line, folding the fabric right sides together. The piece will WANT to fold at each line because of the break between fabric pieces. Decide whether you want to sew vertical or horizontal lines first and sew a 1/4″ seam along the entire length of each line. (At the step where you need to connect the smaller piece of stabilizer to the larger piece just sew these together as you would any pieces of fabric with a 1/4″ seam).

Mario QAL

Sew along every seam in one direction.

Mario QAL

Before sewing along the seams in the other direction, you need to trim the seam allowances on each seam you just sewed. You are going to reduce bulk this way and be able to iron your piece flatter.

So trim a scant piece from the edge of each seam and discard the trimmings. You can them press the block FROM THE FRONT to reign in those seam allowances. DO NOT iron this particular stabilizer from the back…BAD things will happen. lol

Mario QAL

I attempted to press my seams open here but I didn’t make it through too many rows before that became just too annoying for me. So I ended up pressing all of my seams in one direction from the FRONT because it was so much simpler. It makes the next step only slightly more annoying and this step infinitely more easy! 😉 But do whatever you want.

Now sew the piece again along the seams running the opposite direction…you will start to see the piece shrink down to its actual size! Stop and take a peak every now and then because it’s pretty awesome.

Mario QAL

And check him out!! (He still has the adhesive) Perfect seams even if you didn’t actually make perfect lines.

Mario QAL

Now it’s time for the fun and perhaps scary part.

Water.

I know.

But it’s kind of awesome.

Mario QAL

Take your block to the sink and run it under a spray of water on the back side of the block. It will take a bit of time because we have used such a large piece, but the adhesive will dissolve away. It’s kind of gloopy (yes, my official term) as it comes off.

WARNING: DO NOT STRETCH YOUR BLOCK.

I don’t mean to shout, but when you run a sewn item under water it becomes a bit vulnerable. Those perfect seams you just made could get stretched out of place. So be gentle.

When you are happy with the amount of adhesive that is gone from the back, let the piece air dry on a flat surface.

Mario QAL

Once it is dry, iron it flat again using a pressing cloth just in case any adhesive is still *cough* sticking around. (Oh I kill me sometimes)

And then it is on to the next block!! My quilt design includes 12 unique block designs. Make 1, make 12, design your own…just join in the fun!

And be sure to add your creations to the flickr group so we can all see what how we are doing!