New York Beauty Tutorial
The New York Beauty Block employs 2 basic techniques:
Paper Piecing and Curved Piecing.
We will start with the paper piecing.
Tip 1: Standard binder paper (wide or college ruled) is an equivalent weight to paper piecing paper (15-16 lb). It feeds easily through home printers. And, best of all, it is very inexpensive! The down side: the blue lines. But, in most cases, they do not really interfere.
Tip 2: If you are truly a beginning paper piecer, I would recommend adding ¼” or more to all measurements. This will give you a little extra wiggle room as you learn the process.
Tip 3: It is a good idea to use a pressing cloth or other protective sheet when you iron if you have made your own photocopies of the paper pieced templates. The ink/toner from home printed sheets tends to come off when it is ironed and can leave a mess on the ironing board.
Tip 4: There are many different versions of the New York Beauty Block. This tutorial is specific to Block #4 of the Almond Country Beauty pattern. However, the basic techniques are the same for any Beauty block.
The Almond Country Beauty BOM pattern comes with cutting instructions, but if you happen to be stitching on a project that requires you to figure your own measurements, this is how you do it:
The background pieces:
The first and last background pieces (#1 and #13 in this example) will be the same size. Measure the length of the seam line between piece 1 and 2, including the seam allowances on each end. This number will give you the length.
Now measure the width of the widest point, including the seam allowance. You will need to add in the second seam allowance, since only 1 is visible.
So, you will cut: (2) 2 3/4" x 1 1/4" pieces.
Background pieces 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 are bigger, so they will also need to be calculated as well. In this example, there is not much size difference between #1 and #3, so the length will remain the same. However, it is important to note that is not the case with all Beauty blocks.
To determine the width of the inner background pieces, you will need to measure the widest point and add a 1/2" seam allowance.
So, you will cut: (5) 2 3/4" x 2" pieces.
Now, use the same techniques to measure the points. Remember to add 1/2" to the width for seam allowances.
So, for the points you will cut:
(6) 2 3/4" x 1 1/2"
Now it is time to start sewing.
Set your stitch length to 2.
Position the first piece (2 3/4" x 1 1/4") over the area marked as #1. The fabric and the paper will be wrong sides together. It helps to hold them up to a light source so that you can check the positioning.
Pin in place, if needed.
The second piece will be added as shown. The fabrics are right sides together and the seam allowances have been aligned.
Pin in place, if needed.
Flip the whole thing over and sew the first seam. This will be the line between spaces #1 and #2 and will include the seam allowances. Back spacing is not necessary.
Flip the piece back over and open it up. Press.
These pieces fill spaces #1 and #2. Now it is time to add piece #3.
Position piece #3 so that it overlaps the line between #2 and #3 on the template by 1/4".
Pin in place, if needed.
Flip the whole thing over and sew the second seam (the line between spaces #2 and #3, including the seam allowances).
Flip the piece back over.
Cut away the excess fabric.
Note: If white is your background fabric, you may want to slight grade the seam allowance so that there are no shadowing issues.
Fold the fabric back and press.
Position piece #4.
Flip. Sew. Flip.
Position piece #5. Flip. Sew. Flip. Trim. Press.
Position piece #6. Flip. Sew. Flip. Trim. Press.
And so on....
And so on...
Until you have finished.
Now, it is time to trim it all up.
Take it over to your cutting mat and trim off the ends.
Don't cut off your seam allowances!
Now trim the curved edges.
I do all my trimming with a rotary cutter, but scissors work great to! Especially if you are nervous about the curves.
Peel off all of the paper on the back.
Note: Some quilters prefer to leave the paper on until the entire block has been finished. And some even like to leave it in place until the whole top is pieced. There is no real right or wrong here, so do what you think is best. (Which, of course, is my way!!)
Now we will construct the block (Curved Piecing).
This specific block has 2 different rows of points, 2 different rings, a center and an outer arc. Not all Beauties have this many parts, but the basics of curved piecing are the same.
Use the templates provided with your pattern to cut the outer arc, the 2 rings and the center.
These can be assembled in any order, so I am going to start by attaching a ring to the points we just made.
There are many schools of thought about how many pins you need to use when you sew curves. If you are comfortable with using just 1, then go for it. But using more is not wrong either. So, do what is comfortable for you.
Pin the ring to the wedge, right sides together.
(Obviously, I like the "lots 'o pins" method!)
Sew these 2 pieces together with a 1/4" seam allowance. It works best to sew it with the larger piece on the top, so that you can keep an eye on the extra fabric, and avoid stitching in any tucks. Sew slowly.
Press it away from the pieced points.
Repeat the same process to attach the smaller ring to the center.
Now attach these 2 units.
Use the same process as before.
Attach the outer wedge of points, using the same techniques.
Attach the outer arc.
Press one final time and viola. A New York Beauty!