Alrighty, for all my Modern Quilt Guild friends (and anyone else who enjoys modern/wonky quilting), here it is! The Wonky Compass Tutorial with 2 methods of construction! I did half of my blocks freestyle and half pre-marked. For those of you who are unsure about freestyle paper piecing the pre-marking method is best.
You need scrap fabric (3 colors per wedge), a marker and straight edge ruler , 8 wedge templates to create the circle, and a template for the border to make the block square. If you need one, you can use my Quarter Compass Wedge and Template. The template finishes 12″square.
Mark out 3 points on your wedges, one on the upper curve, and one on either side
Lay your first main fabric (yellow) RIGHT SIDE UP on the blank side of the paper. Lay your first scrap of background fabric (white) right sides together (RST from here on out) with the main fabric. Sew a straight line from the center mark to the right side mark.
If your line doesn’t cross the mark, that’s ok!
Check to make sure the fabric covers the section from your sewn line to the seam allowance. Fold the paper back on the line you just stitched. Trim the seam allowance to ¼”. Put the paper back in place and press your fabric open. Repeat for the left side mark, making sure that your seams meet somewhere at or slightly below the seam line at the center mark. This way your points will be nice and pointy later!
Check the wedge with your l0cal wedge inspector, and then continue!
With RST, lay a piece of main fabric (green) from your top right corner to somewhere along the opposite side. The bulk of the fabric should be at the curved top of the wedge. Sew a straight line through the right corner to anywhere you like below your mark on the opposite side. Again, make sure the fabric covers the seam allowance at the top corner. Trim your seam allowances and press. Tear the paper along any intersecting stitch lines to make trimming easier. At this point it does not matter if you have gaping spots or your fabrics weren’t long enough to reach the marks or opposite side, as the last step will cover any of that up!
Take your last piece of scrap fabric (blue) and lay it RST from your top left corner to somewhere along the right side, making sure you can see the background fabric and 2 previous main fabrics extending past the edge of this piece. I like to hold my block up to the light so I can see where the straightest edge of the last fabric needs to be in order to cover all the blank spots.
Sew your line, and check to make sure the remainder of the wedge is covered and there are no missed open spots in the middle of your block.
Trim around the outside of your block, leaving a ¼” seam allowance around your block lines. If you are using the template provided the seam allowances are included on the block, just trim around! You get a wedge that looks like this:
Repeat this process for the remaining 7 wedges. Do not remove paper.
Mark and draw your stitching lines on your wedge as shown in the example below. Lines 1 and 2 must intersect somewhere along the top curve. Lines 3 must enter through the top right corner, cross line one, and end on the opposite side ( above or below line 2, whatever you want) Line 4 must enter through the top left corner and cross both Line 2 and Line 3. If you want, for blocks with a little more consistency and a more compass-like look, have lines 3 /4 meet the opposite sides below the marks for lines 1/2.
Place your first main fabric and background RST along the straightest edge. Hold it up to the light to align with Line 1 as shown below. Sew along your line, trim and press. Repeat for the remaining lines to get your wedge. The fabric placement is the same for this method as the one above. Lines 1/2 the background is sewn to the main fabric, line 3 is your 2nd color, line 4 is your 3rd color. Repeat for remaining 7 wedges. Do not remove paper.
To finish your Wonky Compass block, trace the curved template onto your background fabric. Cut around the curve, on the line if using the above template, or making sure you have proper seam allowance if you aren’t. I like to leave the outer edges jagged, as shown below. This comes in handy for squaring up your finished block.
Fold your curve in half, find the center and pin. Set aside. Repeat for all curved templates.
Make 2 piles, 4 wedges in each pile. Pin one wedge from each pile RST at the top and bottom. Tear the paper from the pinned section that will be FACEDOWN on your machine. This lessens the bulk in your seam and you still have a stitching guide. Sew on the line. Tear paper from lines 3 and 4 on both wedges, leaving the paper on the center diamond shape and the background fabric. This makes 4 quarter wedges.
I use the three pin method as follows to sew my curved seams. You can use whatever method you are comfortable with.
Pin your curve template to your ¼ wedge at the sides and center. With the curve template facing you, sew your curved seam by easing the fabric into place with your finger or a tool. Press your seam away from the curve. Repeat for remaining ¼ wedges.
To trim, take your 6 ½” square ruler and line the 45 degree angle line with the center seam on your ¼ wedge. Trim the block as shown.
Pin 2 quarter compass blocks together, matching at the curved seam and the points. Sew a ¼” seam. Press open. It is critical that your press all your seams in the same direction in order for your block to lay flat! Repeat for remaining blocks. This makes two ½ blocks, which we sew together to make the compass block. Pin your ½ compass blocks together at the center and the curved seams. Sew your ¼” seam. Open the block and check that the seams all match in the center. Adjust if necessary, but do not press yet. A trick to get perfect seams the first time is to pin through the center of each block. With the pin in a vertical position holding your center point together, place 2 more pins, one to either side. Remove the vertical pin and sew. Voila! Practically Perfect Every Time!
We want our block to lay flat, so that means the seams need to all be pressed in the same direction.
In the picture below you can see that my seams rotate in a counter-clockwise direction. This is the direction I will press, but first I need to open the stitching in the center of my block.
Finger Press your seam open. Find the seams shown below by the pins. They are the seams that made your ¼ blocks into half blocks.
With your seam ripper, very carefully pull out a few stitches, making sure not to rip out the seam connecting your ½ compass blocks. It should look something like this.
Now you can finger press the seams so they lay in the same direction, in this case counter-clockwise. It should look like 4 tiny 1/2square blocks in the center of your seam, like shown. Press your seams flat. Turn you block right side up, and press, using steam to set your block.
Trim your block to 12 ½” square by aligning your ruler with the seams as shown. All that extra fabric you has around the outside is now trimmed away, and you have a perfectly square block!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If anything seems unclear, or you need any help at all, please post below and I will help you as best as I can!
8 thoughts on “Wonky Compass Tutorial”
This looks soooo complicating, you are one talented lady! Must be because you have a good inspector 😉
Thanks Patsy! He pretty much rules the roost in my sewing room lol. He has a bouncer on my worktable and his exersaucer by the sewing table. I bet your little has her say with your wonderful Diaper Cakes and PreemiePod Designs!
This is so spunky! I’m going to have to figure out how to fit it into a project to give it a try.
Thanks for the detailed instructions, especially about getting the centre of the star flat.
Thank you BertCollections! If you have any questions please feel free to email me. I think this would make a great throw pillow if you did it as a 20″ block, or even a standard decorative pillowcase with the compass in the center and some free-pieced strips around the border.
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Free style and pp all rolled into one?! I love this and your tutorial is fantastic, thank you! Can’t wait to try this.
Thank you Carolyn, let me know how it turns out =)
You have made a complex block seem easy with your excellent photos and instructions. I am going to give this a try.