The first step is actually to play with paper. We're going to draw a template on a piece of paper. Tape 2 pieces of paper together on the short end so you'll have one piece of paper that's nice and long.
1. Draw a simple, gentle wave across the length of the paper with a pencil or marker. Use the picture below as a guide. The most important thing is to keep the curves gentle. Other than that there is no right or wrong for this; whatever you draw is correct. It does not have to match mine.
This will give you a template that's about 3" x 16". Don't worry about the length; as long as it is at least 16" long or longer that's okay.
Now it's time to play with fabric! Remember those 16 x 10" rectangles of cream fabric you cut earlier? We're going to call these the B rectangles, that way I don't have to keep typing out those dimensions.
3. Fold a B rectangle 2" in along one 16" side with right sides together. If you wish you may pin this down. I did that at first, but then I just started taking them to the ironing board and pressed down a 2" fold.
A note on the marking pen you use. I am going to give a shameless plug to Pilot. They make a pen called the Frixon erasable gel pen. They may not have been intended for fabric use, but they work for marking fabric like nothing else I have ever tried. The best part is the marks stay as long as I need them and then a swipe of a warm iron and, viola, the marks are completely gone! Some fabric stores carry them, but a better (and probably cheaper, sorry to my local shop!) bet is an office supply store. I ordered a pack of 8 directly from Pilot with 6 different colors - 2 black pens - for a better price than I could find them singly here in Northern Virginia. (They didn't even charge shipping and that's all I ordered!)
5. Now off we go to the sewing machine! Using a straight stitch, sew along the marked curvy line on the B rectangle. It does not matter if you don't follow it exactly. No one will ever know if you stayed on the line or not (especially if you use those nifty Frixon pens!)
If you wish you may press this stitching. I did it to remove my pen markings now, though pressing later would have done the job too.
6. Cut away the folded edge 1/4" from the stitching line. Remove those pesky pins if you still have them in. Using sharp scissors, clip and notch in the curved areas along the stitched seam allowance being careful not to snip your stitches. (clip in the dips and notch -cut a small vee - in the humps)
7. Carefully turn the stitched stitched facing edge to the wrong side to create a smooth edge. Use something with a blunt end, like a chopstick, to help and press the edge well. Check to make sure that none of your pen/pencil marks show through. Follow your product guidelines to remove the marks now if you have not already done so. Press the facing well so it is nice and flat.
8. Repeat for another B rectangle giving you two faced pieces. Your halfway to the finished block!
Now remember all those beautiful colored strips you cut from the fat quarters? I'm going to call them A strips - for the same lazy reason I call the other fabric B rectangles. Hey, if you know of a shortcut you should USE it.
9. Select one of your beautiful A strips and two faced B rectangles. Any A strip will work. Position and pin an A strip between the two Bs as shown in the photo below. Move the Bs to reveal as much of the A strip as you wish as long as you maintain at least 15 1/2" width (it can be wider not shorter). Pin in place.
10. Now at the sewing machine, edge stitch along the curved edges through all layers. The easiest way to do this is to use an edge stitch foot. It rides along the edge of the fabric and makes it super simple to keep the spacing even throughout. The one for my sewing machine, an Elna, looks like the one in the picture below. The next picture is a closeup of the finished edges. If you don't own an edge foot, just straight stitch about 1/4" away from the folded edge as evenly as possible.
Here is what your Pathway block will look like from the right side.
11. On the wrong side of your block, trim the excess A and B piece close to the seam allowance. Any sharp pair of scissors will work, just be careful not cut all the way through your block or you may wind up crying as you have to redo your wonderful block. I use applique scissors also called duckbilled scissors that have a very wide side that helps prevent mistakes like that.
12. Final trimming: Trim the entire block to 15 1/2" x 15 1/2". You may center the A strip or trim the block so it is off-center the choice is up to you, just make sure not to cut the block smaller than the given size. Ta-da! you have your first Pathway block done.
13. Repeat the steps to make a total of 30 blocks. Vary your A strips so you have as many different looking blocks as possible. Or ignore that completely and make them all the same A strips. Also if 30 blocks sound way too much, make yours smaller. It's your quilt, make it the way you want to!
Have fun! I'll have the next part (probably the last part!) in about a week. I want to give us all a chance to get enough blocks done so that you have a feel for the finished product. Happy quilting and keep looking for those things that sa(y) quilt to you!