A few quilters have emailed me with questions about the guidelines/directions ... and other things I've "said" about this block. If one person is asking, I know there are others wondering, so I thought to share the Q & A with everyone here. If you have questions, you can add a comment here to extend the discussion or, as always, email me.
Q - What is a "light" fabric?
A - The designers of the eclipse pattern note that it's a great project for experimenting with color and value and say that by controlling the proportion of lights to mediums and darks in a quilt, you can make your quilt more luminous. That luminous quality is what we're going for in our blocks. Of course, light, medium and dark are relative terms. If your "light" fabric is unmistakably LIGHTER than your bright/bold fabric, then you're good. Your "light" fabric might even have some darker design elements and still be "light." Think about the shirting fabrics used in Civil War Reproduction quilts--they are often cream with black or dark blue/green/red pattern, but they would definitely be considered as "lights" in most quilt projects.
Q - I am having a problem ending up with the right size. Can I start with a larger square?
A - As Julie noticed right away, the pattern (and templates) we are using are for a larger block. Because all three templates are used with one of the corners (and the two adjacent sides) as reference, you can start with a different sized square--the block should end up being the same size as the square you use to begin. So, you CAN start with a larger square, if, when you square up, you DO NOT TRIM the two adjacent sides to that reference corner. Here's what I mean:
If I had started with a 10 inch square to make this block and wanted to trim it to size, then I would trim from the top and right sides ONLY--that's what I meant by trimming OUTSIDE the curve.
Q - Speaking of trimming blocks to size, why don't we sent UNTRIMMED blocks and let the winners square them up as they need?
A - While it wouldn't always make a difference, the reason we send blocks that have been squared up to the required size is so that the block maker will know if they've made a too large block that cannot be squared up without chopping off part of the block pattern (like star points). If you make your first block--and I always recommend you make ONE block before jumping into cutting and sewing more--square it up and find you've chopped off corners (or so much of the seam allowance that corners or points will be "hidden" in the seams when the block is sewn into a top, then you can figure out what you need to change before you make the rest of your blocks--whether it's for the Block Lotto or your own projects.
FYI, ALL of our blocks in 2012 will be 9 1/2 inch blocks (to finish at 9 inches in the winner's projects). If you are thinking of adding a ruler to your quilter's tool box, you might consider a 9 1/2 square ... to make that squaring up accurate and easy all year round.
While I have your attention . . . I decided on keeping the blocks the same size to make it easy for anyone who wanted to play along with me and make a sampler from this year's blocks–whether they make blocks for the lotto or not. Then you all made that incredible lotto block sampler for me (and resized all the past lotto blocks you made to be the same size) . . . so it feels a little odd for me to push anyone to make ANOTHER sampler--but, of course, this one would be for you. I'll have more to post about sampler ideas and layouts later, but if you are looking for a 2012 project and want to play along, you might start thinking about a colorway for yourself.