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Frequently Asked Questions // Skill Builder BOM

Next year is quickly approaching, will you be participating in the 2015 Skill Builder Block of the Month? Are you considering joining, but nervous, scared or have questions? Well today I want to answer a few FAQ's about the Skill Builder BOM and next years Technicolor Galaxy quilt, to help you decide whether or not this block of the month is the fit for you.

About Skill Builder BOM

Skill Builder Block of the Month

What is Skill Builder Block of the Month (BOM)?

The Skill Builder Block of the Month (BOM) is a monthly quilt-as-you-go block of the month, taught online by myself, Alyssa Lichner of Pile O’ Fabric. It started in 2013, at the end of each year I present the upcoming year's quilt design. This coming years Skill Builder BOM quilt is called Technicolor Galaxy.

What is the Purpose?

The purpose of the Skill Builder BOM is to challenge quilters of all skill levels, whether beginner or advanced, to step out of their comfort zone and try new techniques. You can read even more about my heart for the Skill Builder BOM in my recent blog post "Purpose of Skill Building".

What is the End Goal?

The end goal is that quilters walk away with a bit more experience than then did at the start. And of course end up with an awesome quilt!

About the 2015 Technicolor Galaxy Quilt

Technicolor Galaxy Quilt

What techniques will we learn making the Technicolor Galaxy Quilt?

Lets break the quilt down into parts and I will explain each technique we will be using throughout the year.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #1: Color Wheel using Bias Applique

The Color Wheel appears to have a bunch of curves, but this block doesn't require any curves piecing! For this block we will be using bias applique. This technique is often used for stain glass or celtic quilt designs, it is not a hard technique just a little tedious. Check out this Clover video, which will give you a really good idea of the method we will be using.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #2: Star Points, Block #3: Piano Keys, Block #4: Scattered Geese using Foundation Paper Piecing

There are a total of twelve Star Point "blocks" these make up the second ring on the quilt. Then there are four each of the Piano Keys and Scattered Geese "blocks". All of these blocks are pieced using classic foundation paper piecing. Foundation paper piecing is a really great technique to use when you want to achieve precision, making it perfect for points and stars. Heres how it works…A reversed template (basically lines that are numbered) of the design is printed onto a foundation. The most commonly used foundation is classic printer paper. If you purchase the pre-printed templates with this class you will be using a leave-in, wash-away stabilizer for piecing. Next, you either pre-cut your fabrics to an approximate size or use scraps and sew your fabric to the foundation following the lines and numbering on the template. You will be sewing, flipping, pressing, sewing, flipping, pressing until the foundation template is covered. This technique can be a little challenging when you first begin. I have found that it really just takes practice and you will make mistakes, but that is how you grow. After a few blocks the technique just "clicks" and you will have it down pat. By the end of these blocks you should be a paper piecing master.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #5: Arrowheads using Raw-Edge Fusible Applique

There are a total of four Arrowhead "blocks". For these blocks we will be using basic raw-edge fusible applique. The Arrowhead fabrics are fused to a fusible web (like Pellon® Wonder-Under), then the Arrowheads shapes are cut out of the fabric. Using a placement guide the Arrowheads are fused to a background fabric and then stitched around the edges. This technique is easy and quick.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #6: Orange Peels using Turned-Edge Applique

There are a total of four Orange Peel "blocks". For these blocks we will be using turned-edge applique. This is similar to the previous technique as it is still applique, but the edges of the petals are turned to the wrong side instead of being "raw". The petals are then glued to the background fabric and secured with stitching. This technique is a bit more tedious than raw-edge applique.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #7: Hexie Flowers using English Paper Piecing 

There are a total of four Hexie Flower "blocks". For these blocks we will be using english paper piecing. This technique can be done on the go, I sometimes take english paper piecing projects to the park or in the car. First fabric is basted to a hexagon foundation (again paper or stabilizer can be used) then each hexagon is sewn together by hand using a ladder or whip stitch. I myself am not a huge fan of hand sewing and I know many others are not either, so in addition to learning the classic technique I will be showing you some alternative ideas for piecing your hexie flowers using techniques more like machine applique.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #8: Moons using Curves Piecing

There are a total of four Moon "blocks". For these blocks we will be making inset circles using freezer paper. I know curves can be very intimidating, but sewing inset curves using this technique is really so much easier than it looks, so don't be scared!

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #9: Background Corners using Improvisational Piecing

The four background corners of the quilt will be pieced using improvisational techniques. The wonky stars will be completely unique to your quilt by stitching and flipping at any degree. This technique is more relaxed and doesn't require any piecing templates.

Skill Builder Block of the Month

Block #10: Background Centers using Strip Piecing

The four background centers of the quilt will be pieced using basic strip piecing and then they will be trimmed down with a freezer paper template. 

Free Motion Quilting and Quilt-As-You-Go

Every month after you have finished piecing your blocks you will move right on to quilting them. Each block will be turned into a mini quilt sandwich (backing, batting, block) and quilted one by one. Using a quilt-as-you-go method for making quilts eliminates the hassle of quilting a large quilt on a little machine. For those of you who are new to free motion quilting, at the beginning of the year I will start off by sharing some helpful tips and faqs for brand new machine quilters. At the end of the year we will take all of our finished blocks and start joining them together using a binding joints method (also used in Skill Builder BOM 2013). You will not be piecing each block together with a billion pins and tackling a ton of curves!

About the Online Class 

Skill Builder Class

When are BOM Lessons Posted?

Every month a new lesson (much like the format of a blog post) is posted to the private class at Participants are emailed each time a new lesson is posted. These lessons include step-by-step photo instructions, sometimes videos, piecing templates and suggestions for machine quilting. Each lesson comes with a PDF which can be downloaded, printed and at your side while you sew.

How long will I have access to the class lessons?

Pile O' Fabric classes are made to be available for years. Life can be hectic and sewing is usually just a hobby, so if you don't finish your quilt during the year no worries, you can continue to work on in the future by accessing the online lessons and videos.

What is in the e-book?

At the end of the year you will receive an pdf e-book, this e-book has all the lessons from the year compiled with a table of contents. Last year the e-book ended up at over 200+ pages filled with helpful information on different techniques.

Is the class fee a one-time fee or monthly?

The class fee is a one-time fee. The price varies from year to year depending on the quilt design.

I hope this answers most of your questions about the Skill Builder BOM, if you have further questions feel free to email me at I hope you will be sewing along with me next year!

Join the Skill Builder BOM



Alyssa Lichner

Alyssa Lichner

Creator of Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.