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Traveling the Quilt Barn Trails

Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina - Yancey County

Pineapple Star is one of many quilt blocks displayed on barns and buildings in Burnsville, North Carolina.

Quilting Spotlight10

A Few Words About Strip Piecing

Monday April 21, 2014

I recently had a comment on my quilting Facebook page about an error in a pattern, but the pattern is correct. Let's talk about the problem the quilter encountered, because I suspect it happens to many beginners.

The pattern asks quilters to sew five 2" wide strips of fabric side by side and press. After that, one end of the strip set (the long patchwork unit that was just created) is squared up. Starting from the squared up end, the instructions say to cut as many 8-inch segments from the strip set as possible to create 8" squares.

Strip Quilting InstructionsThe quilter was unhappy with the 8" length, stating that it was a waste of fabric because the segments should be 7-1/2" long. Let's examine why 8" is indeed the correct length.

  • Each of the inner three 2" strips has a quarter inch seam along both sides, making those strips each 1-1/2" wide in the completed strip set.
  • Each of the two outer strips has a seam along only an inner edge, making those strips 1-3/4" wide.
  • 1-1/2" x 3 = 4-1/2" in width, and 1-3/4" x 2 = 3-1/2" in width (the slight differences in width are visible in the photo above, although the strip sets are from a different pattern).
  • Add 4-1/2" to 3-1/2" and you'll get 8", the length to cut a segment -- and the width of the strip set.

Why did the quilter's segments only measure 7-1/2" across? A few possibilities:

  • Seams may have been wider than 1/4", 'eating' some of the strip width.
  • Pressing may not have been adequate.
  • Strips might have been slightly narrower than 2".
  • A combination of errors could have occurred.

Even small discrepancies are compounded when several seams are present in a piece of patchwork.  It's very important to set up your sewing machine to sew an accurate 1/4" seam allowance, to press carefully but thoroughly, and to take care when cutting strips of fabric. Measure as you go to make sure that your patchwork's dimensions are correct, and always make sample blocks before cutting all of the fabric for a quilt, because all pattern designers (including me) do make mistakes sometimes.

Tudor Rose Quilt Block Pattern

Sunday April 20, 2014

Tudor Rose Quilt Block PatternTudor Rose finishes at 14-inches square, a bit larger than some quilt blocks. My layout doesn't use the contrast typically seen for Tudor Rose, because I wanted the darker parts of the quilt block to blend somewhat where they meet. I repeated the fabric used for corner triangles in the small squares, hoping to make the darker areas appear to float above the light, and included cutting instructions for another method that will increase the float.

As always, change the colors and values to suit your own style.

Tudor Rose Quilt Block Pattern

How to Make Interlocking Chains Quilt Blocks

Thursday April 17, 2014

Interlocking Chains Quilt Block PatternInterlocking Chains can be customized in any way you wish, and each block is sewn with just three contrasting fabrics. My blocks have chains against a light background, but bright quilting fabrics against black would be stunning. A pure white background would give the design a very contemporary feel.

Interlocking Chains is quick pieced -- I've altered its traditional dimensions just a bit to allow easy rotary cutting. Not a template in sight!

Interlocking Chains Quilt Block Pattern ->

Contrary Wife Quilt Block Pattern

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Contrary Wife Quilt Block PatternContrary Wife is a nine patch quilt block that finishes at 12" x 12". It's easy to make, and you can experiment with color and color value to create a block that's either vibrant or subdued. My quilt block definitely falls into the 'subdued' category -- I was experimenting with a border stripe fabric. Choose completely different fabrics to customize your own quilt blocks.

Contrary Wife Quilt Block Pattern

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