Friday, March 11, 2011

Remember how your teacher always told you to read the entire test before starting?

Well, this is why. This is a lovely pattern, and I'm making it for another niece. It was written in 2006, that's not before rotary cutters were born. So just why does it have antique instructions?

See that little line about cutting 136 little 1 1/2" squares? Then you have to assemble them into 4 patch blocks.
Cutting 136 little squares, of two colours, so that is 272 little, tiny, 1 1/2" squares.
Well, that's just not going to happen in my reality. Strip piecing, here we come.
I always have difficulty getting my blocks exactly square, so I like to cut them a bit bigger, then trim. So here is where the "read it before you cut" part comes in.
Take one strip of each colour and sew them together, then layer one on top of the other so that the red is on the blue, and the blue is on the red. Nest them together so the seam is lined up.
THEN cut them into units 1 1/2" wide (I did 1 3/4") , Keep the two layers together, then sew a 1/4" seam down one side. Presto - 4 patch. Now I trim it to the required 2 1/2" square.
So now the pattern calls for adding a 3"triangle ( 3" square cut in half) to each of the four sides of those teeny, tiny 4 patch squares.
There's that little line about cutting 136 squares into triangles. Deal with all those bias edges? Well, that's another little thing that I avoid at all costs. So, here's h0w to avoid working with bias edges.
First take that 3" square and draw a pencil line across from point to point.
This is where you WOULD HAVE cut it.
Now take one four patch and line it up on that line. Sew it on using a 1/4" seam. *For illustration I used only a 2 patch piece.* You can extend your stitching onto the back triangle if you want because the little point at the top and bottom will be trimmed off later.
Now turn the whole unit around, and sew another four patch against the other side of the line.
Of course, you will sew several of these in a row before proceeding with the next step, right? Now, cut them apart through the middle. This way the bias edge is sewn down already and is stable. Press open, then repeat with the other side of the four patch so you have a triangle on opposite sides now. Trim off the little tips. I stacked three on top each other , then trimmed.

Now do it all over again to the other two sides of the four patch. This time don't bother to trim the tips off because you'll be trimming the whole patch to 3 1/2" square.

Find the reference marks you need on your ruler of choice, and trim the blocks to 3 1/2" square. Note how the 45 degree angle mark lines up with the seam in the four patch.
Ta da~ One teeny, weeny, floating four patch. It's "floating" because the points of the four patch are not designed to reach the edge of the block when the side seams are sewn. So, it "floats" in space between the blocks on either side of it. Repeat until you have 68 of these little beauties.

It seems fiddley. But it's still easier than handling 1 1/2" squares, bias edges, and trying to get them square and on size.

Now, why didn't the pattern show that?


Bethany said...

Wow! Love the technique. I would have never thought of doing that. I hate cutting triangles and this sure beats crazy looking rulers. Thanks for the tutorial.

Impera_Magna said...

I'm one who always reads patterns before starting b/c invariably I change something...

As for that pattern, I guess someone like long, involved, tedious cutting and piecing.

ButtonMad said...

Great tutorial - thanks for sharing. Its always great to have a step by step explanation (and your pictures are a bonus!)