Christmas Quilt Piecing, Part 1

The piecing process for a “Trip Around the World” quilt is simple in terms of technique, but complex in terms of steps.  The only techniques required are straight cuts and seam-matching, which can be mastered by any careful beginner.  The steps for assembly, on the other hand…

As I wrote in my post earlier this week, you start by cutting strips.  The strips should be 1/2″ wider than the finished squares are supposed to be; in this case, the finished squares will be 2″, so the strips are 2.5″.

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I then divided the design into sets of three or four adjacent fabrics.  You could, of course, sew all the strips together in one giant set, but when you sew long strips together, it’s easy for the strip set to curve and warp, and of course, it would be hard to make a straight cut across 23″ worth of sewn-together strips and all those seams.  So, smaller sets; less likely to curve, easier to cut.

I’ve now sewn together all the strip sets for the Christmas Quilt.

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The white-and-red set at the right is for the alternating squares in the center.

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Next, I started cutting segments from the strip sets.  You cut across them, perpendicular to the strips, to make sequences of squares.  The segments should also be 1/2″ wider than the finished squares are supposed to be, the same as the strips, to ensure that they’ll actually be squares.  They don’t look square when you cut them, because the seam allowances on two sides have been sewn already, so it’s important at this point to double-check your measurements.

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(These aren’t all the segments.  I only cut up about half of each strip-set, enough to get started with.  A few years ago I hurt my wrist with a marathon rotary-cutting session, so now I heed my husband’s advice (“Stop hurting yourself!!”) and limit my cutting to reasonable quantities at any given time.)

I then went through my design and sub-divided it into rows.  I lined up the rows for each quadrant, so that I could see in detail where the rows repeated and didn’t.

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You can see that almost all the rows do repeat, except for the one in the center.

It’s the assembly of the rows that’s the complicated part.  You take the segments that you cut in the previous step, and sew them end-to-end in the right order to make the row.  Because the pattern for each row is different, most of the time the pattern won’t line up perfectly with your strip sets, so you’ll also have to add on or seam-rip off a square or two, on one or both ends.

Here’s my first row!

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I decided to start in the center since it’s the row that doesn’t repeat, and since it’s only in the middle that the alternating red and white squares are part of the pattern.  For the fun of it, and to make sure I was grasping the principle, I also made the row immediately above the center, and sewed the two together.

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It’s wonderful to see the pattern begin to take shape, and I love how all the different patterns and textures are working together.

More rows coming soon!

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One thought on “Christmas Quilt Piecing, Part 1

  1. It’s so beautiful, already! The finished quilt is going to be stunning! I can’t see how this one is complicated / needing focus to keep the pattern straight! I love reading how you are writing up this process, I am learning a lot! 🙂 ♡

    Like

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