Thursday, 23 January 2014

Mini Tutorial - Welsh Quilt Inspired Central Panel for OKA Charity Quilt

In my last post - Welsh Quilting Only Kids Aloud South Africa Charity quilt - I promised to show how I planned out the central panel which was inspired by traditional geometric welsh quilts. 

So here goes - as well as sharing the chart and the sizes of each piece, I also include a mini tutorial on how to create triangle based quilt blocks without cutting pieces on the bias. 

Finished spreadsheet chart for the Welsh quilt inspired central panel
I wanted the centre to be quite large so I worked out a chart that would give me a 26 inch square panel.  I used a computer spreadsheet programme - changing the sizes of the rows and columns to create a regular grid.  I created coloured "shapes" to represent the square and triangle pieces - just re-sizing and copying them to get the right shapes and sizes to fit in with my ideas. 

I could have used graph or squared paper to draw it up but I use spreadsheets a lot  so they are quicker for me than re-drawing different designs. 

Once I had a finished chart, I printed it off and was able to measure out the lengths of the triangle diagonals.  My scale was quite strange - I used 4 rows/columns to equal 6.5 inches which meant I had to do a few extra sums - next time I'll have to be a bit cleverer and go for a 1:1 scale.

The diagram shows the sizes of each piece in this central panel - all these are my finished sizes - without seam allowances:

  • the red corner pieces are 6.5 inch squares;
  • the central diamond is a 9 inch square on its side;
  • the larger red triangles are 13 inches along the longest side and the other two sides are 9 inches; and 
  • the smaller green triangles are 9 inches along the longer side and 6.5 inches on the shorter side.

This panel can be created by cutting out these pieces as triangles and squares with seam allowances and simply piecing them together as in the above chart. 

But as the Kaffe Fasset shot cotton fabric I was using has a fine loose weave, I was a little worried about cutting and using large triangle pieces on the bias as they could stretch. So I decided to use a foolproof (or cheats) method - it means you use much larger square and rectangle and stitch together along diagonal folded lines and then cut away the excess. It does waste fabric but it sure saves time and gives lovely triangles with less bias distortion. And I reckoned the offcuts would be big enough to use for another part of the quilt or another project.

If you'd like to find out more about this technique - here is a Mini Tutorial on how I made the red central diamond with green corners block

Diamond in square patchwork block chart

The overall finished size of this block is 13 inches square - as shown in the diagram on the left.

Cut out a 13.5 inch square in red fabric - this includes 13 inches for the finished width of the block plus a half inch for seam and trim allowances. Fold the large red square into quarters and press to create creased lines dividing it into 4 equal sections.

Cut out 4 squares in green, each measuring about 7.5 inches square - and fold them diagonally into a triangle. The diagonal will measure about 10 inches (the finished diagonal measurement of 9 inches plus an inch for seam and trim allowances.) Press the green "triangle" to get a good crease line on the diagonal. (To prevent stretching on the bias - press down with your iron rather than gliding it across the fabric.)


Diamond in square patchwork block - diagram 1

Open a green triangle back into a square and place on one corner of the red square - it will be bigger than each quarter of the red piece as marked by the crease lines – shown as blue dashed lines in diagram 1. 

Line up the green square in such a way that the diagonal crease on the green square intersects with the creases on the red fabric at a distance away from the edge of the red square that is equal your seam allowance - shown by the yellow dashed line in diagram 1.

The diagonal creased line will be your stitching line. You may want to test the position by folding the triangle along this crease towards the outside of the red square to see how it sits before you sew it.

Diamond in square patchwork block - diagram 2

Once happy with the position, pin and stitch along the diagonal line using a standard stitch.

Fold green fabric back again to check it is sewn correctly before cutting away excess layers of fabric.  

If you are happy, open triangle out and cut away the excess fabric on the OUTSIDE of the square - a single layer of green and red triangle along the seam allowance line (shown as the red dashed line in diagram 2 ) outside the stitched line.

Diamond in square patchwork block - diagram 3

After cutting, fold open the green triangle piece - you now have a green triangle sewn along the diagonal of the larger red fabric.   

Press - with seam allowance towards the outside. 

Repeat this process for all four corners. 

Diamond in square patchwork block - diagram 4

If you have carefully intersected the crease lines on the seam allowance, you will find the green triangles overlap nicely on this allowance line - shown as a yellow dashed line in diagram 4. But don't worry though if they are a little bit out. 

You can cut away the little ears where the triangle corners overlap edges and you may find you need to trim your block so it is a perfect square.

The other sections of the panel were created in the same way - using rectangle and square pieces not triangles. All sections were then pieced together in rows, matching up points and corners carefully. 


So here is the finished central panel and I added a straight border with mitred corners using one of the Kaffe Fasset Stripe fabrics - it was a bit fiddly to get the stripes to match up and sit right on the corners - but well worth the effort. 

I've already started on the next section - using some more stripes to create a zig-zag border that reminds me of mountains..... and I'll share some pictures soon. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Welsh Quilting - Only Kids Aloud South Africa Charity Quilt

Strong geometric star block in red and green

I love quilting and patchwork and when I was asked to help out with some fund raising, my first thought was I’d do a charity quilt. The quilt will be raffled in support of the Wales Millennium Centre charity, which is sending a choir of young children from Wales to Capetown as part of South Africa's celebrations for 20 years after the end of apartheid. 

I am really looking forward to designing and making something that brings together Wales and South Africa. 

Or as some of the young Only Kids Aloud choir members are saying "Bringing the Land of Song to the Rainbow Nation."

You can read more about the Only Kids Aloud project and charity on my previous blog post - The Old Button Charity Patchwork Quilt - South Africa Project. And over the next next month or so, I'll share the quilt story as I make it and I'll be including some show-and-tell and tutorials about the fantastic pieced patchwork blocks and borders I'm thinking of using. 

But today I'd like to share with you my inspiration behind the first part of the quilt - the central panel. 

close up of Gettysburg Ohio Star quilt in blue and tan prints
Gettysburg Ohio Star Quilt
I started quilting a few years ago, but my quilts are usually based on pieced patchwork inspired by American quilts. I love designing my own quilt layouts and spend hours browsing the Internet and looking through books to find traditional quilt blocks. As an accountant by training and mathematician by inclination, I also love the challenge of working out my own sizing although I have to admit I seldom plan a whole quilt out from the beginning - I just let it evolve....  

Here is one of my current projects that I'm starting to hand quilt - Gettysburg Ohio Star quilt, which I created using Ohio Star and Nine Patch blocks in reproduction American Civil War fabrics in  blue and tan.

But I've always loved Welsh quilting and I really wanted to base my charity quilt around Wales so I decided it would feature a Welsh quilted central panel. Initially I thought I'd do a wholecloth style - a single piece of fabric closely quilted in traditional motifs - inspired by these beautiful antique examples. 

Close up picyure of three single colour quilts with fine stitching
Welsh wholecloth quilts with fine hand quilting in typical motifs

But the more I researched, the more I learnt. Welsh quilts were not always made from a single piece of fabric - there are strippy quilts where broad stripes of two or three colours are joined together down the length as well as quilts with big bold pieces of different fabrics joined together to create strong geometric shapes - such as the diamond within a square with a boxed border shown on the front cover of Mary Jenkins's fantastic book Little Welsh Quilts made the traditional way. 

Inspired by the gorgeous quilts in this book, I decided I would have to include a geometric panel. I wanted to use a central diamond shape with a star surround as variations of this design feature in quite a lot of the antique quilts in Mary's book and on display at the fantastic Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampter. 

As just love maths, I plotted out the design on an excel spreadsheet to work out the dimensions of each shape - sad I know. But it works for me. 

I've not managed to find out if this is a named quilt block  - I have a great book with hundreds of traditional American and British quilt blocks designs and the closest I can find to it is something called a Sawtooth Star - but the centre is a square not a diamond. If anyone knows what it is called, please let me know. 

And if you are interested in how the sizes worked out and how I put this panel together, I'll share that in my next blog post.