Ready to learn about some traditional piecing methods?
For this month’s block our quilt blogger, Lara, uses traditional piecing methods and a handy Omnigrid ruler to cut strip sets to make a what she’s calling a stratus patchwork square. She’ll give you tips for verifying parallel seams while at the same time confirming the size of your fabric pieces. We’re hope you’re sewing along with us, but even if you’re not, you’ll find some great insights and techniques for your next project.
We’re excited to have Lara Whiting contributing our block of the month series. Lara is going to be teaching you how to make 9 different quilting blocks, which you can use in any combination to make a 9-block quilt. This month’s block is the third in the series, and teaches a stratus patchwork square.
Welcome back to the third installment of the Carolina Sunset sampler block sew-a-long. I hope you had fun with the foundation paper piecing last month. This month we’re going to ease up on the new techniques and take it back to some traditional piecing methods.
My go-to Omnigrid ruler this month is the 4″ x 18″ and that’s because it’s the perfect size for cutting across strip sets. The 1/8” gridwork makes it quick to verify seams are parallel and simultaneously confirm size of fabric pieces. There are also multiple angle markings for left- and right-handed quilters. We’ll play with some of those features in a later quilt block pattern.
The inspiration photo from the first blog post offers more than just color choices. Take a look at the sunset image and notice how the clouds streak across the sky. Actually, the name of the block (stratus) was inspired by the clouds in the original image. Multi-colored layers of natural awe led to this block idea. It’s a simple 16-patch set on point at a 45° angle. Furthermore, careful color arrangement helps create the ombre fading effect I want.
To make this block we’re going to utilize some strip piecing for efficiency and accuracy. It’s one of my favorite tactics for making quilts and I find ways to use it all the time. Instead of cutting 16 individual squares and matching up all those edges, let’s have strip piecing work in our favor.
We’re going to make two different strip sets of colors arranged in a specific order. The strips are ½” longer than you need so you’ll have room to square up the strip sets later on for precise dimensions.
- Dark Blue: 2 pcs: 2.5” x 5.5”
- Coral: 3 pcs: 2.5” x 5.5”
- Gold: 2 pcs: 2.5” x 5.5”
- 1 pc: 2.5” x 5.5”
- 2 pcs: 7.25” squares, cut in half diagonally
Arrange fabric rectangles in the following orders. You will have two different sets.
- One set is DARK BLUE, CORAL, GOLD, BACKGROUND
- Second set Is CORAL, DARK BLUE, CORAL, GOLD
Stitch the rectangles to each other along the long sides, pressing seams open.
Using your 4 x 18″ Omnigrid ruler, align the bottom of strip set one with an inch marking. Check all your seams and verify that they are parallel to the other ruler markings. Trim 1/8” – ¼” off one side of your strip set so you have a fresh set of fabric edges. You may have noticed that the ends of your fabric strips aren’t always perfectly aligned after stitching them together. This extra trim will reduce problems associated with that.
Rotate strip set around, and line up trimmed edge with the 2.5” line on your ruler. Cut along the edge of ruler so you have 2.5” x 8.5” strip.
Repeat cut so you have two strips of squares. Repeat the cuts on the second color grouping.
Arrange the strips so that the dark blue squares create a diagonal line from top left to bottom right. Your background fabric squares should be at the bottom left and upper right.
Stitch strips together along the long edges. Carefully pin at the seams to ensure your square points match up.
After stitching, the 16-patch unit will look like this and be 8.5” square.
To make a 12.5” block, rotate square 45 degrees, and arrange the background setting triangles.
Align the longest edge of one setting triangle over the bottom right edge of your 16 patch. The points of your setting triangle should extend ¼” beyond the edge of the square. The middle point of this setting triangle should be in the middle of the 16 patch. Pin the setting triangle in place, stitch ¼” seam along this edge.
Repeat on opposite side with a second setting triangle.
Flip triangles away from 16 patch and press seams open.
Before stitching the other two setting triangle, trim away the pointy dog ears.
Repeat steps to add last 2 setting triangles. Make sure triangles are centered on edge. Dog ear points of setting triangles should extend equal amounts on both sides.
Stitch the last two seams for the other setting triangles to make the block square.
One final pressing and then you can trim the block to 12.5” square if needed using the Omnigrid 12.5″ square ruler. Take note of the points of your dark blue squares on the edges. Make sure you don’t trim away your ¼” seam allowance.
Admire your work!
As a refresher, here are the 9 blocks that I’ll be showing you how to make. The first three are now complete (modern flying geese in the top left corner, a radiating medallion style block made with the FPP technique in the top middle, and now this stratus patchwork square top right). Check out each block and also this post about choosing fabric colors from nature.
I can’t wait to see all the different combinations of colors everyone chooses, and the progress you make each month! If you’re quilting along, remember to share progress on social media with #carolinasunsetbom – we’re having a lot of fun on Instagram and we’d love for you to join us!
Lara Whiting is a passionate quilter whose designs are inspired by a fusion of influences that include traditional quilting, architecture and the natural world. When she’s not quilting, you can find her training for half marathons, tending her garden or hanging out with her rescue dogs. She lives in upstate South Carolina.