Creative articles about quilting

Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler, in red white grey and black: part 3

Last time with SBS, part 2, I have shown you how to change a traditional patchwork pattern into paper piecing. This time I will show you how to change a paper piecing block into your own variation.

Blok A3 – Bright Hopes – is a paper piecing pattern, page 91 (picture above), directions on page 22. The original block is easy: I have made this one first. But I have scanned and printed this block a second time (both times 100% size), on Papers for Foundation Piecing papier.

I have placed the first (original) block to show how I’ve made it. After finishing it, I have drawn a cross next to the picture, in the book, so I know I have already made this block. I have used 5 fabrics: a square in the center and 4 strips around it. The second paper piecing block will be used to make changes.

Changing a standard pattern.

I will not make all blocks as they appear in the SBS book: some I will skip, others I will change or make twice, to get the required 140 blocks. This simple block is great to add strips, to change the appearance of the block dramatically. Adding lines will change the working order too, because I will draw a second sewing line above the first, on each of the sections 2, 3, 4 and 5. I have used my quilt ruler (with inches), placed it on top of the first sewing line = line between 1 and 2, distance 1/2 inch. I did the same with the other four strips (3, 4 and 5), dividing these sections into 2 sections. 

Changing the numbers of the working order is one possibility, but then you would have to change each subsequent number. Why not place the same number in the new sections, then adding an A and a B, like I did. I is important that you create a new order of sewing, which is logical. It doesn’t matter how you do that, as long as you understand it yourself.

To be sure the strips are wide enough for both new sections, measure them up. Add two times 1/4 inch plus another 1/2 inch to that width, to be sure the piece of fabric is large enough to be placed over that section plus seam allowances. Example: for section 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A, I have measured a finished width of 1/2 inch. Added 2 x 1/4 inch plus 1/2 inch, which brings the total width of the fabric I have to cut to 1 1/2 inch. Don’t forget to measure the length of the strip too, adding 1/4 inch to each side and an extra 1/2 inch.

Fabrics with a special print.

The center square is rather large: this is great for using a special print. I have made a paper template, size of the finished square + seam allowances, cut the center piece away to get a ‘window’. Placed it on the crystal of the fabric above: I can almost cut a complete crystal. I have cut this piece of fabric along the outside of the template and glued it onto the back of my paper piecing unit. Always glue fabric for section 1: cut the seam allowance back up to 1/4 inch beyond the first sewing line, using a Add-a-Quarter liniaal, folding template and rotary cutter, and place the next fabric = strip for section 2A beneath this first fabric, wrong sides together, sewing it on the solid line. 

I have cut all fabrics before sewing: placed them on my cutting mat to get an overview. Picking the ‘next’ fabric is easy when all fabrics are visible. 

The first fabric is glued to the back of the paper piecing unit, using Bohin Glue pen – you can use UHU or Pritt water soluble glue too, but I am often working with this Bohin fabric glue.

Cutting back the seam allowance with my Add-a-Quarter ruler and folding template, to get the exact 1/4 inch seam allowance,

placing fabric for 2A underneath the first and sew it onto the pattern, fold it back to the right side and ironing it.

The next fabric – for 2B – is placed too, after cutting back the seam allowance of the previous one. There will be 2 strips of fabric added to each side, instead of 1. 

My block A3 is ready: on the picture, left, my original block, to the right my own variation. Looks quite different, doesn’t it? This is a fun way to make more blocks or totally different blocks from the same basic pattern. 

I have drawn another X, next to block A3 in my book, to indicate I have made this block twice. 

What to look out for when making changes.

  • Don’t complicate things: keep it simple. You don’t want to have to spend hours more, making a variated block. 
  • Don’t change too much: it’s no use dividing a strip into 5 triangles, with each section. This will give you a multitude of seams, more problems with matching them and therefore probably a lot of stress. Sometimes just changing a couple of lines, removing or adding them, will give your block a dramatic change.
  • If you cannot change the working order by adding an A, B, C, etc. to the existing numbers, delete them, start again by replacing the old numbers to get a new logical sequence for adding fabrics. With Block A3, 2A would be 2, 2B would be 3, 3A would be 4 etc. 
  • Don’t place vertical lines inside sections, i.e. don’t divide a section into multiple vertical ones. A (next) sewing line should always be covering the previous sections entirely.  

Just try to change blocks: it can bring you an interesting variation. Some blocks can be easily changed, some will not: you can decide for yourself. I will make some more blocks, see you next time. 

Happy Stitching!

Sylvia Kaptein
Sylvia’s Art Quilts Studio

Difficulty level: Beginner
Time to Complete: Evening
Used Material: Add-a-Quarter ruler, Bohin Glue Pen, cutting mat, Folding template, quilt ruler, rotary cutter, SBS book

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