Dear patchwork fans,
welcome to the first part of the Old Block Quilt-Along. Together, over the next few months, we will be sewing an old block sampler, i.e. a quilt made up of different traditional blocks.
I am very happy that you are joining me!
What is this quilt-along about?
I will show you a wide range of beautiful old patchwork blocks that you don’t see very often, in a loose chronological order, here on the BERNINA blog. You can then sew them yourself. At the end, I’ll show you how to turn them into a patchwork sampler.
The quilt-along is taking place on the German and the English BERNINA blog. At the end, prize draws will be held for both German-speaking and English-speaking participants for the chance to win a BERNINA 570 QE ! Isn’t that great?
You can join the quilt-along at any time. All the posts will remain permanently available at the following link:
In the first post, which appeared last week, you will find information about our joint project:
What’s in today’s post?
Today is the start of the quilt-along. We are going to take a closer look at the fabrics you can use and we’ll also dive straight in and sew the first patchwork block! Are you ready?
Materials for the Old Block Quilt-Along
I recommend that you use around 18 to 20 different fat quarters for the designs. That is about 4.5 m / 178 inches to 5 m / 197 inches of fabric. The amount is calculated generously, which also means there is enough for the odd cutting mistake.
For the background fabric, I would also recommend around 4.5 m (177 inches) of fabric (for a width of 110 cm). It sounds like a lot. But you will see that, due to the various techniques we are going to use together, there is also quite a bit of waste. Any material that is not needed for the quilt top can be used on the back. At the end of the quilt-along I will share some tips and tricks with you.
Basic information on the patchwork blocks
The seam allowance is 1/4″. I recommend that you use an inch foot for sewing, for example the Patchwork foot # 97 from BERNINA.
Set the stitch length to a maximum of 2.5 mm.
If, like me, you work with different fabric colors and prints, it is advisable to use a neutral thread color. By neutral, I mean a light beige or light gray. This goes best with the different colors of the fabrics.
You don’t have to pre-wash the fabrics. It is enough to steam iron them before cutting. And here’s a tip: If you spray the fabrics with spray starch before ironing, it makes your cuts more accurate.
I recommend that you always iron the seam allowances open where possible.
We are sewing the “Brides Bouquet” patchwork block
That’s enough preamble, let’s get started!
The first block for the Old Block Sampler is the Brides Bouquet (also known as the bridal bouquet or nosegay). This block was first mentioned in the early 1930s. You already know the design, as it is the background for our quilt-along logo:
Rose Lea Alboum, who founded this website, has made it her mission to compile patchwork and quilt designs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from various print media. At that time, patchwork block designs were disseminated in newspaper articles. The site provides a real wealth of examples of beautiful old patchwork blocks – you should definitely take a look!
It presents a small challenge, as the block is made using so-called Y-seams! Don’t panic, I’ll take you through the process step-by-step.
Download the patchwork templates
For cutting out, I have created two PDF documents to download:
- The first is a coloring sheet. This allows you to try out colors and designs for this block first to see what they look like.
- The cutting templates are on the second PDF.
With the second document in particular, you must make sure that “actual size” is selected in the print options, otherwise the templates will not be the right size! When printing out the template, do not make any size adjustments in the printer dialog box, such as “Fit to page” or similar, but print in the original size. However, you do have to check the format, since US and European A4 are different sizes. In order to check if the print size is correct, you can measure the side of H which is 2.5¨including sewing allowance. If it didnt print correctly, you will have to adjust your print options. The next block will have a print size check square included.
Here are the downloads:
Cutting out the pieces for the Brides Bouquet patchwork block
When you sew the block, the size at the end should be 12 1/2″ (including the seam allowance).
Once you have printed out the templates, cut them out along the outer, dashed lines. Then choose suitable materials for the individual pieces of your block.
I suggest pinning the templates onto the back of the fabric. Then transfer the outlines onto the fabric using a thin marker. Remove the template and cut the piece out. This allows you to cut out accurately, which is absolutely essential for precise sewing later on.
You will need to cut out the following number of pieces:
- Template A: 3 x
- Template B: 4 x
- Template C: 3 x
- Template D: 1 x
- Template E: 1 x
- Template F and G are identical! 6 x altogether (see the cutting plan on the printout for the templates)
- Template H: 3 x
- Template I: 1 x
- Template J: 2x
Once you’ve cut out the pieces, lay them out according to the diagram for the Brides Bouquet patchwork block. You can then check again that you like your layout with the various fabrics.
Tip: Take a photo of your layout on your cell phone. This allows you to check at each stage that the layout is correct and the fabric prints and colors are in the right place.
We are sewing the Brides Bouquet patchwork block
First, I sewed the three outer squares of the patchwork block together. Then I laid them back down where they belong according to the block diagram. I always do this so that I don’t get confused.
The next step is to join the two triangle pieces – each consisting of one square and two triangles – together.
It is now time for the “preparation” of the later Y-seams! As you can see in the picture above, I used a textile marker to draw the seam lines onto the diamond-shaped cut-out pieces. The point where the drawn lines intersect is particularly important. Why? Because you only sew the two pieces you are joining up to this intersection point! Do not sew beyond this intersection point; rather, sew and secure the seam exactly up to this intersection point.
Sew together the other two diamonds in the same way.
Now sew the square pieces into the diamonds – these are now the ominous Y-seams. To help you position the points of the Y-seam precisely, draw the seam lines onto your square piece. This short indicator line is sufficient, as you can see in my picture above. In the picture, you can also see the point on the diamond that you sewed up to when closing the seam.
The intersection point on the square that you drew before must now be lined up with the intersection point on your diamond piece and pinned. First, sew one seam line up to the pinned intersection point.
Then turn the two pieces so that the next seam line on the square piece can be pinned to the other diamond piece and then sewn together. Here too, the intersection point on the square piece is lined up precisely with the one on the diamond.
Once again, close and secure the seam line up to the intersection point.
Once you have sewn up the seams, it is best to iron them open. When these Y-seams are ironed open, it creates these pointed overlaps.
And this is what it looks like when you have sewn your Y-seam with pinpoint accuracy. Not that difficult, right?!
Here again a schematic drawing of what – and where exactly such a Y-seam is created. I hope that the principle is more understandable.
OK, so far so good with your Brides Bouquet patchwork block and the first closed Y-seams!
Next, close the seam between the two top diamond pieces. Here too, you first draw the seam line onto the diamond with the intersection point. Then once again close the seam up to the marked intersection point. Sew the triangular piece into position using the same method for Y-seams as described above.
The next step is to close the panel seam of the patchwork block between the bottom left diamond piece and the bottom right “handle” piece. Here too, only close the seam up to the intersection point so you will be able insert the large triangle piece made of the background fabric later on.
Next, close the panel seam between the top and bottom part of your block. Pin the middle so that all the seam lines meet up neatly. Remember to only sew up to the two outer intersection points, as you still have to sew in the small left-hand triangle piece and the large one at the right-hand edge!
And that’s it!
When you’ve sewn in the last three pieces, your patchwork block is finished! YEAH!
Brides Bouquet is such a nice patchwork block, don’t you think? And it gets quicker and easier to sew with every closed Y-seam. I’m sure you now have the method of sewing these seemingly complicated seams down pat and that you have lost any initial awe.
You can now put this block away safely and get excited about what I’m going to show you next.
Or maybe you’ve got a taste for this stunning block and want to make a few more. That would make a nice quilt!
Show me and everyone else your blocks!
If you are on social media, I would appreciate it if you used the following hashtag: #BERNINAOldBlockSampler
We will then be able to see your work on Facebook and Instagram at the following links:
If you are not on social media, you can still show your blocks by posting them in the community section of the blog! It is important that you select the “Old Block Quilt-Along” as the category. This is what it looks like:
I’m really looking forward to seeing your blocks!
All the best,