Andrea from Quiltmanufaktur and author for the German BERNINA blog is your guide for this fantastic quilt-along over the next 12 months. Together, you will sew classic patchwork blocks and combine them into a sampler. The completed quilt will be traditional, yet modern! The next part has been written and we are delighted that you join this quilt project.
Hi, it’s great that you could join us again! Today, I’m going to show you the ninth patchwork block for the Old Block Quilt-Along, “Cleopatra’s Fan”.
The block was published for the first time on October 5th, 1934 in the “Cincinnati Enquirer” by “Laura Wheeler Designs”. The block was apparently inspired by the palm leaves that would have been used to fan Cleopatra, and that’s also where it gets its name. I managed to find two old newspaper clippings online illustrating how these blocks were published at the time:
(Source: Picture 1 Martha Dellasega Gray, www.qisforquilter.com / Picture 2. Kate Smalley, www.tracingthreads.com)
We are sewing the “Cleopatra’s Fan” patchwork block
Cleopatra’s Fan is a 10″ block that is made using templates. This block involves sewing several different curves, which I will explain in more detail with pictures and tips! The block has a diagonal axis of symmetry, so the PDF printout only provides the templates for one side (see picture under ‘Cutting out the pattern pieces’).
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 to see what they look like.
- On the second PDF you will find the templates.
On the PDF with the templates, I have put a control square with a side length of 1 inch so that you can check whether your printout of the templates is the right size. It is important to set your print options to “Actual size”.
Here are the downloads:
Cutting out the pattern pieces
The picture below shows how the templates are assigned and laid out. The templates are cut out as mirror image pieces.
You will need to cut out the following number of pieces:
- Template A: 2 x background fabric
- Template B: 2 x background fabric
- Template C: 2 x background fabric
- Template D: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template E: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template F: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template G: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template H: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template I: 2 x patterned fabric
- Template J: 2 x patterned fabric
Sewing the “Cleopatra’s Fan” patchwork block
It all looks pretty confusing and complex at first! But maybe you can already see how this block will be constructed? The individual rows of the fan are worked from the outside in towards the middle, finishing off by closing the axis of symmetry, i.e. the diagonal seam.
As always, lay out your pattern pieces as they will be positioned in the block later.
The first panel seam is between pattern pieces C and G, and between pieces B, F and I.
In order to sew the curves nice and evenly, you can use pins inserted at a 90° angle to the seam you are going to sew. This allows you to sew over the pins and only remove them once you’ve sewn the seam. Please do not sew over them at 100 miles an hour, just take it nice and slow…
I like to pin the left and right edges first. That way I know how much fullness I have to distribute evenly over the rest of the curve.
I then pin the rest of the section, so that the fullness of the fabric, which is red in this case, is evenly distributed.
As I iron my seam allowances open wherever possible, I make little cuts into the seam allowance at regular intervals. In this way I compensate for the smaller width of the white fabric that results from ironing the seams on this piece open.
The two outermost parts of the fan are now complete!
Next, sew piece A onto piece D, and also make little nicks in the seam allowance here and iron it open.
Now comes a slightly more complicated procedure: on piece D, mark the bottom point of the seam in each case on the back of the fabric. To do this, you can make a hole at the point of the seam on your template, then place it on the fabric and draw through the hole with a marker. Now make a mark on piece E in the same way at the point where the line is marked.
Pin together the two marked points on the different pattern pieces.
Then pin the curve using the same method as before.
Sew the seam from the outside up to the marked and pinned point of the seam and then secure the end of the seam.
You have come so far! But it’s not quite finished yet…. You still have to close the two other curves of this fan piece.
So let’s do it now! You can see where the individual strips of the fan are supposed to go.
Join the strips by starting from the outside and working inwards.
As we have already seen, the last seam is the diagonal between the two halves of the block.
Why I took the last picture of the block from the other direction, I have no idea…. But it’s finished!
If you take your time with all the steps and work carefully, this block will work out fine.
And to give you an idea what else you can do with this gorgeous block, here are a few ideas to inspire you:
Make sure you post a picture of your block! It’s really fun to admire all your different pieces in the Community section of the blog, on Facebook or Instagram. On Facebook and Instagram, please use the hashtag #BERNINAOldBlockSampler.
Have you only just discovered the quilt-along? No problem! You can join at any time. Registration is not required, and you can win a BERNINA 570 QE! All the posts will remain permanently available at the following link: Old Block Quilt-Along – overview of all the posts
In the first post, which was the invitation to participate in the quilt-along, you will find the important initial information about our joint project:
You can find the rest of the blocks from the quilt-along that have already been published here:
That was quite an easy task today, wasn’t it? I hope you still had fun and we’ll see you again for the next block!
Enjoy your sewing,