Fast, easy and painless piecing

(I combined  previous posts into this one.) I know many people love piecing blocks but for me it is a tedious chore at  best.  So whenever I am doing a batch I do a couple extra.  Since I have the whole mess out, it not that hard to do a couple more.  I keep a bag of the extras and sometimes I use them when I join a round robin or give them to a student to get them going...  I just want to get the blocks done as soon as I'm able and get to the fun part...

I've tried the Martha Green's crumb method,  Allie's curve method, and Judith Montano method's of piecing.  But I always go back to just paper piecing and mostly use the same pattern over and over... This time  I'm using  Sharon Boggin's block pattern - #28.  This means every single block is #28.  Once you rotate the blocks and embellish, no one ever notices that they are all the same pattern...  Believe me!!!! I  enlarged it a bit so I will have an 8" square block when done.  If want some advice on choosing a paper pattern I posted some here.

I don't even pay any attention to what colors are going to go where on a block when cutting.  Once I have my pile of fabrics I just start stacking and cutting at random ... trying to get as many different fabrics per patch as possible...  Then I will sorta deal them out at random, making any necessary adjustments.  Of course this works the best when you have a large selection of fabric like I did this time..


If you did a good job gathering fabrics which  are harmonious, it is nearly impossible to mess up from that point on.  If you look at your fabrics in a pile and like them, toss them around and still like them, they are going to look good on a block no matter what you do... This the "pile test".  I do this with trims with students even before they pick fabric because it you assemble a pile of trims that work together, you can work backwards and pick the fabric last..

Now I had several choices.. I could make blocks one each month, or in smaller batches or do all 12 at once.  Doing them all at once will give you a more consistent look if you plan to use them together.. I chose all at once because piecing is not my favorite and I wanted it over with.  Here is how I go about it.

Stach &  Wack:  I just stack random fabrics from the pile five at a time and cut.    Because I  am piecing 14 blocks I cut 14 assorted  fabric of each pattern piece.. no plan.   You can see the pile of patches on the left. I put up two card tables and laid out 14 squares of card stock paper.
Note: the card stock sheets act as a tray

Then I took a pile of each pattern piece and just randomly put it on a square in the right position. Trying not to put two of the same fabric adjacent to each other.

Until I had them all out... Then I stepped back and tweeked a few here and there.  I try to balance out color, value, and patterns at this point...I'm not too fussy.  I had a lot of   patches from paisley ties and I wanted some on each block..  This goes VERY fast because I try to not overthink this at this point...  Any goofs I make at this point can be dealt with when I start embellishing.

The pieces of card stock act like trays and I can just pile them up and head to the sewing machine.

I set a small folding table (old TV tray table) next to the sewing machine, put a towel and my little travel steam iron on it so I can press  seams without getting up.  And off I go with the pieces already on the paper trays  next to the machine.  I stitch all the 1s and 2s,, press...add all 3s press and so on

Within no time I have them 14 done.
Although I pressed seams as I went along, at this point they need a good press and put on a foundation but the piecing is done for the entire year..

These are very rich blocks in this winter pastel palette.  Lots of silk, taffetas, and velvets. Most of the silk patterned patches are from a day we hit a thrift store with an overstock of ties that were only 49 cents a piece.


Renee said...

Gerry, what a great way to finish the tedious work of piecing! I have always pieced my blocks directly onto the foundation. You mentioned these still need a foundation. Do you sew your blocks to the foundation after they are pieced? If so, do you just stitch along the outer seam lines and use the embroidery to hold the rest in place? (I love learning different methods.)

Marilyn said...

If I'm in the right frame of mind, I like piecing blocks. If I *have* to do it, not so much. And I like to get all the blocks for a project pieced before I start stitching too. Not quite as organized as you are though :)

Mary Ann said...

I've tried other methods but I like paper piecing. Don't know why...just do :)

margaret said...

this sounds a good way to make the bock, still not started mine this year but think will check over at pintangle and use one of Sharon`s.

Quayceetatter said...

I just stated a baby quilt and used the paper piecing method. It is faster and saves material. I have used all the other methods but this is the fastest. Thanks for posting the steps.

Marlynne said...

Very interesting and helpful blog Gerry! I'm going to try your #28 block pattern!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

This sounds like a fun way to piece and I'll have to give it a try. I was interested to see that you use the same pattern for each block and yet they all end up looking so different. Great concept!

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