New Beginnings

Materials

  • At least 10 fat quarters plus scraps, Tracey used her own dyed fabrics, which included lots of scraps from previous projects
  • 1m of 92cm wide lightweight sew-in Vilene
  • Greaseproof paper or freezer paper for borders
  • 3 1⁄2m piping cord no.2
  • 125cm square of wadding
  • 125cm square of fabric for backing, Alternatively, piece the back using scraps
  • 40cm of fabric for the binding
  • Threads for quilting. For hand quilting, dyed cotton pearl No.12 and a selection of decorative threads. For machining, YLI Sulky and Madeira rayons, or use what is best for you

Finished Size

Approximately 112cm (45in) square

Block Size

18cm (7in)

Skill Level

Advanced

This project is great for using up small scraps or working through those dyed fabrics you have been stacking up. You can work by hand, machine, or both. Tracy liked the idea of hand-sewing the 7in blocks. As each block is different it’s a great way to learn how to work out the foundation piecing.

Block One

Figure 1: Construction of Block One
Figure 1: Construction of Block One
  1. Trace block No. 1 onto your foundation fabric. You will need a seperate foundation piece for the two parts of the block; see the construction diagram. Don’t forget to include 1⁄4in seam allowances. Number the pieces (do this lightly, especially if using pale coloured fabrics). Start to foundation piece the block by number order. Cut enough fabric to cover the shape. Remember to trim away any unwanted fabric as you go, especially at the seams. Trim to 1⁄8in if need be. (If using dark and light fabrics, trim the darker more than the light, in order not to show).
  2. After you have pieced both sections of the block, trim to size, including 1⁄4in seam allowance. Sew the two curves together, pinning the centre and additional points. Hand or machine sew together and press.
  3. After you have pieced both sections of the block, trim to size, including 1⁄4in seam allowance. Sew the two curves together, pinning the centre and additional points. Hand or machine sew together and press.

Block two

  1. This second block has three curves – four pieces. Trace out the first curve with the points onto foundation fabric. Number and piece in order. Don’t forget the seam allowance around the edge. Repeat for the second pieced curve. Curve three and the outer piece four do not need to use Vilene, so trace the shape onto paper, add seam allowances and cut in your chosen fabrics.
  2. Join all four pieces together. You may find it easier to hand-piece the smaller curves, but the larger ones can be done by machine.
  3. Appliqué three circles to the third ring and press.
Figure 2: Construction of Block Two
Figure 2: Construction of Block Two

Block three

Figure 3: Construction of Block Three
Figure 3: Construction of Block Three
  1. This block is also in four pieces, as block two, but the second ring is more like the traditional New York Beauty Block. Begin by breaking down the block. Trace the centre, the third curve and the outside curve onto the paper, including seam allowances. Cut out in fabric.
  2. Trace curve two with sewing lines onto foundation fabric. Tracy chose to have light and dark points. Remember to trim the dark away more than the light as not to have shadows. Work around the curve in numerical order. Trim to size as before.
  3. Join the curves RS together, pin and hand-piece or machine, and press. Appliqué three circles to curve three.

Block Four

Figure 4: Construction of Block Four
Figure 4: Construction of Block Four

This is probably the most complex of the four blocks Tracy has chosen, but once you have mastered these four, then you will be hooked. The points are all sewn first, foundation pieced. Then the plain side is sewn on after.

  1. Trace off as shown on the diagram, splitting the block into four. Draw in your stitch line on the points. The points are the pieces you will foundation piece first. Don’t forget 1⁄4in seam allowances!
  2. Now sew the points to the other larger pieces. Trim all three pieces to size including 1⁄4in seam allowance. Piece together by hand or machine.
  3. Cut out the centre curve in paper including 1⁄4in seam allowance. Then, cut out in your chosen fabric and join the two pieces together. Press.

TIP! If you cut fabric too small use artistic licence and move the lines on this design. As long as the points are accurate, you can’t go wrong!

Other Blocks

For this design you will need 16 blocks in all. Either make another three of each design using different colours, or if you’re feeling confident try your own design. Draw it out first and don’t forget the 1⁄4in seam allowance!

Block One Block Two Block Three Block Four
Blocks one to four

Sashing between blocks

Tracy has used pre-sewn curved pieces to create a more interesting sashing, but you could just use it non-pieced.

  1. Choose two fabrics and use the whole width of the fabric. Place the fabrics RS up overlapping on top by about 3in on your cutting mat. Using a sharp rotary cutter, cut freehand through both layers to create a curve. (You may want to practise this on other fabric first). The curves don’t have to be huge – think hills, not mountains!
  2. Try not to move the fabrics, but discard the under and top small pieces. Keep the main pieces together. Put pins in both sides of the cut line, matching each one horizontally. Do this all the way down about every 1⁄2in. Carefully pick up the two fabrics and start at one end joining the fabric together where the pins match. Place pins all the way along, adding more if necessary. Sew together on the machine, and remove pins.
  3. After sewing and removing all the pins, press seams towards darker colour. If you do have any unwanted lumps unpick and re-do. Alternatively you may be able to cut around them.
  4. Using the diagram for inspiration for the sashing, place on fabric cut ready to use to join blocks. Cut rectangles for centres. Join the blocks and the sashing including centre rectangles (see main picture of quilt).
Sashing detail
Sashing Detail

Piping and Borders

Once all the blocks and sashing are together, you will have a vaguely square shape. To break up the busy border to the centre blocks, make up, pin and stitch a contrast row of piping on the edge of the main piece before the border is added.

  1. Draw a 7in deep border out on freezer paper, following the shape of the centre blocks, measure 7in deep. Divide in half and draw a curve for the outer edge (like the ones you cut for the sashing). Once you are happy with the shape, unfold to see full piece. Mitre the corners, then do the other side. Top and bottom borders are mirror images as are the side borders..
  2. When you are happy with your border shapes, divide the outside edges into 2in pieces (this may need adjusting depending on shape) so as to create the triangles. Make sure the mitred angles match by placing the patterns together.
  3. The borders can be foundation pieced. You could do them by hand on Vilene, drawing first on paper, and then transferring. But, as the pieces are larger, Tracy found it quicker to machine on paper. 
  4. Sew the borders to the main piece, mitring the corners and matching points. Try to keep the papers in place, as not to disturb the points. Carefully remove the papers.
Quilt assembly diagram
Quilt assembly diagram

Quilting and Binding

The quilting is free – some hand and some machine. Tracy says, “It is great to do the two, as I can be hand sewing one minute with my four-year-old daughter around me, and then machine sewing in my room the next.” This quilt is a brilliant excuse to try all those lovely threads you pick up at shows and never know how or when to use them!

  1. Layer up the top, wadding and backing into a sandwich. Secure with safety pins, quilt tacks or hand tacking. Use whichever method you prefer.
  2. Begin the quilting on the sashing areas by freehand stitching to secure the quilt, then hand-stitch in between the lines on the border. Tracy says, “I don’t plan, I just do what ever comes to me at the time, working on one block at a time doing some hand and some machine quilting with whatever thread or yarn comes to hand.” She has included some free hand machine daisies, lots of curls, swirls and lines. On the border, using a shiny Sulky thread, she has used satin-stitch to match the fabric in short bursts, each about 1cm long at a time. The hand stitching is quite naive in places, letting your threads do the work, especially the variegated ones. Don’t be frightened to create your own stitches, stars, triangles, French knots, etc. Just have fun!
  3. Once you have quilted, measure the outside edge of the quilt to find out how much binding you need. You will need binding 2 1⁄4in wide on the bias, as there are lots of curves to go round. Fold binding in half and sew to RS of the quilt, turning the binding to the back and hand stitching in place.
  4. Sign and date your quilt. Sew a sleeve for hanging on the back, hang, then stand back and admire!

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 11 Number 9 - September 2003