I know it sounds like more work, but trust me, it is not only much less work, the finished sub-units are more accurate.
Strip piecing is cutting long strips of fabric and sewing them together. Then cutting the sewn strip into smaller pieces to get them ready to sew into a block or a unit. You can sew any number of strips together, then cut them apart and re-sew them into new designs.
The easiest strip set to make contains only two strips, which is what this tutorial will show.
Cutting the Strips
|For our November block we need strips that are 2 1/2" x 26". My ruler isn't long enough to cut a 26" strip. Although I can fold my fabric in half (I'll show you how later in the post), I wanted to show you how I make a longer ruler.|
|Place a piece of Scotch (or other clear) tape on the matching edges of the top two rulers. If you look closely you can see a piece of scotch tape along the ruler edges in the photo above.|
Now you can cut a 2 1/2" strip.
Here is how you cut a strip from a piece of fabric that is folded in half. The fold is on the right side in the photos.
First you will need to 'square' your fabric, which means you need to make sure that the cut edge of your fabric is 90˚ from your folded edge.
|Once your fabric is squared up, line the ruler marking line along the edge of the fabric and the measuring marks 2 1/2" from the edge. See photo.|
Cut along the ruler and you will have a 2 1/2" strip of fabric.
Place two strips right sides together and pin if necessary.
Sew a scant 1/4" from the edge of the fabric.
|Press the seam flat before you press it open. It helps to set the seam and it helps the fabric on the bottom 'stick' a little to the ironing board which makes it easy to press the strip open.|
Whatever fabric you have on top when you press the seam open will have the seam allowance pressed towards it. In the photo above you can see the green fabric is on top, in the photo below the seam allowance is pressed towards the green fabric.
|Press the seam towards the dark (or in this case green) fabric.|
Cutting the Sub-units
|Time to cut the end off the strip so it is at a 90˚ to the center seam (NOT THE BOTTOM EDGE!)|
Line one of the ruler lines up with the center seam of your strip, trim the end of the strip so that it is straight.
|Flip your strip the other direction so the straight trimmed edge is on your left (if you cut with your left hand, reverse the strip direction in this and the previous photo.)|
Glow-line Tape by Omnigrid. One package lasts for years... and years.... and years... I bought 2 rolls about 6 years ago. I estimate that I have about 60 years worth of tape at the rate I use (and re-use) it.
For the November block you will need 10 pieces cut from the strips to sew back together to form the Four-Patch sub-units.
Here is a short, one page tutorial on strip piecing a four-patch block.
Quilt University: Making 4-patch unit
Now that you know how to cut and sew accurately, sew half-square triangles, and strip piece you can make hundreds of different blocks!
Please leave a comment if I haven't explained something clearly enough or if you need photo(s) of a step that I haven't included. I would really like to have this be a resource you can follow along easily.