Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Speed Piecing Quilts Part 1

Speed piecing is a technique in which larger pieces of fabric are first sewn together then cut to the size required for quilt block. By using this technique, and rotary cutting, the quilter can piece blocks more quickly and with greater accuracy.

Speed Piecing Squares and Rectangles

The easiest speed piecing involves involves piecing blocks or block sections composed of squares or rectangles. The general procedure is to calculate the finished width of a square and add 1/2" for seam allowances. Strips of fabric of this width are cut and are sewn together using a 1/4" seam allowance and the seam is pressed to one side. The edge of this pieced strip is squared, then the strip is cut into pieces that are the same width as the original strips. These pieces are now rearranged as indicated by the block pattern and are sewn together using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Four Square Speed Piecing Example

This example demonstrates the piecing of a 4", finished size, four square block section. 
  1.  Calculate the width of the strips to cut. 2" finished square size + 1/2" seam allowance = 2 1/2" cut strip. Cut one strip of this width from each of the fabrics. 
  2.   Sew these two strips together using a 1/4" seam allowance and press the seam allowance to one side. The strips should be 4 1/2" wide. 
  3.   Square the end of the sewn strip being sure to remove the selvedge from the fabrics. Now, cut the strip into pieces 2 1/2" by 4 1/2". 
  4.   Take two of the cut pieces and turn one of the pieces over so the different fabrics are opposite each other. Sew the pieces together using a 1/4" seam allowance and press the seam to one side. The finished block should measure 4 1/2". 
To create blocks or block sections containing rectangles, calculate the finished length of the rectangle plus 1/2" for seam allowances and cut the pieced strip into pieces of the measurement. More than one strip can be joined initially to create other block patterns such as Nine Patch. The quilter should analyze the block pattern being pieced to see if the technique is appropriate and, if so, how to implement it.

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