Thursday, January 29, 2015

Square in a Square patterns

As I was working on the 9 patch with setting triangles quilt (Crossroad to Jericho), I realized it was a type of square in a square pattern.  I've done several variations of that pattern over the years as it works well with novelty fabrics.

Initially I did not like sewing square in a square blocks.  I tried measuring the corner triangles and cutting to size, but they always seemed to be to small or not straight enough and the resulting blocks were never square or the same size.  I then tried paper piecing them.  I didn't like that much either; it seemed silly to be pulling paper off of a block that only had 5 pieces.  Wasted effort as well as wasted paper.  The next trial was the paper piecing method that uses freezer paper.  Well, that was a little better but still why did I need to use paper piecing on a pretty simple block?  That's when I decided to just sew those corner triangles a little larger than needed, then trim them down.  Viola!  No paper piecing, no extra math.  I could use my precut 4.5" pieces as the center square, add corner triangles, and then trim.  I marked the full size pattern with a 4" finished center on a piece of acrylic and cut it as a template.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the edges even or smooth.  Someday I'll find a company who can make custom templates for me, but for now I've marked a ruler and use that.

This SIAS with log cabin sashing was made using white background novelties to create the corners.  The centers are my standard 4" finished.  I was trying to use up some of the 3 giant bags of strings I've accumulated and decided on adding purple, green and yellow strings instead of sashing.  A piano key border also uses some more of those strings.  Note, it didn't even make a dent in those bags. 

Purple and green is one of my favorite color combinations ever since my grandmother told me they didn't go together when she was teaching me to sew as a child.  I remember responding that there were purple flowers with green leaves so they must go together.  In this instance the purple and greens I had needed some punch.  Yellow and purple are complements on the standard color wheel and I thought the yellow added the right accent.

I want to mention something about using novelty fabrics in a quilt, they can be a true focus or just incidental to the design of the quilt.  This quilt illustrates the latter.  The actual pattern is really the focus of this quilt.  Using novelty fabrics in the center of the SIAS is just an added bonus.  I could have used a single focus fabric with white TOT corners and it really wouldn't change this quilt much at all.  I'm kind of forcing novelty fabrics into the pattern rather than the pattern and setting highlighting the novelty fabrics.  Sometimes that "forcing" has worked out better than others.  In the purple and green quilt, I think it worked pretty well.

This twisted square in a square focuses more on the novelty fabrics.  You could use the same focus fabric in each square of this pattern but it really does showcase the center square.  There isn't much to the pattern without good focus fabrics.  For this pattern starching the triangles was very important.  The pattern instructions by suggested cutting 2 rectangles and then slicing them on the diagonal.  They were a little oversize so that you need to trim.  Again, I marked a ruler with the exact placement of the center square  so that they would be consistent.  Selecting a number of background  colors was a little bit of a challenge.  It turned out pretty well, but I probably won't do this one again any time soon.  I didn't like how much of the long pointy triangles were waste when I trimmed.

Twisted Squares
Tumbling blocks and Square in a Square?  Yes, it is but you have to look closely.  The color placement of the background fabrics fools the eye and the tone on tone fabrics camouflage the seams between the SIAS blocks.  I decided that I didn't want to do a traditional border but I did want to do something to add a frame, so I switched the white background for a black one.  I think I may have run out of the white fabric but I don't remember exactly.  We'll just say I did this on purpose.   I had a lot of fun with this one and definitely would do it again, especially now that I'm doing this pattern by sewing oversize then trimming.  It went together pretty fast and the resulting optical illusion is so fun.  And for tumbling blocks you need a variety of fabrics on one side of the block.  What is more perfect for a tumbling block quilt than novelty blocks?

Tumbling Block Square in a Square

My opinion of the square in a square pattern has changed significantly over the years.  It is the basis of a large number of traditional patterns but I tended to avoid trying them because I didn't enjoy sewing them.  I am very glad that I've found a construction method that works so well for me.  Now I'm confident that I can sew as many as needed without a lot of pain or fuss. Yay for learning something new that makes sewing less frustrating and more fun!

1 comment:

  1. SIAS blocks were my first foray into quilting...if you use Jodi Barrow's SIAS ruler, you avoid using triangles - you sew strips to the blocks, lay the block down on the cutting mat, line the SIAS ruler over the seams and whack off anything that sticks end up with bias edges, but if you handle them gently, its not a big deal...