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  • Converting Strip-Piecing to Traditional Quiltmaking Techniques

Converting Strip-Piecing to Traditional Quiltmaking Techniques

Summer Lily quilt

Strip-piecing is a wonderful quiltmaking technique:  you sew long strips of fabrics together and then cut shapes from this newly assembled fabric.  Many of my patterns use this technique because I think it's a great way to add interest to a quilt: it allows me to add sections of shaded colors to quilt. My Summer Lily quilt uses this technique extensively.

Strip-piecing makes it very fast to create these high-interest quilt patches, but you do make sacrifices in fabric use: any of the strip-pieced fabric not covered by a template is not used in the quilt.

Templates on strip-pieced fabric
The portions of the strip-pieced fabric not covered by a template are not used in making the quilt.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to convert a pattern that uses strip-piecing to traditional quilt-making techniques.  It's slower, but you'll waste much less fabric and have a project that you can take with you to sew-on-the-go.  Here's how to do it.

Make Templates. You will need to make multiple templates from each template shape -- one for each strip of fabric used in the strip-set. To make a template, lay a sheet of semi-transparent template plastic over the foundation. Using a permanent marker, trace a shape onto the plastic. The outside lines are the cutting lines; the dotted lines insides are the sewing lines.

    
Mark the fabrics to be used for each strip on the template pattern.
 
Place the template plastic over the pattern and copy the sewing lines and outside cutting lines.


You'll also need to trace the horizontal lines that indicate the edges of the strip.  Those lines are the finished strips, so you must also trace lines 1/4" outside. (Jinny's Perfect Piecer is ideal for this task.) Also be sure to add the piecing number to the template.

    
These lines are marked straight from the template pattern. The dashed lines show the sewing lines/finished size of the patch.
 
Add the outside cutting lines to the top and bottom of the patch.

 

   

Mark the Templates. Be sure to make each template with the template letter or number, the fabric to be used and the grainline arrow. (The grainline would typically follow the length of the strip.) Mark the seam intersections on your templates then transfer them to the wrong side of your fabric patches. This will make it much easier to match together the individual fabric patches when sewing.

What do you do if only the outer template edges are marked in the pattern?
Jinny Beyer Studio patterns always indicate the fabric strips on the templates, but other patterns may not. It's still possible to create the templates you need. Read the pattern to determine the cut width of the fabric strips for the particular template with which you're working.  Substract 1/2" from that cut width to determine the finished size of the fabric strip. For example, if you are instructed to cut strips 3" wide, your finished size will be 2 1/2".

If your template pattern has only the outside edges marked, draw lines 1/4" inside those lines on all sides to mark the finished size. Next, measure the finished strip width (2 1/2" in our example) up from the line marking the bottom finished edge and mark a line parallel to the bottom edge. Continue in this fashion to finish marking the template.