Book of the Amber Dragon

Square in Square blocks

Project: Hand-pieced Christmas Quilt

I have been bitten by the quilting bug, and in my usual fashion, have dived in headlong. While three (!) quilts I have planned are going to be machine-pieced, I decided that I also wanted to try hand-piecing. I had some random Christmassy fabric in my stash from my mum, I picked up a couple fat quarters in more Christmas themes, and set to work.

I am keeping things simple, and starting with a bunch of the same block. I found this post, which had a bunch of simple hand-pieced blocks. I decided I liked the square in a square, and started with that one.

While the machine-piecing will go much more quickly, I am really enjoying the process of making blocks by hand. I have been swamped lately and haven’t had much time to work on it, but I have managed to complete four blocks so far, and I have another four cut out waiting for me to sew them. They really don’t take much time at all to do, and I like the sequence of steps, it’s like meditation.

So far I have learned: (coming from a position of seeing quilts and watching a lot of sewing shows growing up but never having made a quilt)

  • What fat quarters, jelly rolls, layer cakes, honey buns etc. mean (standard sized precuts of fabric)
  • What HST means (and it’s not Harmonised Sales Tax, it’s Half Square Triangle)
  • what fussy-cutting is (when you cut a square with a desired placement, like the reindeer in my block example)
  • the difference between a block and a square (blocks are the finished pattern made from the smaller fabric pieces which are usually squares, triangles, or rectangles)

Here’s my first block in process of construction. You take the small inner square and sew four half-square triangles to it, using a running stitch. Then, you take four larger half-square triangles and sew them to the inner triangles, using a running stitch. Press it with the iron, and done. Easy!

First Square in Square block, half-assembled

Here are my first two blocks. You can see some of the edges are a bit wonky. I have re-learned that anything cut on the bias is stretchy, so you have to be careful when matching up seams and edges.

First two Square in Square blocks

My fourth block is much better than my first (top left vs. bottom left in the image below), and I expect by the time I am finished and ready to hand-quilt it, my hand sewing will be so much better. My goal is to have this done by Christmas (I am just making a lap quilt) so this should be possible, as I am going to have some plain squares mixed in with pieced blocks. I am trying to decide what my next hand-pieced block will be. I’m hooked!

Four blocks completed!


Kate • November 16, 2015

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