Super Easy Dahlia Quilt Block – The Jaya Paperless Method!

What if I told you there was a method for piecing the Dahlia quilt block that uses no paper piecing of any kind, just one simple template and some simple, good old strip piecing? No `y’ seams either? And, it is entirely machine stitched? So happy to introduce you to the paperless Jaya Technique!

For those of you wondering what the whole hullaballoo is about, here is a bit of history!

The Dahlia quilt block is arguably one of the most difficult quilt blocks to piece. The traditional block is either English paper pieced or hand pieced, machine piecing is not such a great option, as all edges are curved on each piece! Add to that several y-seams, and things get really, really complicated. As such, you will rarely come across a quilt with several small Dahlia blocks; it is usually one giant Dahlia covering the entire quilt.

Easy Dahlia Quilt Block technique
Traditional Dahlia Quilt Block – All edges of the `petals’ are curved!

With the popularity of foundation paper piecing, the block is simplified somewhat, without taking away its beauty. One edge of the ‘petals’ is straightened, and the block is pieced in arcs on the sewing machine. This what the arcs and the pieces look like!

The Dahlia Arc template with straight edges, facilitating foundation paper piecing
Easy Dahlia Quilt Block technique
The paper templates for English paper piecing

These arcs are then assembled to make up the block. I love paper piecing and browsing the net came across a method where foundation paper patterns are chain strip pieced.

I decided to try that out with the dahlia block and it worked!

Easy Dahlia Quilt Block technique
Chain strip piecing the Dahlia arc templates!

This made piecing the Dahlia templates a piece of cake. I shared this method with you when we constructed the first block Dahlia for my Block of the Month quilt, Dreamcatcher Round the Year.

And then, a fellow quilter who was doing the quilt came up with a truly, amazingly easy method for piecing the Dahlia quilt block! Those of you who have been following this blog may remember I had promised to share this brilliant technique with you – a method I am going to call the paperless Jaya Method after Jaya Parker, who came up with it!

This method uses no paper piecing of any kind, just a simple template and some simple, good old strip piecing! No y seams either and it is entirely machine stitched!

I’ll let Jaya take over and explain the method in her own words. Thus spake…er…wrote Jaya:

I did not plan on doing the BOM as I have several other sewing and quilting projects lined up. As I continued to see pics on the Desi Quilters page of many members trying out the dahlia block I became intrigued. Started reading up on Madhu Mathur’s blogs with detailed instructions. Madhu I love reading your write ups. Your personality definitely shines through. (Thank you, Jaya! So sweet of you!)
I have never done paper piecing and so far still haven’t . Once I saw pictures of the arcs being pieced I noted that the large pieces were essentially straight strips and wondered if I could just join straight strips first then cut out arcs and join. So here goes-
In the beginning I joined strips that were the width mentioned in the fabric requirement section.

Dahlia Piecing - Easy method!
Strip set #1 for Lotus

Once I had printed out the templates I realized the strips were too wide so I adjusted the widths by sewing additional seams on the back. 

I picked the lotus design envisioned by Madhu.

071814_1113_SomeDahliaF3.png The Dahlia pattern used to piece a `Lotus’

Based on the pattern I figured it would need 2 separate strip sets. The second strip set was made correctly, taking into account the measurement adjustments needed in the first!
Cut 8 arcs from each strip set. I pinned the template using 2 pins for cutting out the shape the removed paper before sewing.

Easy Dahlia quilt block piecing
Strip Set #2 ready for cutting and template in place!
Easy Dahlia quilt block piecing
Strip Set #1 being cut…

Easy Dahlia quilt block piecing
Templates pinned on the arcs – ready for assembly

I used no letter codes for joining.

The right (fabric) side of the arcs

The two halves form a paisley like shape once assembled! Just eyeballed Madhu’s yin and yang and joined so that my blue triangles on the edge were making an arc and so also the white triangles on the inside edge. ( Some seam ripping was done initially to learn the correct placement )

I joined the arcs from outer edge to inner circle. Stitched very very slowly . I set my machine to its slowest speed. Coaxed the arcs and curves so the strip seams matched from one arc to the next. Opened out frequently while joining as the individual ‘petal’ seams curve down and just joining seam to seam may not open up on point.

Easy Dahlia quilt block
The paper removed and the arcs being assembled …slowly…

I seam ripped a few times to achieve this, though still not perfect . The lotus pattern was more forgiving as there were a lot of pink strips with identical fabric.

One half (yin?) ready!

Joined 8 arcs together alternating an arc from each strip set. Repeated to make 2 halves or paisleys or yin and yang that are basically identical .
Now for the center –
I made 2 halves of a pinwheel using 2 half square triangle (hsts) each ( ie make a total of 4 hsts)
I just joined 2 pieces of fabric squares  – I used a dark and light yellow fabric square (7 inch square each)to each other right sides inside. Stitched 1/4″ away from all 4 edges. Cut 2 diagonals in criss cross fashion on the square after sewing edges and voila …I had 4 hsts!  Joined in sets of 2.
I used a bowl that was slightly larger than the center circle template to cut out the semi circles.
Joined each semi circle to yin and yang.

Easy Dahlia quilt block
Jaya’s yin- yang or twin paisleys!

My semi circles were slightly larger than the template but this helped me even out my inner circle with my slightly uneven white triangles. These were not perfect as this was not paper pieced . I trimmed off the excess yellow fabric on the wrong of the  center after sewing.

Easy Dahlia quilt block
Jaya’s beautiful pink Lotus (Dahlia?)

Thank you, Jaya! We love your Lotus and we love your easy method Dahlia!

As I read an reread Jaya’s method, I realised that you can use as many strips as you like and the method would still work!  But the placement of the template is important. The seams have to be exactly parallel to the seam lines on the paper template.

I am working on a super template that will make all this less confusing. Actually, it is ready, but I need to write out the instructions. Till then, happy quilting!

You can buy the Pattern and Instructions for the Dahlia Block at MadsPatch, my online store!

Author: Mads

In alphabetical order: daughter, mother, painter, philosopher, poet, quilter, seeker, wife...

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