I see to have hit some kind of a mental block trying to do calculations for the Layout Option 3 for the Round the Year Quilt. So I decided to share the real blocks that people have been making, using the free Block of the Month patterns on this blog! Links to the patterns for these blocks are given towards the end of this post.
A few of the Dahlia blocks had been shared earlier, on this post. Here comes some more magic…
Block 1 Dahlia
Block 2 Evening at the Pond
Here are blocks 3 and 4 by Vicki…
This is the test block that Anuradha Ramesh did for me , Block 4, Sapphire Fire.
After Anuradha finished this block, I came across a picture of a gemstone that is uncannily similar to her block – the Ametrine.
Isn’t that amazing?
Those of you who are interested, can find the block patterns on these links. There are step by step instructions for making them, too!
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.
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!
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!
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, 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.
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.
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.
I used no letter codes for joining.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
…The Earth and the Sun do not hurry; they follow their own path at their own pace. If the Earth were to accelerate and complete one rotation in three hours instead of twenty four, we would be in big trouble! …
Yes, you guessed right. Slow and steady is the mantra for curved piecing!
Check the pieced arcs, are they nicely pressed? We press from the fabric side, if not!
We had put off the trimming of the excess paper from the arcs till we were ready to assemble them, so as to prevent fraying of the fabric at the edges… we do it now. This is the time to be as accurate as you can be as the ubiquitous ¼” seam will finally come into play.
We piece the arcs in pairs. I always end up stitching wrong edges when joining pieces, so in each pair, I marked one arc `UP’ and the other ‘DOWN’ on the paper side, depending on how they will go under the needle on the machine.
Refer to the Master template and arrange the arcs in two halves. Moving anticlockwise, arcs H to K are lined up around the centre piece Q and arcs D to O around the centre piece R.
Actually, you can begin with any adjoining pair; to stick to the Master template, I start with the pair HP. After trying piecing from both ends – from outside inwards and from the centre to the outer edge, I came to the conclusion that you get better results when you join from the edge to the centre.
They do it with pins!
Now comes the actual sewing together of the arcs.
Essential tools: A box of thin pins, a pair of forceps ( the kind that kids use for their school Biology classes) or tweezers, a pair of small scissors.
At what stage does one remove the paper? The advice available on the net says to leave it on till as late as possible. That seems to be the sensible thing to do too, as you would want to take full advantage of all those alignment markers on the seam line! Nevertheless, I tried out all possible techniques …
..with the foundation paper intact, without the foundation paper except on the corner pieces, trimming the paper up to the dotted seamline on one arc and then on both arcs!
Conclusion – If you have the patience to do it ( I don’t!) , trim the foundation paper up to the seam line. You reduce the bulk while making use of the alignment markers. If you used the needle punching method to make the templates, this step is easy, you need only tear along the punched seam line. I also read of some people sewing a line on the seam allowance, just outside the seam line to work as a guide while joining the pieces together. If you feel up to that…great! What I found worked best for me was leaving the paper on while I pinned the arcs together. I preferred to tear it away before sewing.
Pick up the first pair of arcs, put the UP arc on top before you start pinning and matching the seam corner at one end. Push a pin vertically in through the two arcs, leaving it hanging down. Align the edges carefully and pin to secure – you can pin on the seam allowance also.
Once the corner is secure, move to the next intersecting seam on the two layers. Push the pin all the way down at the point where the seams intersect, till only the head is visible on top.
Pressing the two layers between your fingers put a pin on either side of the pin from edge to seam line. The centre vertical pin can now be removed.
Now match each intersecting seam – remember you have to match the seam not at the edge of the fabric but at the ¼” point on the dotted seam line. Push the vertical pins all the way through at each point, so that the point of the upper layer lies exactly above the lower one. Again add horizontal pins hanging over the edge on either side of each point, removing the vertical pins as you go along. You can add pins at additional points between the seams also, matching the alignment markers ( the tiny lines crossing the dotted lines).
Now we are ready to sew. Have a pin cushion and the tweezers ready by your side!
Use the ¼” piecing foot, set the stitch length at 1.5, set speed to “low” and needle position to “down” if you have the option. Before you begin, it is reassuring to remember that all curves are straight as they are going under the needle a stitch at a time!
Start at the outer edge. Check your seam is ¼” right from the edge – the fabric is curved so you need to consciously ensure this!
Go very, very slow, taking 3-4 stitches at a time, keeping an eye firmly on the edge of the fabric layers about to go under the foot, to ensure that they are perfectly aligned under the ¼” foot edge. Use your tweezers to lightly pull the erring layer into place. It is helpful to stop after a few stitches with needle down, and realign the incoming fabric.
If you have not removed the paper, check to see that your needle is travelling on the seam line. Sew right till you reach a pin leaving it in till the last moment, slowly pulling it out as it goes under the needle.
If you pin carefully (and plentifully), and sew very slowly, there is no reason why you should not get perfectly matched points! Going back to the UP and DOWN arcs, this picture will always be a reminder to me of how I need to follow my own instructions!
Once the pairs of arcs are stitched together, join them as follows:
HP to AI to make HPAI
BJ to CK to make BJCK
HPAI to BJCK to make one half HPAIBJCK
DL to EM to make DLEM
FN to GO to make FNGO
DLEM to FNGO to make other half DLEMFNGO
Attaching the centre halves Centre half Q is to be attached to the half H..K. and R to the other half. I pieced it, the centre half on top, pinning the corners and each seam as for the arcs. A better option may be to fold in the seam allowance and appliqué the centre on the arcs, either by hand or by machine. These are the two halves of the circle ready to be attached to the background. Attaching to the background
Option 1 – Take the background square of 18.5″. It is better to keep it about an inch lager and trim it to size after sewing. Fold over twice to determine centre lines of each side
Join the two halves of the circle to make the complete dahlia. Fold in the seam allowance and appliqué it to the background, aligning appropriately with the middle lines of the background. There is also a freezer paper method, tutorials available online.
Option 2 – Join the two pieces S and T of background template. Join to top half of flower. Similarly piece lower half and join the two halves together to get your 18.5″ dahlia block.
While the patterns on this blog are free and will remain free, I would appreciate it if you could follow this link to my favourite not-for-profit charity Samarpan Foundation and see if you would like to help them! Samarpan is managed almost entirely by volunteers, so every dollar counts!
While all my Dreamcatcher patterns are free and will continue to remain so, may I suggest you visit the webpage of my favourite NGO Samarpan and donate whatever you deem fit towards the wonderful work they are doing to spread joy, peace and happiness through the world?