It's been a while since I did this

Posted by Ruth on 17 April 2018 | 0 Comments
This content belongs to Arbee Designs.

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It's been rather a long time since I did any traditional patchwork and before this morning had not planned on doing any in the very near future. In fact, it wasn't until I started thinking about what I should put under my needle this week that an idea for a traditional patchwork border hit my mind as I looked at the Penguin block I made this month. One thing led to another as you can see by the end of this blog post.

My idea was to add a pieced border around my Penguin block. I didn't want anything too elaborate, just some simple blocks. I figured the easiest way to decide was to pull the finished block into my Electric Quilt program - this was a great opportunity to start playing with my newest version 8. I used a custom set layout and decided on an all-time favorite nine-patch pulling the colors within the block to fill the squares. It was fun trying to find my way around as the layout of this new version is quite different, but once I knew where to look, it didn't take long to put together this small design.


my border design in EQ8

With the project in mind, I searched my stash for suitable fabrics. I really liked the yellow, blue, white and black combination so stuck with that. According to EQ8, I only needed small amounts of fabric so that was perfect for the fabrics I pulled. It was easy to figure out that I needed mostly black and as it would have it, that was the fabric I had least of. Go figure!


fabric requirements for border
(left: number of squares; right: amount of fabric)

My block needed to be cut down a little to 9-1/2" (including seam allowance) so I could fit the 3" finished blocks around it nicely with each square 1". This would mean 1-1/2" cut strips. I had more than enough in each strip by cutting the following amounts from the full width of fabric:

  • 1 yellow (I only really needed 1/2 a strip of this)
  • 2 blue
  • 2 white
  • 4 black
penguin fabric strips

1-1/2" wide strips cut

Looking at the two different nine-patches, I saw there were 4 different combinations I needed...

  • black/white/black (block 1)
  • white/yellow/white (block 1)
  • blue/black/blue (block 2)
  • black/yellow/black (block 2)

I pieced the strips in these combinations - cutting one of the black and white strips in half for the short sections which included the yellow.

penguin pieced segments

four different segments pieced together

To make it easy to match the seams later, I pressed all seams toward the black fabric and for the white/yellow combination with the seams toward the yellow.

penguin pressed segments

seams pressed in each segment

Now with the two strips for the first block, I placed them right sides together with raw edges even and trimmed off one end. Then I cut EIGHT 1-1/2" strips. With them right sides together, they are ready to take right to the sewing machine and sew - no matching raw edges cause that is already done for you.

penguin cutting strips

cutting 1-1/2" strips from the combinations

I needed EIGHT more 1-1/2" pieces of just the black/white combination to complete the block.... then I repeated the same thing for the second block thus ended up with these 48 mini strips.

penguin all sections cut

combinations cut up into strips

This all makes it very easy to piece. I chained stitched the first two sections together...

penguin chain stitching

chain stitching

... and then added the last strip without cutting them apart. The chaining makes it so easy to press too, especially for these little blocks.

penguin chained blocks

blocks chained together while I press the seams

So with all the blocks sewn, I trimmed them apart and positioned them around my Penguin block, alternating them.

I proceded by sewing the blocks together, three at the center top and three at the center bottom. Then I attached these border sections to the block and repeated for the side blocks. Here is the result:

penguin with pieced border

Finished penguin block with a pieced border

I actually thought that turned out quite cute, so cute in fact that I went back to my EQ8 program and tried another couple of the animal blocks...


Tortoise Block with border


Lobster block with border

I haven't made the last two up, that will be for another day, but I can imagine making these all up and joining them together to make a wonderful bed quilt for a little boy. What fun.

If you are interested, you can find the patterns for the animals along with others here on my website: Penguin Block, The Crab, The Lobster

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