Piecing Techniques from 100 Days of Modern Quilting

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One of the best things about making a new quilt can be trying out a new technique. Whether it’s applique, half square triangles, or wonky crosses, learning new ways to piece together fabric is always a thrill.

This week, we’ll be looking at 7 quilts, each of which uses a different and specific piecing technique. In lieu of a Tutorials Roundup at the end of the week, I’ll be linking to a related tutorial with each featured quilt, starting with my introduction.

The photos in this post are of my Mod Mosaic with Giant Bees quilt. You can find a tutorial for making blocks like these on my blog here. If you’re interested in using Mod Mosaic or any other blocks to make a similar two-sided quilt with floating blocks, I have a tutorial for that here.

Welcome to the Week of Techniques!

Featured Quilt 1

Amy Smart used a rainbow of colorful fabrics to make this beautiful Spectrum Half Square Triangle Quilt.

Here’s what Amy had to say about her quilt and working with half square triangles:

“This is one of those quilts that has been in the works for a long time. Maybe because it was just for me, it kept getting put on the back burner while other more urgent sewing needs rose to the top on the list.  Finally this Fall I bit the bullet, cleared the sewing table and finished. I couldn’t be happier with the result.

I’d been wanting to make a half-square triangle quilt for a long time. The inspiration finally came with a Freebird (Moda) charm pack.  From there I pulled bits and pieces from the stash that coordinated with the bright, primary Freebird colors.

My original plan was to mix the colors for a scrappy layout, but it seemed to muddy the bright colors.  When I played with a spectrum layout it really made the colors look vibrant.

The other additions I wasn’t sure about at first were the extra triangles ‘bleeding’ into the border and the bias striped binding.  I was determined to not buy any new fabric to finish this quilt, and I found a stripe in my stash in the right colors.  I think it’s growing on me.  The triangles bleeding into the border were a risk as well. I wanted to give this quilt an unpredictable element and a modern feel. You know how you work on something so long that you’re no longer able to view things with a neutral eye and you start to wonder if you’re a little bit crazy? That’s how I felt about those triangles. It took sharing the finished quilt with fresh eyes to convince me they weren’t too far ‘out there.’

I really love the versatility of such simple half-square triangle blocks. They are quick to assembly line piece and there is such a wonderful variety of ways they can be used. I played with these blocks before I decided on a final layoutI think the simplicity of this layout allows the eye to focus on the colors, fabrics, and overall design of the quilt.  I love it equally from up close or at a distance.”

There are quite a few different methods for making half square triangles. Jennifer Jenkinson of That Girl, That Quilt tells you about 3 of them here.

You can read more about Amy’s process on her blog.

Featured Quilt 2

Betty of Betty Ninja made this beautiful modern cross quilt in vibrant yellow and gray.


Here’s what Betty had to say about her quilt:

“My yellow cross quilt combines everything I love about quilting- improv, modern patterns, bright colors, and non-fussy-ness.

I fell in love with the cross pattern for its simplicity and graphic-ness. I also love how easy it is to make it more improv by just cutting on a slight angle, shortening up one side, or using the colored fabric in a different part of the block.

I’ve always been attracted to quilts that include just a few bright colors and this yellow is screaming bright yellow. It’s so funny how the hot pinks, electric yellows, and electric blues of my childhood are popular again!”

Do you want to make a cross quilt of your own? Betty has a great tutorial on her blog.

Featured Quilt 3

Val Campbell’s striking You Can Call Me Owl quilt measures 34½” x 50½” and uses Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts Ticker Tape technique.

Here’s what Val had to say about her quilt:

“This quilt was born out of the Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along #9, where the style of the quilt was “Ticker Tape Quilts.” I had been saving all my scraps in hopes to one day make this type of quilt and when I came across the quilt along, I just knew I had to join it.

I wanted to think outside the box by creating an actual object with this quilt rather than just quilting scraps in a random pattern. I found [a picture of an owl] on Flickr and knew that was going to be my Inspiration.

I think what makes this quilt Modern is the bright punchy colors, lack of a pattern, and ticker tape technique all wrapped up into one.”

Val also wrote a great blog post about the process of creating this quilt, which can be found here. She is a member of the Indianapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

Featured Quilt 4

Terri Harlan of Sew Fantastic used paper piecing to make this Circle of Geese quilt for the MQG Habitat Challenge.

Here’s what Terri had to say about working with paper piecing:

“Paper piecing is one of those things I just watched other people do. After doing a few quilt blocks off Flickr, I decided to tackle it with all these great Habitat prints. I am a big fan of open space on quilts, so this pattern fit the bill perfectly. Paper piecing takes patience, which is something I lack sometimes in my quilting. I always get a great idea, and want it to come together by snapping my fingers. Paper piecing is now one of my favorite types of quilting, and it helps calm that storm I get in my head.”

Would you like to give paper piecing a try? The block pattern Terri used can be downloaded at Piece by Number.

Featured Quilt 5

Debbie Grifka of Esch House Quilts used machine applique to create her lovely Traffic Pattern quilt.

Here’s what Debbie had to say about working with applique:

“The fun challenge for me in creating modern appliqué is distilling an image down to its simplest shape.  How much detail can I eliminate and still ensure the shape is recognizable?  In this quilt, it had to be clear that the birds are flying.  Additionally, there is something very satisfying about directly placing a shape on a background exactly where I want it.

I usually use only one piece of fabric for my appliqué shape instead of, in this case, using different fabrics for the wing and beak.  My choice of appliqué method depends on the design, my mood and how quickly I’m trying to work.  Traffic Pattern is done with fusible web and then stitched with a satin stitch.  I also enjoy hand appliqué and other machine appliqué techniques.

I encourage everyone to give appliqué a try.  There are so many different ways to do appliqué, don’t give up just because the first method you try doesn’t appeal to you!”

Does Debbie have you inspired to give applique a try? Check out Jen Eskridge’s beautiful Modern Hexagon Quilt Block tutorial.

Featured Quilt 6

Maritza Soto pieced one letter a day until she has finished this charming alphabet quilt.

Here’s what Maritza had to say about her quilt:

“I wanted to make something unique and fun for a friend’s baby, so I picked out my palette and went with an improv alphabet. My only self-imposed parameter was that each letter measure 5 inches tall finished. I made a very loose sketch of how I would lay the letters out, but had no specific plan for how to construct each letter. I cut my fabrics into strips of varying widths, in some cases sewing two strips together to use as one unit, and just went to town. I didn’t work in alphabetical order (though I did begin with “A”). I jumped around the alphabet, laying it out as I went along, making sure that each letter visually worked with the ones around it. It was all a pretty intuitive process. I particularly enjoyed sewing together different angles to form slants. That’s not something I do normally when quilting so it was fun to play around with that, and I was really pleased with some of those results, like that A and the Z.”

Improvisational piecing of letters can be both exciting and challenging. For inspiration and piecing tips, check out the UnRuly Quilter, Tonya Ricucci’s blog. (Don’t miss the piecing tutorials in the right sidebar!)

Featured Quilt 7

Jill Collins has an unusual quilt making advantage in that she has a laser cutter for making acrylic templates in her basement! She used it to make the templates for this beautiful quilt, featuring curved piecing.

Here’s what Jill had to say about her quilt and working with curves:

“I’m always trying to think of ways to make a block that would seem nearly impossible to construct with fabric – but make it easy using templates. It’s actually just a very simple geometric block consisting of concentric circles with portions of some of the circles omitted to make it more interesting. It was one of my first attempts at curves, but if your cutting is precise, and you use a 1/4″ foot (and go slow), curves really aren’t hard – even for a beginner. I didn’t glue, pin, or mark, I just put one piece on top of the other and took off. It did however take me 8 solid hours to cut and piece this top. I’ve gotten way faster at curves with practice though. I really think the key is in the cutting.”