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Strip Piecing is the meat and potatoes of quilting.  Any time you are able to strip piece segments of a block, or an entire block, you save a ton of time!  This weeks tutorial demonstrates how to strip piece a basic Nine Patch block.

If you've never used a rotary cutter, now is the time to learn!  Don't try this method with scissors, it defeats the purpose of accuracy and speed.  Please check out the video I included on the tutorial that shows some basics on using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.  By the way, no purchase is necessary, but if you lack the basic tools, we have them on sale during Beginner Nine Patch month!

If you're teaching a newbie these rotary cutting skills, please be sure to teach them safety tips, like closing or locking the rotary blade, where to place the opposite hand to prevent getting cut, and how to "walk the hand" up the ruler to keep the pressure even and keep the ruler from slipping.

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Replies to This Discussion

Yolanda's question:
Hi Everone Hope all is well? Now Karen. I need a little help with something.I am doing the quilts for kids.And that I sewn the longstrips toeghter. now I am having trouble with the cutting the strips into blocks. the imfor I gotten said to cut the strips to 3 1/2 x61/2 two blocks but I did this. but when I sew the two blocks toeghter they don't come out to the 61/2ins. What am I doing wrong? could you help me please. Cause I had to go and buy more of the same fabric that they sent me. Please Help me. yolanda

My answer:
Yolanda, try checking your 1/4" seam. It sounds like that might be the problem. It's really easy for me to "space out" during long seams and forgot to pay attention to my seam allowance. It's very important that it be 1/4" all the way down the seam.
Hi Yolanda,
It is more than likely your 1/4" seam. However it could be your cutting or pressing or the rulers you are using. My first suggestion is to grab some scrap fabric. Cut 3 pieces 2.5" wide by about 8" long. Sew the three strips together. The center strip after you press it well, should measure 2" wide. If it does you are right on. If not then make the adjustments and keep doing this until you find your 1/4". When you do, Put a few layers of painters tape on the bed of your machine as a guide for your fabric.
Also you need to use the same brand ruler throughout your quilt project. Not all brands are compatible and this can cause big problems. Take it from someone who knows.
Good luck with your quilting.And always remember,quilting is suppose to be fun. When it gets stressful the fun is gone. We are not perfect so why do our quilts have to be?
Happy quilting my friend :)
Tell us about your experience and ask your questions about this weeks tutorial here.
Hi,
First think I always have trouble with is cutting the strips really evenly. I see in the tutorial that you are using a ruler long enough to only fold the fabric in half once - my ruler is to short for that so I have to fold it one more time to cut the strips and when I do that I usually get problems in the folds.
Should I be able to do it ok with my current ruler or do I really need to get a longer one?
Linda
Hi Linda, you can do it with a shorter ruler, but you'll have to fuss with the fabric a lot more. I've done that, and not been happy with the results. So I did invest in the longer ruler and now use it constantly, even for smaller projects.

Karen
Hi Karen, funny to see the ruler question from Linda H. and your reply. I thought I was a quilter but find that these lessons you are giving have made me rethink everything "I thought I had learned". I actually went first thing this morning to purchase new rulers and what a difference they make!! I also never knew exactly how to "square off" and now I've learned that too. I didn't get my kit until this week so I am playing catch up. Working on the Baby Nine Patch in Red and Black. There is a definite advantage in having the kit AND your instructions. Both are excellent and I am having a ball. Linda F. (Aunt Moo)
Hi Linda
Let me guess. At the folds there is a hump or a dip. The strip goes wavy. If this is the problem your fabric is not on grain. You need to check your yardage and refold it when you buy it. It often is not folded properly on the bolt.
To do this hold the 2 selvages together between your fingers. Look at the fold. If it is not straight you will notice it right away. Slide the fabric back and forth between your fingers until the fold is straight with no distortion. Refold your fabric and then you should be able to fold it twice so you can use a short ruler.
I hope this made sense. It is much easier to show then to tell.
Great explanation Joanne - thanks!
Hi everyone, I forgot to tell you about Deb. Deb sews for Connecting Threads 4 days a week. She tests our patterns, sews our photo samples and manages the sewing studio. She's a fabulous and talented quilter! I always worry that she'll burn out on sewing because she does it so much every week for work and not for her own pleasure, but she still has many of her own projects.

That's why I was surprised when I found out she took on the 9 patch baby quilt we're featuring here this month. In fact, all the photos in this weeks tutorial are from her, sewing at home on the project. So here's a giant THANK YOU to Deb for sharing her project.

Even though it's definitely a beginner project, even experienced quilters like a fast and easy project now and then!
Hi Karen - In the photos of this lesson, I'm wondering if you are recommending to use 2 pins at the seam junctions of the strips, as in the photo? Or was that just to show different types of pins? (I believe it was a photo, but maybe it was a video where I noticed it yesterday)

I always hold my breath when sewing those junctions together because they usually cause me to use my 2nd most valuable tool - the seam ripper!

If it's only one pin needed to hold the seams together, does it matter if the pin is ahead of the junction, or behind it? TY! Having fun with this project today as my other quilting projects are waiting till my 'live' quilting class tomorrow, lol!
Hi GeorgiaAnn
I always make sure I have a pin ahead of the seam junction so it will feed under the sewing machine correctly. I put one behind as well. If there is a bit of extra fabric between the seams use a few pins between the joins to ease the fabric into position. You can also put the fabric which is a bit larger on the bottom for the feed dogs to help take up the extra fabric.
Happy sewing.
Hi GeorgieAnn,
I'm with Dianne, when in doubt, I pin. When I'm lazy, I don't pin or use just one, but I'm usually sorry. I like two to keep it from shifting at all, especially when you want the seams to match perfectly. In the photo, I did show 2 fairly close to the seam, but like Dianne says, one just before the seam and one just after.

However I do pull out the pin just as the foot approaches, so I don't hit it or get a bump in my stitches.

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