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Group Post: Make the Most of Those Sensational Stripes!

Earlier this month, as we were mulling over topics for this month’s See How We Sew theme, the subject of “stripes” popped into the mix. Bingo! We all love these versatile fabrics, and–in the course of our conversation–discovered that we each have unique ways of putting them to work in our quilts. Here are some of our favorite ideas for creative use of those sensational stripes.

Line ’em up: Super stripes on parade

Christie:  I love to use stripes for narrow inner borders (1  1/2″ or less). When auditioning fabrics, be sure to position them so that the amount of exposed fabric approximates the finished width of the border. Perception can make a big difference in what works and what doesn’t. Good stripes can be hard to find, so when I see one that speaks to me, I usually buy at least a yard. Here are a few samples of my projects using stripes in narrow inner borders:

An atypical “stripe”–but a stripe all the same

Jennifer:  I love using stripes in setting triangles. Sometimes I find the perfect striped fabric, while other times I’ve got to make do and create my own. I always, always use Laura’s and Diana McClun’s method for determining setting-triangle sizes and quantities from the how-to section of their quintessential quilting guide, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!

You can actually create a variety of wonderful secondary designs with striped setting triangles, but the simplest method is to crosscut squares of striped fabric and place matching triangles on opposite sides of the quilt. Check out the illustrations; they tell the story better.

Side-setting triangles:

Corner-setting triangles–follow the placement guidelines:

Laura: I’m often looking for fabrics that provide visual texture in my quilts. Stripes are some of my favorites. When looking for binding fabrics, I frequently check to see if I have a stripe that will work well with my quilt. I love the look a striped fabric provides as a finishing touch. If my fabric is limited, I cut the binding strips on the straight grain of fabric. However, if the yardage allows, I enjoy cutting strips on the bias. Just remember always to use a walking foot when attaching the bias-cut binding strips to prevent stretching along the edges of your quilt.

Binding strips cut on the straight grain of fabric

Binding strips cut on the bias

Darra: I love anything that can save me time and effort! Here’s a nifty shortcut for creating checkerboards with striped fabrics. Once you start playing with this technique, I’ll bet you come up with loads of variations on your own.

Choose a fabric with stripes that are equal in width and have a regular repeat. Measure the width of the individual stripe (2″ in the black-and-white example below), add 1/2″ for seam allowance, and crosscut strips to that measurement. Lay out the strips, staggering the stripes as shown.

Pin the staggered strips, right sides together, carefully matching the opposing stripes. Sew the strips together using a 1/4″ seam. Press. Be sure to leave a 1/4″ seam allowance on either end when trimming the strips. How easy is that?!!

You can enhance the illusion of piecing by quilting “in the ditch” between the squares.

We hope our suggestions give you some great ideas for “snazzing up” your next project with stripes. ‘Til next time, happy sewing.

PS:  Don’t forget!

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