Unknown, quilter. Variable Star. 1870. From Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives, The Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey, Inc.. Published in The Quilt Index, http://www.quiltindex.org/basicdisplay.php?kid=4A-7F-31F. Accessed: 04/15/2013.
As I promised in my Tuesday post, today I’ll show you how easy it is to assemble the rows for the zigzag (or streak of lightning) set. A couple of things to keep in mind before you begin:
You can make either an odd or even number of rows for this set. I typically prefer an odd number, but I’ve been known to make an exception.
To stabilize the rows–that is, to avoid stretching and distorting as you stitch and press them–you’ll want the straight-grain edges of the setting triangles to fall on the row’s outer edges. For this reason, you’ll use quarter-square triangles to fill in the side, top, and bottom edges of the even-numbered rows, and also to fill in the side edges of the odd-numbered rows.
You’ll use half-square triangles to fill in the top and bottom edges of the odd-numbered rows.
Because the alternating rows are staggered, and also because of the way you’ll cut the pieces, you’ll want to avoid stripes, plaids, and other directional prints for the setting triangles in the zigzag set. Although I love the fabrics on the left in the photo below, they’re not the ones I would choose here. The subtle, random, and tone-on-tone prints on the right are much better choices.
Fabrics on the left – not the best choices for the zigzag setting triangles; fabrics on the right – good choices!
If you like the 6″ (finished) Churn Dash block that I’ve used for the samples in this post, you’ll find a bonus tutorial in the Pattern Library. This “bonus” includes the cutting and assembly instructions for the block, as well as the size squares you’ll need to cut for the quarter- and half-square triangles that will finish the rows for this or any 6″ pattern. If you’re really curious, the tutorial also tells you how I figured the sizes of those squares so you can set any size block in a zigzag set.
Now for the row assembly!
1. Turn the blocks on point with corners touching to make a vertical row. Fill in the sides, top, and bottom with quarter-square setting triangles.
2. Sew each block between two setting triangles as shown; press the seams toward the triangles. Repeat for all the blocks in the row.
Make sure those triangles are turned the right way!
3. Sew the units together; press.
4. Sew 2 quarter-square triangles together along their short edges as shown; press. Make 2 and sew them to first and last blocks to finish the row; press.
1. Turn the blocks on point with corners touching to make a vertical row. Fill in the sides with quarter-square setting triangles. Fill in the top and bottom edges with half-square setting triangles.
2. Sew each block between two setting triangles; press the seams toward the triangles. Repeat for all the blocks in the row. (Note: For first and last blocks you’ll be sewing one half- and one quarter-setting triangle to the block.)
3. Sew the units together; press. Sew the remaining half-square triangles to the first and last blocks to finish the row; press.
Once you’ve made the desired number of rows, it’s time to sew them together.
Joining the Rows:
1. Use an erasable marker or pin to mark the midpoint of each (side) quarter-square triangle.
2. With right sides together, carefully pin rows 1 and 2 together. Start by matching the ends, and then the corners of the blocks with the marks or pins that you placed in the adjacent row. Add more pins as desired.
3. Sew the rows together. (I like to sew this long seam using a machine-basting stitch; once I’m sure that I’ve made all my matches and haven’t lost any points, I restitch using my regular stitch length of approximately 12 – 14 stitches per inch.) Press the seams open between the rows to distribute bulk.
OK, you caught me! if you look closely, you’ll see that I haven’t really stitched these rows together yet. See the note at the end of the post for an update.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to sew the remaining odd- and even-numbered rows together in pairs; press.
5. Sew the pairs together; press. If applicable, add the last odd-numbered row; press.
Yippee! You’ve done it!
Note: I have big plans for the Churn Dash quilt you see in progress here. Later next month, I’ll be heading to the foothills with my friends, Alex Anderson and Joen Wolfrom, for our annual getaway. I plan to bring the rows along, assemble them, and add a nice, scrappy, pieced border. I promise to show you a photo of the finished top when I return.
Getaway coming: It won’t be long now!
My thanks to The Quilt Index for their assistance in securing the image that opens this post. That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!