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Fair Isle Sew Along Part 1


Okay, I’m over my my crabbiness from yesterday and I am so ready for our Fair Isle Sew-Along! I’m thrilled that you all are going to make a Fair Isle quilt with me.

This is Part 1 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along, which is (drumroll please) … cutting. As a reminder, you do need to purchase the Fair Isle pattern in order to participate in this sew-along, so if you’re still on the fence, get your rear off of there and come join us! You can buy the pattern here.

Now, if you’ve already taken a look at the pattern, you may have noticed that the cutting list is kind of a bear (understatement warning). Sorry about that. But with a quilt like this, with all these different block designs and even different block sizes, there’s really no alternative. Cutting the background fabric can be especially daunting. And cutting efficiently is crucial in order to avoid buying extra yardage!

So today I’m going to take you through the order in which I cut my background fabric. I highly recommend following the order below, and checking off the pieces on the cutting list in your pattern as you go, so that you don’t miss any. If you just stay methodical and organized, you’ll be fine. Once we get through all this cutting, it’s just the fun stuff from here on out. Oh, and if you haven’t changed your rotary cutter blade recently, you might want to now. Just sayin’. : )

(Please note that I’m doing a different color scheme for my quilt than what is stated in the pattern, so my background fabric is red instead of white. Don’t let my photos confuse you! Background fabric in these photos = red!)

Okay, are we ready? Here we go:

1. Divide the background fabric yardage into 2 pieces: 73″ long (we’ll call that Chunk A), and the rest (we’ll call that Chunk B).

2. Cut the sashing pieces first, cutting lengthwise from 73″-long Chunk A. Once you’ve cut your 73″ sashing strips, fold them double and lay them along the 36″ width of a cutting mat, with the fold lined up with the 0″ mark on the mat. With the strips still folded double, trim the unfolded end 1/4″ past the 36″ mark on your mat, in order to make the sashing pieces exactly 72-1/2″—see photo above. (I find it easier to trim down the sashing strips, rather than trying to cut a much larger piece of fabric to a perfect 72-1/2″ length and then cutting the sashing from that.)

3. Next, from Chunk B, I cut all of the 42″ wide strips, cutting the width of the fabric. These are the 1-1/2″ x 42″ pieces for the Poinsettia blocks, plus all the strips listed under the Zig Zag and Checkerboard rows.

4. Now go back to the piece that was leftover from Chunk A after cutting your sashing. You should have a piece left over that’s about 27-1/2″ x 73″. From that piece, cut 37 strips 1-1/2″ x 27-1/2″. From those 37 strips, cut the remaining 1-1/2″ pieces for the Reindeer and Poinsettia blocks, leaving the 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ Poinsettia block pieces for last, since you can get most of those pieces from the scraps after cutting the larger pieces. (You might not be able to get all of your 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ pieces from these scraps, but you can get the rest from other scraps later.)

5. After cutting your 37 1-1/2″-wide strips, what’s left of Chunk A should measure about 17-1/2″ x 27-1/2″. From this chunk, I cut all of the remaining pieces for the Reindeer blocks, plus the remaining pieces for the Zig Zag rows.

6. Then go back to what remains of Chunk B and cut everything else from that. Start with the 24″ and 36″ long pieces from the Fir Tree blocks, then work your way through the rest of the cutting. (You may need to cut a few remaining 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ pieces from these scraps.)

7. Finally, cut your green, red, and pink pieces (a comparatively easier task), and you’re done! As you cut, I recommend grouping pieces by the type of block (i.e., all Poinsettia pieces together, all Fir Tree pieces together). If you’re as anal as I am, you might even want to put the pieces for each block type into labeled ziplock bags. That way you’ll be oh-so-organized and ready to move on to Step 2 next week.

My cutting probably took me a little over three hours total, although I had many interruptions, so I could be off on that. Budget 3-4 hours of time for your cutting this week, and you should be on track for next week, when we will be making the Poinsettia blocks. (But if you don’t stay on track, no worries! These posts will stay up indefinitely, so come back whenever you do have time.)

Hey, don’t forget to hashtag #fairislequilt as you work, so that we can all share each other’s progress! And I’ll meet you back here next Thursday for Part 2!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

4 replies
  1. Ashley P.
    Ashley P. says:

    I'm halfway through with the background fabric. I hope to get the rest done over the weekend and get a head start on piecing the first blocks. Will there be a link up for those not on instagram?

  2. MareMare
    MareMare says:

    Crap, I need another project like…um I don't want to use a tired metaphor, but I have too many projects already. But this is so cute. And I don't have any Christmas quilts. See how I mostly just talked myself into it already??


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