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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 2: Poinsettia Blocks


Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! How did all of you do with your cutting? I saw some fun pictures on Instagram of highly organized fabric piles, so it looks like you all did pretty well! : ) Check the #fairislequilt hashtag to see! (Want to join in and make the Fair Isle quilt? Click here to purchase the pattern!)

So this week, we’re making the Poinsettia blocks. This, along with the Reindeer row, is one of the two most time-consuming portions of the quilt. So my recommendation this week is: Chain piece, chain piece, chain piece. : ) I LOVE chain-piecing—when done right, it saves loads of time.

In fact, you may notice that I oversize the cutting for half-square triangles in my patterns and have people trim a bit more off their HSTs than is strictly necessary. I originally started doing that because I appreciated the ability to trim more off when I first started quilting—some of my early HST attempts were, um, a bit wonky. LOL. So the extra trimming room is great for beginners.

But you know what else these oversize squares are great for? Chain piecing! With slightly oversized HST squares, you don’t need to pair up your squares so precisely for sewing. After all, you’re going to trim them down later anyway—so you might as well add a little additional fabric, so that you don’t have to take the time to line everything up so carefully. Check out the picture above—you can see that I don’t bother lining up my squares at all, really. As a result, I can run 20 pairs of squares (two sewing lines apiece) through my machine in well under 5 minutes. Success with a quilt like this is often about being efficient, and this is one way to speed things up significantly.

My other tip this week involves cross-cutting the strip sets. You have to cut up a lot of strip sets in this pattern, so it’s worth taking a minute or two right now to figure out the best way to do it.

The key here is to always cross-cut perpendicular to the seam. See how the 2-1/2″ ruler mark is aligned with the seam in the picture above? That’s what you should worry about. Don’t pay as much attention to the raw edges of the strip set—pay attention to the seam, and cross-cut based on that. If the raw edges are really off after cross-cutting perpendicular to the seam, you can always attempt to even them up later, but as long as the seam is perpendicular to the cross-cut edges, you’ll be in good shape. And as you go along the strip set, keep adjusting for alignment with the seam. So if the seam curves a little, just keep adjusting your ruler accordingly.

I hope these tips help you out as you make your Poinsettia blocks! All told, it took me about 9 hours to make all 10 of my Poinsettia blocks. But I’m pretty familiar with this block by now, so budget at least 9-10 hours for piecing this week, depending on how fast you generally sew. Next week, we’ll be making the Fir Tree blocks, which come together much more quickly than the Poinsettia blocks, so if you fall behind a little this week, no worries. You’ll probably be able to catch back up soon.

Just a reminder, if you’re on Instagram, hashtag #fairislequilt so we can all share each other’s progress! (This goes for whether you’re making it “on time” or much later.) And if you do a blog post about the Sew Along, you can also link up your blog post below.

Can’t wait to see everyone’s Poinsettia blocks! Now get chain-piecing. : )

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

6 replies
  1. Mountain Home Quilts
    Mountain Home Quilts says:

    I just finished piecing a quilt top that had you cut the HST a little too large and then trim. At first I thought, "wow, what a waste of fabric!" but then I saw how neat and perfect my pieces then looked and was so thankful for it. Thanks for doing it this way in the pattern!! I would rather waste the little bit of fabric and have nice and neat pieces so that the overall quilt looks better. I appreciate it! 🙂

  2. dolores
    dolores says:

    Same here…don't have time right now but I think this quilt is amazing and I'm learning a lot from all your tips. I will definitely do this one year!:) Guess I should at least buy the pattern!!:)

  3. MareMare
    MareMare says:

    Got the pattern and picked out my fabric today! Using Snow for the background and switching up the reds for blues (Kona Marine and Pacific). Excited to get started and hoping I can catch up next weekend, heading to the beach for a little sewing retreat with some girlfriends!

  4. Rebecca Grace
    Rebecca Grace says:

    Oh, dear… Maybe after my son gets his new iPhone for Christmas (sh!) he can teach me how this Instagram thing works… I can't start a new project now because I'm practically having a nervous breakdown about all the projects I'm currently juggling, but I think this is a gorgeous quilt and I'm enjoying lurking without participating. Thanks for reminding me about the stress-relieving option of overcutting some of my piecing — my seam ripper and I are NOT FRIENDS!! 🙂

  5. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    These poinsettia blocks are beautiful and so well-balanced between the lights and darks. I'm also enjoying seeing the linked-up blocks and their variations. A lovely set!



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