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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 5: Zig Zag Rows

Welcome to Week 5 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along!
So how did everybody do with last week’s reindeer blocks? I saw some really cute reindeer out there on the Interwebs! But I know some people also had some frustration with getting seams aligned. If your seams look puckery or wobbly, or your reindeer generally look like they had too much eggnog at the Christmas party, I’ll return to what I said in last week’s post, which is that your 1/4″ seam is probably not as consistent as it could be. You get that seam consistent, and I promise your reindeer will be perfect and completely sober. : )
It’s not easy though, so above all, please don’t get discouraged. A few suggestions that might help are putting masking tape down on your machine bed to help with alignment, or you could do what I saw from sew-along participants a few times this week and eliminate some seams entirely, and just make your reindeer out of unpieced horizontal strips. That will require a little math, but if you’re proficient in such things, go for it! I went back and forth about whether to actually write the pattern that way, but in the end I decided it would make the pattern-writing too complicated and the pattern would have to be even longer than it already is. It also would have made the cutting a lot more complex, and I’m sure you all agree that cutting this bad boy was plenty complex enough as it was. LOL. But for those of you who are able to do the calculations, it’s a great time saver.
And the bottom line is, the real key to happy reindeer probably just comes down to practice—practice, practice, and more practice. I’d bet good money that your seams were better on the last reindeer than they were on the first, right? So just keep at it, and don’t worry if your deer are a little wonky—quilting covers many evils! : )
Okay, so on to this week’s task: The Zig Zag rows. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these, other than that they’re really easy and fun, especially right after the reindeer! LOL. It’s just strip-piecing, cross-cutting, and piecing again.
And when you’re done, you end up with this (these are from my first Fair Isle quilt):
So have fun with the Zig Zags, and I’ll see you back here for the next installment!

Want to play along with us? You can buy the Fair Isle pattern right here. I’m going to publish the next installment on Friday, Nov. 28, since the 27th is Thanksgiving. Until then, can’t wait to see how you’re doing—don’t forget to either link up below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and pie!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

7 replies
  1. Karin
    Karin says:

    That's a typo right – next week is only Thanksgiving, not Christmas!

    I started my checkerboard row last night and will do the zig zags next – hoping to have the top finished by the end of next week and the whole thing finished before St Nick comes on Dec 6th!

  2. Johanna
    Johanna says:

    I have one more deer to go! So far they are pretty good. Well, except for when you sew a strip to the wrong end LOL. Don't ignore that voice in your head that says 'double check to make sure it is pinned to the right end BEFORE you sew it'. It isn't the first time and won't be the last. I am hoping to get caught up so I can quilt it, December gets pretty busy!

  3. Suzanne Beech
    Suzanne Beech says:

    I started my quilt top when you had the pattern on sale, so i am almost done. Cannot wait…. but i have on problem…… my seams are 1/4 inch, but after i iron the block looks stretched out. What am i doing wrong.

  4. Ellie
    Ellie says:

    With the reindeer, I wish I had cut my strips half an inch longer. After I sewed the strips together, they would often lean to one side and I'd have to rip a few of them out and place them further to the other side before I could cut them. I wouldn't have had to bother with that if the strips were longer! I would have been able to just trim off the edges to make it all square. Also, it was easier for the reindeer to be 'off' when I pieced together the pixel strips that came from the edges of the pieced strips. If that makes any sense!
    I don't know about other people, but I know things would have been a lot smoother for me if there was a + sign or * symbol in the cutting section for the pieces of fabric that could be longer and then trimmed down later.
    Anyway, I managed to piece together the 4 reindeer blocks and they're looking good! I love this pattern, Lee 🙂

  5. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    Ellie, that's a fantastic suggestion about an asterisk or some other symbol to indicate strips that could be cut too long and trimmed down! Thank you for the thought, that's a great way to incorporate that into the pattern. I'll think about how to add that into the pattern.

    I'm guessing the strips that came from the ends of the pieced strips were slightly off because the seams in your strip sets were slightly curved (a problem I have as well!) I think putting masking tape on your sewing machine bed would help with that, especially if you make sure the masking tape goes PAST the presser foot and toward the back of the machine. Because I think my seams curve slightly because once I get to the end of the strip, it's harder to follow my 1/4" seam guide on the stitch plate. Hopefully that all makes sense.

    Anyway, glad your reindeer worked out in the end! Sorry you had some issues!


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