Saturday, December 14, 2019

A "No Apologies" Tutorial for Improv Paper Pieced Log Cabin Triangle Quilts

When I started this quilt, the idea was to make a rainbow-colored 6-pointed star. I hoped to create a pattern people might use to make a wedding canopy, among other things.  The most relaxing way to do that, I figured, would be to start with log cabin triangles.  
So what you see in the central area of this quilt are a whole lot of log cabin pieced triangles - each center piece is light, and the three "logs" around it are darker. You're also seeing blocks I call "water lilies" - from left to right, the oddball orange, pink and purple blocks, as well as the lavender blocks on the bottom of the photo. These blocks are a log cabin variation, with light triangle corners added.
The problem with log cabin piecing triangles - compared to squares - is that the angles quickly become awkward and confusing, with sharp bias-cut corners. 

That's why I decided to piece all my triangles on clean scrap paper and/or newsprint from the packing store - $6.00 bought me a lifetime supply!  Most triangles were improv-pieced from the top of the paper - stitch-and -flip - with no markings needed on the paper. 

Here's how I made the water lily blocks. First, I rotary cut newsprint into 3 3/4" high triangles. In the center of each paper triangle, I placed a light-colored hand-cut fabric triangle. Working from the top (with no markings on either side of the paper), I stitched and flipped the first "log"....
...the second...
...and a third....
 Then I stitched lighter colors to cover each corner:
The back is messy, but don't worry.... 
The last step is using my equilateral triangle ruler to trim the excess. (In this photo, I'm doing it on a pink block.) 
In the photo below, you can see on the second triangle that when I flipped open the top piece, it wasn't long enough to cover the paper tip behind it. So I added another piece. No apologies, no mistakes! (Unless they're really bad.)
My favorite part of this quilt is the six stars in the corners  - spontaneous and irregular piecing makes them vibrate! I love all six - like my children, each is special in its own way. (Of course, I didn't have the courage to make 6 human children. Quilt corners are lower-maintenance.)

My next baby's a little pale. 

The triangles in the dark outer border are mostly crazy-pieced 
A few triangles in this quilt were foundation-paper pieced on marked paper from the back, because they're more intricate. In the star below, the foundation paper-pieced blocks are the two "lobster claws" above and below the north and south star points (the north star point is purple, and the claw right above it is orange and slightly misplaced. I'm a little sorry!)
When the quilt reached 67" at the widest by 57" high, still hexagon- shaped, I decided it was finished.  If it were a wedding canopy (a "chuppah" in the Jewish tradition) it would need 6 poles for all the corners!?  Better yet, if someone wants to use this pattern for a canopy, they could sew the top to a square or rectangular background. 

[UPDATE: Several people have suggested to me that the finished hexagon could be basted to a square of lightweight chiffon. It would create the illusion of a floating hexagon! I love that idea, thank you!]

When it was done, and I counted the number of  3 3/4"equilateral triangles that went into the quilt, I was astonished. No matter how many times I counted, it kept adding up to 600! How cool is that? Thus the title of this quilt: "Fireflower 600."

Another quilt in this series was shown last week. My booklet with step-by-step directions for this quilt and its cousins, is called "Modern Paper Pieced Log Cabin Triangle Quilts," and more photos and information are in my etsy shop, here


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