Monday, September 9, 2013

A new project - and a quiltalong!

I've been quilting as much as I can (which some weeks is not very much, unfortunately) and not blogging, as per usual. One project I've just started is the Marcelle Medallion, which I've wanted to tackle ever since I first saw versions appearing around the start of the year. It was bumped to the top of my to-do list thanks to the intervention of Penny and Jeannette. Penny is hosting a quiltalong on her blog - you can find the homepage for the quilt along here - and Jeannette and I are going to help out a little along the way.

So my job here today is to help you out with the piecing of the centre medallion. Penny has already given us a couple of great and super-detailed tutorials for the medallion, using English Paper Piecing and foundation paper piecing. I thought I would try a slightly different paper-pieced method, namely freezer paper. This is a fairly new-to-me technique but one which I'm sure I will use a lot more of in the future. It's perfect for slightly odd-shaped blocks where there are points coming together at odd places. The medallion in the centre of this quilt is the perfect candidate. There are triangles, but they're not your usual-shaped triangles. And there are y-seams! But fear not, I forged ahead, and though I'm not quite finished (I've got three of the four segments done) I'm confident it's going to work out fine.

Freezer paper piecing is similar to other types of paper piecing insofar as you are really only dealing with the EXACT (finished) shapes. You sew only on the boundary of the shape, not within the seam allowance, point-to-point. You could, technically, do all of this without the freezer paper (and that is how the instructions in the book are presented), but the freezer paper just gives you some extra stability, and extra assurance that you are sewing in the exact spot that you need to.

So first thing you need to do, is trace all of your template pieces onto freezer paper - sewing lines only! Cut out carefully on the lines and label each piece (I found it useful to also write on the paper which fabric I was using with each piece, so as to avoid any mix-ups - there are several pieces which look similar and it would be easy to make a mistake). Also note you will need to make two copies of the AB template. (I made the medallion one quarter at a time, re-using the paper pieces each time). Press the piece onto the reverse of your fabric and then trim around it adding in a scant 1/4" seam allowance. You can see in the picture below that the 1/4" line on my ruler is just a tiny whisker inside the edge of the paper. That's what I mean by scant.

I might also point out here that with this method you will end up with pieces that appear to be the mirror image of the way the pieces look in the book. Don't worry about this, your medallion will look exactly the same in the end. Just take care to orient the pieces correctly when pairing up matching seam lines - if you are looking at the diagrams in the book, your pieces will be mirror images so take that into account.

Pair up your two AB pieces first and take them to the machine. Make sure the papers on each piece are exactly lined up. Line up your needle to start exactly at the point of the triangle (exactly next to the point of the paper). Sew carefully alongside the edge of the paper to the end point. You can take a couple of backstitches to secure if you like. Press seams (I mainly pressed the seams open, especially where there were many seams coming together). Pair up all the other pieces and sew in the same manner.

When you come to sew a pair to another pair, the principle is the same. Push or fold the seam allowance out of the way, and start with the needle exactly at the start of the sewing line (this should coincide with the end of another seam - if it's not exactly at the same point, you will end up with a little gap).

Sewing in the corner squares is where your y-seam comes in. Take it slowly, sewing one side at a time, from the centre out to the edge. Take care to line the pieces up under your machine's foot, so that the needle comes directly into that critical starting point.

A note about the papers - when I sewed the first quarter, I took the papers off after sewing each initial pair. With the second quarter, I decided to leave the papers on when sewing pairs to pairs and I think it gave a better result.

Any questions? Please leave your questions or comments and I'd be only too happy to help!

I can't wait to see how everyone's going with their centres! Good luck!

PS Don't forget to share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #mmqal.


  1. Thanks for your tutorial! The other one is great as well but seems a bit more overwhelming to me...this one I think I can handle!!

  2. This is really helpful. I like how this avoids having to rip paper off the pieces! I'll try this next time.


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