Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seattle Streets Pattern, The Picture Tutorial: How to Make a Seattle Streets Block

If you'd like these instructions emailed to you as a .pdf file, email me at eastsidequilter[at]aol[dot]com. I'd love it if you'd include a quick note to tell me how you found this post, and if it was through a google search, what search string you used.

For the gallery of quilts done with this pattern, click here.


Click on any photo for a larger version. Photo of my first full quilt top using this pattern is here.

Step 1: Understanding why this works with any block size and any strip width

This quilt was designed as a "Stashbuster" quilt to help people quickly use up fabric on hand, so I wanted it to be as flexible as possible. The block works in any size and with any width of strips because when you add 1" of "leading" fabric (in this case the black fabric), you're also subtracting one inch of seam allowance. Like this. (Again, click on the photos to enlarge):

This strip set measures 7" -- the same as the original width of the two strips: 3"+4"=7" . If my "Magic Number" were 7", I would be done with this strip set.

What's a "Magic Number"?
you ask. Simple: It's your block size. It's also the number that the widths of all of your colored fabrics in a strip set or block need to add up to, not adding or subtracting anything for seam allowance. (Very important!)

Step 2: Pick out your fabrics

You'll get slightly less than two 12" blocks from each fat quarter (assuming usable area of 16"x20"). For my 60"x72" quilt (30 12" blocks) I used 15 1/2 fqs. For the black leading, 2 1/2 yards was just enough for this quilt. I had a little left over, but it wouldn't have been enough for borders or binding. I recommend buying "leading" length at least slightly more than the finished with of the quilt so you can cut joining strips with no seams.

Since the colored fabrics never touch, you have more flexibility in your combinations than in a regular quilt, so get creative! Pick fabrics you like together. Here are mine. Pretty, huh?:

Step 3: Cut the strips
After you've decided on your final quilt size, cut the joining strips -- the width-of-quilt strips of "leading" that will join the rows. ALL black or "leading" strips need to be 1" wide. (VERY important -- the quilt works with any width of colored fabric strips, but it won't work with any other size leading strip.)

For width-of-quilt strips, you'll need (#rows - 1). My quilt will have six rows, so I'll need five. (Of course I couldn't count when I took the photo, so imagine here that I have five strips set aside instead of four.) If you're cutting border fabric from the black, now's a good time. Ditto for binding.

To make piecing faster, I just cut up all the rest of the 2 yards of black in 1" strips, cutting along the length of fabric so I can chain piece. Be sure to re-square periodically as you're cutting to avoid dog-legs at the folds.

Now the fun part. Cut your colored fabric into strips that add easily to your "Magic Number" (block size.) For this quilt I went with 3",4", and 5". Most blocks will be 3+4+5 = 12, but some will be 4+4+4, or 3+3+3+3, etc., so I cut more 4" and 3" than 5". (I'm working on specific numbers for various-sized quilts and appreciate your patience. For now, be flexible and prepared to occasionally, say, chop a 5" strip into 3" and 2" as needed.)

Because these fat quarters were from the same purchase and were ordered as a collection online, they're almost exactly the same size; this made it easy to cut them all the same length: along the long side or approximately 21-ish" or so. If you're using scraps or random fq's, you'll need to be more creative.

These are my piles o'strips: 3" on the top, 5" on the right, 4" on the left.

Step 4: Sewing leading onto colored strips

Set your seam width to a scant 1/4". Take one long piece of "leading" fabric and one colored strip and sew together. Chain piece along the length of the black fabric. My 72" strips would hold three 21-ish" strips apiece.

Repeat for slightly less than 1/3 of your strips. I ended up with 59 strips, so I started by adding leading to 17 of them. 17 x 3 is 51, so I'll have eight left over for any strip sets needing more than three. UPDATE: 15 1/2 fat quarters were enough for 18 12" strip sets.

(Believe it or not, that raggedy piece of moleskin seam guide was new two days ago!)

Step 5: Add your next piece of colored fabric

Finger press your seams to one side and clip the "leading" to the same length as the colored fabric. (You can iron here if you like but you don't need to, and the narrow fabric means my fingers get burned if I try.) Pick a second fabric for each strip that looks good next to the first and piece together. When you're done it will look like this:

Step 6: Has your strip set reached its magic number? If so, move onto step 7. If not, add another leading strip to either colored fabric.

Then another colored fabric, until you reach your Magic Number (measured with colored -- not leading -- strips on both sides. Your finished strip set will look something like this for a 12" Magic Number.

Step 7: Cut the strip sets for your first block

Iron strip sets, pressing seams toward the black. (They should almost but not quite meet in the center.) Then pick the strip sets you want in your first block. Square the ends of your strip sets, then cut strips in widths that add up to your Magic Number. I chose three strip sets and cut widths of 3", 4" and 5".

(You can do this for multiple blocks at a time so you can chain piece. Resquare frequently, using the black leading strip seams -- not the edge of the fabrics -- as a guideline for your straight cuts.)

UPDATE: I ended up cutting most of my strip sets in 3", 4" and 5" strips, but I did throw in maybe 10 2" strips for visual interest.

Step 8: Join the strip sets with leading strips like you did with the fabric strips.

I like to piece with the strip sets on top, black on the bottom so I can keep the seams going the right direction.

Step 9: Alternate strip sets and leading until you reach your magic number, et voilĂ ! You are done with your first block!

Step 10: Repeat until you have enough blocks for your quilt.

Then decide on a block arrangement that looks good to you. (Having some of the longer leading going vertically and some horizontally adds visual interest. I alternate vertical and horizontal. To see the difference, the block photo directly above has a vertical orientation, but the one at the top of the post, same block, is horizontal.) Join blocks into rows with leading strips like you joined the strip sets to each other, then join rows the same way with the long strips you set aside.

Have fun!

This is a copyrighted pattern made available to you free of charge. Like it? I'd be honored if you'd use the money you'd spend on the pattern otherwise to make a donation to an organization to help the poor. My three favorites: Lumana (microcredit and community development in Ghana, non-religious); World Vision (Christian aid for extreme poverty, disease, disasters, etc.) and UMCOR (Christian -- United Methodist, ditto.)

Feel free to share, enjoy, teach classes, or sell finished products using this pattern, but please don't sell it as your own or try to profit from it otherwise. I'd also appreciate credit where possible and a link to this website.

(And PLEASE don't market classes you teach under any name other than Seattle Streets. Since I gave away the pattern for free, the name is all I have and the only way I can keep track of where it ends up! Thanks!)

I'd love to receive photos of your finished quilts using the pattern. Email them to me at eastsidequilter[at]aol[dot]com. That's also where you can send any questions.




Sharyn said...

Lovely, nice job!

Glenda in Florida said...

Laurie--I made this a few years ago for a charity in all shades of orange, with bright lime green leading. It was stunning! Thanks so much for sharing your pattern--I think I might need to make one for myself soon!

Loretta said...

Laurie...great tutorial and thanks for showing so many of the lovely quilts made from this pattern.
I want to send a picture to my son and his bride if they would like one for their bed.

Love it!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this beauty with us and your photo tutorial is very understandable.
Wish me luck.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful pattern!

Sandy Chavez said...

Thank you Laurie for the wonderful pattern and tutorial.

Edwina from Western Australia said...

I've just started busting my stash with this wonderful quilt. I'm making it for my 14 yr old son, he choose the fabrics and choose the pattern, I'll email you a photo when it's done.... Thank you for being so generous and sharing it...

KindleLover said...

My hubby just surprised me with 3 gorgeous yards of a "stained glass" type of print with flowers and dragonflies, like a Tiffany's lamp! Now I have finally found the perfect pattern. If I use my fabric for the quilt back, I can use batiks in matching colors for the stained glass quilt top. Thank you for a wonderful pattern!

Janice said...

Is there a way to subscribe to your blog?

Janice S
Joelton TN

Willowisp417 said...

I found your site by way of a 4 square heart pattern. I am a displaced Washitonian, here in Texas. After I make my granddaughters heart quilts I think I think I may try this pattern. I love it and it sounds pretty straight forward.
Thank you so much,