Monday, August 1, 2016

Sujata Shah's no-template piecing

16-inch, four-patch "pinwheel" block designed by Sujata Shah, pieced by Linda Theil 2016
Sturbridge line by Kathy Schmitz for Moda and Daily Zen line by Michael D'Amore for Benartex.

I attended quilt artist Sujata Shah's "Pinwheel" class sponsored by the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor on July 17, 2016. Shah is inspired by the work of Gee's Bend quilters and has developed a no-template method of piecing to emulate their unstructured designs. Shah's book, Cultural Fusion Quilts, is available at 

Shah's uses four 11-inch squares to make each block, but she said a quilter could use any size base they choose. Since I had a package of precut 10-inch squares in the "Sturbridge" design by Kathy Schmitz for Moda, I based my block on that size. We were instructed to bring a variety of backgrounds in one color and brights in another color. Since I signed up late for class, and didn't have time to shop, I pulled the indigo and buff "Sturbridge" layer-cake, and the Quill Orange from the "Daily Zen" line designed by Michael D'Amore for Benartex from my stash.

Here is my "Pinwheel" saga, as taught by teacher and designer Sujata Shah who said, "No pinning, no marking; I made everything so simple!"

Sujata Shah's "Pinwheel"

Stack four 10-inch squares right sides up, alternating two of background, and two brights. Stack evenly -- photo below shows stacking order.

Cut a diagonal slice with two inch sides across the lower, left-hand corner of your stack. Dispose of cut-off triangles.

Beginning about 1/4 inch off-center of sliced edge, make a gently curved cut to about three inches from right top of square

Make a similar cut on the left side to form a "kite" shape
Beginning at one half of the right-hand side of the bottom, make a cut to divide the fabric on the right side of the kite-shape.

Do the same on the left side. Shah says don't stress about the cutting; just go for it. The idea is to create movement in your blocks with the gently curved pieces. I noticed that my rotary cutter would plow up waves of fabric, but don't stop, just keep going. Shah's unusual piecing method will keep the matching cuts together -- you'll see!
You now have five stacks of fabric pieces; there are four identical pieces in each stack. Mentally number the stacks, beginning on the left: one, two, three, four, and five. (The photos below show different fabrics, but the process is the same for all your fabric choices.)

Take the top piece from stack number two and put it on the bottom of that pile of pieces. Do the same for stack number four. As shown above, your stacks now alternate background and bright fabrics showing on the top of each stack.

With right-sides-together, chain piece the first two pieces #1 and #2 together. Gently fit piece #2 to the curve of piece #1. Continue stitching the whole stack of pieces number-one to number-two. Do not cut the threads between each #1/#2 duo as you complete the seam.

Shah said, "Don’t worry if bottoms don’t fit tops at end, because you are going to square up your block at the end."

When you have completed stitching all four #1/#2 duos together, clip off the end duo; and, with right-sides-together, stitch piece #3 to piece #2 of the duo. Continue until all pieces #3 are added to each seamed duo, cutting each one from the end of the chain as you need it. Continue to chain piece; remember, do not cut your piecing from your sewing machine as you complete each seam.

When all four triplets are completed, cut the last triplet from the chain and stitch piece #4 to piece #3 -- right-sides-together. Continue to chain piece: do not clip when done with each seam. Continue until all pieces #4 have been added.

Cut the last quartet from the end of the chain and stitch piece #5 to piece #4. Continue until all blocks are complete. Cut the chain apart. You will have four pieced blocks.

Press seams toward background fabric. Trim all four blocks to equal size -- I cut mine to 8-inch squares. 

Lay out four blocks to form flower with alternating colored petals.

Stitch top two four-patch blocks together.
Stitch bottom two four-patch blocks together.
Stitch top to bottom to finish block. 

Square-up block. Mine finished to 14-3/4 square. (For illustration, see photo number one at the top of this post.)

I made six blocks with the fabrics I had on-hand and decided to add sashing and borders to make a lap quilt. I cut nine 2.5-inch-wide, cross-grain slices across a 3/8-yard piece of Quill White from the "Daily Zen" collection.

I added vertical sashing between each set of blocks.

Then, I added horizontal sashing to the top and bottom and between each row.

I had to piece two slices together to make a piece long enough to sash each side.

This sashed quilt top measures 35 x 54-inches. I plan to add a wide border of about 5-inches to bring the size to about 45 x 64-inches.

I bought a yard of the Quill Burnt Orange yardage from the Daily Zen collection and cut six 5-1/4 inch slices across the width of the fabric to make a border for the lap-quilt. The quilt now measures 45 x 64. 

I bought a crib-sized cotton batt for the batting layer and two yards of Leaf White from the Daily Zen collection for the quilt backing. Because the fabric was not wide enough for the entire 45-inch width of the quilt, I cut four 2.5-inch strips across the width of the white backing fabric, sewed two lengths together to make each side strip, and seamed a strip to each side of the backing piece.

I will add more photos to this post as the quilt is completed. Thanks to Sujata Shah for her artistry and excellent teaching skills.


Mimi said...

Looks great! I really enjoyed her lecture and show of quilts when she was at the Guild. Your instructions are so clear that I am sure I could follow them.

SteviK said...

Love that! I think I might could be able to do that, thanks to your great directions.