It’s time for block 8 of the series! This BOW is going fast and in two short weeks, you will see the finished wall hanging I have made. I will provide the instructions to complete the wall hanging if you so desire. If you are just joining the party, all the block of the week blocks are still available here: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6 and Week 7. After the block reveal, I will talk about fabric tips, including fabric bias, and bias seams. This block has a lot of those! Comment on the post and be entered into this week’s drawing and the grand prize drawing at the end. Enjoy!
Block 8 – Double Pinwheel
To get the instructions for this block, click here: 2021 BOW – Block 8.
Like I said above, there are a few bias seams in this block so that is why I would like to review that with this blog post. But first, I will cover what “bias” of fabric actually is. No matter your skill level as a quilter, it never hurts to review this. If you are a new quilter, this should help you understand how and why your fabric is behaving in certain ways. So let’s get started!
The common belief is that fabric has a usable width of 44″. But you can not always depend on that being the case because of the selvage of the fabric.
Selvage is the tightly woven, finished edges of fabric on the lengthwise grain. This prevents the woven fabric from fraying or unraveling. Because you cut off the selvages before you cut from your piece of fabric, the actual usable fabric width is between those selvages. You can also lose width from pre-washing the fabric if that’s something you do. For those reasons most patterns, mine included, assume 40″ of usable width.
Here’s a few tips to save you cutting headaches:
Tip #1: Don’t assume the pattern writer of the pattern you want to make assumes 40″ width of fabric unless it’s stated on the pattern. If I do not know the width assumed, I will purchase about 1/8 yard extra than noted on the pattern. This also allows for width lost when squaring the fabric up, pre-washing it or for cutting errors … we all make them!
Tip #2: Cut largest to smallest pieces from a piece of fabric. My patterns list all the cutting instructions up front and I list them from the largest piece to the smallest for each fabric, but some patterns may not. Make sure you know how many pieces are to be cut from a piece of fabric and plan how you will cut them efficiently, if the pattern does not instruct you, before you start cutting.
Tip #3: It’s a good idea to understand the grain of the fabric and bias so you know how a fabric will behave in a unit or block you are creating. It’s also important to know this because some patterns will tell you to cut certain pieces on the lengthwise or crosswise grain. Here’s a brief run down:
The lengthwise grain (warp) of the fabric is parallel to the selvage. This is where the fabric is most stable.
The crosswise grain (weft) is perpendicular to the selvages. It is a little less stable than the lengthwise grain.
Bias of the fabric is at a 45 degree angle from the selvages of a piece of fabric.
On the bias, the fabric is the least stable and has the most stretch to it. That’s why binding cut on the bias is used for quilt tops with scalloped edges or for a circular quilt. Also any seam sewn on the bias (like in half-square triangle squares) must be handled with care when pressing or when ripping out that seam so the fabric is not stretched out of shape. Once fabric is stretched on the bias, it usually stays distorted.
See how stretchy it is on the bias?
Since we will be doing a lot of bias seams as well as straight seams for this block, here is the simplest explanation i have of these two types of seams.
A straight seam is right there in the description: straight. Putting two units together and sewing straight on the lengthwise or crosswise grain. An example of this is two squares stitched together:
A bias seam is when you join two pieces of fabric matching the bias cut sides, like with half-square triangles:
This is why you need to be extra careful in stitching seams on the bias. If you have to pick out the seam in the above example, you could risk stretching the fabric on that bias and it will be distorted. This will lead to your unit not measuring correctly when you are done.
So, that’s it for this week. If you are a beginner, I hope you learned something. If you are an experienced quilter, I hope you weren’t too bored! Leave a comment below or ask any questions you may have and you will be entered into a drawing for my pattern, Open Windows:
You’ll get a lot of practice with bias seams making this quilt! The drawing for this pattern will be on Monday, June 7th. **We have a winner! Congrats, Karen J.!**
Until next week,
Karen J says
Thanks for the mini lesson! I’m not afraid of bias seams. 😉
Love your Open Windows quilt pattern. Thanks for the chance.
Thanks for another block! Always enjoy reading your blog. Good review on bias. Thanks so much!
Excellent description and photos of basic fabric knowledge! Thank you!
Donna S says
Great review! Super pictures. Love your Open Windows pattern!
Great info as usual. Love the Open Windows quilt 🙂
Good review lesson on bias. Always great information. Thanks.
Robin McGuire says
Great tips/review on handling bias edges. This block was really fun to do!
Ariel Koenigsberg says
This was really great info. A nice recap. I never thought about making sure that I cut largest to smallest on a pattern. That was a helpful tip. Thanks
woohoo! Thank you, Deanne!