Creative and Handcrafted

Patchwork, quilting, dressmaking, knitting and more …

Spring Wheels Quilt (WIP) June 7, 2010

I am a huge fan of Piece O’Cake Designs and I have almost all of their books. Some that were out of print, I could successfully hunt down on ebay. One of them being the book Once upon a season. Since I had this book, I fastened my eyes on the Spring Wheels pattern on page 30. This quilt is sewn together using the machine paper piecing method. I’ve never tried that before, it seemed difficult to me, but the opposite is true. After trying it, I must say that it is much easier to sew smaller pieces together using the paper piecing method than sewing it together “free-style”, because the paper provides stability. It prevents the fabric from stretching in the wrong places and it makes matching the seams easier.

Printing and cutting the foundation paper is extra work (for this particular pattern I had to cut 762 pieces), but on the other hand you save work as you don’t have to cut the fabric pieces out in their exact shape which is very time consuming as well. For paper piecing the fabric is cut to an approximate size and later trimmed accordingly to its correct size plus 1/4″ seam allowance. Works for me. The downside of this method is obvious: you will need more fabric, you will have more waste and you have to incur in additional costs for buying foundation paper which is expensive. This pattern has 127 blocks. Each block has 6 parts and each part consists of 3 pieces of fabric. With the traditional method, I would have to cut out 2286 pieces of fabric . With the paper piecing method, I only have to cut strips which is easy and fast done, plus cutting 762 pieces of foundation paper. It seems less work to me.

Spring Wheels pattern by Piece O'Cake Designs

On the left the Spring Wheels quilt and on the right the printed foundation paper sheets

Machine paper piecing method

It is easier than I thought it would be. I use the 1/4" patchwork foot instead of the often recommended open-toe foot, because it helps me sew straight as I am always looking at the line for the seam allowance which is 1/4" away from the seam line. With the open-toe foot I was a bit lost.

So a few days ago I began to wash all the fabric I wanted to use in my new quilt, Spring Wheels from Piece O’Cake Designs. I chose polka dots and striped fabrics, together with floral prints and solid colours from my stash. For the background I chose a selection of off-white and natural beige coloured fabrics.

I use a 100% cotton sewing thread that matches the light background colour for piecing. I decided to use a size 90/14 quilting needle, as it has a sharper point than universal needles and I thought that could be an advantage for piercing the paper. Later I might try Microtex needles as well to see how it goes. Normal 80g photocopy paper will make your needles dull, so I am using Carol Doak’s foundation paper for now. I already found out that it is important to use a press cloth when pressing your blocks, because the ink transfers to your fabric and stains your iron. It is recommended to sew with a short stitch, in order to perforate the paper effectively. I am using 1.60mm long stitch, which is approximately 15-20 stitches per inch.

Pre-washed and cut fabric stripes

Pre-washed and cut fabric stripes, ready to be sewn together.

Half-finished block.

This is a half-finished block: off-white background, green wheel spokes and red wheel center.

One finished piece.

One finished piece. Six of them make one block.

Unfortunately, I am one of those quilters who needs to work on more than one project at a time: if I get bored, I can switch to another project. I still have an unfinished Denyse Schmidt quilt in one of my project boxes, I love it, but from time to time I need a change. I am reconsidering my work method though, because fact is that my stash grows with every nice pattern I lay my eyes on and nothing gets finished. Talk about chaos! Please don’t count on seeing this quilt finished any time soon. All my projects are “long-term” projects and I don’t like to be rushed. I would love to see one of my quilts finished though ;-D. Hope dies last.

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5 Responses to “Spring Wheels Quilt (WIP)”

  1. I love Piece O’Cake too…they have some fabulous patterns. I am making their Aunt Millies Garden quilt at the moment.

  2. Nelly Says:

    How wonderful. I haven’t tried hand-appliqué so far, but I have the Piece O’Cake Sampler book that explains all steps very detailed and with lots of photos. I am going to try it one day. What I like about hand-appliqué is that it is invisible and it looks very neat.

    I just visited your blog and it is wonderful. So many nice self made things. I loved your crayon roll and the wonky stars quilt (my daughter loved it too, I guess that means more work for me).

  3. Nelly Says:

    Even though the book Once Upon a Season is out of print, it is still available as e-book from the Piece O’Cake website. So for all those interested, here is the link:

    Click Me!

  4. Clair Says:

    It’s going to be fabulous when it’s finished, keep plodding on, you can do it!

  5. Nelly Says:

    Thank you, Clair! I have sewn already around 25 wheels and I have a few more half-sewn blocks that need to be pieced together. I wanted to upload a few photos of my progress, but I simply didn’t have the time. I enjoy sewing this pattern a lot. Paper piecing gives you really neat results. It is so easy to make the seams match. So far, I’ve only unpicked one seam. I simply love it!


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