Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Off to London

Perhaps it's a total coincidence, but there's a bit of a sporting shebang going off in London at the moment and in case you hadn't noticed, everything Brit-themed is big news. And Fat Quarterly is in on the act this quarter with their new Sew Britannia issue, full of Brit-themed projects, including this one! My very first quilt pattern!!!! (Please forgive excessive use of exclamation points in this post, I am a little excited).

It's no secret I have a bit of (well, OK a big) soft spot for Britain, England and London! I'm married to a proud Englishman (who's lived here in Australia for way longer than he lived in England) and I love visiting London (and I can't wait until December when we'll be back there again!)

I was sent a pack of Laurie Wisbrun's new London range by Robert Kaufman to play with. The line is just four prints, two each in two colourways. As you can see I've done a little take on the Union Jack theme, but these are big, chunky blocks that are very quick to put together. If you're looking for a true Union Jack, look no further than Lily's Quilts Jumping Jacks quilt which also features in Fat Quarterly.

(Fun fact: I was in a Flickr bee with Lynne and contributed to the Jumping Jacks quilt! Sadly, I found the paper piecing all a bit much and earned a few grey hairs in the process. Happily, that was a couple of years ago and I have advanced beyond that point...)

Anyway, the purpose of today's post is to show you how to cut squares on the bias! Why would I ever want to do that, you ask? Well, if you want to feature motifs from your fabric running on the diagonal, as they do in the corners of each of the Union Jack blocks above, then you'll need to fussy-cut on the bias. Otherwise, you'd end up with a decapitated Big Ben or London Bridge, and that just would never do.

This block is based on a 6 inch square. To work out how much fabric you'll need for your fussy-cut squares, just take a regular 6 inch square, and measure the diagonal. This distance is 8.5 inches. (If you're working off a different-sized square, just do the same thing - measure the diagonal and cut your fabric to that width).

Cut a strip of fabric 8.5 inches wide, across the width of the fabric. Line one edge of the fabric strip up against the bias line on your cutting mat. (Never noticed it before? It's the diagonal line running across your mat - if there are multiple diagonal lines, use the longest one available).

It helps to have your mat positioned on the corner of a table as you'll be cutting from both sides of the mat for this exercise.

With the fabric lined up on the bias line, take your ruler and line it up carefully so that your first cut will be exactly 6 inches across the fabric, as in the photo above.

Now go around the corner of your mat, and make another cut of 6 inches. You'll see now you've got the first two edges of your 6 inch square!

Go back to the other side of the mat, line up the ruler at the corner of the bottom edge of the 'square' and cut - this time it will be 12 inches - made up of the 6 inches from the square you're currently working on, and 6 inches of the next square.

Go around the corner again and make another 12 inch cut. Now you've got one whole square cut, as well as two edges of your next square.

I've separated out the pieces in the photo above to show you what's going on. Clever, innit?

Keep cutting in alternating directions all the way along your strip (you will need to move the strip back down the mat to give yourself room to cut).

And there you have it, perfectly positioned buses and taxis ready for their Union Jack treatment.
As you will notice, there is a bit of fabric 'wastage' doing this, but you end up with triangles large enough to be used for another project, or pieced for the back, or whatever you like!

I'll be back in a few days with a little announcement! In the meantime, I'd love to hear your feedback on   this method of bias-cutting squares, or on what you think of my pattern! Or on any of the other patterns in the Fat Quarterly Rule Britannia issue. If you haven't got your issue yet, head on over now!


  1. Yay for you! Super-cute quilt and I'll give your cutting method a try!

  2. Just sat down to look at the new FQ! - congratulations on your pattern, I love the chunky Union Jacks! Your how-to will really help, it makes a lot of sense. I love Laurie Wisbrun fabrics - and they look fab in your quilt. Nice work!! see you, Catherine

  3. I love this! I was avidly following your IG feed and lusting after it. I'm such a sucker for the Union Jack and it's on my to-sew list. One day...

    In the meantime I shall just envy yours from afar. :)

  4. Oh it's just great, Danielle! Congratulations!


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