Quilting involves a detailed process of joining small pieces of fabric in various colors and patterns to make a single, larger design that is used as the top layer in a sewn quilt sandwich. Quilting with Juki quilting machines like the Juki F400 can make the process easier than hand quilting; however, piecing any quilt can still take many hours. One method for joining many small pieces of fabric more quickly is strip piecing. Strip piecing can be easily done with no other quilting accessories other than scissors and a quilting machine and speeds the piecing process considerably!
The Basics of Strip Piecing A Quilt
Strip piecing is a technique recommended for patchwork style quilts with square geometric patterns, as these designs can be easily pieced together in rows. By affixing lengthwise strips of fabric together in the order they appear in the pattern, then cutting the sewn strips crosswise to create a sewn strip of squares, piecing is much quicker and more accurate than hand piecing.
Cutting the Fabric Into Strips
Cutting fabric for strip piecing a patchwork quilt is done differently than cutting for normal piecing. Rather than making individually-sized pieces the size of the square, such as a 4 inch by 4 inch square, fabric is cut based \on the width of the piece.One entire strip of the 4-inch fabric, in its numerous colors and patterns, is necessary to start out. Cut strips in all fabric that will be pieced, sewn together, then cut into pre-sewn quilting strips. By using the resulting strips, the example should be 4 ½ inches wide (including the seam allowances) by the entire length of the design.
Piecing the Fabric Strips Together
Once the initial fabric strips are cut, sew them together lengthwise with a quilting sewing machine, such as the Juki F400 or any other Juki quilting machine. Sew a quarter-inch seam that binds two of the strips of fabric. Then turn it over, lay the sewn strips out face up, and lay the next strip face down and sew that strip on. Long strips in the design of the pattern should continue to be added until there is a large piece of fabric that consists of many long strips.
Cutting the Combined Strips to Size for Sewing
Now the sewn-together strips can be cut crossways so the strip is the same width as the design size, such as 4 x 4 plus enough seam allowance for sewing. Using the above example, this would leave a sewn strip that is 4 inches wide and as long as the whole finished design will be, each square alternating according to the pattern design. Cut more strips in this same way, then align them as necessary to sew together again to form the patchwork pattern. By creating the squares in this manner, much of the labor involved in individually piecing and sewing many small squares is replaced with a much quicker method.
Strip piecing is not suitable for every quilt pattern; however, it is a great technique for machine sewing patchwork patterns. Whether sewing on Juki quilting machines like the Juki F400 or using other quilting sewing machines, strip piecing is a great technique to piece more efficiently. It also helps to ensure that patchwork patterns end up straight, since the room for error in sewing blocks is reduced. Best of all, it requires no extra quilting accessories and can be done on any flat surface using a cutting board and a pair of scissors or a cutting wheel. The key to successful strip piecing is accurate strip cutting and sewing, since keeping the strips straight is essential!