Tag Archives: Tutorial

Quilt Tutorial: balkan puzzle (variation)

Today, a little quilt tutorial for you – a Balkan Puzzle, or a variation thereof 😉

A true Balkan Puzzle would be made up from equal-sized triangles, but I was feeling a little bit lazy, and I also knew that I was going to use the same fabric for each section, so I cheated a little bit and re-sized the triangles to suit my design.

This reads quite complicated and long-winded, but it is relatively straightforward once you get into the swing of it. You absolutely will need a quilt square to make sure that this comes out, well, square.

The first step is to draw up your block …. the easiest way to do this is to start with a blank square sheet of paper, in the finished size of your block. Fold it diagonally, corner-to-corner, both ways, and then fold it in half, both ways, through the centre fold.

Once you have done that, you can draw out your triangles – what you are aiming for is a set of nested squares, each set on the diagonal to each other.

So – draw a line from the centre top to the centre right side, then to the centre bottom, then centre left side, then to the centre top again, using the fold lines as markers. That gives you the first square-within-a-square.

Now, using the diagonal folds to mark your start/end points, draw a second square within the first square.

Repeat a third time, and, optionally (as I’ve done below), mark in the smaller triangles if required.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Your finished paper block should look like this ….

Cut out your shapes, and now you’re ready to start on your fabric. Remember that you need to allow seam allowances …. I usually allow 0.5inch/1cm.

Start in the midde of your block, and use a trick-marker or chalk (and a ruler) to mark the outline of your square. (If you’re using a trickmarker, make sure it will fade from your fabric by testing it on a scrap first).

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Once you’ve cut your central piece, fold it diagonally corner-to-corner both ways …

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

and mark the centre point ….

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Next cut out the surrounding triangles in the same way, using your paper as a template and marking the shape with ruler/trickmarker.

Lay the first triangle over the centre piece, right sides together, lining the two outside edges up. Fold the triangle in half, and line the apex of the triangle up with the centre mark on the first piece.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Fold the triangle back out again, and use your quilt square to check that the triangle is correctly lined up with the central square …. when it is, mark the stitching line with your trick marker.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Stitch along the line …. there’s nothing to stop you using a machine, but I prefer to hand-piece, so that’s what I’ve done here.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Fold the stitched triangle out and finger-press it down.

Next, you need to repeat the process for the triangle on the opposite side …..

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Use your quilt square to make sure everything is correctly lined up, then mark in your seam line, and sew.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Repeat the process for each of the two other sides ….

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Now you’re ready to do the next set of triangles ….

Again, lay your triangle right side-to right-side on the block, lining up the apex with the centre mark on your first block, and the centre of the outside edge with the point at which the two inner triangles intersect.

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Fold out the triangle, then finger-press it back along the line …. this will show you where you need to mark the seam line …

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

mark and pin …

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Use your quilt square to check everything is aligned correctly, and mark the seam line …

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Stitch along the line, then fold out – the seam should pass exactly at the intersection of the inner triangles ….

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Repeat the process, opposite side first, using your quilt square to make sure everything stays perfectly aligned as you go …. you should end up with a block that looks like this ….

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Use the same method to add on the outside set of triangles …

From the back, it should look something like this …. note how all the seams are folded out the same way …..

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

And the front should look like this …

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

Make up as many blocks as you need to make the quilt …. you can either use the same repeat of fabric, or mix the order up, as you like.

When you join them together, make sure the intersections line up with each other ….

balkan puzzle quilt tutorial

And there you have it …. Balkan Puzzle variation …..

Mini-Tutorial: preparing a quilt sandwich

I was recently asked to do a custom quilting job for someone else’s quilt top, so I thought I’d put together a mini-tutorial on preparing a quilt sandwich – getting the 3 quilt layers lined up and ready for quilting.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a really big dining table (or even luckier, an enormous workbench!), you’re going to be working on the floor. So here’s top tip number one: even if you just cleaned the floor yesterday, clean it again before you start. There are few things more irritating than picking fluff, thread and the odd cat hair offthe back of your quilt when you’re done!

Top tip number two: iron both the backing and the quilt top before you start – they’ll be much more co-operative that way 😉

Before you start, you need to check that your quilt is ‘true’ – i.e. you have right angles in the corners, and the lengths are equal etc …. if it isn’t, use either a quilt square or set square (why is a set square a triangle? I’ve always wondered about that) to true it up, mark it with chalk and either trim or iron the edges.

First off, spread your backing (cut to size) out on the floor. Smooth it out, so that it’s nice and flat and wrinkle-free, and fix it down with tape – I use masking tape, because it sticks well without damaging the fabric, even if you’re using fleece, as here. The tape should be holding the fabric flat and smooth, and taut enough that it can’t move, but without stretching.

Next, you’re going to lay the batting over the top, and repeat the process. If you’re using a fleece backing, you get a little bit of bonus help, because the fibres will naturally stick together, but if you’re using a cotton backing, you do need to make sure the batting can’t slide around and ruck up when you put the quilt top down.

The quilt top goes down in the same way – check that it’s nice and smooth over the top and tape it in place.

Now you’re ready to start pinning. There are pros and cons to using both safety pins and regular pins here. Safety pins are more secure – you won’t be quilting to an accompaniment of tinkling pins dropping out onto the floor, and there’s less chance you’re going to impale yourself on a pin you didn’t see as you’re wrangling the quilt through your sewing machine. On the downside, safety pins tend to be larger than regular pins, so if you have a delicate fabric on your quilt top, safety pins are more likely to damage it. Also, if you’re doing anything more than stitching in the ditch, it can be tricky wrestling safety pins out as you reach them during the quilting process. I use a mixture of both … a scattering of safety pins for overall security, then supplemented with regular pins as necessary.

Once you’re pinned, you can remove all the tape ….

And …. checking that you’re still straight (I know …. but I can’t help myself).

You’re good to go.

On this quilt, all I was asked to do was a straightforward ‘in-the-ditch’ along the seams ….

Et voila ….

Front …. (OMG, I just love that fabric!! the gnomes are so cute!)

And the back …. no nasty wrinkles on the seam lines 🙂

This piece of work was done for a lady who enjoyed the patchwork process, but not the quilting part of things …. if you’re in the same boat, and are interested in my custom quilting service, please do get in touch