How to Paper Piece The Carousel Quilt

I have been working on this quilt this week.  When I saw the pattern, I knew I needed to make it.  I ordered it from  Everyday Quilts in Australia here:

I learned that the pattern was written with instructions on how to hand piece the quilt (no machine sewing).  I wasn’t sure I’d live long enough to hand piece this beautiful quilt, so I figured out another way.

I’m going to show you how I adapted this pattern to make it more easily with paper piecing.  Above is the original pattern.  Below is another way to make these 4 quarters that are put together to make a full Dresden Plate using a paper piecing method.

I had a ream of newsprint paper purchased at a paper good store.  I took the ream to the copy center and had it trimmed to 8.5″ by 11″ so it would fit in my copy machine.  (You’ll want to use the thinnest paper you can find so it’s easy to remove later.)

Then I easily drafted the fan quarter from the original pattern piece by extending lines to each of the marked seam lines.  I also marked the seam line and the seam allowance lines on the outer edge and in the center.

Then I cut these pieces out, and using a flat ruler, I folded on each line, back and forth (fold both ways).

To start making a quarter fan, you will work from the back side of the newsprint.  I cut my strips 1.5″ x 5.”  (If you are new to this method, I’d cut them 1.75″ x 5″ to give you a little wiggle room.)

Place your first strip on the BACK side of the fan, checking to see that all of the blade is covered, including the seam allowances.  Then place blade #2 on top, right sides together, with the upper edge lined up.

Carefully turn the fabric and paper over.  Fold the paper back to make sure you have a seam allowance (I used a scant 1/4″ seam).  Then fold the paper back and stitch on the drawn line, sewing these first two pieces together.  You can pin it if that makes you more confident.

Then open the pieces, checking to be sure you covered the area of the blade with seam allowances on each end.  Finger press (use your fingernail) the seam open each time you add a blade.

Now turn it back over to the back side, fold the paper back for the next seam (#2), and trim away the excess fabric, leaving a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

Now take your next fabric blade (#3) and line it up with the edge of the 2nd blade you just trimmed.  When it’s positioned, carefully turn the paper and fabric over and stitch this second seam as you did the first.

Turn it over, finger press the seam open and check to be sure you covered the seam allowances on each end.  You’ll get the hang of it after doing a few blades!

Repeat the same process, finger pressing the seam open, then trimming off the excess fabric before adding blade #4.

Now add blade #4 in the same way.  Repeat this process with each blade you add.

In a few minutes, you’ll have a completed fan!  I like to lay out 9 fabric stips before I start sewing each fan.  Make sure they play well together, with good contrast and complimenting colors.  You can pin bundles of 9 together and then just focus on the sewing.

When each fan is finished, it will look like this:

Then trim the edges, the right angle, leaving the 1/4″ seam allowances, and the curved outer edge.  I will trim the inside circle later before appliqueing the center there.

It took me 5-10 minutes to make each fan.  I finished enough for the entire quilt in 2 days!

These fans are so beautiful, they make me feel giddy!  I didn’t want to stop making them!

Now you can sew the 4 quarter fans together to make a complete Dresden Plate.  I will remove the paper and turn the outer edges under (using a cereal box cardboard template and spray starch) before appliqueing them onto squares of fabric.  I think I’ll keep the backgrounds scrappy too with a different low volume light print for each block.

I’m going to be thinking about different options for a border.  Stay tuned to see what I come up with!  I hope this alternate method is helpful if you’re looking for a fun way to make these Carousel Dresden blocks!

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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