Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Checkerboard Tutorial

You will need two pieces of fabric, I used one solid and one print. They need to be approximately 9 X 20 inches. If using fat quarters you can fold them in quarters. Fold selvage to center cut and them fold in half again. Cut along the fold. If using larger pieces you can use a ruler to cut a piece to size.

TIP: If your fabric pieces do not include a selvage, then mark or place pin at one end of each fabric piece to be used as "selvage" in this tutorial. Keep the marked edges together when layering.

Lay one fabric on top of the other, both with right sides up. Align as closely as possible. I show them a little offset for demonstration purposes.

To start you will need to cut thru both layers to make little strips. At the beginning you need to cut two sets strips so you can leave the 9 X 20 layered fabric pieces intact and cut the little strips from them. I used scissors and cut gentle curves. If this scares you, you can cut straighter lines. You can use a rotary cutter, but cut at an angle to give you the wonkiness. Please remember I am left handed and things may seem backwards. Try turning the picture upside down it you are confused.

TIP: The gentler the curves the easier it is to sew the strips together. Take you time when cutting to prevent angle cuts instead of curved cuts.

Take your two strips and separate the top and bottom layers. Lay one print next to one solid and one print next to a solid as above. Be sure the curves match on the two strips you have matched up. They should fit exactly and when lined up with a straight edge on the top where you start sewing the seam. This is true even if you are using straight lines.

TIP: To help keep strips correctly aligned start from the selvage edge. Keep the selvages or marked edges on one side, either right or left. You will know the selvage is always the beginning and should not have any seams on that edge.

Sew your two first little strips together. Do not pin. You will need to manipulate the fabric to fit the curved line you have cut. Even straight edges cut by scissors are not exactly straight and some manipulation will be necessary. The little strips may end up not seeming to be the same length, but this is OK. This is not an exact science. Amazingly they will lay flat. Press the seams. I am a fan of finger(nail) pressing, but do what you like to do. From your 9 X 20 inch fabric layers cut another strip.

TIP: Keep the curves gentle so the fabric is easier to manipulate while sewing.

Again align the strips as above. Continue to match the seam allowances. Keep the selvage edge on the right or left side. Since you are cutting thru both layers at the same time the seams should always match. Continue cutting little strips and sewing them, aligning and sewing them together until you come to the end of your 9 X 20 inch layer. Press after each little strip is attached.
TIP: I lay my two layers next to my sewing machine and make one cut at a time (except at the beginning). I lay each set of little strips out before sewing to ensure I am aligning the seams together correctly. It is worth taking a little time to do this as misaligned seams will not lay flat even with pressing.

You will now have two beautiful strips of little strips. They will measure approximately 9 X 14 inches. Exactness in not a virtue. You can even use the strips if you like, but onto the checkerboard part of the tutorial.

Lay one strip of little strips on top of the other. Keep the selvages on the right or left. I have offset the strips for demonstration, but you can see how the two strips are opposites...print on solid and vice versa.

TIP: You should have one solid and one print on top of each other at the selvage edge. If you have the selvage edges have the same fabric, you will end up with stair steps. This can be OK and fun too if you are not making checkboards. Onto the next step for checkerboards.

Sorry these two got repeated....now how did I do that?

Like the first set of little strips you need to make two cuts the length of the sewn strip. The curves should be very gentle since it more difficult to manipulate the fabric when sewing the seams. Keep the selvages layered one on top of the other.

Lay the strips side by side. The Seams should match and you should see the checkerboard starting to appear. Keep the selvages at the top or bottom to ensure everything comes together correctly.

Sew seams together. Do not pin. Manipulate the fabric as you sew to fit together. They may end up being different lengths. This is OK. Do not try to match the seam allowances.
This is a case of close enough is good enough. Press seams. Continue cutting strips the length of the layered fabric. I only managed to get 4 out of a 9 inch wide strip. The last strip is a little wide, but if you are sewing the strips together that will come in handy.

Now you have two strips of checker board fabric. Press. They should measure approximately

6 X 14 inches.

This can be used as is or cut in any shape you want....squares, triangles, rectangles, even simple applique shapes. They can be sewn together to make a 13 - 14 inch square.

Once you get the hang of this technique you can cut the size and shape the the pieces to be made into a checkerboard whatever size you want. Just keep in mind that the more seams the smaller you finished piece will be. You can calculate by how much is will shrink if you want by counting up the seam allowances but I would just rather have fun.

Please let me know is there is any thing unclear or confusing, so I can clarify it. Thanks and enjoy making checkboards or whatever you want from them. Contact me at bbbee at sbcglobal dot net or Thescrappybee123.blogspot.com.


Nifty Quilts said...

Thanks! I love this block--especially in your red and yellow!

Cindy said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Can't wait to try it!

Maureen T. said...

This tutorial is awesome!! I really want to try this too. Thanks so much.

Eat Sleep Quilt said...

Great tut, I can just see it in a black-and-white border. Thanks for sharing!

Glen QuiltSwissy said...

I can't wait to get back from Europe (just rubbing it in ladies) and try this.

glen: formerly of Louisiana, but soon to be in Egypt,Greece and Rome

Victoria Findlay Wolfe said...

LOVE how your quilt is turning out like this... great tutorial thanks!

Becky said...

Victoria, I loved discovering this checkerboard tutorial and made several from fabrics I dyed this summer. Just wanted you to know I enjoy lurking here, and that I appreciate the little bits of inspiration I get when I visit! Thanks so much.
-Becky, Shelly's friend from Austin who made the self portrait w/ bird on head