July 9, 2011

DWR Quilt Along: Piecing the Arcs

DWR Quilt Along

Alright. Here we go...sorry for the delay kids! Now let's get down to brass tacks. I know most people use the brown bag method for the Double Wedding Ring pattern, which is completely fine. For those of you not familiar with this term, the "brown bag method" is when you put all your squares in an opaque bag (like a brown paper sack), shake them up, and randomly pull them out one at a time as you piece.

You can piece your quilt however you like, but personally, I don't use the brown bag method. Knowing my rotten luck, I'd get to the last arc and have 6 squares of the exact same print. Instead, what I did was divide my 13 prints into two groups of 6. Umm, Kaelin...I hate to tell you this, but 13 doesn't divide evenly into two. And you're exactly right! For the 13th print that ended up the odd-man out, I divided it's squares between the two fabric groups (19 squares went to the first group, 18 squares to the other).

There are 80 arcs total, so you'll make 40 arcs from each of your two fabric groups. And since each arc is made up of 6 pieces, I alternate that 13th print into every other arc within each group. In other words, for every 2nd arc I make from each group, I swap out one of the 6 main prints with a square of the odd-man 13th print. Aside from that, the rest of the piecing is random - I don't arrange the fabric in the same order for every arc. (I'll show you a photo of what I'm talking about at the end of the post).

Yes, this method is a little more complicated than pulling fabrics out of a bag, but I found the colors and prints were a lot more evenly distributed than when I left it up to chance. There were no light or dark clumps of color, or multiples of the same print within an arc.

Step 1 - edited

So enough with the confusing math, and more about paper piecing.

Grab one of the paper arcs you cut out, and two fabric squares.

Note: If you're trying to arrange your prints in any particular order, keep in mind that we're actually piecing the arc backwards. So whatever prints you sew first, will actually wind up at the end (right side) of the arc.

Flip one of the squares over, and line them up right-sides together (my squares aren't lined up in the picture below because I wanted to show you the direction each print was facing).

Place your paper arc on top of the squares and center it. (I'll show you below what happens if you don't center it.) The first line will be a little over 1/4" away from the edge of the fabric.

Align your needle directly over the first line, and sew on top of it all the way to the end of the paper. Don't worry about trimming away your stray threads, because they'll all get clipped off at a later time.

Step 5

Step 6

If you align your paper over the fabric haphazardly (as seen below) instead of centering it...
Error 1.1

...when you flip the arc over and fold back your second fabric square, it will be too short and you won't have enough seam allowance to properly sew your 2nd and 3rd squares together. Boo! Hiss! No one wants that, so don't get sloppy or you'll have to break out the seam ripper!

Error 1.2

Fold the paper back and trim the seam allowance down to 1/4". You can measure & mark it if you want, but I just eyeball it.

Step 8.1

Step 8.2

After you've trimmed down your seam, flip the arc over and fold back the top piece of fabric. Finger press or use a small seam presser to set your fabric in place. (It's really not necessary to use a regular iron on every single seam...finger pressing works fine if you don't have a seam presser/mini iron)

Step 9.1

Step 9.3

Grab your 3rd piece of fabric, and lay it right side down on top of the 2nd piece, lining up the edges.

Step 10

Flip the arc over, line it up under your needle, and sew down the second line.

Step 11

Trim your seam, flip the arc over again...

Step 12

...and press the 3rd piece down.

Step 13

Repeat this process until you've attached all 6 pieces to the paper arc template.

Step 16

Flip the arc over so that you can see the paper template. Using a fine, sharp pair of scissors, cut away the excess fabric.

Step 17

Step 18

Remember earlier when I said not to worry about those stray threads? If you quickly brush them away from the center of the arc before you start cutting, they'll be snipped off as you trim away the excess fabric!

Step 19

Voila! Once you finish trimming the fabric to the same size as the paper arc template, you'll have completed your first arc! Repeat 79 more times, and you'll be right as rain, lol! ;)

Step 20

LEAVE THE PAPER ATTACHED TO THE ARCS FOR NOW. You'll be up crap creek without a paddle if you tear the paper off, because you'll need the paper as a guide (for seam allowances) when you're assembling the blocks.

Step 21

Oh, and one more thing. Remember when I was talking about all those fabric groups and alternating prints and hullaballoo earlier? Well here's a picture for those of you that are visual learners like me. I made two arcs from each fabric group, and if you look for the white stars, you'll see that I'm alternating in that lonely 13th print. On every other arc I make within each group, I'm taking out one of my 6 main prints and swapping in that outlier print. So when I'm done, 19 arcs in Group 1 and 18 arcs in Group 2 will contain that odd print.

Like I said, the brown paper bag method is simpler, but it's a matter of preference for me. My method takes a little more time and concentration, but it's a good trade-off for me because I'd rather have a bit more control over the fabric arrangement. I really liked how evenly the colors and prints were distributed in my last DWR :) 

Step 22

Happy Piecing! Feel free to post questions in the Comments or email me! I'll try to answer your questions as time allows :)


THANK YOU for this! i love the single girl quilt, but i thought that it was insane for the directions to have included cutting every single arc piece from a template. this method is SO much faster.

I did the "shake'n'bake" method for my arcs. When I got down to the last ten or fifteen arcs left, I took everything left out of the bucket and separated, and then arranged them more specifically. I lucked out and didn't have any prints repeating within an arc! I also broke a quilting taboo and went rogue(freehand) with my rotary cutter when it came time to trim the excess fabric off my arcs. It worked amazingly well for me, but I probably woudn't recommend it for everyone, if not just for safety reasons.

Kaelin, what would you think of the idea of using fusible featherweight interfacing on my background fabric...? Seems like it would make marking/cutting accurately a lot easier... I don't know, just a thought...

GREAT tutorial!!! I've never attempted any quilt with curved pieces.. now this makes it look as though it may be possible.. someday soon!!

Thank you so much for this lesson! I think I can now face paper piecing and arcs with a little peace of mind. :)

I've never attempted paper piecing...you've made it much less scary than I thought!

Great tutorial pics and inspiration for this quilt! I would like to offer one suggestion that works for me. When paper piecing the arcs, I use "finger pressing" method (run my finger, finger nail along the seam) rather than pressing the seam with the iron. To me this greatly speeds the process and helps me not to distort the seam. I also fold the paper back and run my thumbnail across it for each seam before trimming the fabric and adding the next fabric slice. This approach seems to make paper removal easier later on. I then press the entire arc before trimming to it's final shape. Let me know what you all think :)
Thanks again for this lovely work!

Shout out to Caitlin - Thanks for the idea!
I also used the "rogue" rotary cutter method (VERY carefully) when trimming the arcs with good success. The smallest cutter 28mm seemed to give the best control on the curves.

Do the end colors need to be the same every time? Did I imagine that or is that another step?

@Wanda - I talked about finger pressing in Step 6. I finger pressed as well when I made my last DWR, and that's definitely what I recommend unless the reader has a fancy seam pressing tool they wanna use.

@Michelle - are you talking about the 2.5" squares that will make up the intersections, or the end of the arcs themselves? if it's the intersection squares, i'll talk about that portion in the next post...but if you mean the end of the arcs, then you can use whatever fabrics you want - it won't matter in the end :)

I LOVE it- so sinple and you are a fab teacher!! I am so excited to do this- gotta get some more fabric :)

Can't wait to see the next instructions :) Already assembled one arc with a melon. But did not work as good as I hoped :/

Is there a flickr group for our photos? Would love to see the other quilts come to life.


oh awesome! I'm so late getting to this, but planning to start my arcs today. I am too much of a control freak to do the brown bag method - thanks for such a detailed explanation of how you did the fabric distribution!

Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More