Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Solstice Quilt: Arkansas Traveler

I fell in love with the Arkansas Traveler block the very first time I saw it over on Freshly Pieced.  Since then I've seen so many beautiful versions pop up in the blogosphere, but I knew I needed more experience before I attempted it myself. Paper piecing and diamonds -- whoa. I feel like I've been practicing for this very moment for months. Well, ready or not, I went for it!

As you may know, the Arkansas Traveler combines traditional piecing with paper piecing. You begin by cutting 60 degree diamonds (measured to the eighth of an inch!), and assemble them in groups of four. I went through a lot of layout variations in my head, but in the end I went scrappy.

This was my first time doing diamonds, but it was easier than imagined. I used my Perkins Ruler to show me where the scant quarter inch seam would fall, and used that to gauge where the dog ears should go. That seemed to work really well for me. I definitely still had to pay attention when lining up the diamond sets, but I only had to rip out a few seams.

Once the diamond sets are complete, they are set into the background via paper piecing. I'm happy to say that paper piecing came more naturally this time, and passed more quickly. It took me just a few minutes to do the paper piecing and trim up my four mini-blocks.

Matching up the points was definitely the toughest part of this block. I'm happy to say that my little Janome was able to push through the center seam with the papers intact. Thank you, Acufeed. That's a lot of fabric and a lot of paper, but we chugged through it.

Unfortunately, it wasn't until I matched up all the seams that I realized I had an error in one of my four mini-blocks. See that one in the upper left of the finished block? The paper must have slid on me while  I was paper piecing that bit. By the time I noticed it was way too late to fix.  I'm a little disappointed, but my sister made me promise not to go crazy making her quilt. So I'm resisting the urge to rip it all out and start over. Have I mentioned that my sister is amazing? Because she is.

Here's a little status shot of my three blocks so far. I'm really pleased with how it is turning out!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced, which seems extra appropriate this week. I can't thank Lee enough -- this really is an amazing block, and it comes with a perfectly clear tutorial. Always an inspiration.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


  1. I've been paper-piecing off and on for years and I just recently learned a trick when joining units: you can peel off the seam allowance paper once you've got two units together, so you don't wind up stitching through so many layers of paper and fabric. And as a bonus, you don't have to try to pick out those bits of paper that've been sewn in so tightly. (So if you sewed the top left to the top right, you can peel off that strip of paper from the seam allowance on either side, then do the same when you piece the bottom left to bottom right. Then none of that paper is in the way when you put the top and bottom together.)

    1. That is a great tip, thank you so much! My next block is paper pieced and I will definitely be giving it a try.

  2. These are amazing blocks! I understand your trepidation, but they are beautiful!

    1. Thanks so much, Jenny. This quilt is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. Each block has been a little anxiety provoking to start, but finishing them feels great!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Deborah, thank you! I let my sister pick three main colors (navy, gold and grey), and I filled in the rest (*cough* lots of aqua because that's what I do!) It's been really fun experimenting with colors outside my usual color palette.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you, Rachel. This is my first time using all solids, but I see many more solids in my future :)