Friday, December 16, 2016

Quick Bow Tie Cutting

To be honest, I didn't really think I'd get 800 little bow tie blocks finished by year end (80 blocks each month of the assigned color) back in April when I started the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I wanted to make a scrappy mini bow tie quilt and I was already behind as the quilt along had started in January.

My plan was to make a big lap size quilt with 2" finished bow tie blocks. I would sew the 2" bow ties into 16-patch blocks (finishing at 8" square) to make the construction easier. A layout of 6 blocks across by 8 blocks down meant I would need 768 bow ties. I rounded up to 800 because it's such a nice even number divisible by 10 months! And I could do something cute with the leftovers. So that's how I decided I needed to make 80 of each color.

All excited, I pulled out a big bin of orange scraps and started cutting. For each block, I cut (2) 1-1/2" squares and (2) 1" squares of an orange scrap. I was cutting them one scrap at a time, trying to use up as many little pieces as possible. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r!

Each month, this process took a little longer and was a bit less enjoyable.

As I was cutting the blocks for my 8th color, I figured out a super fast way to cut these pieces. I decided to document one month's cutting and share it in a tutorial just in case someone else might want to make one. (These instructions don't include the white blocks because I used a solid white and just stacked the fabric, cutting tons of 1-1/2" squares at a time, so you might want to cut a few hundred of those first.)

Anyway, here's what I came up with to make 80 quick blocks from one color:

Select 10 scraps of one color - each needs to be big enough to cut (6) 3" squares.

From each fabric pile, create 2 stacks - 1 with 4 pieces and the other with 2 pieces.  Cut the stack of 4 in half both vertically and horizontally.  Cut the stack of 2 into thirds both vertically and horizontally. Discard 2 of the 18 one-inch squares.

Gather (16) 1-1/2" white squares and the remaining 16 one-inch yellow squares. Place a yellow square right side down on any corner of the white square and stitch diagonally across the yellow square.  Repeat to make 16 like this - these can be chain-stitched in about 2 or 3 minutes!

Clip the corners off, leaving about 1/4" seam allowance.

Press the yellow piece out toward the corner with the seam allowance going toward the yellow fabric.

Place the freshly pressed squares, with the yellow corner in the lower right hand side on your table and set the 1-1/2" yellow squares next to them as shown below.

To sew these together, flip the yellow square over on to the white/yellow square and sew the edge - always make sure the yellow triangle corner stays in the lower right hand position.  (Good grief there's a lot of lint on that shaft!)

Take 2 identical blocks and finger press the seam toward the yellow piece.

Then rotate the top piece and fold it down onto the bottom piece. Stitch along edge, interlocking the seam. These can be chain-pieced.

Clip the blocks apart and "pinwheel" the center intersecting seams on the back and press.

Turn it over and give it a final, finishing press!

Now breeze through the rest of your scrap piles!

This may not be quite as scrappy as if I had cut them one at a time. But even if they're all done with this method, I'd still have 80 different fabrics in the quilt!


  1. Oh Vicki, that was so clever! I am definitely going to keep this technique in my stash of technique goodies. You made a daunting task into something simple and enjoyable. It will be so helpful for RSC2017!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to share your tutorial!! I absolutely LOVE miniature blocks and this will be great for a future RSC project for me.

  3. Mini bowties sound like fun! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. A great tutorial, can't wait to see the finish. But wowza that's a ton of teeny tiny blocks!!

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