What if I told you there was a method for piecing the Dahlia quilt block that uses no paper piecing of any kind, just one simple template and some simple, good old strip piecing? No `y’ seams either? And, it is entirely machine stitched? So happy to introduce you to the paperless Jaya Technique!
For those of you wondering what the whole hullaballoo is about, here is a bit of history!
The Dahlia quilt block is arguably one of the most difficult quilt blocks to piece. The traditional block is either English paper pieced or hand pieced, machine piecing is not such a great option, as all edges are curved on each piece! Add to that several y-seams, and things get really, really complicated. As such, you will rarely come across a quilt with several small Dahlia blocks; it is usually one giant Dahlia covering the entire quilt.
With the popularity of foundation paper piecing, the block is simplified somewhat, without taking away its beauty. One edge of the ‘petals’ is straightened, and the block is pieced in arcs on the sewing machine. This what the arcs and the pieces look like!
These arcs are then assembled to make up the block. I love paper piecing and browsing the net came across a method where foundation paper patterns are chain strip pieced.
I decided to try that out with the dahlia block and it worked!
And then, a fellow quilter who was doing the quilt came up with a truly, amazingly easy method for piecing the Dahlia quilt block! Those of you who have been following this blog may remember I had promised to share this brilliant technique with you – a method I am going to call the paperless Jaya Method after Jaya Parker, who came up with it!
This method uses no paper piecing of any kind, just a simple template and some simple, good old strip piecing! No y seams either and it is entirely machine stitched!
I’ll let Jaya take over and explain the method in her own words. Thus spake…er…wrote Jaya:
I did not plan on doing the BOM as I have several other sewing and quilting projects lined up. As I continued to see pics on the Desi Quilters page of many members trying out the dahlia block I became intrigued. Started reading up on Madhu Mathur’s blogs with detailed instructions. Madhu I love reading your write ups. Your personality definitely shines through. (Thank you, Jaya! So sweet of you!)
I have never done paper piecing and so far still haven’t . Once I saw pictures of the arcs being pieced I noted that the large pieces were essentially straight strips and wondered if I could just join straight strips first then cut out arcs and join. So here goes-
In the beginning I joined strips that were the width mentioned in the fabric requirement section.
Once I had printed out the templates I realized the strips were too wide so I adjusted the widths by sewing additional seams on the back.
I picked the lotus design envisioned by Madhu.
Based on the pattern I figured it would need 2 separate strip sets. The second strip set was made correctly, taking into account the measurement adjustments needed in the first!
Cut 8 arcs from each strip set. I pinned the template using 2 pins for cutting out the shape the removed paper before sewing.
I used no letter codes for joining.
The two halves form a paisley like shape once assembled! Just eyeballed Madhu’s yin and yang and joined so that my blue triangles on the edge were making an arc and so also the white triangles on the inside edge. ( Some seam ripping was done initially to learn the correct placement )
I joined the arcs from outer edge to inner circle. Stitched very very slowly . I set my machine to its slowest speed. Coaxed the arcs and curves so the strip seams matched from one arc to the next. Opened out frequently while joining as the individual ‘petal’ seams curve down and just joining seam to seam may not open up on point.
I seam ripped a few times to achieve this, though still not perfect . The lotus pattern was more forgiving as there were a lot of pink strips with identical fabric.
Joined 8 arcs together alternating an arc from each strip set. Repeated to make 2 halves or paisleys or yin and yang that are basically identical .
Now for the center –
I made 2 halves of a pinwheel using 2 half square triangle (hsts) each ( ie make a total of 4 hsts)
I just joined 2 pieces of fabric squares – I used a dark and light yellow fabric square (7 inch square each)to each other right sides inside. Stitched 1/4″ away from all 4 edges. Cut 2 diagonals in criss cross fashion on the square after sewing edges and voila …I had 4 hsts! Joined in sets of 2.
I used a bowl that was slightly larger than the center circle template to cut out the semi circles.
Joined each semi circle to yin and yang.
My semi circles were slightly larger than the template but this helped me even out my inner circle with my slightly uneven white triangles. These were not perfect as this was not paper pieced . I trimmed off the excess yellow fabric on the wrong of the center after sewing.
Thank you, Jaya! We love your Lotus and we love your easy method Dahlia!
As I read an reread Jaya’s method, I realised that you can use as many strips as you like and the method would still work! But the placement of the template is important. The seams have to be exactly parallel to the seam lines on the paper template.
I am working on a super template that will make all this less confusing. Actually, it is ready, but I need to write out the instructions. Till then, happy quilting!