In a nutshell, the technique involves stitching together two narrow strips of fabric, adding a wide strip face-to-face with the panel of narrow strips, and stitching seams on both sides forming a tube. You then use a ruler to make 45-degree cuts along the tube, forming triangles that open up into pretty blocks.
The blocks can then be formed into a four-square in various ways, creating simple patterns like the double hourglass.
Sounds simple, right? Actually, it is!
My mom's birthday is coming up right after Valentine's Day so I decided to make a runner using this technique for the long counter she has in her bathroom. I selected three fabrics out of my stash, cut the strips needed, re-cut the wide strip because I measured wrong, then started stitching.
Once I watched the video again to be sure I understood how to use the square ruler to make the 45-degree cuts (remember, I'm a total newbie) , I laid out my fabric tube and started cutting, ending up with lots of blocks like these:
(Notice the color difference between the above pic and all the other pics? That's the difference between natural light and artificial light. Crazy, huh?)
Then I started piecing the four-square blocks, ending up with mismatched seams and wonky edges. I had decided that the runner would have three four-square blocks with a 3-inch border/sashing, so my three blocks were ripped apart and restitched with more careful seam-pinning.
Perfect! The blocks looked much better, and after some careful measuring and cutting, they were beautiful nine-inch blocks just ready for some border. I cut the strips for the border, neglecting to measure the overall length to be sure I had enough, and sure as shooting...I was short a few inches. Here's where I stand now:
So...what's a girl to do? After a lot of hair-pulling and head-scratching, I decided to put together a simple four-square for each corner of the border, eliminating the need for several inches of border fabric.
I've already tried making those four-squares several times using different measurements, but I think I have the math right now and am ready to tackle them again today (can you tell that math wasn't my best subject in school?). Wish me luck!
Note: I know that a year from now I'll cringe when I see this project, but it's a good exercise for me to attempt to create without a pattern. My mom will smile and say she loves it (even if she thinks it's butt-ugly) and my self-esteem will be restored. ;o)
If you're not familiar with tube quilting and would like to see the video, you can check it out here: