by Ruth B. McDowell ©2000
ISBN 1-57120-091-6

Pieced Flowers is designed to provide the quilter with a variety of pieced flower blocks that are very adaptable to a series of classes. Some blocks are very simple, with only a few templates, some more complex. Some stand alone as complete wall hangings. Techniques include straight seams, inset corner seams, curved seams, one foundation pieced block, and puzzle seams.

Each student in your classes should be required to buy a copy of Pieced Flowers.
Click here for ordering information or to purchase the book.

I recommend that you thoroughly master these techniques before beginning to teach them.

Piecing: Expanding the Basics provides a series of exercises in Part 1 that explains these construction processes.
The blocks also introduce various design ideas: graph paper blocks, unusual block shapes, related blocks, connecting blocks, and unusual sets.

Enlarging the Blocks
Each block in the book has a recommended
minimum practical size. This will produce a block with pieces similar in size to those found in traditional pieced blocks. The block patterns in the book (not the piecing diagrams) should be enlarged on a copier at the percentage indicated to produce a block of the minimum size. You may certainly enlarge the block patterns more than the minimum recommended size. In general, bigger is easier.

If your copier cannot make the enlargement in one pass, enlarge the block as much as you can, then use the following formula to figure what additional enlargement you need. Use this formula to calculate other enlargements as well.

(Desired dimension of block) ÷ (Dimension of existing block) x 100

This calculation can be done on a small handheld calculator if the dimensions are in decimals.
To convert sixteenths of inches to decimals, use this table:

1/16 .0625   5/16 .3125   9/16 .5625   13/16 .8125
1/8 .125   3/8 .375   5/8 .625   7/8 .875
3/16 .1875   7/16 .4375   11/16 .6875   15/16 .9375
1/4 .25   1/2 .5   3/4 .75      

Measuring in centimeters or with a ruler graduated in tenths of inches doesn't require any conversion.

Example: 17"(desired size) ÷ 8.5"(existing size) = 2 x 100 = 200%

Pressing Seams

Each piecing diagram includes small arrows to indicate in which direction the seams should be pressed. This makes a truly significant difference in the final appearance of the block, as the seam allowances serve to pad the design and enhance the sculptural quality of the final quilt. This ability to sculpture the surface is lost in foundation piecing.
Cut two identical copies of at least one of the practice blocks from
Piecing: Part 1, and piece them, pressing the seam allowances in opposite directions, to clearly demonstrate what a difference this makes to your students.
I use a steam iron, pressing each seam before adding the next piece.

I have designed these blocks to be pieced with templates. You may use whichever template making method you prefer. I make traditional plastic templates with seam allowances when making many identical blocks, as long as the individual blocks have less than ten templates.

For a few blocks, or for blocks with many templates, I make templates by tracing the block onto the shiny side of freezer paper with a ultra fine line permanent marker, Sharpie or Identipen. (Be aware: The ultra fine line permanent marker may transfer faintly to the back of the fabric. This is only noticeable on very light fabrics. Since it is the seam line, this usually doesn't matter, but write any other notations on the dull side of the freezer paper.)

For multiple copies on freezer paper: Experiment with stacked layers of freezer paper with the marked one on top. Staple or pin them together. With the thread removed from the sewing machine, stitch along all seam lines to perforate the unmarked layers.

I recommend marking a series of tics/dots/registration marks with a pencil along each seam (essential on curved seams) on the dull side of the freezer paper block before it is cut apart. The number of tics you should mark will depend on the size and tightness of the curve. See Piecing, pages 14-17, for examples. Don't place tics too close together, 1 to 1 1/2" is a good spacing. (With very closely marked tics, it is too easy to match the wrong ones.)

On the dull side of the paper, with a highlighter, draw a line just inside the outside edge of the block. Put the colored line on grain when ironing on fabric. Use a different colored highlighter to outline each section.

Label each piece with a pencil on the dull side of the freezer paper as indicated on the piecing diagram next to each block pattern. The dull side will be the reverse of the piecing diagram. It may be easier to label each piece section by section.

Iron the freezer paper pieces to the back of the selected fabric. I use a cotton/steam setting on my iron. The freezer paper piece is the finished size. When cutting the fabric pieces, add 1/4" seam allowances outside the freezer paper pieces: For straight seams, use a clear ruler and rotary cutter; for curved seams, carefully cut by eye with scissors.


Use a 1/4" foot if possible- one that allows you to see where the needle enters the cloth.
For straight seams, you can leave the freezer paper on the back of each piece, match and pin the pieces together carefully and sew along the edge of the freezer paper. Remove the freezer paper when the block is finished, or whenever it becomes awkward.

For inset corner piecing, mark dots at the corners of each piece and remove the freezer paper before sewing. Clip the inner corner as shown in
Piecing on pages 20-29. Match the dots and pivot at the insets. Shorten your stitch length to 1.5 (or 15 on an old machine), and set the machine to stop with the needle down if possible.

For curved seam piecing, mark the tics (and the seam line) on the wrong side of each fabric piece with a pencil of a color you can see. Clip the concave edge (see
Piecing, pages 14-17). Remove the freezer paper. Pin the two fabric pieces together matching each pencilled tic mark and sew with the clipped piece on top, spreading out the clips to ease the seam. You may want to shorten your stitch length to 2.0 or 1.5 (or 15 on an old machine). It is easier to piece curves with a 1/4" wide foot, rather than the wide foot found on most zigzag machines.

Here is a brief outline of some of the classes you might organize. Within each class, have everyone work on the same design, or give them a choice. Have the students piece one block, or a few blocks, or continue until a wall hanging or quilt is completed.

Class 1: Straight seams, few templates
Teach plastic template construction and straight seam piecing.
12. Campanula, p.18
13. Daylily, p. 50
14. Iris, p. 69

Class 2:
Straight seams, many templates
Teach freezer paper templates with straight seam piecing.
13. Campanula, p. 15
14. Columbine, p. 27
15. Cosmos, p. 35
16. Hollyhock, p. 57
17. Morning Glory, p. 77
18. Sweet Pea, p. 98
19. Sweet Pea graph paper blocks, p. 103

Class 3: Straight seams, many templates, more difficult construction
Teach more difficult straight seam piecing, with tiny or narrow pieces.
Also see Piecing, pages 46-47.
15. Columbine, p. 23
16. Daisy, p. 39
17. Iris, p. 66

Class 4:
Foundation piecing, puzzle pieces
Also see Piecing, pages 9, 34-35.
16. Morning Glory, p. 81

Class 5: Inset corner seams
Teach inset corners.
17. Cosmos, p. 33

Class 6:
Curved seams
Teach curved seams.
18. Campanula, p. 13
19. Columbine, p. 21
20. Cosmos, p. 31
21. Daylily, p. 43
22. Iris, p. 63
23. Morning Glory, p. 73

Class 7: Flaps
Also see Piecing, pages 74-76.
19. Daisy, p. 40

Class 8:
Master Class
The most complicated blocks in the book to sew:
20. Daylily, p. 45
21. Hollyhock, p. 54

22. Rose, p. 85