Twisted Sisters On-Line Tutorial

This on-line tutorial is not a substitute for the pattern accompanying your Twisted Sisters Rotary Template, but rather a supplement. Since many quilters learn best when they see the teacher doing each step, I took pictures as I made "Mom Always Liked Me Best," one of my favorite Twisted Sisters. Sharing these pictures is as close as I can come to crawling through your monitor, sitting on your lap, and telling you exactly what to do.

You've probably seen this before: READ THE PATTERN COMPLETELY FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END BEFORE YOU START. It wouldn't hurt to read this tutorial all the way to the end either.


MAKE A SAMPLE BLOCK. Do this BEFORE you cut ALL your fabric.

Picking colors is sometimes the hardest part of a quilt for me. I like to use what I call a "Pull Fabric"—something with several colors that blend well together. (Since my training in color theory came from years of dressing myself, I figure if somebody else put the colors together and I liked it enough to buy it, then it must work.) Once I establish the Pull Fabric, I "pull" fabrics that go with it.

My Pull Fabric is over on the right. As you can see I didn't have too much trouble gathering fabrics to go with it.

For this quilt, I was following the A/B, C/D, E/F strategy and opted to work with the longer strips since I don't have that many fat quarters and I was after a larger quilt anyway. After cutting my strips, I sliced them in half to give me more options, and grouped them in pairs.

I "chain stitched" the strips, feeding them in one after the other. While it saves time to stitch them all together in one sitting, it's best if YOU make one sample block first. It is especially important that you read the last sentence in step #3. Aloud. And then do what it says. Check your "sistered" strips with the template, then make chunks, slice your chunks into wedges, and assemble your block. IF everything works (especially your strip width/seam allowance against the template) THEN come back and cut and sew all the pairs together.

After all the pairs are sewn, I press. I like to press from the top. I lay the fabric on my ironing board with the wider side on top. I lift up the corner and use the iron to open it the rest of the way.

I'm very careful to make sure the seam is STRAIGHT. Pressing is a good chance to make sure you've stitched straight seams. If you're off a little, you can sometimes "block" it into shape. If you're off a lot, rip it and try again.

If everything is straight, the next step is to lay the Twisted Sisters Rotary Template (TSRT) on the sistered strips and see if the line on the template matches the seam line and the fabric extends all the way to the bottom edge of the template. If they don't, make your seam allowance narrower or cut your wider strip a tad wider. If you discover you're off a bit NOW, it's so much easier to fix BEFORE you cut all your strips than after. (Don't panic if the fabric extends beyond the template up on top. It should.) (Wondering why my TSRT is, well, UGLY? I put paper on top of it so you could see it. Since it's made out of snazzy crystal clear acrylic, the camera couldn't pick it up!)

Once you've got the seam allowance and strip width set, chop the sistered strips into chunks. Pitch the skinny trimmings over on the right, but save the rather large chunk on the left. You can use that for bindings, borders, or backing patchwork. (Or, stick your gum in it and throw it away.)

Place your TSRT on a chunk and slice the right and top sides. (My plan is to get the whole tutorial up and pictures of the quilts, then come back and show you the "lefty" methods of cutting. Until then, look at the pattern.)

If you find the template a little slippery, paint the bottom with a light coat of rubber cement. (Let it dry before you plop the TSRT on top of the fabric.) The rubber cement will be very tacky at first, and less over time. If you ever want to remove it, RUB it off. Solvents will remove the rubber cement too, but they'll also take the cute little line and all the words off the back of the TSRT too. BEWARE!

Every block needs four wedges and a block center.

Arrange them like this to make sure you have enough pieces for each block.

Stitch the first wedge and the block center together.

I put the block center on top and stitch down until I get to the seam of the wedge underneath. Then I STOP.

This is, after all, a partial seam. (No need to backstitch when you stop stitching unless you're in the habit of taking your patchwork and swinging it around your head several times in a victory salute.)

The second wedge is added to the first wedge and block center.

Pop it in the machine with the block center on top. That way you'll be starting with a right angle, which is pretty easy to align.

Do note, however, that the bottom alignment is very different. The two pieces of fabric need to be even ¼" from the raw edges at the right, where the seam will occur. Lining it up properly will give you little "dog ears" now but a smooth side when the block is complete. PIN before you sew. Press seam allowance away from the block center.

It might be a little easier to see the "dog ears" from the other side, so I flipped it over for this shot. See the little yellow triangle popping out? The stitching line passes right through the V-shape made by the two pieces of fabric.

Again, place the block center on top as you sew with the easy-to-align right angle as you begin. Be sure to make the "dog ears" at the bottom and pin. Press as before.

Now you're ready for the fourth and final wedge.

Pull the first wedge back and out of the way so that you can again place the block center on top as you sew. Don't forget to pin the "dog ears" and press as before.

All that remains now is to finish the first seam you started.

Breaking tradition, you'll have to start sewing with the "dog ears" at the edge of the block and stitch toward the block center. Stop when you run into the end of the partial seam you stitched earlier.

Press from the wrong side and do the Happy Dance! You've got a block done!

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