Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Favorite Technique

Furling. It has lots of different names: popping, twisting, twirling. I call it furling, because that's the term I learned when I first started using the technique. And that was on the second or third quilt I made over ten years ago now.

It's used in Chopped.

And in Amber Waves.

To make a 4patch, for example, you sew two 2patches, press the seams to the darker fabric (usually), place the 2patches right-sides-together so the seam intersections 'nest' or meet in the center, and sew the two patches together. Press the longest seam to one side or the other, and the center often has lumpy-bumpy spot where all the seams stack up.

Furling involves removing the last two or three stitches from the 2patch seams that are between the longer 4patch seam and the edge of the fabric--where the seam ripper is pointing.

Then place the 4patch right side down on the ironing surface. Notice the 2patch seams (the solid line arrows) are pointed in opposite directions. The dotted line arrows show how to press the last seam--the top half to the left, and the bottom half to the right. . .

So the seams rotate around the center, in this case in a counter clockwise direction, and only the very center of the seam is open. One downside of furling, is that you have to loosen up on the 'always press seams to the darker fabric' rule of thumb.

From the front, the seams appear to rotate in the opposite direction, clockwise. More importantly, the center is perfectly flat.

Some might argue that furling weakens the seam. I can't say that I've ever experienced a problem with seams coming out. The rest of the seam is locked in because the longer seam remains intact.

Furling can be a little confusing. For these two 4patches, the seams appear to be in the same place, but the seam on the 4patch to the left was sewn with the white fabric heading into the sewing machine first. The 4patch on the right was sewn, lavender fabric first. No big deal, right? A 4patch is a 4patch after all . . .

. . . However, notice that, when furled, the seams rotate in opposite directions. Okay, no biggie, unless these two 4patch units will be sewn to each other, then the seam intersections where the two blocks meet won't oppose, creating a new lumpy spot.

When the 4patches are sewn the same way, in other words, always the white first, or always the lavender first, the seams will furl in the same direction, block after block . . .

. . . regardless of the orientation of the block. Notice the position of the letter A in the lavender square in the block above and the block below. It's the same block, just rotated 90˚, and the seams still intersect nicely where the two blocks meet.

With all this wonderfulness, what could possibly go wrong? Well, if the original 2patch seams aren't nested nicely when the 4patch is created, the seams won't furl.

A 'harmless' little gap in the center of the four-patch, and . . .

Even the smallest overlap, could wreak havoc on best-laid furling plans.

Furling isn't just for 4patches. As long as seams within rows alternate, each intersection can be furled. Like this 9patch.



Furling is especially nice when lots of seams converge in the middle. Like a pinwheel.


And when hand-piecing, since you sew point to point, not over intersections, the seams can create complex patterns twisting one way and the other on the back of the block.

Sorry, you're not allowed to see the front of this one just yet. It's a pattern in the works. Hand pieced. I can't wait to show it to you; it's gonna be a beauty! I'm using Inklingo to make the hand-pieced blocks. Inklingo is my FAVORITE technique for piecing!

What? You can't expect me to have only ONE favorite, can you? *wink-wink!*

Happy Stitching!

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