Friday, 28 February 2014

Seminole or Zig Zag Quilt Panel - From the Mountains of Wales to South Africa

Close up of zig zag quilt border
Zig Zag Quilt Panel Detail
For my Only Kids Aloud Aparteid charity quilt I really want to include quilt blocks that have meaning for either Wales or South Africa - or both!

I love traditional quilt block patterns and have quite a few books with 100's of designs which I've been itching to try out. 

Browsing through the books, I spotted this lovely zig zag pattern which I reminded me of mountain peaks and valleys - something both South Africa and South Wales have aplenty! 

This quilt Zig Zag block design is sometimes referred to as a Seminole pattern - as the Seminole Indians from South Florida created colourful patchwork designs used in the early 1920's to adorn their clothes. If you want to find out more about the Seminole people and their clothing  - here is an excellent article on the Semtribe.com website.

All Seminole patterns are perfect for borders or long sash panels - you can make them as long or as short as you like. And although they look very complicated, most are actually very easy to do.

There are loads of brilliant online tutorials if you fancy trying one. But I've shared a Mini Tutorial here if you fancy trying one like mine. 

Seminole piecing is usually done with solid colours but I wanted to include the lovely Kaffe Fasset stripes - I think they look a bit like the underlying rock formations!


I cut long strips of fabric as wide as the fabric would allow - one each in red and gold shot cotton and one from a horizontal stripe and one from a vertical stripe print. You can make them as tall as you like - my inner strips were about 5 cm tall and the outer two were about 8 cm. Each of these was joined along the long length and pressed flat to create a long piece of pieced fabric.  Press all the seams the same way - up or down - it doesn't matter as long as they are the same.

I cut four more strips from the same fabrics and joined them together in the same order. But press these seams the other way.

Using a quilters ruler and rotary blade, I cut one of the pieced strips into short pieces along a 45 degree angle from the left side. You can make them as wide as you like - mine were about 4 cm wide - that looked a good proportion to the height. Cut as many as you can and pile together, discarding both end pieces).  

Repeat with the other long piece - cutting from the right side and reversing the angle of the cutting line - keep the fabric colours the same way up and cut at 45 degrees again but the ruler needs to be angled the other way round - this is really important.  Keep these separate from the first pile.

Take one from each pile in turn, sew each of the short angled pieces together along their longer sides - trying to match each different piece of fabric at the seam.   (Two of my fabrics were striped - while I managed to match up the horizontal brown stripe fabric it was impossible to match up the stripes in the pyurple and green vertical print - I just made sure I had a nice colour contrast!)

If you pressed all the seams as suggested above, you should find they nest together nicely.  

Join all the pieces together to form a long strip - you can repeat the whole process as many times as you like to get the overall length you want. It will have "points" and "V"s along the top and bottom (sorry I don't have a photo) which you cut off with a ruler and rotary blade to create a long perfect oblong. You will now have a long pieced border with gorgeous seminole zig zag pattern. 

As the little pieces are cut on the diagonal, you will find the whole panel is rather stretchy (it's a bit like an accordian!) - so it will need a bit of careful handling until it is joined to other blocks and tacked and quilted down. 


Seminole border panel in Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton and Stripes
I'm planning on using this panel, and other different seminole designs - to frame the central border - which is inspired by a vintage Welsh quilt design.