Oh, Baby! Braids!

I have finished the chevron braided strips for my baby quilt.  Five rows of chevrons with four setting strips.
It doesn’t have outside borders yet, and measures 30″ x 44″.  It is raining, dark and cold here in the San Francisco Bay area and this quilt is bright, cheerful and makes me hopeful that Spring is coming soon!
I thought I would take some time today to explain how I put this quilt together.  Braids are fairly quick to piece.  There are lots of ways to use these braided columns.  You can set them together like I have, or you can set them together without the setting strip (although I think it looks too busy), and you can also cut them into segments and sew them into four patches which can be very striking.
Thoughtful color choices will make these quilts sparkle.  Earlier in this blog I showed you photos of the mint green and rosy pink background fabric that was my inspiration for choosing these colors.  To make the colors play well with each other, pick fabrics that introduce the next color.  For instance the white daisy on pink background has a yellow center.  That allowed me to pick a yellow fabric with the white swan and pink ribbon.  I then switched back to pink and white, and then darker pinks.  It is also okay to abruptly change the color of the next piece if they are neighbors on the color wheel or complement each other.
This photo shows how I moved from pink, to pink and green floral, to green and white prints.
I also picked a dark lavendar (complementary) color which I used randomly, and sparingly throughout the quilt, to help the eye move around these pastel colors.
When I sew, if I have left over scraps that can be cut into 2″ x 4″ rectangles, I cut them up and group them together by color in boxes.  When I want to make some chevron braided strips, I pull out the colors I want to use together and, wow, it’s already cut out and ready to sew!

The next step is to lay out the column on the work table, choosing your fabrics and making the color transitions.  Stand back and look at it and see if anything looks like it doesn’t belong.  (Looking at the strip through a digital camera lens really helps to see something that’s not working.) In the photo above, the dark pink polka dot is strip #1 and the light pink dot is #2.

Take piece #2, the light pink, and place it right sides together with the base of piece #1, as shown here.

Sew a 1/4″ seam down the right side of piece #2 (the light pink).
Press the seam, and take it back to the work table.  It is important to press these each time, even if it is finger pressed, because each seam you make builds on the last seam. 
The white daisy fabric is piece #3.  With pieces #1 and #2 lying right sides up, place piece #3 right side down on top of them, as shown below.
Sew a 1/4″ seam down the right side of piece #3, just as you did before.
Press the seam open and return to the worktable.
Add piece #4 from the column to the right side of pieces #2 and 3.  Sew the 1/4″ seam down the right side of the piece, as before.   Press open.
Keep adding strips and repeating the above process until you have a column of strips in the length you desire.  The upper “V” ends of the column and the “V” point at the bottom will be cut off when you add the borders, so allow some extra length for that.
Do not cut off the outside triangle edges until after you join the columns or sew on a setting strip.
For my quilt I chose a setting strip made of solid mint green and a bright pink with tiny white polka dots.  The green strip is 1 1/2″ wide and the pink strip is 1″ wide.  I sewed them together and then put the setting strip right sides together with the chevron column.
The setting strip is placed right at the base of each “V” where each of the strips meet, leaving the triangle ends of each strip above the setting strip.  Pin the setting strip on from the top of the column to the bottom.  Sew a 1/4″ seam the length of the strip.  Press open. 
Place the setting strip right sides together with the next chevron column and repeat the above process until all the settings strips and columns are joined. 
With just a little practice you can master this very easy piecing technique.  But beware, these quilts can be addictive!  Give it a try!

1 thought on “Oh, Baby! Braids!”

  1. This is amazing. Just I what I need at the moment. A great way to get the chevrons laying nice and starught with the sashing/setting strips. I also love the extra strips to make it ‘shine out’. Thanks so much for your clever method and tutorial!

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