Monday, April 16, 2012

Half closed seams

While I have been waiting for my larger machine to return from the repair shop I returned to my old, reliable and trustworthy Bernina to start piecing the top of Play of Lines XXX. The design had been developed a couple of weeks ago, but I had assumed I would be quilting Play of Lines XXIX first, before I would start on this one.
All of the Play of Lines quilts – well, at least the ones created with paper templates –use a technique that I call “half closed seams”. And as No. XXX had lots of them, I thought I would give a short documentation of how one particular part of the design developed using this technique. In my teaching I have discovered that it is far less well-known than I had assumed.
I first encountered half closed seams when I first tried to sew a pattern derived from old wooden paneling:

I use half closed seams in situations like these:

This detail shows a part of the design where several lines cross over (and under) each other. In order to achieve this effect in piecing – and I am a true believer in piecing, no fusing here! no appliqué! – you can’t just slap one piece onto the other.
Here is the same detail with fabrics cut out already.

First step: sew three pieces together, so that the left side is a ‚full length’ to which another piece can be added. However, the seams between these three pieces are not closed entirely, but a piece of about two and a half inches remains open on the right side, i.e. the seam is closed only partially:

Then another piece can be added onto the length that is made up of the three pieces, and this piece can indeed be added in its full length.

Here you can see a back view of the next piece added, partially:

Which leads to another longer piece that can be added onto:

And so on and on:

There comes a point when each individual seam can or must be closed completely so that another full length is reached in order for other pieces....

During the entire process of piecing Play of Lines XXX I did encounter a new situation, though, which had not happened to me before: I had a basically finished top with just a hole in the middle that was closed last.

But it all fit together nicely in the end.

This is the finished top.


  1. Thank you for sharing with us. Only one word to describe it: beautiful.

  2. Thank you Colleen - it's a neat technique, helps solve many problems, and is so simple!

  3. Thank you, you make this look so simple, I am inspired to try.

  4. I've been wondering how you were doing it! Hope to find this page again when I need it.
    Thank you Uta