Grandpa’s Ties Quilt

Pinwheel Quilt Top from Grandpa's Ties

Pinwheel Quilt Top from Grandpa’s Ties

Ties from Grandpa. Beautiful silk neckties.

Wonderful tactile silks with intricate designs.

Much time was spent deciding just what quilt pattern would highlight the fabrics from these beautiful ties and pay homage to the man they belonged to.

Pinwheel was the pattern of choice, and after two size-related false starts, 4″ squares seemed to work just right!

This quilt pattern uses Half-Square triangles (HST) and foundation piecing methods.

Needed to make the quilt top

Needed to make the quilt top

To make a quilt like this, one will need:

  • ties (16 or so)
  • rotary cutting “stuff”
  • fine point ink pen or thin lead pencil
  • foundation fabric (Stash ivory batiste)
  • background fabric (I used light grey oxford cloth – reminded me of the shirts he wore the ties with)
  • a 4″ square (clear plastic commercial quilt tool with diagonal line)

Although not immediately apparent, ties are constructed of quite a bit of fabric.  They are typically cut on the bias.

The inner workings of a tie

The inner workings of a necktie

Open the ties by snipping the inside threads.  There will be some “thickener” fabric inside.  That and any labels may be removed (and discarded).

The points of the ties are typically faced.  I discovered that they are typically sewn with a chain stitch.  Pull from the right end and the stitching will undo itself!  (Of course, it took more than a few tries to figure out which is the “right” end!)  Other seams in the length of the tie also seem to be chain stitched and were easily undone.

Tie fabric ready to be cut

Tie fabric ready to be cut

Lay tie flat and iron….and then iron again.  Those folds are fairly well established.

Cut foundation fabric into 5.5″ squares.  This fabric will be marked for the HST seams:  Using the pen (or pencil) draw a diagonal (from corner to opposite corner) line across the foundation fabric.  Then draw two more line 1/4″ on either side of that line.  The latter two lines are stitching lines, the first line is a cutting line.

Foundation square on top of tie fabric

Foundation square on top of tie fabric – three diagonal lines are visible.

Lay the tie fabric right side down on the rotary cutting board and lay the foundation fabric square on top of the tie fabric – line side up.  Pin in several locations.

Tie fabric cut to approximate size of foundation fabric

Tie fabric cut to approximate size of foundation fabric

Cut the tie fabric the approximate size of the the foundation fabric (there will be much trimming later).

Cut a 6″ square of the background fabric.  Lay the tie/foundation fabric combination, line side up, on top of the background fabric square .  Pin through all layers.

Sewing through all layers along stiching lines

Sewing through all layers along stitching lines

Move to sewing machine and sew through all layers along the sewing lines.

Cut along cutting line

Cut along cutting line

Cut down the middle between the stitching lines along the cutting line.

Open triangles to see squares!

Open triangles to see squares!

Open triangles and press seam open.  These are often referred to as HST squares or HST units.

Seams pressed open and 4" square diagonal line aligned with seam

Seams pressed open and 4″ square diagonal line aligned with seam

Voila!  The first (of many) Pinwheel sets is complete.

Turn squares over to wrong side.  Place the 4″ square on top, aligning the diagonal line with the seamline.

4" square drawn on back and unit trimmed to 3/8" seam allowance

4″ square drawn on back and unit trimmed to 3/8″ seam allowance

Using pen or pencil, draw the square onto the back of the fabric.  (I can hear my mother now – “Drawing on fabric! Just unheard of!”

I realize it is a bit non-traditional, but it helps keep corners and seamlines straight!)  Trim each square to 3/8″ from the lines.  (Yes, Mom, I know everyone else uses 1/4″, but the extra width in the seam allowance helps prevent stretching – besides you told me not to do something just because everyone else does!)

One Pinwheel block requires two sets of HST squares.

One Pinwheel Block requires two sets of HST squares. Lay out squares to ensure they are sewn together correctly.

Each Pinwheel Block requires two sets of HST squares.

Ties may contain considerable fabric, but it is often too narrow to cut additional whole squares.  To incorporate the narrow pieces of fabric (which means fewer ties are required to make the quilt), foundation piecing is used to create pieced pinwheel sets. In the photo to the right, the red and blue HST are pieced.

oundation Fabric square marked with HST cutting line and diagonal lines for piecing

Foundation Fabric square marked with HST cutting line and diagonal lines for piecing

Cut a 5.5″ square from the foundation fabric.  Draw diagonal lines as for the first pinwheel set.  Then using the perpendicular marked line on the rotary ruler (90 degree line), draw a few perpendicular lines as guides for the piecing sewing lines.

Foundation Pieced square prior to trimming

Foundation Pieced square prior to trimming – small piece of foundation fabric visible in upper right corner.

Using the perpendicular lines as guides for seaming, foundation piece the square.

Pieced HST set.

Pieced HST set.

Once pieced, the HST is created following the same process used for the whole square set – even drawing the square on the back (and trimming to 3/8″!)

Lay out HSTs to ensure they are sewn together correctly.

Those squares drawn on the back of the units are very useful when combining them into the Pinwheel Block.

Poke pin straight down through both corners.  Then pin next to it.

Poke pin straight down through both corners to align. Then pin next to it.

Poking a pin straight down through the corners in both pieces will ensure the corners line up when seamed (although hard to see in the photo – the vertical pin is there!)

Seam squares together by sewing along line

Seam squares together by sewing along line

Seam two squares together by sewing along the line to form rectangles, press seams open.

Two rectangles ready to be sewn together

Two rectangles ready to be sewn together

Then sew the two rectangles together.  Again poking a pin straight down through corners will help align those points!

One Pinwheel Block completed!

One Pinwheel Block completed!

And easy at that, the first Pinwheel Block is completed!

Only 41 more to go!

Pinwheel Block detail

Pinwheel Block detail

Each Pinwheel Block in this quilt combines one “whole” square set and one pieced square set.

More detail

More detail

As best I can tell, no two pieced sets are the same.

Off to the Long Arm Quilter!

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This entry was posted in Beginner Sewing Projects, Home Decor, Modern, Pinwheel, Quilting, Repurpose, Sewing, Tutorial and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Grandpa’s Ties Quilt

  1. Sartenada says:

    Requires a lot of work.

    • It was not as much work as I thought it would be.

      Using the Half-Square Triangles and the foundation piecing helped, but I think drawing the squares on the back of the fabric was the real time saver – line the points up and sew!

  2. fzxdoc says:

    What a wonderful tutorial–one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s clear, well-ordered, with great photos. You should write sewing books! The quilt will be lovely. I hope you post photos of the final result.

  3. Pingback: Grandpa’s Ties Pillows | The Destashification Project

  4. Hana says:

    Was searching images of pinwheel quilts and this quilt just jumped out at me, the colours are so nicely balanced. This quilt is just stunning, such a clever idea to use ties.

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