Beth shares tips for sewing strip sets, a great way to piece the 9 patch units in Block 2 of the Bright New Day Block of the Month.

Find more information on our 2021 Block of the Month project here. Download the block instructions here. Join our Facebook group here.

Get tips for sewing a scant 1/4" seam here.


Hi, I'm Beth with American Patchwork & Quilting. Today, I'm sharing tips for sewing Block 2 in our Bright New Day Block of the Month. This is a free block of the month program – so if you haven't grabbed the pattern yet, check the video description for the link to download the instructions.

Block 2 uses strip sets for the four 9 patch units. Strip sets are a really great way to save time while quilting and are used in many different patterns. Making strip sets means you sew together longer strips first and then sub-cut the pieced strip into smaller units. It's an efficient way to piece a lot of smaller units – and it can be much more accurate.

Speaking of accuracy, getting precise cuts on your strips are key to making sure your strip sets turn out well. I know sometimes when I cut strips with my ruler and rotary cutter, I get a little ruler slip at the end and the strip is not quite straight. A strip cutting die from AccuQuilt can help! These strip cutting dies come in several widths and are really versatile and can make quick work of cutting a lot of strips! I have the 1 ½" width here and I can cut both of my colors at once. Just make sure you don't extend your fabric past the spot where the blade stops. I'm using the GO Big which is electric and pulls the die through for you! It's a great tool for anyone but especially for quilters with arthritis.

It's always a good idea to test your seam allowance before sewing all of your strips together. Once you sew 3 ½" strips together, the center strip should measure exactly 1". We find in most cases the problem is that the seam is too big, so sewing with a scant ¼" seam can help if your center strip is less than 1". Check out the block 1 video for more details on how to make sure your seam is accurate. You'll find the link in the video description.

Pressing is also really important. It's a good idea to turn the steam setting off for pressing these strips, as sometimes steam can cause a little distortion when you press. Press in one smooth movement on the right side of your strip with the iron parallel to the straight of grain. And it can help if you press after adding each strip instead of pressing them all at once.

I'm ready to subcut my pieces, so first thing I like to do is square up one edge of the strip set. Sometimes the edges aren't exactly lined up, so this gives you a nice clean edge. Once you start cutting, make sure you line up the lines on your ruler with the center strip so you can make sure your pieces are straight!

Once the units are all cut, you can sew them together. The seams will nest together to line up your 9 patch unit perfectly! If you're finding the seam is shifting a little when you're sewing, you could add pins at the intersections. I find just holding the seam while I sew it works well, though.

Lay out your block with your center square, rectangle strip sets and 9 patch units to assemble the center. Then sew your rectangles and triangle squares together. Lay out the block and sew the side units to the center first, then add the top and bottom.

Here are the two color options. This one is Happy Days by Sheri and Chelsi for Moda Fabrics. I've used this print for the center so I could fussy cut it to feature the flower. The second block is Strawberry Honey by Gracey Larson for Riley Blake Designs. I wanted to show using a color for the background on this one, so I used this pink dot. I know I typically use white or low volume, so it's fun to experiment with different background colors.

A lot of the designs in this block of the month have multiple small pieces, so it's best to save the bigger prints for bigger pieces. If you cut up a larger scale print into smaller pieces, you can sometimes lose the design and you can't tell what it is (which is not necessarily a bad thing, but  just something to keep in mind when you're selecting your fabrics for each spot).

Join our private facebook group so you can share your block and see even more different colorways! It's been so fun to see everyone's blocks and all the different fabrics being used. Find the link to join and the pattern via the links in the video description. I can't wait to see your version of Block 2!