Sunday, October 20, 2013

Swiss Cheese and Spiders

Last weekend I was watching Fons and Porter and they talked about quilting with spiders. Not being fond of the 8 legged creatures this got my attention because I needed to know if it was time to change the channel. Thankfully a quilting spider has very little relation to the nasty arachnids so I was able to continue watching. (Have I mentioned yet that I really hate spiders?) In quilting a spider is a scrap of fabric used for stopping and starting your sewing. This eliminates all of those strings that get left on the back of your quilt trimmed at the end. Because the fabric scrap gets sewed on several times it winds up with little strings hanging off it looking like legs. If I was more organized I could see having small squares that I'm constantly feeding through at the beginning and end of my rows that eventually get sewn into a quilt, but at this point in time I like the use of spiders.

Last winter I took a workshop with my quilt guild and one of the members asked another member if she was going to Swiss cheese her quilt. I'll admit I've only been quilting for a few years, but Swiss cheese was not a term I'd encountered. Sadly it has nothing to do with the snack you nibble on while quilting. Instead it involves chain piecing your rows so that when you've got all of your rows assembled the rows are all connected.

To do this you sew block 1 and 2 from row 1 together, then blocks 1 and 2 from row 2, and continue until you have all of the first two blocks sewn together. Starting at row 1 you attach block 3 from row one and work down the rows until all of block 3 has been attached. You continue in this manner until you've sewn all of the blocks to your row. You're quilt will look something like Swiss cheese at this point in time. Leaving all of the threads between your rows from the chain piecing you sew your rows together.

If you're anything like me you might be wondering when you'll need to use such a complicated form of sewing. (After I finished adding block 3 things clicked and were slightly less confusing.) The quilt I'm currently working on has a very specific pattern that requires each block to be in a very specific location with only one correct orientation. By sewing the top together using the Swiss cheese method it was much easier for me to make sure my blocks were facing the correct way and I sewed everything together in the right order.

This quilt is a memorial quilt for the dog we had to put to sleep last spring. Next week I'm taking a workshop on hand applique and will be adding some rainbow colored paw prints.


  1. I knew of the technique, but I've not come across the term Swiss Cheese for it before. I love the paw print quilting idea :-)

  2. I've never heard of that before. Learned something new today. =)

  3. Never heard of the term before :). The quilt top looks great :). Would look like creeper from Minecraft if it were in green :).

    Jenn from Mellycoddle :).

  4. I get easily disoriented with my block placement going from the design wall to the machine and turning things upside-down. Sorry about the loss of your dog and good luck with the memorial quilt.

  5. I saw that episode of fons and porter about the spider :) I try to keep something under the needle all the time... Love the swiss cheese idea but piecing is NOT my strong suit so think I would try it and may love it on something small... but larger quilts belong on my design wall. Thanks for the info though... never heard of it before now and you showed it off beautifully with your quilt top... can't wait to see the appliqued paw prints and the finished quilt... sorry for the loss of your pet. Kathi