A Guide to Seminole quilting

Elvis Elvis

Seminole quilting takes its name from the Seminole Indians of the Florida Everglades. It is also known as strip quilting. You’ll realise why as you read on.

The basic technique involves stitching strips of fabric together, cutting them into segments and rejoining them.

Traditionally very small strips were used, but you can get great effects no matter the size.

Cutting Strips

Success with Seminole quilting depends on accurately cutting and sewing the strips. The standard ¼” (6mm) seam allowance is used here.

As there is lots of straight cutting required to make the strips you’ll probably find a rotary cutter and mat easiest to use.

Cut all the fabrics along the same grainline. Remove all selvages before cutting.

To help cut evenly size strips you can buy wide rulers eg: 2”. Mark up several strips and then cut to save time.

Sewing the Strips

Seminole quilting is always sewn by machine. This is because the strips get cut after the initial sewing and hand sewing will come undone too easily.

Assemble the strips in the order they will be sewn. When using more than two colors you may alternate the sequence for a different effect.

Place the first two strips face to face with edges aligned on sewing side and sew. Pin the next strip and sew.

For each successive strip start the sewing at the opposite end. Alternating this way will stop the block from becoming misshapen.

A Guide to Seminole quilting

Continue until all strips are joined.

Once one band is created you will want to iron it. Start on the wrong side ironing the seams onto the darker fabrics. Turn over and gently iron on front to make sure there are no tucks or folds.

Cutting Segments

When cutting the strips make sure they stay straight. Use a guideline on the cutting mat or a T-Square.

Using the rotary cutter cut strips from the panels created. You’ll get different effects by varying the width of these strips. If you cut the same width as the original strips all sides will be equal. By cutting strips thinner or wider than the originals you will create skewed shapes. Here’s what I mean:

Sewing the Segments Together

Be careful with these cut segments so the sewing doesn’t come undone.

Position two segments right sides facing. You may want to stagger them for a different effect. Be careful that corners line up for neat points. Pin and sew accurately.

Keep adding bands until complete.

Iron once more on back and front.

Trim off any excess fabric at top and bottom when creating angled diamonds and chevrons. Make sure you leave the seam allowances.

Pattern Ideas

Overview of Ways to Adjust Strips

  • Alternate number of strips
  • Alter width of strips
  • Alter width of segments
  • Turn some segments around
  • Stagger segments
  • Change cutting angle
  • Change sewing order of segments
  • Insert plain strips between segments
  • Unpick and resew to rearrange order
  • Anything else you can think of

Seminole quilting can be a fun quick way to create designs. Give it a try and see what you think.