Cog Wheels Block — Hand Piecing

Some quilters like to make their templates the finished size so they can mark the sewing line on their quilt pieces. I don’t do this — after adding a scant 1/4″ around each template, I draw the cutting line on the fabric and then just eyeball the seam allowance when stitching the pieces together.  Because the blocks Ann selected are complex, I thought they might be nice in just two colors.  Of course, I still want them to be scrappy, so I decided to use vintage indigo fabrics from my stash.  Also, because the suggested sizes were varied on the four blocks and one has way more pieces than the others, I decided to make them all 14″.  It’s probably not necessary to point out that this is a fairly challenging block, and would not be my choice for a first attempt at hand piecing.

When planning how you’re going to put a block together, you want to avoid any sharp curves or inside corners. On this block, I will sew together two basic units (AB and DEFF) and then combine them to make the three colored units you see below. This way I am always sewing a gentle curve when attaching these units to the center C piece. The sewing order will be blue (AB), pink (AB-DEFF) and then green (DEFF-AB-DEFF).

Sew AB (blue unit – make 6)


Sew DEFF (make 6)


Join AB to DEFF (pink unit – make 2)


In hand piecing, you never sew through more than 2 layers.  You get right up against the seam, make a back stitch, pass the needle through the seam, make another back stitch right next to the seam, and then continue sewing.  This is a nice perk to hand piecing — since the seams are never sewn down, they can be pressed in any direction and you don’t have to make a decision about this until the block is completed.


Sew 2 DEFFs to AB (green unit – make 2)

Now, it’s time to put the circle together.  Sew the six units above to the middle C piece, starting with the two blues, then the pinks, and finally the greens.

Finally, join the four corner pieces and stitch them to the circle.

There are several problems with this block that make me unhappy.  First, I meant to attach the 4 corner pieces so the grain in the middle C piece was vertical.  Second, although the points match pretty well, the center circle is not perfectly round (in my opinion, this is the worst problem).  Third, the design is not perfectly aligned vertically.  I hope to do better on the next block.

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