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To Sash or Not to Sash - That is the Question!

Summary

At times we have leftover blocks, or we inherit blocks without a plan.  As we look at the blocks, we wonder if we should sash them for a more pleasing look for the quilt.  Here are some guidelines.

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To Sash or Not to Sash - That is the Question!

We usually decide to sash a quilt when the pattern tells us to, but sometimes blocks appear without a pattern and we must make the decision ourselves. As quilters, we usually "audition" several fabrics and widths to decide on the sashing.

To Sash or Not to Sash - That is the Question!

 

When writing the article on the different 4-patch variations, I ended up with leftover blocks. I decided to make a table runner. I decided a dark brown sashing would set off the New Mexico fabrics.

sashing

 

While making the decision, I did a little research on sashing and found out that there were rules for sashing! Who knew?

 

When NOT to sash:

  • Sashing is not used in blocks where adjacent squares form the pattern. A good example is the formation of light and dark patterns with log cabin squares. This plus sign quilt is also an example.
plus-sign

 

  • Sashing is not used where the blocks would lose, rather than gain, definition.
flops

 

When To Sash:

  • Sampler quilts such as my table runner are an example of a quilt that should almost always be sashed. The separation is critical to highlight each of the sample blocks.
  • Blocks that weren't really the same size or not square benefit from sashing.
  • Quilts with blocks that look like stained glass will always be sashed.

 

  • Quilts where the eye really needs a place to rest should be sashed. This helps the eye transition between blocks.
4-patch posie

 

There are also some guidelines about size. The widest sash should be no more than 3 1/4 inches, while the narrowest measures 1 1/4 inches at cutting. If the sashing is too wide, the blocks may lose rather than gain. For those who like to do "quilt math", there are articles available on the Golden Ratio and how to use it in sashing and borders.

 

Sashing can also be enhanced with cornerstones and multi-colored strips. Sometimes cornerstones are used because there just wasn't enough fabric for the sashing. Sometimes the sashing is almost another set of blocks between the rows.

 

Quilters also asked if the sashing should be quilted. As with everything about YOUR quilt, it is your decision, but guidance says that quilting highlights the sashing.

flowers

 

Because sashes are worn by beauty queens and royalty, I like to ask myself if my quilt needs sashing to appear more regal. What do you ask yourself?

 

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Glossary

Cornerstones
Squares of fabric pieced within sashing or border strips that usually align in the block corners or outside corners in the case of cornerstones in the border.
Log Cabin
A quilt pattern in which narrow fabric strips, or logs, surround a center square to form a block. These may be pieced from strips or sewn onto a foundation of paper or fabric.
Sashing
Fabric that separates the patterns or blocks, framing them and making the quilt larger.

See Also: Strip
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