An Amateur’s Guide to a Patchwork Quilt – Part 4

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

This spring I have been blogging my way through patchwork quilting! Last time I talked about how I made an individual block and today I will share how those blocks come together to make your quilt top and talking about three common mistakes to avoid.

Assembling the quilt top is actually very easy and straightforward. Sewing the blocks together is basically the identical process of turning your fabric squares into a quilt block, only more cumbersome. To begin I take two of my blocks and line them up correctly and then sew along one edge with the right sides together using my footer as a guide. Then I snip the thread tails and iron down the seams. Like I said, exactly the same process as building an individual block.

You could work your way down in a single or double column. It doesn’t matter as long as you keep track. (I like to keep a little drawing to keep track to make sure I don’t go too far.)

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

As I go along I like to give it a quick iron and remove any thread bits that remain. By doing it as you go along it will be easier at the end. Once your columns are done you’ll sew them together as well – the exact same process as making a block.

Since this post is pretty straightforward, I thought I’d also share three mistakes I made and how to avoid then.

Mistake to Avoid: Flipping Seams

One mistake I ran into was some of my seams would get turned over when they ran through footer. I didn’t bother fixing them, but I did become more vigilant about preventing that happening. This is a problem because it could add small lumps to the underside of your quilt.

To avoid this, when you are sewing and are coming up on a seam, just peek underneath to make sure the seams are both lying flat. Manipulate the seam with a pin if you can’t get your fingernail underneath to flip it. Never lift up the footer to fix something unless you manually lower the needle to “lock” the fabric in place first.

Mistake to Avoid: Misaligning Blocks

Is it possible to make a quilt without making this mistake? Probably not! This is one of those mistakes where I need someone who knows what they are doing. If my cutting and sewing are both off by a hair it can produce a noticeable enough difference. Ack! If there are any experts out there please share your tips!

Sometime my blocks line up PERFECTLY and I am very happy. Other times, even with my tugging, they are a hair off. But here is the good news, it is hardly noticeable. I was very worried about this but working in a block formation limits the room for error.

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

To avoid this I like to line up my seams visually when I see a square. If things aren’t lining up perfectly I tweak the fabric to minimize the difference. See below how when one seam is perfect the other is off by a few millimeters? I shift the square over to split the difference. I would rather have 2 squares slightly off than one perfect and the other noticeably off.

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Another way to help with this is to pin your seams together when you are sewing a seam. I did this when my seam runs started to get very long to keep things together.

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Mistake to Avoid: Seam Disturbance

As your quilt top begins to grow it will get more cumbersome to move around as you sew. The added weight can pull at the fabric and your seam could get jagged if you aren’t careful.

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

To prevent this problem, manually lower the needle into the fabric to “lock” your fabric into place when you need to make an adjustment (such as fixing a flipped seam or maneuvering your growing quilt top). By lowering the needle into place you guarantee your stitches will pick up where they left off and your seam won’t jump around.

 

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Once my blocks were all sewn together I ironed the whole thing and spread it out to look it over to make sure I didn’t miss any mistakes. (Sorry for the crummy picture, there’s not many places to take a picture of the whole quilt spread out! I’ll try to get a better one outside this weekend.)

Then I snipped all the little threads I missed along the way and I went over the entire piece with a lint roller to pick up any pieces of thread or fabric fuzz that came off.

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Make sure you flip it over and admire all your hard work!! That’s a lot of seams! I just love this about quilting – the backside can hold all the messy mistakes and no one will know!

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

Patchwork Quilt for Beginners

WOOO!! That was a lot of squares! Next up is the backing.

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