Many years ago I took a Quadrille Twister class from former CQA (Canadian Quilters' Association) Teacher of the Year Dianne Stevenson. In that workshop, I learned what I believe is the BEST technique for sewing blocks or quilts of like-sized squares together. Dianne learned the technique from someone else and was very happy to share it and now I'm passing it along to you. There's a good chance someone else has done a tutorial on this already, but I've never seen one. Pluse, posted a very brief Instagram photo tute the other night and some of my friends asked for more details.
In my last post, I told you about the thousands of 2.5" squares that I cut from my unwanted, older, not-intended-for-any-other-projects fabric. I am very happily using all of these squares to build a Scrap Vomit quilt. At 49 patches per block, there is ample opportunity for the voodoo to creep in (not that it really matters with scraps). Piecing this could be a tedious bore.
Enter: The Anti-Voodoo Block Piecing Tutorial.
I'm going to show you how to do this with little 2.5" squares, but it can also be done with an entire quilt of 10" blocks, or even a whole charm pack of 5" squares that you want to whip up into a baby quilt.
1. Arrange your squares on a design wall (or if small, beside your machine on your table).
2. Turn column 2 squares over to the left so that they are RST with their column 1 neighbour.
3. Now all column 1 squares are covered by their column 2 neighbours.
4. Pick up the first set and keeping it on top, gather the sets below it in order from top to bottom.
5. Now lay the sets beside your machine, ready to sew in order from top to bottom.
6. Sew the first set of squares together. At the end of the seam sew a few stitches 'in the air' before feeding the second set in (chain piecing). We are not cutting any threads until we reach the end of the sets!
7. At the end of the sets, remove from the machine. You've got a chain of 2-patches!
8. Now stack your 3rd column squares, keeping first square right side up on top, and the rest of the column in order from top to bottom.
9. Take them to your machine and piece them in order to their 2nd column neighbours. I like to sit them on my machine bed, to the right of the needle so they are easy to grab.
10. Now you've got a string of 3-patches that are starting to look like rows.
11. Continue until you've added all of the columns and you've got your entire block's worth of rows all joined together by their piecing strings. Take your rows to the ironing board and with the wrong side up, lay the top row on the board with the other rows hanging off the front of the board.
12. Press all seams in one direction, then pull the second row up onto the board and press all seams in the opposite direction. Continue until all rows have been pressed in alternate directions. I like to hold on to the last patch of the row to give a little tension as I'm pressing, making sure that each patch is fully pressed out from the seams.
13. Now you're ready to sew the rows together. Nestle the opposing seams together (I like to pin before the seams, just to hold the seam allowances down as they approach the presser foot). I pull my pins out just before sewing over them. Don't worry about those 3 or 4 stitches that you sewed in the air; there is no need to clip the thread, unless of course you want to.
14. Once all of your rows are sewn together, press the seams in the direction that makes sense for your project. In other words, so that the seams of neighbouring blocks will be opposite, allowing you to once again nestle seams and get nice, tight intersections between patches/blocks.
There you have it! Now I am sure some of you will have questions about pressing seams open and I really don't want to get into a huge debate (that's a dead horse that's been flogged many times before on various blogs!). I am a side presser. Always. Except when making wallhangings, or very complicated foundation pieced blocks, or blocks with a crazy number of intersecting seams that would leave a massive lump if you tried to cram them all over to one side.
Let me put it this way: if you want to sleep under your quilt, throw it in the washer and dryer, drag it on picnics, built forts with it, take it to the beach, let your cat knead it into a suitable bed and snuggle underneath it on the couch, then why would you want to expose your piecing threads between each patch? I like my thread nicely protected under a seam allowance, thereby giving my quilt a fighting chance at longevity. Not to mention that every time you have two open seams meeting at right angles, there is a teeny, tiny hole in your quilt top! I'm not saying pressing open is wrong. I just think pressing to the side is going to help my quilts last longer.
Plus, those Old Ladies that Know Stuff told me to do it that way.