Monday, February 13, 2012

Four's a Charm - Let's put the quilt top together

Ready to piece piece your quilt top? Let's get to it!

We left off with a stack of 9 four square blocks.

Before we start sewing, I just need to warn you that some of my methods are unconventional. If you are a seasoned quilter and don't agree with my techniques, please use your own wisdom. There are three things in particular I would like to point out that may seem odd:
  1. I like to leave the selvedges on my sashing and border strips. Why, you ask? Because they make it easy to determine the right and wrong side of the fabric - no easy feat with dark solids. If the little hole are smooth, you're on the right side of the fabric. If they stick out a bit, you're on the wrong side of the fabric. As you line up your sashing to start sewing, make sure you start your sewing past the selvedge. Those little holes don't usually disappear upon washing :(
  2. I'm the world's laziest pinner. I prefer to press seams flat with my finger tips as I feed the fabric under the needle. I urge you to take the time to pin your seams if you're not comfortable with this method.
  3. Finally, are you wondering why I tell you to press your seams before trimming off any excess sashing or border fabric? I've found through trial and error that even when I take extra care and caution when trimming extra fabric before I've pressed, I rarely get a square/even cut. Try it out yourself and see what you find.
Okay, let's jump right in. Our first step is to square up our blocks. Squaring up your blocks is exactly what it sounds like - measuring blocks and trimming them accordingly to make them both perfectly square and all the same size.  I must admit that this is my very least favorite part of quilting and so I'm going to link you up to another tutorial. Your blocks should be somewhere in the 9.5" square range. Mine are about 1/8" under that measurement.

Dreaded squaring up. Maybe you love it?
Once your blocks are all square, lay them out on a design wall or on the floor in their original order (this is when that photo you took comes in handy - again!).

All the blocks in order
 Have your sewing machine threaded and ready to sew 1/4" seams.
Grab the 2 1/2" x WOF sashing strip. Now grab the left and center blocks from the first two rows.

Four blocks off to get sashed
We're going to sew the sashing to the right side of each of these blocks, one after the next. I put the sashing right side down, facing the blocks and sew a 1/4" seam along the right edge, avoiding the selvedge.
Mind the selvedge
 Now technically you should pin the seam in the center of the block, but I just use my fingers to hold the seam flat as I feed it under the needle and take my time sewing. If you don't feel comfortable with this method then by all means pin.

Pressing the center seam flat while sewing - the lazy girl way!
As you reach the end of the block continue sewing about 1/2" and then line up the next block. Continue in this manner until all four blocks are stitched to the long sashing strip.

Notice the gap between the blocks
Find your two 2 1/2' x 10" strips. Sew these to the right sides of the bottom row's left and center blocks, leaving you with the right column of three blocks with no sashing. Watch the selvedges.

Head over to your ironing board. Set the seams, then press all seams open - even the four blocks sewn to the long strip.

Using your acrylic ruler, line trim off the excess sashing on both sides of all six blocks.

Put your blocks back in order. Now we're going to sew the rows together. Working from left to right, pin the left side of the center block to the right side of the left block (right sides facing). Do this for all three rows.

Center block is on the top facing the left most block. Sew seam on the right side
Chain stitch the three seams. Snip threads.

Repeat with the center block and the right blocks. Pin, chain piece, snip. Press the sashing seams, setting first then pressing them open.


Hooray! The rows are done. Now we'll join the three rows together with the remaining two 2 1/2" sashing strips.

Sew a sashing strip to the top and the bottom of the center row.

One side sewn, one to go
Press seams open.

Pin the top row to the top of the sashed center row. Double check that the shashing between the blocks lines up.

Pin the bottom row to the bottom of the sashed center row, again making sure that the vertical sashing strips all line up.

Why yes, those are pins!
Sew a 1/4" seam down one edge, then flip the piece over and sew down the other edge.

Set seams with your iron and then press them open. It's starting to look like a quilt, don't you think? Hang in there because we only have four more seams to go.

Once all seams are pressed, use your clear ruler to cut off the excess sashing along the left and right sides of the quilt top.

Aack! Where did the sun go? Sorry for the blurry pic.
Find your four 5" wide  border pieces. Right sides facing, stitch one border piece to the right side of the quilt top, then sew a border strip to the left side. Mind the selvedges again.

Stitching the right border strip
Press open, then trim excess border fabric from each end.

Repeat the steps above with the border strips on the top and bottom of the quilt top. Press and trim.

Phew! We did it! The top is done. Come back for the next installment where we'll start machine quilting.

Thanks for following along. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.


Related posts:
Fabric Requirements
Constructing the Blocks
Link to Four's a Charm Page

1 comment:

  1. Hi Annik,
    I am slowly following your four's a charm pattern and I'm at the stage of squaring the blocks. Of the nine blocks, five are measuring 9+3/8 by 9&3/8 inch and the other four are measuring 9+3/8 inch by 9&1/4 inch. I'm not sure what to do - should I cut all of them down to 9&1/4inch square? Could be a bit fiddly as the measurement to come off is so tiny.
    What do you think?