I suggest that if you do not have large chunks of free time, that you break this up in to a few days of sewing, unless you are one of those "get it done now" types who really likes to go for it. In that case, charge through it until you are done. Just don't forget to have fun while you do it.
Here's what we have done so far:
week one: choosing and preparing your fabrics
The first thing that I want you to do is to place all of your printed rectangles into a bag or a bowl next to your sewing machine. This will help you to pick random pieces for your strips, rather than choosing according to color or print and then ending up with strips that are very similar. You need this to be random. You can set your pile of neutral squares next to the bag.
Now stick your hand into the bag (no peeking) and take one printed rectangle out. You can also grab one neutral square from the pile. Place the neutral square on top of the printed rectangle (right sides together), lining up the edges evenly. Place these pieces on the sewing machine, right along the edge of the presser foot. On my machine, this is a 1/4" seam. You can check your own machine to determine that measurement.
***WHATEVER MEASUREMENT YOU CHOOSE, STICK WITH IT FOR THE ENTIRE QUILT TOP. IF YOU DON'T YOU WILL END UP WITH SEAMS THAT DON'T MATCH UP--THIS IS NO FUN!
See the picture below for a better look at where to line up your pieces with the presser foot:
Now sew all along that edge:
At this point you will continue to add alternating pieces (square, rectangle, square, rectangle) until you form one entire strip. Each strip will consist of ten pieces total, 5 squares, 5 rectangles.
When I pick the fabrics out of the bag, I always toss back a print if I already have it in that row.
Continue until you have 20 of these strips. When you are getting close to being done with the strips, take a look to see which fabrics are left. You may want to arrange these before sewing the last 4-5 strips to avoid having the same fabric in one row.
Now get to ironing:
I iron all of the strips the same way. Starting at one end of each row(pick either square or rectangle) iron the seams in the same direction. Do not iron the seams open. Finish all of the strips in this manner.
We are halfway there!
You will want to find a large area of floor space at this point, and you probably won't want kids or dogs running around the house because you will have to lay out your entire quilt on the floor. Let's not start your quilt's life by getting it trampled.
Begin by laying out your strips, alternating between a square and a rectangle beginning each row (just flip the strips over to alternate the pieces).
Ack! A really skinny quilt already. How fun!
Now simply keep adding the strips like so:
All of a sudden you will find yourself with this:
How awesome is that?
At this point you will want to take a good look at your quilt to make sure that you like the arrangement. If you find that one color or print dominates an area, just switch the strips around. It took me about 30 minutes to fully arrange my strips the way I liked them.
Now we are going to step back to the sewing machine. Grab two strips from one end of the quilt.
You will be pinning the strips together at the "blocks". See the photos below to find your "blocks".
According to these strips:
These pieces are your "blocks":
On the left row, the block starts with the print and ends with the neutral. On the right row, the block starts with the neutral and ends with the print. This will progress all along each strip and you will use those markers for pinning.
"LET ME KNOW IF THIS "BLOCK" STEP DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO FIGURE IT OUT JUST BY HOLDING TWO STRIPS TOGETHER AND LOOKING FOR THE OBVIOUS PLACES TO PIN.
Pin the "blocks" together as shown:
On seam will go one way, the other seam opposite. The makes it so the pieces lie together nicely.
It is also helpful to place a pin on the edge of the 1st row so that you are always able to tell where you started (this helps when you get confused about which end of the quilt to sew the next strip into). See the blue pin below.
***PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PHOTO BELOW SHOWS AN EXTRA ROW, RATHER THAN THE TWO YOU HAVE IN YOUR HAND RIGHT NOW.
Sew those two strips together using a 1/4 seam.
Now you will keep adding rows until all 20 are sewn together:
Now you will iron the back (iron all seams in the same direction) and trim all of those pesky strings (the trimming step takes a while):
Now lay it out on the floor and gaze at your quilt's awesomeness:
You are done for this week! Set your quilt-top aside for next week when we will turn it into a sandwich. Seriously!
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