Hi Everyone & welcome to WEEK 1 of Quilting from ‘Square’ One-
Are you more nervous or excited or an eclectic combination of both!?! Well, don’t be nervous….this is fun stuff! Here’s how we’re going to break down this crazy hobby called quilting. This week we will be going to go over basic items like machine basics, the right and wrong side of fabric, why an accurate 1/4″ is important and how you’ll be sewing together your first block set. You can watch the video snip-its for information as well as follow along with the written instructions.
Please reach out if you are lost or would like to as a question. I’m here to help!
Machine Basics: Make sure you have 2 wound bobbins of a ‘mostly’ matching thread color. Most people use white or black. Since most of our kits have white center blocks you’ll want to use white thread. Coats & Clark is a basic beginner brand that is affordable and an all around easy every day thread.
If you are new to your machine or haven’t used it in awhile I highly suggest running a few test stitches through your machine before getting started. This will help you feel more comfortable when you start on your real blocks and will allow you to adjust any tension issues you may run into. Since everyone probably has a different machine I will direct you to you individual machine manual should you have mechanical issues.
Stitch length is very important. Too tight and you’ll never be able to fix a mistake. Too loose and your work will fall apart; quickly. My machine’s default is 2.5, but I’ll float between 2.5-3.5 depending on my project. You’ll most likely see me quilting at a 3.5 when we get to that step. Here is an example of the three different stitch lengths.
This first photo shows the difference between the three lengths and their numbers. The second photo is an extreme close up of the stitch length so you can see the difference.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of a 1/4″ seam. For that I’m going to direct you to a blog post I did a few years ago (no need to reinvent the wheel, right?)
Here it is: A 1/4″ is not a 1/4″ is not a 1/4″. Once you review the post it is a good idea to practice a 1/4″ seam a few times on some scrap fabric. Try going different speeds on your machine to find your comfortable spot. It is okay to take your time and go slow; this is your process and no one else’s.
The last item we need to cover before starting our piecing process learning what is the right and wrong side of the fabric. Many times in sewing or piecing you’ll hear ‘sew right sides together’, etc. What this really means is place the two sides you want showing out together. The easiest way to remember it is, the pretty side is the ‘right side’ and the not so pretty side or back side is the ‘wrong side’. You can see it clearly in the photo below. Where it gets difficult is if you have white on white fabric so triple check those before stitching. (don’t worry I’ve had to redo many in my day for this reason).
Are y’all ready to get started sewing these blocks together? Great! I had a hunch. We are sewing together a 9 patch block which just means we are sewing together 9 squares of fabric. Sewing together these blocks will teach you some basic foundation skills that you will take throughout your quilting journey. The first is the importance of a well pressed or set seam. The next is the importance of matching points or corner seams. You will master both of these skills in this quilt.
You might be asking yourself if we’re just simply sewing 9 blocks together over and over and calling it a day. You are more than welcome to do that if you would like, but I have a fun twist in the end that will make this quilt look very hard when in reality you are just sewing corner blocks together and matching seams.
Here is the first layout of our blocks. (We’ll get to the twist in the 3rd week tutorial. So you have that to look forward to.)
You’ll notice that I have the top right and bottom right squares laid out a little funky. This is because the fabric is ‘directional’ which means basically that there is a certain direction it looks best facing. These look best facing up or north to south.
I have these facing different directions because when we get to the ‘twist’ portion of our quilt having these facing different directions will actually allow them to face the same direction as their left counterparts. Most of you don’t have to worry about this as 90% of the kits didn’t have directional fabric. If you purchased either of the Desert Bloom kits (like the one pictured above) then you will want to accommodate for your patterns.
For this week all I want you to do is to focus on sewing or piecing together rows of three 5″ squares. We’ll connect them next week to create the full 9 patch block. Let’s go ahead and start that now.
Step 1: Arrange 9 of your squares in the following manner –
Step 2: Place right sides together 1-outer color and 1 – inner color with the inner color on top – like this:
Step 3: Stitch along the right side of the square from top to bottom 1/4″.
Next, press to the ‘dark’ side or set your seams. To do this, have a hot iron on high steam setting. With the darker fabric facing the top, press and steam set your stitches. Carefully pull the darker fabric away from the lighter fabric and press to open the seam. You want to have a crisp line; it may take some practice and that’s okay. The crisper and straighter your pressing the easier it is to match seams and quilt later on.
Okay let me guess what you’re thinking? “This is great, but what if I mess up?!” Well, that’s what your seam ripper is for. There may or may not be a reason why mine is fancy…well actually there are two. 1) It will last a long time and 2) In a situation where I’m a little upset it gives me joy. As in ‘Oh shoot I messed up, but oh yeah I get to use my fun seam ripper’. I’m all about turning a negative into a positive.
Here are some tips to using your seam ripper:
- Go Slow!
- Go one stitch at a time until you are more comfortable
- Clean up your excess thread pieces when done
- BE CAREFUL (These little buggers are sharp and do hurt! Trust me)
Okay y’all it’s time to get your feet wet! Remember this week it’s all about getting familiar with your machine and just piecing the rows of three in your designated block layout while pressing to the dark side . Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.442.6498 (texting not available). I can’t wait to help!
Here is a fun meme to make seam ripping more fun! Have a great week see you soon!