Sunday, January 2, 2011

My First Quilt -- part 2 -- Sewing the 4-patches

Quiltalong Series:

In the last post, we cut the fabric for the First Quilt.

 Ready to start sewing?  Me too!
Today we're going to sew 4-patches, which is a very basic quilt block in itself. 
See the box in the picture?  That's what we're constructing today.
There are 8 of these in the finished quilt.  The numbers are on the center of each 4-patch.

here we go!

So just for reminder's sake, here's my key to my fabric.  You may want to have yours handy.
Oh, and turn on the iron.  You'll need it shortly.

So collect one strip of your light inner and one strip of your dark inner fabrics, and put them with their right sides together.  My husband thinks it's more informative to say "good sides together."  
You may want to pin both ends and the middle, but you don't have to.

Sew Light inner to Dark Inner using a 1/4" seam down the long side. 
(A 1/4" seam is important in quilting because it ensures that your seams match up and your points end up where they are supposed to be.)  Here's more info on sewing a quarter inch seam.

Next, repeat by sewing a strip of Light Outer to Dark Outer using a 1/4" seam down the long side.

Leave the other strips.  We'll use them for the next steps. 
(At this point you have used one strip of each of the 4 fabrics.)

Time to press.  First, iron the fabric just like it came off the machine.  This trick actually helps.  I learned it from Eleanor Burns.  And she's smart.  She says it sets the stitches into the fabric.

Next, open the fabric, and press it so that the extra part is underneath the lighter fabric. 
Another way to say this is "press toward the light" 
You're going to want to do this with both seams.

Now, take both sets of your long strips to your cutting mat, and lay them down so that the middle seam is on a solid line. Trim off the side so that you have a squared off end.

Then using your cutting mat and ruler, cut vertically through the strip every 2 1/2 inches.  
You will have 8 pairs of 2 squares each that look like this:

Then repeat this step for the other strips you sewed (the outer ones).

Now, take one of each set and lay it out like so.  Make sure your darks are on opposite corners 
Flip the top one down so that right sides are together.

Remember we pressed our seams so that the extra was under the light?  
Now that comes in handy.  See how they nest together nicely?

Do this for all your pairs.  It is helpful to put pins in both corners.  
They hold your pieces in place, plus they point to the side you are going to sew.  
Try to put the pins back far enough so they aren't in your seam.

Now we sew all those together.  
Try not to sew over pins.  If your needle hits on squarely, it will probably break.  
And it's no fun to have to stop and change a needle!

So this is a good time to tell you about chain piecing.  It's very, very useful.
What you do is this.  Start sewing one set, then keep sewing off the end and then put another set under the presser foot and keep sewing.  When you get to the end of that seam, keep going off the end and put another set under...  and so on.

It doesn't seem like it would help that much, but it saves a lot of stop-and-start time. 
And it's a good skill to use!

When you finish sewing all 8 sets, they will all be strung on one thread.  Just clip the threads between them and pull out the pins.

Press the seam as it was sewn.

And then open your fabric and press.  It doesn't matter at this point which direction you press the seam.

The back will look something like this.

As you press, stack them all up so they are the same. 
And now you're ready for the next installment.  

So how are you doing?


  1. That's a lotta work!

    Looks really pretty!

  2. Is there a reason for not pressing the seams open? I LOVE that you sew the two long pieces together and then cut them! I'd have been sewing together 14,692 little squares and lost interest long before I was done! (can you say "instant gratification?)