Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Make a Quilt for Beginners Part 3: Laying out the Squares, Sewing blocks, and Making the Top

Layout- Now that you have all the fabric prepped and ready to go it's time to lay out the squares and decide how you want your quilt top to look. I divided my squares into 5 piles since I have 5x each print.  (I also had a few extra squares that I separated out and will use if I need to). Normally I would lay mine out on the floor but since I am in a hotel room and floor space is very, very limited I used the bed and a little bit of the floor.

Sewing the Top- Once you have that all figured out it's time to sew them together (The moment you have been waiting for!). It's really important that you keep all your seams the same size.  I make all my seams 1/4 inch (as do most people in the quilting community) I use the side of my presser foot as my guide since that is where the 1/4 inch mark is on my machine.  It is very important to make sure we keep all the rows in the same order and the seams going the same way.  I always take a picture of the layout as a reference so I won't forget the order of my squares.
I used the first 2 rows of the quilt
Here I have the first 2 rows of the quilt since my quilt is huge and I don't have floor space in my hotel room. Next I place the first row on top of the 2nd row right sides together (the right side of the fabric is the side with the print (if it's solid it doesn't matter which side it is). Then I stack the rows in order so that they overlap each other most of the way and keep them in that order when I sew them.  Then I make sure that the 1st row square and the 2nd row square are lined up nicely and sew my 1/4 inch seam.

Place the 1st Row on top of the 2nd Row also the order in which I will sew the squares.

Right Sides (The side with the prints) facing each other

Where to sew the 1/4 inch seam

Graphical Explanation

 Once you have sewn the rows together you need to press the seam with the iron and press open the seam.
Top of square is where the seam is sewn

Press the seam with the iron
Then lift the top fabric up and press open the seam

You now have your first row squares sewn to the corresponding square in the second row.
Do this to the 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th, 9/10th rows (I only have 10 rows in my quilt you may have more or less depending on how big you decided to make your quilt and squares).
Four Patch:
Now we will take our first two pieces to make a four patch.
 Sandwich them right sides together:

 You'll want the seams to nest each other (one seam is going towards the right the other towards the left)

Close up of the seams nested together
I usually place a pin in the middle so I can open it up and make sure that the corner will be perfect
With pin in the fabric I can see if the corner's are nested to make a perfect corner.  This will also help you see if you are going to be sewing the fabric in the correct order.  (Remember to take out the pin once you get to it on your sewing machine, it can damage your machine to sew over pins)

Sew a 1/4 inch seam along the edge where my finger is pointing (just be sure to check that you are sewing the fabric in the correct order you laid it out. Check twice sew once!)

The edge of my presser foot gives me a quarter inch seam

Sew seam

Use iron on cotton setting and press along the seam then as you open it up press the seam open

Now you have a Four Patch!
 Continue to sew together four patches in the order you placed your top. Once all your four patches are done you can then sew a row of four patches together.  Remember to pin as you go and only use 1/4 inch seams. Once you have all your rows sewn you can start sewing the larger strips together until you have sewn all the squares together (It's ok to not have all your corners perfect, a few of mine were off center but that's all part of quilt making, this is the reason that all the seams need to be 1/4 so you can get as many perfect corners as possible).
Here's an explanation with drawings for those of you that are visual like me!

 Sit back and admire your finished quilt top!
Finished Quilt Top
Stay Tuned for Part 4: Borders, Backing, and Sandwiching it All Together


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for posting your quilting experience. I am beginning my first quilt and was looking for some clarity from the internet. I appreciate your text and supporting photos (as I'm a visual learner as well). I look forward to your last installment to the quilt.

  2. Could you please post part 4? Thank you!