September 18, 2015

Quilt as you Go tutorial: Joining your quilted pieces by machine

Today's my stop for the Back to School Blog Hop organized by fellow Portlander, Sam Hunter! 

Oh quilting friends, do you hold onto beautiful little possibly-useful bits of things because you can't bear to throw them away? Do you stash and squirrel things away until that magical day that you know what to do with them?

Well me too. Exhibit A.

I do these quilted samples to record video tutorials for the blog, or they're samples from books, or Craftsy classes, or whatever. I create them to help me teach FMQ but after they're photographed, then what? I save them. The piles get bigger and then I realize, if I don't do something useful with these, you won't be able to tell me from a crazy hoarder! Am I crazy? Of course I am. But am I a hoarder? Not yet. 

So if you are also trying to be a resourceful not-hoarder, my treat for you today is showing you how you can join your quilted pieces in a quilt as you go method, using only your machine. What, no hand stitching that last seam? That's right, you're welcome.

In this tutorial you use 1" strips on the front and back to join the two quilted pieces. This has all been in my head for a while and luckily Sam Hunter got me off my booty to actually make the tutorial happen by inviting me to her Back to School Blog Hop.

So here's how you join two quilted pieces.

You need:

  • a walking foot (use this for all the sewing in this tutorial)
  • 2 quilted pieces that are the same length on one side
  • 2 1" strips of fabric, cut these 1" longer than the side you are joining. 
  • a bias tape maker (the 1/2"/12mm size) and a sturdy pin (or a stiletto as I have here)
  • temporary (wash-away) glue (I use Aleene's but you could use regular white glue or a glue stick)

Start by running the 1" strip for the top of your piece through your bias tape maker (Don't do anything with the back strip!). You might have to trim the edge a little as shown and use a pin or stiletto to get the leading edge through.

Press it, keeping the iron right next to where the fabric comes out.

Now the sewing starts. Make sure you have your walking foot on. Use top thread that matches the color of your top strip and bobbin thread that matches the color of your back strip (in case they're different like mine are). Lay the unpressed back strip face down on the back of your first quilted piece. Join the unpressed strip to the quilted piece using a 1/4" seam.

Trim the excess strip, then open the strip and lay the second quilted piece right side UP, aligning edges with the strip. Join the strip and the second quilted piece using a 1/4" seam.

Open the joined pieces and press. You should see that the raw edges of your quilted pieces just meet on the other (front) side.

Now let's step away from the machine and do some gluing. How back to school is that? Very back to school indeed. The glue I use is Aleene's temporary hold glue. But when I can't find it I use white glue. I put a little glue on those seam allowances (inside the stitching!) and lay the pressed strip down on the glue. I use the stitched lines as my guide to know I'm keeping the pressed strip centered.

Let that dry, and take it back to the sewing machine. Now for the the final step: topstitching along the inside of both sides of the top strip.

When you turn it back over, you'll see your stitching is right on that back strip too! Here's the lamentably unfocussed picture I took of that moment. Trust me though, it's magic.

You can keep doing that over and over, building your piece bigger and bigger, until you have an entire quilt! In the piece I am working on I am using different colored strips for the joining strips on the front so they don't look too predictable. The back I'm happy to leave all the same color so I don't need to change the bobbin thread.

Variation: You could also do this with larger strips and larger seam allowances for a different look. If you used 2" strips, a 1" bias tape maker and 1/2" seam allowances you'd have something like this quilt from my book First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting.

Hopefully someday I'll have a few quilts to show from all these smaller pieces I've been stashing.

Don't miss the other helpful posts on the Back to School Blog Hop, I've linked to them all below! Best wishes to you all.

Sept 1: Peta Minerof-Bartos of PetaQuilts – So, Does that Diagonal Method for a Pieced Backing Really Work
Sept 2: Cheryl Sleboda of – The Quilter’s Knot
Sept 3: Teresa Coates of Crinkle Dreams – The Importance of Pressing
Sept 4: Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts – Color Coding for Paper-piecing
Sept 5: Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio – How to Calculate and Cut Bias Binding
Sept 6: Melanie McNeil of Catbird Quilt Studio – Credit where Credit is Due
Sept 7: Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts – How to Keep a Perfect 1/4” Seam Between Different Machines
Sept 8: Rose Hughes of Rose Hughes – Fast Pieced Applique
Sept 9: Megan Dougherty of The Bitchy Stitcher – The Care and Feeding of the Domestic Sewing Machine
Sept 10: Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Design Studio – Make a Mobile Art Kit
Sept 11: Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty – Log Cabin 101
Sept 12: Sarah Lawson of Sew Sweetness – Zipper Tips
Sept 13: Jane Victoria of Jolly and Delilah – Matching Seams
Sept 14: Jemelia Hilfiger of JemJam – Garment Making Tips and Tricks
Sept 15: Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios – Curved Piecing Without Pins
Sept 16: Misty Cole of Daily Design Wall – Types of Basting
Sept 17: Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams – Setting your Seams
Sept 18: Christina Cameli of A Few Scraps – Joining Quilted Pieces by Machine
Sept 19: Bill Volckening of WonkyWorld – The Importance of Labels
Sept 20: Jessica Darling of Jessica Darling – How to Make a Quilt Back
Sept 21: Debbie Kleve Birkebile of Mountain Trail Quilt Treasures – Perfectly Sized No-Wave Quilt Borders
Sept 22: Heather Kinion of Heather K is a Quilter – Baby Quilts for Baby Steps
Sept 23: Michelle Freedman of Design Camp PDX – TNT: Thread, Needle, Tension
Sept 24: Kathy Mathews of Chicago Now Quilting Sewing Creation – Button Holes
Sept 25: Jane Shallala Davidson of Quilt Jane – Corner Triangle Methods
Sept 27: Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies Quilting – The Power of Glue Basting
Sept 28: Catherine Redford of Catherine Redford – Change the Needle!
Sept 29: Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz of Fun From A to Z – French Knots, – ooh la la!
Sept 30: Victoria Findlay Wolfe of Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts – How to Align Your Fabrics for Dog Ears
October 1: Tracy Mooney of 3LittleBrds – Teaching Kiddos to Sew on a Sewing Machine
October 2: Trish Frankland, guest posting on Persimon Dreams – The Straight Stitch Throat Plate
October 3: Flaun Cline of I Plead Quilty – Lining Strips Up