Quilt Along Week 5 - Assembly

So you have all your blocks cut out and sitting in a neat, untouched pile, right? Okay, I hope you've at least had a chance to cut them out so far. Today we are going to assemble them in to a finished quilt top.

The layout for this top is quite easy. All you have to do is remember to alternate horizontal blocks with vertical blocks. That is, your stripes go side to side on one block and up and down on the next. If you have a design wall, great. If, like me, you are in a constrained space you use whatever is handy - a fence, a bed, or the living room floor during what you hope is a very long nap.

I just pick a corner or the center of the quilt and start throwing down blocks. To be honest, I don't think about it too much at first except to ensure that I don't place two blocks side by side. Rather, I just want to get a feel for the layout. As I go I will start to notice whether I've got too many of one type of fabric together. Or might try to put some fabrics together to create a mini rail (of the rail fence) in the quilt.

Overall, I'm looking for balance of a couple of elements when laying out these tops:
  • My accent pieces aren't heavily weighted in one area over another - disperse the thick and the thin strips or the colours if you used more than one accent.
  • Variation in the angles of the strips - some should go right, some left.
  • Disperse the background fabrics as much as possible.

Looking both close-up and stepped back allow for you to see your quilt in the big picture. Another trick is to take a photo with your digital camera. This helps you see the layout at a distance. You can also go to the hardware store and buy a door peephole. Looking through this makes everything appear at a distance. I love my peephole (when I can find it). For a reminder of the finished layout check out the picture in the sidebar or the finished Gratitude quilt.

Once you are happy with your layout I like to stack my blocks in columns. Start at the top left corner of your layout. Take the corner block in your hand and place it directly on top of the block directly below it in layout. Do not rotate it or any of the blocks at this point. Continue to stack each column.  I also label the top left corner of each stack with a pin and a sheet of paper. Just to minimize confusion.

To piece the top I sew column 1 to column 2, in one continuous strip. At the end of each block I simply sew a few stitches and then I start on the next set of blocks.  

I sew the entire column together then press.  To press I sew one row to the right, the next to the left.  On this particular quilt I press towards the vertical strip.  This will make the top lie quilt smoothly.

The top goes together quickly by sewing one column after another. I keep the next stack of blocks to the right of my sewing machine and grab a block as I go. Do not cut apart the completed rows. Once you've sewn all the columns together you are left with pieced rows.  Your columns, strip pieced, create finished rows. See the picture below if that doesn't make sense.

All that remains is to sew your rows together.  This is the one point where I pin. Because I pressed towards the vertical strip on each block and I alternated vertical and horizontal blocks in the layout my seams will lay flat when I match them up. I pin two rows rights sides together and sew. I repeat this until all the rows are together and then press all the seams in one direction.

Et, voila!  A finished top.

Here is where I apologize for not having a picture of the completed top in the yellow/grey/navy. It is finished, but I haven't been able to take a picture because a) Hubby can't lift his arm for the picture b) even if I was home during the day to take a picture when it is daylight there is now snow on the ground. Soon, I promise.