Quilt Along for Beginner’s – Part 3: Sewing Squares into Rows & Completing Quilt Top
Welcome back for Part 3 of the Step-by-Step Quilt Along! I’m so glad you’re here!
So far, we’ve learned all about fabric and the supplies needed for this project and we learned how to properly cut our fabric into straight squares. For this quilt, we need roughly 70 little squares.
Did you get yours cut? How did it go? Any questions or things you’re not quite sure about?
If this is your first time joining us, take a moment to get caught up with Part 1 and Part 2 of the Quilt Along. Once you do, join us back here to start sewing your quilt top!
This is a fun week – probably my favorite part of the whole quilting experience! This week we will be (finally) pulling out our sewing machines and piecing the quilt top together.
Follow along with me through this tutorial, even the most beginner’s can do this, trust me. You will be so proud of yourself when you have a beautiful quilt top completed!
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Are you ready to get started?
Design Your Layout
The final step in the Part 2 tutorial was to design your layout.
Just as a refresher, I want to share my awesome little tip for setting up an easy, inexpensive design wall!
Designing the quilt is incredibly fun, but laying the blocks on the ground and climbing over them to make adjustments? No thank you! (Although, I can still recall my 36 week pregnant self doing just that because I hadn’t learned this wonderful tip yet! Yuck!).
Save yourself, your knees and the headache that crawling on the ground entails and set up a simple design wall.
A design wall (or design board) is a flannel wall that holds your fabric and allows you to experiment with different quilting designs and layouts, all without pins!
You can purchase a design wall, but they were more expensive than I was comfortable with and they didn’t offer a lot of flexibility to put them away when not in use.
There had to be a better option….solution?
Are you ready for this….
A (super inexpensive) flannel backed tablecloth!
- Inexpensive (and I found mine at a garage sale for 50 cents – even better! ? )
- Easily hang with tacks or command strips.
- Easy to fold up and put away when not in use
- Works like a dream holding fabric – I’ve even left fabric on it for months on end without any issues!
Don’t mind the wrinkles, I keep it folded when not in use. ?
Use a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth for a design wall! It holds quilt squares without any pins and allows you to experiment with different layouts before sewing!
Do yourself a favor, get a flannel backed tablecloth for a design wall asap! It makes a huge difference! Plus, if you have little ones, it’s a great tool to play and explore with! Plus my little one loves playing with and hanging different prints and textures on my design wall! ?
So since you are a super savvy sewer, I know you took my tip and set up your own design wall! Awesome job!
How did setting up your layout go? Pleased with the design?
Good! Because it’s time to start sewing! 🙂
Sewing Perfect Inseams
Before we sew anything, let’s discuss inseams for a moment.
I think sewing accurate inseams is perhaps the most important element when creating a quilt. If your inseams aren’t accurate and uniform, you’ll have trouble putting your quilt together, especially if you are following a pattern.
If this is your first time completing a quilt, it’s important to check the width of your presser foot attached to your machine. It’s easy to do so, just sew a seam on a sample piece of fabric. Line your fabric up with the right side of your presser foot.
Once you sew the seam, check it with a quilting ruler. It should measure exactly 1/4″.
Another option for checking the width of your presser foot is to take three strips of fabric, each 1.5″ wide. Sew the first two strips together, using a 1/4″ inseam. Attach the third strip of fabric with a 1/4″ inseam.
Once attached, measure the center piece of fabric. It should measure exactly 1″. If yours doesn’t, no problem. Keep practicing and adjusting until it measures exactly 1″.
Sewing a straight inseam is definitely a skill acquired with lots of practice. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first. Everyone does. Trust me, my first quilt was rough looking, but it’s still so special because I created it myself!
Sewing Your Rows
Once you have your layout set and you’ve checked the width of your presser foot, take a small piece of tape (I️ use painters tape) and number the rows. This will help you stay organized as you piece your rows together.
Let’s go through one row at a time.
Take your first 2 squares. Lay them right sides together, with the second square on top. You want the wrong sides of the fabric showing.
Add a few pins or clips (I love these clips) to hold them together and prevent sliding.
We’re going to sew these together up the right side with a 1/4″ inseam. (As a side note, I use and absolutely LOVE this sewing machine. It’s relatively inexpensive, comes with a lot of accessories, and is the perfect machine for beginner’s!)
Once you have the first two squares together, we’re going to repeat the process.
Take the third square, lay it right sides together on the second square.
Sew together with a 1/4″ inseam.
Continue adding squares (always add them right sides together- wrong sides facing out) until you complete your row.
Place the completed row on your design wall and begin your second row.
Finish Sewing Your Rows
Repeat the process for each row until all of the squares are sewn together into rows.
You will have a total of 10 rows.
Now it’s time to press the seams and sew our rows together.
Iron Your Seams
There is more than one way to complete this step, but my favorite and my go-to is by nesting my seams. I find it to be a simple way to ensure I have a nice smooth finish on my quilt.
Nesting your seams is simply ironing joining seams in opposite directions so they fit together nicely.
To put this in practice with a quilt top, the seams of each row will be ironed in alternating directions.
Once they are ironed, the seams will fit together nicely and pull together when sewn.
One of the best tips I can give is to take time practicing nesting seams. Nest a seam and feel how smooth the fabric & seam feels. Slide it out of place and feel the difference. Continue shifting the fabric into nested position and out until you are comfortable identifying if a seam is nested. This is how I learned and got comfortable with nesting seams.
Sewing Rows into a Quilt Top
Now it’s time to take our rows and sew them all together!
Take your first two rows and put them right sides together, opposite sides facing out.
Shimmy, slide and adjust the fabric as needed until each seam is nested nicely.
Pin or clip liberally. Especially if you are new to quilting. I recommend over pinning rather than the opposite. Pinning helps prevent fabric shifting, which is not a good thing, especially when quilting.
With the first two rows pinned or clipped, sew them together with a 1/4″ inseam.
Once the first two rows are sewn together, we are going to repeat the process.
Add the third row, right sides together with the second.
Nest the seams by sliding or adjusting the fabric as needed.
Pin or clip in place.
Sew together with a 1/4″ inseam.
Repeat this process for rows 4-10, always adding the rows right sides together (wrong sides facing out).
Iron & Admire Your Completed Quilt Top
Iron your quilt top smooth. I typically iron the right side of the quilt, then flip it over and iron the seams in the correct direction. Ensuring the seams are pressed on the backside helps prevent bulk and allows your quilt to lay more smoothly.
You did it! You just completed your first quilt top!
How’s it look? Are you pleased with it?
I’m sure it looks beautiful, but just in case your first attempt is anything like mine was, here are a few tips for properly using the seam ripper.
Properly Using a Seam Ripper
- Do not feel embarrassed if you have to use a seam ripper. It literally is a lifesaver that quilters have a love/hate relationship with. 🙂
- When using a seam ripper, the object is to remove stitches quickly, without damaging the fabric.
- Cut every 3-4 stitches with the seam ripper. Pull the bobbin thread (the thread on the backside of your piece) to remove.
Finish Your Quilt Top & Join Me Next Week
Now that you know what to do, take your time sewing your quilt top together and meet me back here next week to continue our baby quilts.
As your working, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might run across! I tried to be as thorough as possible, but if something is unclear please let me know! I am more than happy to add videos or clarification, if needed!
Join me next week to learn how to create our quilt sandwich and start quilting! By the end of next week, we will be nearly done with our quilt! You don’t want to miss it!
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5 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Quilt Along for Beginner’s: Part 3”
Help. I’m ready for your detals on finishing the quilt. “step 4”.
Hi Carleen! Thank you so much for following along – awesome job making it this far! I allowed a bit of extra time on Part 3 because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Part 4 of the Quilt Along is now posted. Good luck and enjoy! 🙂
You are the best! I have never quilted in my life. I recently taught myself how to sew car seat ponchos with the sewing machine. I’ve made maybe 6. Anyhow, your directions are perfectly detailed and sooooo clear. On the few steps I was confused I just reread or clicked the link to see more detail. Almost ready to see my rows together. It’s been 4 days since I began. I’m so excited and appreciative!
Hi Mollie! So happy to hear the guide is helpful for you! Car seat ponchos are a lifesaver to keep little ones warm (safely)! Have fun!
Hi’ Desiree, my name is Juanita, i have been trying to make a T shirt quilt for my grandsons with their Football / Baseball shirts, my question is how do i measure the squares to make a full size quilt, i just saw your instructions on Pinterest, i read it and you explained it so good very easy to follow, i haven’t started cutting the shirts yet, my question is, if for example i cut the squares like , example, 24×24 and with the 1/4″ inseam, and the full size is 84X90 won’t it shorter on the length?. i hope i made myself clear. I can’t wait to start, the only thing is that i thought myself to sew, and don’t know to fix the tension on my sewing machine so that the stiches are nice and tight instead of being so loose, sorry i have so many questions, hope you can answer them for me.
Thank you so much.