One of the best things about a sewing day or retreat is finding out what someone else knows that you’ve never heard of. Such was the case with a recent sew day, and I want to give Eve Bennett the credit for showing me this truly remarkable and brilliant idea. It is a method of putting blocks together in the final assembly stage of a quilt, and it is light-years faster than my method. So, let’s look at how I usually complete an assembly of a top, and then look at Eve’s method. I set up a small set of squares that will represent blocks to show you what I mean. Note that all of these prints have a distinct orientation, and it will be obvious if they are rotated or sewn out of place. That will be important later.
When I have all the blocks completed for quilt, I line them up and sew the rows first. Then I join the rows together. So, if I were going to sew this set with my usual method, I would sew the top row first, then put that back on the design wall, and do the next row, continuing as indicated with the rectangles on the photo.
Now, here is Eve’s method. Take the first two COLUMNS and lay the second block over the first so that your edge to stitch is on the right.
Pick them up in order and stack with the topmost set on the top.
Take them to the machine and chain-sew beginning with the top block. Do not clip the threads. I am using brown thread here so you can see what I am going to show you a bit later.
Now, go to the design wall and stack the next column of blocks with the topmost one on the top and take that to the machine.
Reposition the chain pieced blocks so you again begin the sewing from the block on the first row. Your next blocks will be right side up, and so will your chained blocks. Here, I have already sewn the top one and am ready to chain the next set.
Turn the next block to right side down by flipping it from side to side (just like turning the pages of a book), aligning the left edge of the block’s right side to the right edge of chained blocks.
Chain sew the next set to the first ones. Do not clip the threads.
Continue with the next columns in order, always returning to the first row of the section already sewn, and beginning with the top block on the next stack. Remember to flip from left to right to get the proper side sewn next.
When you are done, you’ll have this matrix of blocks sewn in rows, and connected together with the chain stitches between rows.
No fussing around with what row goes where, and no laying out over and over to be sure the blocks are oriented correctly.
Take the connected rows to the pressing board, and you can easily see which row to press which direction to make the seams nest. No double and triple checking, no re-pressing for the rows you got backwards.
When it is time to do the final row sewing, here is where you really save time. The rows are already connected in order, just fold row #1 over row #2 right sides together, pin the main seams and sew. Then fold row #2 over row #3, pin and sew. You don’t even have to leave your chair as it is already aligned for you. Continue until all the rows are sewn.
Done in a jiffy.
And just so you can check, here are the two photos before and after side by side. Note that the squares are oriented exactly the same way both before and after. I used prints with directions and images so you can see what I mean. If you have blocks where the print placement matters, your placement will come out exactly as you plan.
As an added bonus, if you have to stop before sewing the rows, you can fold up the project and it will be in the same placement plan when you take it out again. I brought this QOV from our sew day home like this.
Without putting it back on a wall, (or in my case, the floor) I can sew these rows in just a few minutes when I get to it.
Simply pinning on the block seams, so very few pins needed. The beauty of the To The Nines pattern is that there are nine patch blocks and 16 patch blocks, so no seam matching within the blocks.
All done, and in less than half an hour!
Isn’t this brilliant? Do you assemble your tops like this, by the row method I used before, or another method?