Paper Pieced Quilt Along #6 – Sewing the Top

I have a simple method I employ when sewing nearly all of my quilt tops. I lay out my blocks on a design wall, join them into rows, and sew the rows together to complete the top. For this lesson, I’ll share a few tips on how I make that go more smoothly. (Visit my Paper Pieced QAL page for links to all previous tutorials.)

finished_blocks I chose to leave this picture uncropped so that you can see I usually have several things happening on my design wall at the same time.

Step 1

First I throw up the blocks on my design wall. Although I will place the blocks into position, I don’t care too much about the color balance yet. I constantly refer to a picture or printout of my design so I can lay the blocks out in the correct position.

Step 2 (not shown)

After I have laid out all the blocks and background squares, I will play around with the arrangement until it feels right. For this quilt, I had just a few pops of light green and a couple of darker colors purposely out of order to give a little interest. I made sure to balance those out a little when I chose my final layout.

Step 3

sewthexHere’s another thrifty hint: I tend to use up leftover colored cotton bobbins in my piecing.

I take a picture with my camera phone and then begin sewing individual rows, two blocks at a time. As I joined the blocks, I pressed all of the joining seams open. I also pressed each row of blocks open to reduce the bulk.

Tip: use the seam line intersections as a guideline when matching points. For the sides of the block, I sewed just a few thread widths narrow of the intersection between the two seams shown above. When matching up blocks point to point, I pinned generously and sewed through the “x’s” that were formed by intersecting seams.

Step 4

I sewed all of the block rows individually, pressed each open, and put it back into position on the design wall. Then I sewed together two rows, pressed them and put them back on the wall.

block_rowsI made 5 sets of 2 row pairs, then joined those into 2 sections of 4 rows and 6 rows. Finally I joined the rows together to complete the quilt top.

Step 5 – The “Victory Lap”

Once the top is complete, I will secure the perimeter edges by sewing 1/8″ in from the edge of the quilt top, around all 4 sides. Someone jokingly referred to this as the “victory lap” on instagram and I got a kick out of that!

edge_stitchingStay-stitch around the perimeter to secure the edges for basting and quilting.

Now, we are ready to baste! Remember to share your work-in-progress on my Facebook group: Quilt With Christa, or on Instagram #paperpiecedqal.

Copyright and Permission Granted

I am very happy to share my knowledge with you free of charge during this quilt along. However, this information is for your personal use as a loyal reader of my blog. Please do not make copies of any part of this quilt along to distribute it to your friends. If you’d like to tell them about it, simply share my QAL site link with them and encourage them to come on over and join us:

If you’d like to share links to my site on Facebook or on your own blog, that is great, too!

At the conclusion of the quilt along, I will be happy to edit down all of the content and turn it into a pattern for sale, so that others can use my pattern as a teaching aid in the future. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Paper Pieced Quilt Along #6 – Sewing the Top

  1. Serious Sarah says:

    I am having a really fun time with this quilt along. I am about halfway through sewing my blocks. I decided how to put them together, not sure how to attach a picture, but I using a pinwheel style setting and it goes diagonally across the quilt from top to bottom. I noticed the center color changes as it progresses across the quilt, first is light second is dark and so forth to the other edge. The arrangement just seems to form naturally.

  2. treadlemusic says:

    Wonderfully stunning! I noticed that you comment that you use up those partial bobbins when piecing and press the seams open (to reduce bulk) but am wondering a couple of things: 1) when the quilt is quilted/sandwiched and the seam is stretched apart a bit, have you ever noticed the thread color peeking through? (would be more noticeable with the black background, I suspect) and 2) do you do the thread color/fabric color mismatch ‘thing’ only when darker colored fabric is used? I usually try to match the thread color to the fabric color as closely as I can as I have had some unfortunate experiences with the thread color showing in rare occasions. This quilt pattern/QAL has been one that has been a success for everyone involved!!!! Your writing skills and creativity is greatly admired!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing all with us…………………………

    • Christa says:

      Great questions! I use a smaller stitch length so that the stitches don’t show. Also, when using “scrappy” bobbins, I try to keep the same tone in mind. For example, deep colors work on a darker piecing fabric and then lighter threads and neutrals work great for lighter fabrics. Hope that helps!

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