Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 9 – Binding

Have you enjoyed quilting along with me? Or are you just now finding this quilt along? Either way, I want to remind you that Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt along will stay up on my blog indefinitely so you can make this quilt any time you wish, on your own time, and at your own schedule. Dot ‘n’ Dash Kits are still available and you can pick up a signed copy of my book to get the pattern.

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the supply list and links to all of the previous posts for Dot’n’Dash QAL.

This week it’s time to bind the quilt! Follow the steps below for my favorite method, or adapt it to your own process as desired. This method uses straight of grain strips that are double folded and attached with smooth seams ensuring no lumps and bumps. I use it for all of my quilts!

Step 1 – Trim the Quilt

I like to trim off the excess batting and backing flush with the edge of the quilt so that I can sew the binding on nice, straight, and even. I use a large square acrylic ruler to trim off all four corners first. This ensures that the corners of the quilt will stay nice and square. I use the lines on the ruler to nudge the quilt into shape if needed.

Quilt Trimming - Corners

Once the corners are trimmed, I use a long acrylic ruler to trim up the sides the same way. I line up the already cut corner with the edge of the straight ruler so that I can continue to get a straight, clean cut around all four sides of the quilt.

Quilt Trimming - Sides

Step 2 – Sew the Binding Strips

To figure out how much binding I need, I take the perimeter of the quilt, add 10″ to the total, and divide by 40″ (the width of fabric) to figure out how many binding strips I need. See pages 52-55 of the book for this particular pattern.

Binding from leftover jelly roll strips

Because I wanted to use the fabric efficiently, I used leftover precut strips from the Strip-pie bundle (aka jellyroll) to make a scrappy binding. Because you don’t use the entire strip when you cut and sew the blocks, there’s enough leftover for the binding. You can trim them narrower if desired, but I went ahead and left them at 2 1/2″ since I was in a hurry to finish!

Sewing the binding

Join the binding strips with a mitered seam by placing them wrong sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew from one corner to the other to join the seams. I can usually eyeball it (see image above), but feel free to mark the sewing line if you need to stay straight.

Sewing binding strips

To chain piece (assembly line sew), I add each next strip as I go, flipping over the top strip so that I join them right sides together each time.

Because the strips are very colorful, I joined them with a neutral colored Aurifil 50 weight thread and sewed with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of 2.5). This prevents the thread from poking through the seam and makes a nice tight stitch that won’t split when I press the seams open.

Trim binding corners

Once all of the seams are sewn, I trim off the excess with 1/4″ seam and press all seams open.
I’ll designate one of the binding ends as the starting “tail” and trim it off at a 45 degree angle. That will come in handy later when it’s time to join the ends together seamlessly.

Continuous Binding

Finally, I’ll press the entire binding in half wrong sides together lengthwise, and it’s ready to sew to the quilt!

Step 3 – Attach Binding to Quilt

I line up the open ends of the binding to the raw edge of the quilt. I leave about 10″-12″ of a starting “tail” so that I have room to join it up later. I’ll put a pin in place to indicate where I’ll start sewing. Sew with 1/4″ seam for skinnier binding strips, or slightly wider if using wider strips.

Attach binding to quilt

If you want the pieced seams to avoid ending up in the corners, quickly measure the binding around the perimeter of the quilt before you start sewing. If any of the seams ends up in the corners, adjust your starting tail by an inch or two in either direction.

When you get to the end of one side, stop sewing about 1/4″ away from the edge (or the width of your seam allowance), and sew off the corner at a diagonal. this will enable to you create a pretty miter on the front of the quilt.

Sew the binding to the quilt

Next, remove the quilt from the machine, rotate it and fold up the next unsewn binding side.
Make sure the edge of the binding matches up to the edge of the quilt as shown in the photo below. This will ensure that everything lines up perfectly.

Notice that a nice diagonal crease will form across the corner.

quilt binding

Fold the binding back down upon itself at the corner. (See photo below.) You want the top of the fold to line up exactly with the top of the sewn quilt. This will ensure a nice crisp corner.

Binding in progress

Continue sewing at the corner. You might need to grasp the starting threads because this will be a thick seam to start. In my image below, I’m using the BERNINA integrated dual feed with the open toe embroidery foot (20D) so that I can see what I’m doing. I recommend using a walking foot if you don’t have the dual feed, so your fabric doesn’t slip or pucker.

Sewing the binding

Continue sewing all four sides and corners the same way. Leave an ending tail of about 5″-6″ that will join up with the starting tail. Trim off the excess binding if needed.

Step 4 – Secure the Binding Ends

To join up the ends, I’ll use some photos from another quilt because I was in such a hurry to finish this one, that I forgot to snap photos, LOL!!

Place the cut angled end (the beginning tail) inside of the ending tail and mark the 45 degree angle where they meet exactly.

Binding Ends

Add 1/2″ to this line for seam allowances and trim off the ending tail at a 45 degree angle, using a small square acrylic ruler with a 45 degree line.

Add the binding

Match up the beginning and ending tails and sew them together with a 1/4″ seam. You’ll notice the triangle tips sticking off at each end. Press the seam open and trim off those tips, also known as “dog ears.”

Join binding edges.

Finish sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. If desired, flip the binding to the front and press away from the quilt to make it easier to fold over to the back.

I secure the entire binding with Clover Wonder Clips so that nothing shifts while I hand sew the binding down on the back.

Secure the binding

Step 5 – Hand Sewing to Finish

I prefer to finish my binding by hand because it gives a nice, clean finish to the quilt. However if you prefer to finish by machine, I suggest using a decorative stitch on your machine so that the binding becomes a decorative element of your quilt.

I like to use a blending thread color to secure my binding. I normally use whatever is leftover in the bobbin after I’ve attached the binding to the quilt. Thread a hand sewing needle with about 16″ of thread and knot one end.

Hand Binding

Notice that I hold the quilt away from me and stitch from right to left. I make each stitch by catching a little bit of the backing and the folded edge of the binding each time. Some people call this a “ladder stitch.”

Hand Stitch the binding

Whenever I run out of thread, I knot the end and hide it underneath the binding, then start with a new length of thread. When I get to the corners, I fold them over in the opposite order of how they are folded on the front to reduce bulk.

Hand stitched binding

I also sew the corner miters closed for a nice finish. It usually takes me about one hour per side when hand stitching a throw sized quilt. That’s a couple of evenings of movies with the family which is a fun way to finish!

Machine Quilting on Dot n Dash

I enjoyed finishing this quilt just before we took a beach vacation earlier this summer, so I have fond memories of working on this quilt!

Share your Finishes!

Be sure to share your progress on instagram #dotndashqal and also in my Christa Quilts Facebook group. Even if you are just starting, I’d love to cheer you on!

Click here for the supply list and start of the quilt along.
Click here to purchase the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Kit or my fabric bundles.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 4 – Spray Basting Tutorial

Have you always wondered how I spray baste my quilts? Over on the BERNINA blog at WE All Sew, I’m sharing my spray basting method using my design wall. It’s part of the Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along I’m hosting over there on the blog, so be sure to check it out!

Whether or not you are making the Beaded Lanterns quilt, you can apply this technique to any quilt.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Links

Week 1 – Supply List and Schedule
Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks
Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly
Week 4 – Backing and Basting

Click here to purchase Fandangle fabric, kits and bundles.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly

Great news for those of you following the BERNINA quilt along to make Beaded Lanterns. More of the kits are back in stock at shop.christaquilts.com.

beaded lanterns

Last Thursday, the lastest installment was shared over at We All Sew. The next step in the process  is to sew the blocks to make the quilt top. Click the links below to catch up on the Quilt Along and feel free to jump in at any time!

Beaded Lanterns

BERNINA Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Links

Week 1 – Supply List and Schedule
Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks
Week 3 – Quilt Top Assembly

Click here to get the optional Beaded Lanterns quilt kit, while supplies last.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 7 – Machine Quilting Part 2: Double Zig-Zags

It’s time to embellish our quilts with some fun machine quilting this week! In my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts, I’ve shared 18 different quilting ideas that you can mix and match along with the 11 projects in the book. We are going to do a little bit of mixing and matching of motifs this week!

(By the way, If you are a little unsure of your free-motion quilting skills, be sure to check out my machine quilting class on Craftsy for my best machine quilting tips and tricks!)

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Original Dot N Dash Quilting

Here’s how I quilted the original Dot ‘n’ Dash quilt. I quilted “crazy 8’s” in the background areas, and wavy lines in the print strips. I followed a similar quilting plan to what we are doing today, but with different designs. If you’d like to follow this quilting plan, see pages 50-55 of the book.

Free-Motion Quilting Dot n Dash

Original quilting plan for Dot ‘n’ Dash – from the book.

For this week’s quilting “assignment,” we are going to play with one of the walking foot designs from another project in the book to  come up with a really fun variation. Take a look at the “Frequency” quilt on page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts. You can create amazing texture by quilting “sort of” straight lines, zigging and zagging from side to side across each strip.

Quilting Modern Zig-Zags

Notice the random irregularities. Not only do they add interest to the quilt, they are fast and easy to do because there’s no marking involved and you don’t have to measure any spacing. This is MY kind of perfectly imperfect quilting!!

Frequency Quilting

See page 28 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts to practice this design.

quilting with your walking foot/dual feed

Rotate the quilt so that you are quilting each strip row from the top to bottom. Quilt a short line by eye and stop with the needle down when you get to the side of your strip. Lift the foot up and slightly rotate the quilt so that you can angle the line in the opposite direction. Keep going, quilting the irregular lines from side to side. If you have a knee-lift or hover feature on your machine, use it so that you can leave your hands on the quilt the entire time.

To prevent whiskering (wrinkles) or puckers on your quilt, quilt each row starting at the top of the quilt and working your way to the bottom each time. Just like when I stitched in the ditch last week, I’ll start on the right side of the quilt and work my way towards the center, then rotate the quilt and keep going from the center out.

Alternate Method: Free-Motion Quilting the Zig-Zags

To get started free-motion quilting, I recommend using a Supreme Slider – a slick sheet that clings to the bed of your sewing machine, and a pair of Machingers gloves that will give you a better grip on your quilt. Just remember to only use the Supreme Slider while FMQ, not walking foot quilting, so that you don’t accidentally stitch through it! (Ask me how I know….)

Tools for free motion quilting: open toe foot, gloves, supreme slider

The gloves and slider will help me control the quilt with less strain on my hands.

I’ve lowered my feed dogs and I’m quilting with an open toe free motion foot so I can better see what I’m doing. Although my machine does come with a stitch regulator, I actually prefer quilting without it. I learned without a regulator so that’s the movement I’m most comfortable with.

However, if you have a stitch regularot, give it a try and see which feels more comfortable to you – with or without. Here’s another tip I picked up from my good buddy Leah Day: try quilting both with your feed dogs up and down to see which gives you a better stitch. The nice thing about using a Supreme Slider is that it covers the feed dogs, keeping them out of the way if you decide to keep them up!

Free Motion Quilting Zig-Zags

Free-motion quilting is faster, but requires more control and lots of practice.

Did you know you can free-motion quilt short straight lines without a ruler? If they are done in short bursts, you can eyeball a straight line if you look ahead and pick a point you are trying to get to.

The reason I’m quilting this design free-motion instead of with a walking foot is that it’s faster, since I don’t have to stop and turn the quilt for each zig and zag. However, it requires more muscle control, so practice both ways first on a scrap of batting and fabric and then decide which technique is easier for you to master.

Free Motion Modern Zig-Zag Design

First pass across the quilt – zig-zags in all the gray areas.

Notice that I’m quilting modern, random zig-zags in the gray strips between each print strip (not including the small gray squares). To quilt one long continuous line without breaking thread, zig or zag over to the next gray section to quilt. If needed, it’s okay to backtrack (or quilt over a precious quilting line) in the seam to get to where you need to go.

After quilting one pass of zig-zags, I decided that I wanted to quilt another set of lines, intersecting what I had already done. I’m using the same method to quilt the random short lines, but crossing over each previous line as shown below:

Double Zig-Zags fmq

Notice how I’m quilting each row from the top of the quilt to the bottom.
I will rotate the quilt as needed to find a comfortable quilting position.

Machine Quilting Homework

Quilt all of the gray areas with a blending thread. I used the same Aurifil 50 weight gray that I used for stitching in the ditch last week. Quilt one pass across the quilt like the pictures I showed above. Then quilt a second pass across the quilt to give it more random texture.

We will tackle the print strips next week, using another free-motion motif from a different quilt in the book. It’s been fun to mix and match the designs to show how versatile they can be!

Free Motion Quilting Double Zig-zags

Divide and Conquer – quilt all of one design first before moving on to the next.

It’s Not to Late to Start!

Remember – you can jump in and make this quilt any time. Just grab a copy of the book and your favorite fabrics (strips, scraps, or stash).

Click here for the supply list and links to all of the previous posts.
Then share your progress on instagram #dotndashqal or in my Christa Quilts facebook group.

Free motion quilting double zig zags

I love yummy machine quilting texture!! Next week I’ll show you how to quilt the rest.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 6 – Machine Quilting Part 1 SITD

Can you believe we are 6 weeks in to the quilt along?! The work you all are doing is fabulous and I’m excited to get to my favorite part – machine quilting!! This week we will Stitch in the Ditch (SITD) to secure the quilt for the jazzy free motion quilting we will do later. Many times, this crucial step is overlooked, and although it’s not the most exciting part of machine quilting it’s one of the most important steps for successful free-motion quilting.

Machine Quilting Detail on Dot n Dash Quilt

Machine Quilting Detail on Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt. Stitching in the ditch allows you to break down the quilting into sections, which makes for more successful free-motion quilting later.

My Fave Machine Quilting Supplies

First of all, let me tell you about the needles I prefer to use for machine quilting. They are from Superior Threads and are called Topstitch needles. Look at the image below to see the difference between a Topstitch needle and a Universal needle. The Topstitch has a slightly sharper point which is helpful for penetrating the fabric. But the most important feature is a slightly longer eye (the hole) so that your thread won’t shred. I love these needles so much that I use them for piecing as well.

Needle Closeup

I buy the needles in the blue package as they are most economical for my projects:

Next, the thread I use for piecing AND machine quilting is 50 weight 100% cotton from Aurifil. The 50 weight is thin, yet strong so that it will blend into your quilt. I’d rather see the overall texture of the quilting rather than the individual stitches, and quilting densely helps me mask any mistakes. After all, the easiest way to hide imperfect stitches is to surround them with more imperfect stitches!

Piece and Quilt Collection Aurifil Thread by Christa Watson

For this quilt, I’m using the medium gray #2605 from my Piece and Quilt Neutrals thread collection. (My neutrals box also includes a lighter gray and a darker gray so that you’re covered, no matter which shade of gray you like!)

Stitching in the Ditch

Whenever I do any custom quilting, I will always “anchor” the quilt by stitching in the ditch first, in key areas of the quilt. For Dot ‘n’ Dash, it made sense to stitch in the ditch between each long row. I recommend using a walking foot, or a machine that has a built in dual feed system (such as the BERNINA 770 QE that I’m using).

The nice thing about pressing seams open, is that you can actually stay in the ditch, and you don’t have to worry about switching thread colors for the low vs. high side of the ditch. Contrary to popular myth, stitching in the ditch with seams pressed open will NOT weaken your seams. I’ve been doing it for years with no problem, and I find it actually strengthens my quilts and adds more stability. (Just think about it – if stitching over a previous line of stitching would cut your threads, then you’d never be able to backtrack over a seam, right??)

Stitching in the Ditch on Dot n Dash Quilt

I use the terms walking foot quilting and dual feed quilting interchangeably.
Stitch slowly , so you can stay in the ditch as much as possible

The built in dual feed turns my 1/4″ patchwork “D” foot into a walking foot, feeding the quilt through evenly with no puckers. I recommend quilting with a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 instead of 2.5) to help compensate for any drag on the quilt. I also recommending reducing your presser foot pressure when doing walking foot/dual feed quilting (but not for FMQ).

Because you are making contact with the quilt on every stitch, this puts a lot of pressure on the quilt which can lead to tucks and puckers, especially when crossing seams. By reducing the presser foot pressure, it enables you to quilt with a lighter hand (or should I say foot?) on the quilt.

Modern Marks Quilt Backing

Look how nicely the gray thread blends into the blue Modern Marks print on the back.

When stitching long straight lines across the quilt with a walking foot, I recommend stitching in one direction only, from top to bottom, rather than going back and forth. This will keep the quilt flatter, with less torque on the quilt. Many times, “whiskering” – or lots of little creases will appear if you stitch lines back and forth.

Scrunch and Smoosh the quilt under the machine

Scrunching and Smooshing in Progress

To deal with the bulk of the quilt under the machine, I scrunch and smoosh it out of the way however I can, and only focus on one area of the quilt. I start on the right side of the quilt and work my way across the quilt, stitching one line at a time.

When I get to the center of the quilt, I’ll rotate the quilt 180 degrees and keep going from the middle to the edge of the quilt. This allows you to deal with the least amount of bulk at a time, and by the time you get to center you know that the bulk will get less and less as you quilt the other side.

Stitching in the Ditch on Dot n Dash

Detail of stitching in the ditch

Once either side of the strips has been stitched in the ditch, your quilt is fully secure to add more quilting. Note that I’m only SITD along the long rows, not in between the smaller squares. That would be too much starting and stopping for my taste! And don’t worry, even if your ditching lines veer off a little bit, you won’t notice it once you add more quilting.

Quilting Homework

Finish stitching the rows in the ditch and then get ready for free-motion quilting next week! Because we are taking our time and spending 3 weeks on machine quilting, you’ll have plenty of time to ease into it.

Dot n Dash machine quilting

Next time we quilt, all we have to do is think about smaller sections, one row at a time.

You could always stop right here and call it finished, but I can’t wait to show you how to add more yummy texture next week! Be sure and share your progress and ask questions or get any trouble-shooting help over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group, or on instagram #dotndashqal.

Click here for the start of the quilt along with supply list and links to all of the QAL steps.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Part 2 – Making the Blocks (on the BERNINA Blog)

Are you having fun with my quilt alongs? I know it’s kinda crazy that I’m doing two at once (Dot ‘n Dash on my blog and Beaded Lanterns over on the BERNINA blog). But seriously, if I didn’t have deadlines for my quilting, I wouldn’t get anything done, LOL!!

Fortunately – just so you know, I actually made both quilts ahead of time since I knew I would be out of the country teaching when they were scheduled to be shared. (More about my Australia trip later, so stay tuned!)

Beaded Lanterns Blocks

Click here to purchase Fandangle precuts, bundles and yardage while supplies last.

This week over on the BERNINA blog – We All Sew – I’m sharing the process of cutting the strips and making the blocks. So head on over there to check it out!

Remember – for any of my quilt alongs, I leave the posts up indefinitely so you can always come back to them later when you have time.

Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Week 5 – Backing and Basting

I love quilt alongs and the best part is seeing the variety you all are making! It makes my day. 🙂
This week we are getting down to the nitty gritty and getting the quilt ready for machine quilting next week. But don’t worry, if you aren’t to that point yet, that’s perfectly fine. These quilt along posts will stay up indefinitely and you can always refer back to the intro post for links to each specific QAL step.

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the quilt along schedule and supply list.

Preparation is Key

Getting ready to machine quilt is a little like getting ready to paint a house. The actual painting isn’t hard – it’s all the prep work (ike moving furniture and taping down the windows) that takes time and gets in the way of the fun part. So take your time to prepare the quilt and baste it and don’t feel like you have to rush this part. In fact, I always set aside a separate day for backing and basting and then give myself a little reward when my least favorite part of the process is finished!

A tip on choosing batting: if you want to hide machine quilting “irregularities” and give your quilt that antique puckered look, choose a cotton batting like Hobbs or Quilter’s Dream. If you want to give your stitches more definition and a loftier look, choose wool. I usually stay away from polyester batting because it’s very slippery and usually causes me to get puckers on the back of my quilt. Cotton and wool cling to the quilt which gives you better control while quilting.

Quilt Batting Used in Dot n Dash Quilt

Take a picture of your batting with your quilt top so you can remember what you used.

Sewing the Backing Fabric

You want to ensure that the backing fabric is at least 3-4″ bigger on all sides of the quilt top, more if you plan to long arm quilt. The easiest way to do this is to cut two large pieces of fabric and sew them together. For example, my quilt measures 60 x 72. So If I cut 4 yards into 2 two -yard pieces that will give me one big rectangle approximately 72″ x 80″ to work with once the chunks are sewn together parallel to the selvage.

Sewn Quilt Backing

I basted this quilt at a recent teaching retreat I participated in. All you need is one table for basting – work on the middle and then the sides as needed.

Spray Basting the Quilt

If you prefer to pin baste, click here for an alternate tutorial.

My basic method for spray basting is to spray the wrong side of the top and bottom layers of the quilt outside, then bring them inside for assembly. For a slight variation of this technique, click here for my wall basting tutorial.

My favorite basting spray is 505. Be sure to shake the can before you use it and spray a little on a scrap to make sure the nozzle isn’t clogged. If the spray doesn’t flow out evenly, some of the chemical can accumulate and leave a stain on your quilt, so always test it first.

Spray Basting the Quilt

At first I tried an off brand that a friend had but I didn’t like it because it wasn’t sticky enough. Fortunately one of the other retreaters had some 505 which they let me use for my quilt!

The basting spray does not cause any problems with machine quilting, and if you notice it starting to gum up the needle at all, just wipe it away and you’ll be all set!

Lay out all 3 layers of the quilt – backing, batting, and quilt top on a large table (or design wall). Spend time smoothing out each layer with a long acrylic ruler before adding the next layer. This can take awhile but is worth it so that the quilt is nice, flat and smooth.

Quilt Basting

Notice the leftover batting – most of it will get trimmed away after basting. I like enough extra batting and backing so that I don’t have to worry about getting my quilt top perfectly centered.

You can also use the acrylic ruler to scooch any quilt blocks back into place and straighten out any wonky seams as needed. Smooth out any bubbles as needed so that the quilt is nice and flat.

The last step is to iron the quilts on both sides – front and back. This helps set the glue and allows you to work out any wrinkles one last time before you quilt. I use a hot dry iron ,with no steam. You can iron the quilt on an ironing board, or on a table to give you more room. Because there’s batting inside, the quilt acts as it’s own pressing surface.

Iron the basted quilt to set the glue

My quilt is basted and ready to quilt!

Now it’s your turn! Get your quilt basted and we’ll start machine quilting next week. We’ll have extra time for quilting since it’s my favorite part!

Show Your Work

Don’t forget to share your progress in one of 3 ways (or all of them if you like):
(1) In my Christa Quilts Facebook group
(2) On Instagram, #dotndashqal
(3) Share a link to your blog, or leave a comment about your process on this post.

Dot n Dash Ready to quilt

Trim the batting so that there’s only 1-2 inches sticking out on all sides of the quilt. This will prevent the excess from flipping under the quilt and getting caught in the machine.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt Along Part 1: over on the BERNINA Blog

This week kicks off another fun quilt along that I created to help promote my Fandangle fabric collection. Over the next 7 week’s I’ll be sharing step by step tutorials over on BERNINA’s Blog – We All Sew. We will make my Beaded Lanterns quilt – a free pattern I designed that is precut friendly.

Beaded Lanterns Quilt

Of course, all of the patterns I design would look fabulous in any fabrics you choose, but I really love the excuse to design and make quilts with my own fabric lines.

All you need is one jelly roll or Fandangle “strip-pie” plus 4 yards of background fabric. The two grays I’ve been using from the line – Confetti Crosshatch – have been so popular that they’ve already sold out of the first printing. But fortunately Benartex reprints fabrics that sell well, so more of those will be coming in October thank goodness!

Fandangle Strippie

Click here to get the Fandangle Strip-pie while supplies last.

In the meantime, you can check out my where to buy page for a list of shops that carry Fandangle. I have a note on there indicating which shops carry the full line as well as which shops sell online so you can track it down for yourself.

Click here to visit BERNINA’s blog – We All Sew.
The Quilt Along will be shared there each Wednesday. Happy quilting!

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 4 – Sewing the Quilt Top

Did you finish your quilt blocks from last week? How is it going? Be sure to share your progress over in my ChristaQuilts Facebook group and/or on instagram using the hashtag #dotndashqal.

Finished Dot n Dash Quilt Blocks

Today we will be laying out our blocks and sewing them together to make the quilt top. The most important thing to remember is that each row in the quilt goes in opposite directions, so separate your blocks into two piles, A and B.

See pages 53-54 of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for specific directions.

It’s super helpful to lay out all 30 blocks on a design wall or other larger surface area. If you have a design floor or a design bed, that will work, too! Take as much time as you need to orient your blocks in the correct position with a nice color distribution of prints.

Dot 'n Dash Quilt Along

All blocks are laid out in order on the design wall, and ready to sew.
Take a picture with your camera phone to refer to as you piece the rows.

Pinning and Pressing

The key to a really nice flat quilt top is pinning and pressing. I prefer to press all seams open for the entire quilt and sew with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of the default 2.5.) However, if you choose to press to the side, that’s ok, too. Just be sure to press each and every seam as you go with a hot, dry iron.

Dot n Dash piecing detail

My corners match up nicely because I pressed each seam, and pinned each intersection.

Here’s a tip for managing the bulk of the quilt top while sewing and pressing: Sew the block rows together into pairs of two. Then press each pair of rows before joining larger sections together. The quilt to will shrink up a bit once it’s all joined, but you can always add more blocks or a border to make it larger if you like.

Dot 'n Dash finished quilt top made from Fandangle Fabric

My finished quilt top – ready to baste in next week’s lesson!

Take a Victory Lap!

Whenever I’m making a quilt top with blocks that go all the way to the edge (no borders), there is a chance that the edge seams could split open. To prevent this, I take a “victory lap” around the edges – sew with a larger stitch length approximately 1/8″ in from the edge of the quilt around the entire perimeter. It feels like a great way to celebrate the finished top!

Here’s what the edge stitching looks like from another quilt I recently made:

Victory lap around the quilt to secure the edges

By sewing with a larger stitch near the edge of the quilt, the stitching line will get covered by the binding. This secures the edge seams from splitting open during all of the rough handling that will occur with basting and quilting.

Jump in any time!

If you are just joining the quilt along, remember you can work at your own pace. Please don’t ever feel like you are “behind” as that’s never the case. And if you want to work ahead, that’s great, too! I’m just glad you are following along, either on your own version of the quilt, or virtually in your head!

Dot n Dash Quilt Along

Click here for the Dot ‘n Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List
Click here to purchase the Fandangle Strip-pie or other precuts.
Click here to purchase a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Week 3 – Sewing the Blocks

It’s been fabulous getting to know everyone who’s participating in the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along. I love seeing all the fabric choices you are all sharing. And getting to know everyone over in my Christa Quilts Facebook group is so much fun. If you are just joining us, grab a jelly roll of fabric & some background and you’re all set!

Dot n Dash Quilt AlongClick here to purchase yardage & bundles of Fandangle fabric.
Click here to purchase just the Fandangle Strip-pie (jellyroll).
Click here to grab a signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

Pressing and Piecing Tips

Before we get into sewing the blocks, I’d like to share a couple of general sewing tips.
I prefer to sew with a shorter stitch length (2.0 instead of the default 2.5). This helps ensure that the seams won’t split open at the ends during sewing.

I also press ALL of my seams open. I use a hot dry iron for pressing with NO steam. (Steam can distort the blocks, and adding water to your iron is one of the easiest ways to break it!!)

Seams pressed open.

I press all of my seams open for 2 reasons: (1) it makes the blocks super flat which makes machine quilting on a home sewing machine sooooo much easier to do. And (2) I don’t have to think about which way the seams need to go from block to block so it makes joining the blocks together much, much easier.

I gently press each seam open with my fingers as then follow it up with the iron. After each seam is pressed, I press the whole block on both sides to make a flat, crisp block!

Closeup of Seams Pressed Open

I use a lot of pins when joining my blocks and I make to sure to sew a little bit slower than normal so that I don’t veer off the end of each piece while sewing.

And don’t worry if you make a hot mess while you are sewing. The image below is what my actual process looks like when chain piecing. Fortunately, once the threads are clipped between units and everything is pressed as I go, I can quickly calm this unruly chaos:

Dot n Dash sewing in progress

The instructions and tips I offer during the quilt along are just suggestions and ideas that work for me. Remember – you are the boss of your quilt, so feel free to use your own favorite methods if you are happy with them and getting good results!

Sewing the Dot ‘n’ Dash Blocks

Follow the instructions in the book on pages 52-53 to make the blocks. Take care to make both versions of the block as shown in the diagrams. They are similar and easy to confuse but the layout for both is slightly different.

Dot n Dash Block Layout

To speed things up, I’ll lay out all of the block parts in order on a mat next to my sewing machine. Because we are going for a random scrappy look, don’t overthink the fabric placement. Just try not to have the same fabric repeat in each block and you will be fine.

Stack up a whole bunch of units at once so that you can assembly line sew.

Dot n Dash blocks in progress

As you are piecing, keep the background rectangles (gray in my image above) on top as you sew. This will ensure that you are sewing the long skinny strips in opposite directions each time. This is so the blocks won’t warp or skew as you make them.

Also, use pins if needed to ensure that your pieced units and gray strips match up on both ends. If for some reason they are not the same size, you can trim them down, but be sure that all units are the same length so your blocks will go together correctly.

Dot n Dash Blocks in progress

Notice how the units in the A & B blocks go in different directions. Be sure to pay close attention to the block assembly diagrams in the book and make the correct number of each.

For those of you making Dot ‘n Dash with the light gray Fandangle fabric kit, here’s what your finished A block may look like:

Dot n Dash Block light gray

Once you’ve finished piecing all 30 blocks (15 A + 15 B), give them a final press if desired and admire your pretty handiwork!

Homework

Finish sewing all of the blocks. Then share pictures of your progress in my facebook group and/or on instagram #dotndashqal. I love to see how you are doing!!

If you are blogging about your progress, be sure to add a link to your blog post in the comments below so we can all head over there and cheer you on!!

Finished A Blocks for Dot n Dash QAL

Don’t you just love a pretty stack of finished blocks??

Click here for the Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List.