Christa’s Quilt Along 4.9 – Sea of Squares Binding by Machine

Machine Binding

Today I am going to show you a quicker way to bind your quilt – by machine. Sometimes when I am in a hurry (like this week trying to finish all my quilting tasks before heading off to QuiltCon), a machine binding is just what I need!

It took me a total of 2 hours to bind this quilt using my home sewing machine. I love how it looked outside today with the quilt against the cloudy sky. A cool juxtaposition…

Sea of Squares Finished

Step 1 – Trim Your Quilt (10 Minutes)

Before binding, you want to start with a nicely trimmed edge, flush with your quilt. I don’t leave any batting peaking out. My method ends up with a fully stuffed, flat binding.

Using a large square ruler, I trim up all 4 corners first. If anything is out of alignment, I gently tug it back into place. Then I trim up all the sides with a long ruler.

Trim Corners FirstTrim the Sides

By starting with trimmed corners, I can match up the cutting lines so that things stay straight (as possible). You can throw your trimmings away or recycle them as pillow stuffing. 🙂

Step 2 – Calculate the Length of Binding Needed & Cut Strips (10 Minutes)

My favorite binding is called double fold straight grain binding, and it is super easy to make. You start off with strips of fabric, cut them on the straight of grain, then fold them in half twice to get the double fold. It holds up well especially on quilts that get a lot of use.

Measure the Perimeter

First, measure the perimeter of your quilt and add on 10 inches for corner folding, seams and “insurance.” In this case, my Sea of Squares quilt measures 50″ x 58″. It shrunk about 2 inches due to the intensity of the quilting on it.

I need a total length of 226 inches (50+50+58+58+10). If I divide this by 40 inches (the length of a fabric strip), I end up with 5.65 strips which I round up to 6 binding strips needed for this quilt. I cut all my strips 2.25 inches wide.

Binding Strips

Cut Six 2.25″ Wide Strips

For those of you sewing along using one of my Sea of Squares kits, binding fabric is included.

Step 3 – Sewing the Binding Strips Together (5 Minutes)

Join all of your binding strips into one long piece. Sew the ends on a mitered angle so that the bulk of the seam will be distributed more evenly. Be sure to cut one end of the binding on the same 45 degree angle. Fold the strips wrong sides together and press along the length with a dry iron.

Sew Continuous StripsFirst Fold

Before attaching to the quilt, I will pin part of the binding to one side, starting somewhere in the middle. Loosely walk the binding all the way around the quilt to ensure there will not be any mitered seams falling on the corners of your quilt.

Step 4 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt (30 Minutes)

Sew from the front.Whether finishing the binding by hand or machine, this part is the same. Using coordinating or matching thread in top and bobbin, sew the binding to the front side of the quilt.

Starting with the binding on the angled end, leave a few inches of unsewn “tail” and use quarter-inch seams.

Be sure that you are sewing with the raw edges of the binding and the raw edges of the quilt in the seam. These will be covered with you flip your binding to the back.

You may wish to add a few pins to secure.

When you near a corner, be sure to mark a line 1/4″ away from the corner. Stop sewing at this line, then turn your quilt 90 degrees and sew off the edge.

Stop 1/4 inch from end.

Sew perpendicular to edge.

Flip the binding strip to create a 45 degree angle, pinch the excess, and then fold it back down. This creates the excess fabric allowing for a nice miter on both front and back of the quilt. Begin sewing the next side starting at the corner of your quilt. Repeat for all 4 corners.

Flip binding up.Flip binding down.

Leave about 6 inches of tail when you finish sewing. This will be joined next to create a continuous binding.

Step 6 – Joining the Ends Together (5 Minutes)

This is probably the trickiest part of the whole binding process. You want the ends to be joined with a nice miter seam that does not give any extra slack.

Leave a Tail

Open the Blunt End

Open both tail ends. Place the angled tail on top of the blunt tail and draw an erasable line along the edge of the angled tail where it meets the blunt end. You will need to account for both seam allowances, so cut 1/2 inch away from this line, keeping the 45 degree angle.

Trace the Angle

Now join the two ends together with 1/4″ seam. Use pins if needed and offset each of the triangle tips by about 1/4″. Finish attaching the binding to the front of the quilt.

Cut 1/2 inch wider.Pin ends and sew.

Step 7 – Binding by Machine (1 Hour)

I have a tendency to pull on my binding as I’m sewing, stretching  it and creating a wavy edge that needs to be blocked. By pinning first, this can eliminate most of the stretching.

Pin Binding

There are several different ways you can finish stitching the binding on by machine. For example, you can stitch in the ditch from the front side but only if you are absolutely sure you are catching the binding on the backside, too. You can stitch using straight lines or decorative stitches. Just sew slowly and be sure to catch the corners as you go around the quilt. A decorative stitch can hide a lot of mistakes!

For Sea of Squares I chose to use a reverse blanket stitch (similar to the regular blanket stitch I used for my machine applique table runner). The stitching won’t line up perfectly on the back but if you use a blending thread it won’t matter too much.

Sea of Squares Binding

Often times I have finished by quilting a decorative stitch from the backside, too.The picture below shows the binding I did on my first quilt-along, the Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt. I used one of my favorite stitches on my machine, a wavy serpentine stitch.

Jolly Jelly Roll QuiltI hope you have enjoyed following along as I made my Sea of Squares Quilt. I learned a lot from it and I encourage you to give this quilt a try. If you are currently working your way through your own version of Sea of Squares, I’d love to see it! You can share photos of your work in progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

Here is a picture of the back of Sea of Squares, showing all that machine quilted texture.

Backside of Quilt

Complete Quilt-Along Schedule for Sea of Squares
Click any of the links below and follow along at your own pace.

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Christa’s Quilt Along 4.8 – Sea of Squares Extra Quilting

Can you believe this quilt is almost done? Next week I will show you how to bind it by machine. The following week I will start all over with another brand new quilt-along. Here’s a hint for my next quilt: it requires 1 Jelly Roll and a 1 1/2 yards of background.

Extra Quilting

This week I added tons more quilting to my Sea of Squares quilt. I spent an extra 7 hours gleefully quilting along, adding loads of texture with straight slightly wonky lines using my walking foot. If I had planned ahead I would have quilted about an hour a day for 7 days. Instead, being the procrastinator I am, I did it all in one day, but it was still fun!

Step 1 – Quilting the Sash Rows (1 Hour 45 Minutes)

First I started with what was easy. I quilted parallel lines all going the same direction through all of the skinner sash rows. I worked my way across the quilt, one row at a time, flipping the quilt when there was too much bulk under the machine.

Quilt Parallel Lines

Step 2 – Quilting the Rest of the Rows (5 Hours, 15 Minutes)

Now it’s time to fill in the rest of the space. I quilted the rectangles with lines running perpendicular to the previous quilting lines. For the big squares I alternated directions. I quilted the print squares all one direction, and the solid squares the other way.

Quilt Perpendicular Lines

It was cold that day so I bundled up while quilting!

I wanted to try out the continuous reverse feature on my machine. I can push a button once and it will sew backwards until I push it again to stop (and I don’t have to keep my finger on the button). So I would quilt one line of quilting, then push the reverse button and quilt a line backwards without having to turn the quilt all the way around. It was great!

Reverse Quilting

It took about 1000 yards (2 spools) of thread just for the top. I used the same color in a thinner weight for the bottom so I wouldn’t run out of thread.

Quilting this quilt was very liberating for me. I did not mark the quilting lines because I wanted to add a touch of modernity to the quilt with more organic-looking texture. Once I let go of my perfectionist tendencies and got into the “waviness” of the lines, it set me free to enjoy the process. Jason is always telling me to go bold and let out my inner artist. So now I’m giving you the same permission!

Quitling Makes the Quilt

Be sure to take a look at my flickr group so that you can see the wonderful quilts being made by everyone else. And if you are working through any of my quilt-alongs, I’d love to see your progress!

In fact, Judith shared her version of Sea of Squares in beautiful brown and cream. Notice the wonderful quilting she did with wiggly lines across the surface and quilting motifs in the blocks. I love it when you can really make your quilt your own. Nice job, Judith!

Judith's Sea of Squares

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Christa’s Quilt Along 4.7 – Machine Quilting Sea of Squares

For today’s post I will be showing how to quilt this quilt with a walking foot and straight lines. This is enough quilting to hold the quilt together and give it some definition. It took me a total of 5.5 hours to quilt this part of the quilt

I will be adding more quilting to my quilts because one of my quilting mottos is, “Quilt the heck out of it!” I will show that optional extra quilting next week.

Thread Choice

Thread ChoiceFor this quilt, I would like my quilt to have some definition but I don’t want the stitches to stand out too much. I selected a little bit heavier weight thread – a 40 weight polyester with larger quilting needle (size 90) to go with it.

I wound my bobbins with the same color but in a lightweight 60 weight polyester. I chose a cream thread because there is so much white in the quilt. The cream will blend into the white but It’s not quite as “stark” as white so it won’t be too bright against the blue fabrics.

Warm UpStep 1 – Warm Up Session (15 minutes)

It’s a good idea to practice on a scrap quilt sandwich first, even when quilting straight lines.

This way you can check tension, stitch length, and thread color before you begin.

Step 2 – Anchor Quilting (1 Hour, 15 Minutes)

Before you get into any fancy-shmancy quilting, it’s a good idea to “anchor” your quilt first by quilting a few of the major seam lines. This will help stabilize your quilt. While doing this anchor quilting, you want to stabilize your quilt in all four directions. Think of this as a large grid across the top of your quilt. I can quickly and easily pull out the pinmoors as I quilt.

Begin Quilting

With the quilt laid out horizontally, I started quilting on one edge of the quilt. Using my walking foot as a guide, I stitched about 1/4 inch away from the ditch. I used a slightly longer stitch length and quilted continuously in one long row from the top of the quilt to the bottom. Because the lines go all the way across the quilt and the edges will be covered by the binding, I did not need to lock my stitches or tie them off.

Anchor Quilting

When I got the the end of this first line of quilting, I “scooted”  over a whole block width to the right (leaving less bulk under the machine). I quilted 2 more rows in the same manner.
Don’t quilt the very edges of the quilt yet; you can do that at the end.

Next, it was time to rotate the quilt 180 degrees and quilt some anchor lines on the other half of the quilt. Again, I quilted them about 1 block width apart. Now the quilt has been quilted in 2 directions. By the way, I love the Machingers quilting gloves because they provide a good grip on the quilt while moving and squishing it under the machine.

Anchor Stitching

It’s time to rotate the quilt 90 degrees and quilt all of the vertical anchor lines now. Again, start in the middle and quilt about 3 rows, one block width apart. Then rotate the quilt completely and finish off the other side.

The quilting is now ready to be finished.

Step 2 – Stitching all the Vertical Lines (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)

I like the “stitch near the ditch” pattern so much that I am outlining every seam about 1/4″ away from the center. I’m not too worried about whether my lines are perfectly straight so I didn’t worry about marking. My other quilt motto is, “Finished is better than perfect!”

Quilting Vertical Lines

Now I can start in the middle of the quilt and quilt all of the vertical lines halfway across the quilt edge of the quilt. When there is too much bulk under the machine, I rotate and finish the other side of the quilt.

Step 3 – Quilting all the Horizontal Lines (2 Hours, 15 Minutes)

This section took a little longer because there were more rows to stitch. Again, I quilted half of the lines going one way, then rotated the quilt to stitch the other half.

Quilting Horizontal Lines

On the very last row which was near the edge of my quilt, I actually quilted 1/2″ away from the seam line rather than 1/4″. This is to take into account the seam allowance which will be covered by the binding.

Edge Quilting

This is now enough quilting for this quilt, but as I said at the beginning, I will add more. Join me next week to see how I finish the rest of the quilting.

If you’d like to try something a little jazzier than just straight lines, why not play around with the decorative stitches on your machine?

Wavy Quilting

The picture above shows me quilting my Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt which was my first DIY Quilt Along. I used a wavy serpentine stitch which would also work well for Sea of Squares!

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Quilt Kits are available from my shop for a limited time in these two colorways:

Apple Jacks

Apple Jacks

Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.6 – Basting Sea of Squares

I finished my pieced backing from last week and now it’s time to baste Sea of Squares!

The backing took me 2 hours to cut, piece and starch. The basting also took 2 hours, so it was a very pleasant way to spend my day today. 🙂

Pieced Quilt Backing

Sea of Squares Pieced Backing

I follow these four steps whenever I baste a quilt:

(1) Completely secure the backing to a large flat surface. I use two heavy duty utility tables that I got from an office supply store. They are 8′ long and I keep them up all the time. It’s my work surface and my cutting area, plus the kids use them for art projects and homework. So they get a lot of use!
Secure The Backing

  • You can also use just one table if space is limited and move your quilt around as needed. I use office binder clips to secure the two edges of my backing to the edge of the table.
  • Then I use a generous amount of tape to secure the other edges. You want to make sure that your backing extends past your batting and quilt top by at least a couple of inches.

Batting (2) Next, layer your batting on top of your backing and smooth it out nicely.

I am using 1 layer of cotton batting with 1/2 layer of wool – yes, it actually pulls apart. (For my previous quilt, Charming Chevrons, I used a layer of cotton and a full layer of wool. I loved the “heft” of it but it was a bit thick to quilt through. I’ll let you know I like it.)

  • Notice that there is no need to secure the batting layer.

Sea of Squares Quilt

(3)  Grab a helper to gently lay your quilt top onto the center of your batting/backing layer.

If you are doing this solo, you can quarter your quilt instead and unfold it one quarter of a time. But I prefer a helper if I can manage it! If either your top or backing are directional, don’t forget to check to make sure your quilt is oriented correctly before you begin.

Add the PinsCap with Pinmoors

(4) Finally, let the basting begin! I prefer to use flat flower pins and pinmoors to baste. I insert the pins in the quilt first, one section at a time. Then I cap them all with pinmoors.

  • With my table, I can reach all the way to the center of the quilt, so I can baste half of the quilt from one side; then I finish up on the other side.

Pinmoor Basting

A note about Pinmoors…

Pinmoors are a bit pricey but are well worth the investment. If you’d like to try them, I suggest buying one package and baste as much area as you can. Then, baste the rest of the quilt with regular safety pins.

When you are done quilting, take note of how much quicker and easier the pins and pinmoors were to remove versus regular safety pins!

One note of caution – if you move and scrunch your quilt under your machine like I do, watch for any pinmoors that accidentally fall off so you don’t get poked! Be sure to push the pins in far enough so that they are secure.

Now the quilt is ready for quilting next week. Be sure to post pictures of your quilt top, pieced backing or quilting on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

You can also share pictures of any of my previous quilt-alongs that you are working on!

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Quilt Kits are available for a limited time in these two colorways:

Apple Jacks

Apple Jacks

Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.5 – Sea of Squares Pieced Backing

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Today I will show you two different ways to make a pieced quilt backing: (1) All from one fabric, or (2) from scraps and chunks. I have a little “cheater” disclaimer here. Since I am on vacation this week, I haven’t actually had time to sew my back together. Most of my tutorial pictures were designed in EQ7, but I’ll whip up my own back in no time when I return!

Step 1 – Measure Your Quilt Top

Sea of Squares Quilt Top

A good rule of thumb is to measure your quilt top and then add 4 inches around the perimeter on all four sides. This means you will take your quilt dimensions and add a total of 8 inches to each number. Let me demonstrate:

My quilt top measures 51″ x 62″ from raw edge to raw edge. I will add 8″ total giving me a needed back dimension of 59″ x 70″.

Step 2 – Calculate the Yardage Needed For One Fabric

The backing width I need is 59 inches as stated above. Rounding that up to the nearest 1/4 yard increment gives me 1.75 yards of fabric (or 63 inches). However, that will give me a length of just 44 inches from selvedge to selvedge (which I round down to 40 inches to account for seam allowances and trimmed edges). But  I need a total length of 70″.

Pieced Back 1 Fabric

Pieced Back 63″ x 80″

To solve this problem, I will need to double the amount of fabric purchased to 3.5 yards. This will allow me to use two 1.75 yard pieces and seam them together to get a total measurement of 63″ wide x 80″ long.

Step 3 – Calculate Pieced Sizes for a Scrappy Backing

If you like an artistic backing like I do, take your diagram above and subdivide it into smaller chunks and random pieces. Use your creativity and fabrics from your stash as a guide. Here’s one hint – if you have a lot of white in your quilt top like mine, try to use lighter fabrics on the back so they don’t show through to the front.

I will “draw” a pieced backing measuring 60″ x 70″ (for easy math) and fill it in like a puzzle, adding random chunks wherever I choose. My diagram looks nice and straight but you can certainly use improve techniques with more wonky lines to achieve a similar effect.

Pieced Back

Just remember that the outer 4-5 inches will be cut off so do not place any smaller chunks near the edges. For my diagram above, I have selected 10 chunks of fabric. Let’s look and see how they would be sewn together:

  • Add chunks 1, 2 and 3 together, then chunk 4
  • Sew 5 & 6 together, then add to piece 1-4
  • Next, sew 7-8 into one unit and 9-10 into another unit
  • Piece both of these sections together
  • Then add the top piece (1-6) to the bottom piece (7-10)

I will press seam allowances open and use a liberal amount of starch to keep everything tidy.

If you would like to follow my diagram exactly, here is how large you would cut each piece:

Pieced Back

  1. 8.5″ x 32.5″
  2. 12.5″ x 32.5″
  3. 20.5″ x 10.5″
  4. 20.5″ x 42.5″
  5. 20.5″ x 10.5″
  6. 20.5″ x 32.5″
  7. 14.5″ x 28.5″
  8. 18.5″ x 28.5″
  9. 28.5″ x 14.5″
  10. 28.5″ x 14.5″

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

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Christa’s Quilt Along 4.4 – Sea of Squares Quilt Top

This week it’s time to finish sewing the Sea of Squares quilt top. If you are just joining me, please scroll down to the end for links to each step of this do-it-yourself quilt tutorial. It took me a total of 2.5 hours to complete the steps shown below.

Step 1 – Quilt Layout (30 minutes)

Lay out all 42 of your blocks on a design wall or other large flat surface, or even the floor. Play around with your block arrangement until you find a pleasing composition. Take pictures of any arrangements you like as you “play.”

Sea of Squares Layout

Arrange your blocks in a 6 x 7 grid – 7 rows of 6 blocks each. Be sure to alternate between your X and O blocks and distribute your values and colors evenly.

Step 2 – Sewing the Rows (1 Hour)

For this quilt layout, it’s easiest to sew the top together in rows. I numbered them 1 through 7.  You can press all of the odd blocks in one direction, and all of the even rows in the opposite direction so that seams will nestle together when sewing.

If the darker fabric shows through the white, you may choose to press your seams open.

Stack of Blocks

For a speedy sewing tip, I stacked up all of my blocks into pairs of two next to my sewing machine. I  added a pin to the right had side to indicate this is the side I will be sewing.

Before sewing, I took a photo of my layout with camera’s phone. I referred to the layout as I sewed the rows together and was able to keep the blocks lined up in order. I continued joining the blocks together in order until I had 7 rows of sewn blocks.

7 Rows of Blocks

Since my design wall was too small for all of the rows, I used part of the floor, too!

Step 3 – Completing the Quilt Top (1 Hour)

2 Rows of Blocks3 Rows of BlocksFirst, sew the top two rows together.

Pin at all of the intersections (I like using flat-head flower pins).

Be sure to remove your pins just before you get to them so you don’t accidentally break a needle. (Ask me how I know?!)

Next, sew together rows 3-4 and 5-6 together in the same manner.

Row 7 will be on it’s own. Next, you can join each of these segments into larger “chunks”.

Join rows 1-4 and rows 5-7.

Add these two “chunks” together to complete the quilt top.

Give your top a final pressing and set aside. Or do what I do:  leave it up on your design wall for awhile to admire it until it’s time to baste and quilt!

Sea of Squares Quilt Top

I have decided to split apart the backing and basting into two separate tutorials so I can go more in-depth with each. Next week I will show how to sew a pieced quilt backing, either all from the same fabric, or from bits and pieces from your stash (my favorite). You need a total of 3 1/2 yards for the backing (perhaps a little more if piecing lots of chunks together).

Due to the popularity of this quilt kit, I have put together a limited number of kits in an alternate colorway. This one is called Apple Jacks and would be perfect for a little boy!

Apple Jacks

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Be sure to post pictures of your progress on my flickr group: Christa’s Quilt Along.

Quilt Kits are available for a limited time.

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.3 – Sea of Squares Blocks

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Today it’s time to sew all of the cut pieces and charms together to make our Sea of Squares blocks. We will sew a total of 21 “X” blocks and 21 “O” blocks. It took me 4.5 hours total.

X BlockO Block

Step 1 – Sewing the X blocks (2.5 Hours)

I like to chain piece as much as possible. This means sewing the pieces together in an assembly-line fashion without cutting your threads in between pieces until you are done.

Chain Piecing

Chain Piecing

Start with the middle section of the X block which is composed of one dark 5 inch charm and two white (light) 2.5 x 5 inch rectangles.  Use 1/4 inch seam allowances at all times.

To chain piece this section, sew 21 white rectangles to one side of all 21 dark charms. Then go back and add 21 white rectangles to the other side of all 21 charms.

Sew white rectangles to either side of charm square.

Sew white rectangles to either side of each charm square.

You should have a total of 21 completed “middle” sections. Finger press your seam allowances open or to the darker fabric. I like to use a wooden seam roller for this.

I prefer to use a seam roller whenever I can, especially when working with white fabric. I use the iron as little as possible to reduce the chances of scorching or distorting my fabrics. If you press nice and firmly with the seam roller, the seams will lie down nicely. Then I give the blocks a final pressing with an iron at the end.

Seam roll the back.

Seam roll the back.

Seam roll the front.

Seam roll the front.

After the middles are complete, sew all of the tops and bottoms. I like to sort all 4 of each smaller dark square together so it’s easier to stay organized and sew each as needed.

Small Dark Squares

Sew a small dark  2.5 inch square to either side of a light 2.5 x 5 inch rectangle. Repeat this for a total of 42 units (21 for the top and 21 for the bottom). Press toward the dark fabric.

X Block Units

X Block Units

Pinning at intersections, join the top part of your block to all of the middles. Be sure to take out your pins as you go so you don’t sew over them.

Pin Intersections

Add the bottoms to all of your blocks in the same manner and press seams open.

Finished X Block

Step 2 – Sewing the O Blocks (2 Hours)

The O blocks are sewn together in the same manner but with reversed fabric placement. It took me a little less time to sew them because I was in my groove!

Again, starting with the middles, add the same dark rectangle to either side of a white (light) charm. Repeat this for 21 middles.

O Block Middles

Moving on to the tops and bottoms of the O block, add one white square to the end of 42 dark rectangles. Then repeat for the other end of the rectangle until you have 42 sewn units.

O Block Units

Add a top and bottom unit to each side of your middle. Again, pin and chain piece all of the top units; then go back and chain piece all of the bottom units.

Chain Pieced O Blocks

Press all of the final seams open so that you can eliminate the shadowing of the darker fabric through the white background. Do this with an iron, but be careful not to scorch the fabric.

Press Blocks Open

You should have a total of 42 blocks, half X’s, and half O’s. They should all measure 9 inches from raw edge to raw edge. The finished size of these blocks will be 8.5 inches. If your blocks are larger or smaller, it’s ok. As long as they are all the same size the design will work.

Finished BlocksThat’s it for this lesson! Next week we will put them up on a design wall and “play” to find a pleasing arrangement.

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

Please email me pictures of your progress on this quilt or any of my previous tutorials! You can reach me at

Quilt Kits for Sea of Squares and all of my other blog tutorials are available in my shop for a limited time.

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.2 – Sea of Squares Cutting

This week we will start our Sea of Squares quilt by cutting all the pieces from charm packs: 2 light and 2 dark. I used 2 packs of Seascapes and 2 packs of White Bella Solids. As long as you have great contrast between your light and dark charms, this quilt will turn out great!

Seascape Charms

It took me just under an hour to complete this week’s homework.

Step 1 – Sorting the Squares (10 Minutes)

This seems like a very basic step, but it is important to sort all of the squares so that you cut them correctly. Of course you can make your quilt as scrappy as you like, and then you don’t need to worry as much about fabric placement.

Each block is made from 4 charm squares – 2 of the same dark plus 2 of the same light.
Let’s call them X blocks and O blocks.

X BlockO Block

The X blocks have a dark charm in the middle with matching smaller squares in the corners. The O blocks have a light charm in the middle with matching light squares in the corners. You will be sewing a total of 21 X blocks and 21 O blocks.

Sort your 84 dark charms into 2 piles  – 42 charms for the X blocks (2 identical charms per X),  and 42 charms for the  for the O blocks (2 identical charms per O).

Dark Charms

Moda charm packs are wonderful because each comes with exactly 42 squares with the same number of duplicates per pack. (Print placement may vary depending on how it’s cut).

Sort your 84 light charm packs into 3 piles:

  1. Pile 1 = 21 white charms (whole) for the block centers.
  2. Pile 2 = 21 white charms (to cut) for the little squares.
  3. Pile 3 = 42 white charms (to cut) for the rectangles.

White Charm Squares

Step 2 – Cutting the Dark (Print) Charms (25 minutes)

From your “X” pile, pull out 1 of each charm for a total of 21 intact squares.

From the remaining 21 squares, cut them into 4 – 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares each. You should then have a total of 84 smaller squares that match the prints of the larger squares.

Dark X Block Charms

From your “O” pile, cut all of the squares in half yielding 2 rectangles each. You should have a total of 84 dark rectangles measuring 2.5 x 5 inches each.

Dark O Block Charms

Step 3 – Cutting the Light (White) Charms (15 minutes)

Set aside pile 1 which is composed of 21 light squares (5 inches square).

From pile 2, cut the 21 light squares into 4 equal smaller squares each. You should have a total of 84 small light squares, measuring 2.5 x 2.5 inches each.

From pile 3, cut all 42 light squares in half yielding 2 rectangles each. You should have a total of 84 half square rectangles, measuring 2.5 x 5 inches each.

Light Charms Cutting

Light Charms: Cut Piles 1, 2 and 3

Now that your pieces are all cut out, you are ready to begin sewing the top together next week. Wasn’t that fun?

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

You can email me pictures of your progress at I can’t wait to see all the variety and possibilities with this quilt!

Christa’s Quilt Along 4.1 – Sea of Squares Supply List

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Sea of Squares

Sea of Squares is the 4th in my series of do-it-yourself quilts where I will take you through all of the steps of making a quilt from fabric selection to cutting, piecing, basting, machine quilting and binding. If you follow along with me you will have a completed quilt in no time!

Sea of Squares

About This Quilt – Finished Size Approximately 51.5″ x 60″

I designed this quilt in EQ7 and downloaded fabric images from Moda to color it.

I named it “Sea of Squares” because I wanted to make a simple quilt pattern from nothing but charm squares. I used Deb Strain’s Seascapes in calming shades of blue from teal to navy to aqua, with Bella Solids in white for the background. This monochromatic color-scheme calls to mind the tranquility of the sea with the occasional whitecap of a breaking wave.

SeascapesBella Solids White

Supply List

Important! If you’d like to pick your own charms, make sure that each pack contains at least 42 – 5 inch squares. Not all manufacturers are consistent with their charms.

Each block consists of 4 charms (2 light/2 dark) so cut or purchase additional charms as needed for a bigger size. You may also use layer cakes if you want to super-size it!


  • 2 of the same charm packs in darks or prints – 84 charms total (seascape blues)
  • 2 of the same charm packs in lights or solids – 84 charms total (solid white)
  • 1/2 yard for the binding (one of the blues in the picture above)
  • 3.5 yards for backing split into 2 equal pieces if using all the same fabric. If you prefer a scrappy backing like I do, collect assorted chunks and scraps to total this amount.
  • Batting piece measuring at least 60″ x 70″


  • Basic sewing equipment in good working order
  • Rotary cutter with a fresh blade, ruler and mat
  • Brand new sewing machine needles
  • Neutral cotton thread for piecing
  • Decorative thread to match fabrics for quilting
  • Walking foot for straight line quilting
  • Optional – pinmoors and pins for easy basting
  • Optional – machingers gloves for smooth quilting

Quilt-Along ScheduleLinks are Active at the Completion of Each Step:

I plan on posting each week on Wednesday or Thursday depending on how my “homework” goes that week. Even though I will be sticking to the above schedule, feel free to work at your own pace.

By the way, this quilt uses the exact same fabric requirements as my previous Charming Chevrons quilt – so you can do either one, or both, depending on your mood!

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.9 – Finishing Charming Chevrons

Free Quilt Pattern

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I’ve come to the end of my Charming Chevrons tutorial and it’s kind of sad. I really loved every minute of making this quilt! Today I will demo binding. Scroll to the end for links to the previous steps plus my announcement for my next DIY quilt-along starting next week!

Charming Chevrons Quilt

Christa’s Charming Chevrons

If you like this quilt and want to make one just like it, Charming Chevrons quilt kits are available from my shop for a limited time.

Step 1 – Trimming The Edges (10 Minutes)

When the quilting has been completed and all of your basting pins removed, it’s time to trim the extra backing and batting and square up your quilt.


Use a large square ruler for the corners and a long 6 to 8 inch wide ruler for the sides. The markings on the ruler help keep things nice and even. I use the long lines to make sure I am cutting straight.

If the quilt seems a little wavy, I will block it at the end after binding by soaking it in the washing machine, and laying it out flat on a table to dry. (I do this only if I know for sure the fabrics won’t bleed when wet – I’ve had way too many “accidents.”)

Step 2 – Making the Binding Strips (15 Minutes)

Binding 2I sew continuous double fold straight grain binding strips that I make myself.

Cut enough 2 1/4″ wide strips to go around the perimeter plus about 10 extra inches.

For this quilt I cut a total of 7 strips that measured 2 1/4″ by the width of the fabric (40″-42″).

Join the strips together on a mitered (45 degree) angle to smooth out the seam formed by sewing the strips.

Join all the strips together so that you have one continuous piece with the joined seams all going the same direction.

At the beginning of the binding, cut off one end at a 45 degree angle. Then press the binding in half lengthwise (press seam allowances open).

Angled Binding

Press Binding

Step 3 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt by Machine (35 Minutes)

Sewing the BindingLeave a few inches of a “tail” unsewn when you begin.

Do not start at a corner, and quickly measure your binding around the perimeter of the quilt to ensure it is long enough.

Try not to end up where you have any of your seams in the corners. Adjust your start if needed.

Use a matching cotton thread in the top and bobbin and use the same thread to finish your binding (whether by hand or machine).

Using a walking foot, sew with 1/4″ seam allowances and stop when you reach exactly 1/4″ inch from the end of your first corner. Take the quilt off the machine and fold the corner like the pictures below. This will create nice crisp mitered corners when you fold them over.

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version for more detailed closeups.

Stop at Corner

Fold Up

Fold Down

Repeat for all corners of the quilt and leave a few inches of “tail” when you near the end.

Binding EndOpen up both folded ends and with a pen, mark where the beginning meets the end.

Cut off the excess 1/2″ away from the marked line (for seam allowances) and join the two ends together.

You can see I cut off a full extra strip’s length of binding but just barely!

It’s better to have too much length than not enough!

Once your ends are joined, finish  sewing down the binding completely to the front of the quilt.

Step 4 – Hold the Binding in Place With Pins or Glue  (30 Minutes)

To baste the binding in place on back, I usually use pins and Pinmoors.  However, for this quilt, I wanted to try a glue pen to temporarily adhere the binding to the back of the quilt.  It worked like a charm and I got to see what the quilt looked like before it was done. I was even able to glue the corners in place to form a pretty miter. That will be much easier to sew!

Glue Stick

Step 4 – Finish by Hand or Machine (Hand Sewing 5 Hours)

Whether I finish my binding by hand or machine, the above steps are still the same. Because I finished this quilt for QuiltCon (and possibly other quilt shows), I chose to sew by hand.  So I got nice and comfy on the couch and watched a couple movies while I stitched away.

Binding by Hand

For more info on both types of finishes, you can read my post about hand-binding and my machine binding tutorial.

Charming Chevrons Tutorials. Click the links below to go to that post.

Here are Charming Chevron’s Vital Statistics

  • Original design, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson
  • Finished size 46″ x 54″, completed November 2012
  • Finished block size 8″, 42 blocks total
  • Made from 4 packs of Kona Cotton charm squares (2 New Classic colors, 2 Ash grey)
  • Pieced backing, shades of grey with pops of color
  • Double batting (Warm-N-Natural and Legacy Wool)
  • Superior Highlights trilobal polyester in top and bobbin  for pebbles (18 colors)
  • Isacord Sterling polyester in top and bobbin for chevron outlines
  • Total piecing time: 9.5 hours
  • Marking and basting: 2.5 hours
  • Total quilting time: 28 hours
  • Total binding time: 6.75 hours

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂