You have your fabric cut out and you are ready to start sewing! The first thing you need to do is lay out your squares. If you have a design wall this is the time to use it, but if you’re like me, you can just lay them out on the floor. If you are only using one color, this is a straight forward step, but if you are going scrappy or using multiple colors, it is time to decide on how your final quilt will look.
Sewing Rows Using Chain Piecing
Now it is time to sew your squares together! I find the easiest way to do this is with chain piecing. When you chain piece you put your squares through the machine one after the other, without cutting your thread in between. This makes the whole process go much quicker and in my opinion it goes more smoothly as well. When I chain piece, I begin in the top left corner of my layout, and move down each column. The first step is to sew all the squares in column one to all the squares in column two. Begin with the squares in row one, putting the squares right sides together.
Make sure your squares are sitting one right on top of the other and are lined up on each side. The column one square should be on the bottom, with its right side facing up, and the column two square should be on the top, with its right side facing down. Bring your squares to your sewing machine.
When you sew your squares together, you sew a line 1/4 of an inch from the right edge. The foot of a sewing machine is typically 1/4 of an inch, so you can use that as a guide, making sure the edge of the fabric stays right underneath the edge of the foot.
When I lower the needle in to the fabric, I like to do it manually (using the wheel on the side of my machine that controls the needle) to make sure that the needle does not unthread in the process. From there, I stitch 2-3 stitches forward, then backstitch 2-3 stitches (using the lever on my machine) to lock in the stitches, making sure they will not come apart. Then I stitch down to the bottom corner, finally backstitching 2-3 stitches to lock in this side of the square.
Now this is where the chain piecing comes in-don’t cut the thread yet! Instead, go get your column one and column two squares from row two. Once again, the column one square should be on the bottom with its right side facing up, and the column two square should be on top with its right side facing down. Line up your edges and sides, and once again you will sew 1/4 of an inch from the right edge. Put this set of squares into the machine while you continue stitching, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end of each square. Continue in the way until you have sewn together the column one and column two squares in each row. You will have a chain of sewn together squares-hence the name chain piecing!
Video Tutorial of Chain Piecing
It is finally time to cut your thread, then bring your squares back to your layout. Open them up to make sure everything is in the right place before you move on.
Now you will sew the chain pieces squares to your squares in column three. Pick up the chain pieced squares and the column three row one square. With the chain pieced squares on the bottom, right side up, and the free square on top, right side down, you will sew these pieces together. Continue chain piecing until you have sewn each column three square to the previously chain pieced squares.
Video Tutorial on Continuing Chain Piecing
Cut your thread, and then begin chain piecing the column four squares. Continue to move through each column until you have chain pieced each square. You will now have 7 rows that are sewn together, but not sewn to each other.
Completing The Quilt Top
Now it is time to sew your rows to each other! I prefer to keep my rows connected with the thread from chain piecing, but you can choose to cut the threads at this point if you prefer. Fold row one over row two, and bring them over to your sewing machine.
Row two should be on the bottom, right side facing up, and row 1 should be on the top, right side facing down. Using your foot as a guide, sew 1/4 of an inch from the right edge of the rows, backstitching at the beginning and end. Cut your thread and move to the next row. Now with row three on the bottom, right side facing up, and connected rows one and two on the top, right side facing down, sew 1/4 of an inch from the right edge of the rows. Continue in this way until all the rows are connected.
Congratulations, you have finished your quilt top!