When making projects (of any size) I try to keep my pieces and blocks as organised as possible to minimise mistakes and help me sew them together as quickly and efficiently as possible….and with minimal seam ripping if possible!
This week I’ve made a Christmas Cushion – ‘cos Christmas is all about finding extra places for people to sit!
I used the Christmas Joy Wreath pattern by The Crafty Nomad which comes together surprisingly quickly. There are lots of pieces to keep a track of though, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show you some of my tips!
1. Label Pieces
When working with patterned blocks such as the Christmas Joy Wreath, I find it helpful to cut and label the pieces as I go to limit the amount of confusion later over “What is this piece and where does it go?” (or maybe that’s just me?!)
With this pattern, many of the pieces were the same size/colour but had a different label depending on their position within the block.
To keep it manageable (and because I was starting to run out of wonder clips at this point!) I clipped the same sized pieces together, separated by the appropriate letter.
2. Use a Design Board/Wall/Floor!
For piecing blocks
Depending on the size of the block, when there are lots of pieces to one section – for example, with this pattern it was piecing the stars – I arrange my pieces on a design board to keep them in position.
This allows me to carry them to my sewing machine without them flying off everywhere, and remove the pieces that need sewing as and when I need them (find free design board tutorials here and here to make your own!).
Always make sure, if you’re using directional fabric, to have a think about which way you will need to position your pieces before sewing, especially if using a directional print (hint: I didn’t on the stars and had to do a bit of unpicking. Oops!).
For finalising a quilt layout
For arranging a quilt, I tend to work on the floor which is the biggest area I have. When laid out, I take a few photos and review them in colour and black & white – for some reason looking at the blocks on a screen is always easier than when they’re laying on the floor in front of me?!
3. Label rows/columns
Once the layout is achieved, I stack each of the blocks on top of each other in the same direction eg. left to right.
I use a Quilt Tab with an arrow indicating which way I need to sew the blocks together. For example, if I stacked my blocks left to right, I will use an arrow pointing to the right (as pictured above) to indicate that I must sew the right side seam of the block.
In order to make sure that I am working from the correct side, I will often wonder clip the row number to the top, opposite corner to the side I want to sew.
4. Chain Piecing
For pieced blocks, I often sew the bigger sections together first. I pair pieces up, placing them Right Sides Together, and use a wonder clip on the edge that needs sewing to keep them together before taking them to the sewing machine.
When it comes to sewing smaller pieces together into a bigger section, I chain piece them together.
To do this, I set up my stacks of blocks (as pictured above, to the right of the sewing machine needle) or have them laid out a design board and sew the rows together column by column.
As well as being a quick and easy way of sewing blocks together and minimising mistakes, chain-piecing also helps to reduce the amount of thread that is wasted. Win-Win!
Overall, the Christmas Joy Wreath is a great pattern to make, and I found that if you want to, you can largely work from just the layout diagram and cutting instructions.
The only change I made was with the font style and words used in the phrase (if anyone would like to do something similar, I used the Modern Love font, size 145) and I finished it off by making it into a cushion using my hidden zipper cushion tutorial.
I hope you’ve found some of these piecing tips helpful and that if you’re doing any Christmas stitching it’s all going well!
Today’s sky::: quite sunny and bright but cold!
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