Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks {Back to School Blog Hop 2017}

Have you ever wanted to piece a quilt block with many pieces that needed to go in a specific order? Until I started to make a pixelated quilt, I had mostly been able to remember where pieces went and sew them together. Not as easy when your block is comprised of all 2 1/2” squares! Now that I’ve made quite a few of these blocks, I wanted to share one way to chain piece these blocks while keeping them in order.

First, it is crucial to check your 1/4” seam allowance before you start piecing and anytime you have to come back to the project. Since I need to adjust my needle position to achieve a consistent seam allowance, I have written down my specific settings on a tiny piece of paper taped to my machine so I don’t forget.

Step 1:

Layout your pieces according to the pattern. Please take care to check your layout a couple of times. It’s the same principle as measure twice, cut once. 

Step 2:

I take my block and set it next to my sewing machine. Initially, I put the block on top of a white project board (as seen below) to keep the block together but it got a bit bulky. Now I use my rotating rotary cutter.  

Step 3:

Sew together the two left side pairs by placing the top left square right sides together with the second column square and sewing them together. Without cutting your threads, sew the second fabric in the first column to the second fabric in the second column. Don’t cut your threads between the rows. Continue sewing the entire column and cut your thread at the very end of the column. 

Step 4:

Repeat with the third and fourth column pair to create the center column. (I’m starting my center column in the picture with my sewing machine.) I also don’t press between steps. I make all of the columns and then iron after they are done. 

Step 5:

Repeat with the fifth and sixth column pair to create the third right column. Each new column should consist of a pair of squares together. By keeping the threads together, you know what order the squares should stay in. You should have three columns.

Step 6:

Now you are going to sew the columns together. Take the first newly made column and place it right sides together with the second column. Sew together. Again, do not cut the threads in between the squares. The thread is holding together the squares so you know what order they should stay in. 

Step 7:

Sew the newly formed column (made up of four squares) to the third column (made up of two squares).

Step 8:

I now press my columns. To illustrate the thread holding together the columns, I took this picture on top of my ironing board. You could press your seams to alternating sides to help piece them together without bulk.

Step 9:

Sew together the newly made rows together like the columns in steps 3-7. Start with the top row right sides together with the second row to make a new row consisting of the top two rows. I also pin together where the seams meet. It’s a matter of personal preference but it helps me keep the pieces together as I’m sewing.

Step 10:

Continue making three rows and then sewing together until all of the rows are sewn together. Make sure to not cut the thread in between each row. You should have a finished block and in the correct order!

I hope you enjoy this tip for chain piecing your quilt blocks! If you would like to see the other fantastic tips in the series, here is the lineup:

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt –

Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting –

Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling –

Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine –

Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates –

Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching –

Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo –

Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique –

Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around –

Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines –

Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips –

Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children –

Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution –

Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric –

Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam –

Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread –

Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www.

Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) –

Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) –

Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! –

Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching –

Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs –

Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room –

Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine –

Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch –

Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding –

Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro –

Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips –

Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips –

Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them –

Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué –

Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting –

Comments 12

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  1. I have been away from my blogs for a few days but am thrilled with I caught up with you today. Your tutorial really helps. I have done chain piecing before but now I see I have been cutting threads prematurely. This is great!! Thanks, Sandi.

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      Suzanne, I always knew that thread was important but knowing it can help keep things in order makes thread even more valuable. 🙂 Sandi

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  2. Nice tutorial. I would add to prevent the additional step of having to rotate blocks to sew, when placing the left blocks onto the right blocks, instead, place the right side blocks onto the left side blocks then sew. This way no rotating blocks. This is how I chain piece and eliminating that extra step makes chain piecing even faster.

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  3. Just a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial. I wandered over from Debbie’s newsletter. She always has some fun stops for us!

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  4. Pingback: Machine Bind Your Quilts Like a Pro – Sarah Goer Quilts

  5. Pingback: Hello Kitty Quilt Top - Crafty Planner

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