Greetings and welcome to Week 1 of Sweater Weather – our Winter Quilt Along project. This week, we are focusing on cutting out our materials for both the full and mini-sized projects. Those who are working on the full-sized projects will also be working on some strip-pieced building blocks in preparation for the larger building blocks we’ll be putting together in coming weeks.
A Few Housekeeping Items Before We Get Started:
- Be sure to share your progress photos as we go along! We’ll be using your photos from Instagram and our Facebook Quilt Along Group as your entries for our fabulous prize drawings – read more about prizes here.
- You’ll need a copy of either the Sweater Weather or Mini Sweater Weather patterns to sew along with us. You can find them here.
- While both the full-sized quilts and mini-quilts essentially use the same blocks, the patterns and assembly steps are numbered differently.
- The full-sized quilt will be strip-pieced, as it uses nine times the number of blocks that the mini quilt has.
- The mini quilt will be traditionally pieced – strip piecing the smaller number of units for the mini project resulted in too much wasted fabric, so it doesn’t make sense to make it that way!
- Each week, look for the “agenda segment” to find out exactly which part of the pattern we are working on – see below!
Week 01 Agenda:
- Mini Project: Cutting
- Full Project: Cutting and Strip Piecing Blocks 1-10
This week, our main assignment is to cut out all of the pieces for our quilts.
- Keep your pieces organized with our free printable piece labels.
- If you are a fan of starching your fabric, do it before doing any cutting. Starching after cutting can cause block shrinkage!!
- Take the time to square up your fabric before cutting. You’ll need your strips to be as straight as possible, especially if you’re using the strip-piecing method. If you don’t know how to square out your fabric, check out this tutorial on MyBluprint.com
- Consider using one of the Shape-Cut family of rulers to quickly and efficiently cut all of those strips!
Skillbuilder – Intro to Strip-Piecing
Strip-piecing is a quilting method used to make large quantities of identical blocks. Width-of-fabric strips are sewn together, pressed, and then sub-cut into smaller units, making the assembly process much faster since there are no individuals units to piece. This method can yield a little bit of fabric waste, but it is always nice to have a few extra building blocks handy, in case you have a few blocks that aren’t behaving correctly.
If this is your first time trying this method, it’s a good idea to practice with some scrap scraps before working on the pieces for your actual quilt!
There really is much to this process: it’s just cut strips, sew them together, and then cut them apart! Here are a few tips to set you up for success!
- Shorten your stitch length so your blocks won’t pull apart when they’re cut apart! . I typically use a 2.5 stitch length when I’m piecing, but I switch down to a 2.0 or even 1.8 when I’m strip-piecing.
- Use cotton thread when piecing. When the heat from your iron hits the seam, it will cause the thread to shrink every so slightly, locking the seams into place … which will give you nice, neat seams.
- Consider using a wool pressing mat, like these Wooly Felted Mats. The wool absorbs the heat from your iron and presses your mat from the bottom, as you press with your iron from the top. It is seriously amazing!
- VERIFY YOUR QUARTER INCH SEAMS before starting! The number one problem we’ll encounter with this pattern is under-sized blocks, so make sure that you are setting yourself up for success from the very beginning!
- If using 40″ long strips are too cumbersome for you, cut them in half and work with 20″ strips, instead. Just make sure to make twice as many sets! I find that I have much better blocks using the half strips, rather than the full blocks.
- Press carefully. First, press your block closed (or as it was sewn) to set the seams, and then carefully press the block open. Make sure that you don’t tug on your strips or distort them in any way as you press. You do not want wonky seams!!
- Press seams all the way open! . You don’t want to lose any precious block real-estate to under-pressed blocks
- Check the straightness of you block before sub-cutting. Use the lines on your rotary mat to verify that your block edges are straight! If you have any ripples or dips, go back to the pressing board and use a little bit of steam or some of your favorite pressing to tame those blocks into submission!! See below for a note on pressing directions.
For the full-sized pattern only, I would recommend getting a jump start on as many of your building blocks (full-sized pattern, page 6) as you can comfortably get through this week. If nothing else, try and work through building blocks 1-3 to get yourself set up for our next two weeks.
For the mini-sized pattern, just focus on your cutting this week. You’ll officially start your piecing next week. See you then!
A Note On Pressing Directions:
The majority of my patterns include instructions for directional pressing (pressing both sides of the seam to either one side of the block or the other). With this project, though, I am recommending pressing your seams open. Each block has over 100 units that come together, and in my experience, pressing seams open yields the best, cleanest results.
That being said, if you hate pressing your seams open, then don’t! Press your seams towards the darkest fabric in the unit, and you’ll end up with the majority of your seams nesting together nicely. They will not all nest 100% of the time … but that is ok!!