Quick square piecing technique

I have just forked out some insane sum to save you from unwanted ads that I could not control, and to give this blog the vanity name of Pragmaticpatchwork.com. Plus I can, apparently, also post videos. So to celebrate this rather frivolous purchase, I am offering you my long-awaited tutorial on quick piecing squares quilts. Ok, only two people ever asked for this, but surely that qualifies for “by popular demand”, doesn’t it?

Because some of us are more visual than others, I will run throught this with a quick video, of abysmal quality (think hand-held 15-year-old camera in a badly lit room), then the same again with photos and written explanations. At least it will allow me to see whether I actually can post videos, before, should this ever become necessary, getting my hands onto some better equipement. If you cannot see the video in your browser, or if it is too large a file, do please tell me in the comments.

How to quick-piece a scrap quilt of squares:

If you want to assemble a grid of blocks, the usual technique is to first sew strips, carefully keep track of them (using numbered pins or whatever), then sew them together. This quick technique does this slightly faster by minimising the number of stops and starts, saving thread, time and making it impossible to sew the wrong bits together. It really comes into its own — as shown in the video — when you are randomly piecing scrap quilts. This totally avoids the need to lay out the top beforehand since you pick up pieces as you go along, yet never end up with two adjacent squares of the same fabric.

I always use this technique for quilts such as this:

Quilt retreat sept 201305I also do this for very large bed quilts, although these could be divided into quarter-sections, of course.

If you are using blocks with a direction (i.e. not direction-less-plain-fabric-squares), first lay them all out on the floor / bed / table / design board. In these photos, this is going to be a large cushion made up of diagonal squares made using another quick piecing (I’ll show you how in another post if you want).

Quick piecing square blocks1Carefully pick up the two top left ones, remember how they fit together and sew the seam between them, indicated here by my strangely-positioned selfie-hand-photo with very shiny golden nails (See that, dear Ms C?).

Quick piecing square blocks2Once you have sewn those two together, sew the next two in the same column to each other, by chain piecing (i.e. without cutting the thread).

Quick piecing square blocks3Quick piecing square blocks4If you keep doing that, picking up pairs and sewing them together, you end up with a column of pairs, held together with the tread down the centre. Don’t cut it. Instead, go back to the top right-hand one and pick up the next unattached one in the line, shown here by my two fingers:

Quick piecing square blocks5If you keep doing this methodically, you end up with a strange top made up of strips all attached to each other.

Quick piecing square blocks7Then, without cutting any of the threads, and (ideally…) having ironed it, you sew the strips together. If you look at the picture below, you will see that I first start by sewing all my blocks along the red lines to make strips. Having irone them, I then sew the strips together along the yellow seams without first cutting all the threads.

0001tOFor me, it is a question of getting a rythm going, and making sure I never rotate blocks when I pick them up.

Do please tell me if this makes sense, or if this is also how you do it. Or whether you have come up with a better way, of course!

Happy piecing! JJ

About pragmaticpatchwork

Academic and quilter
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10 Responses to Quick square piecing technique

  1. HilaryS says:

    Video played beautifully and I thought the lighting etc was fine (I’ve got a Mac too) and I’d never thought of sewing squares so that they were already attached in order! SO much easier than constantly having to re-set them out and number them! Thanks.

  2. Ms G says:

    That is my view! Now, if only I could claim the quilt as well!

  3. Pingback: Christmas quilt: not three French hens | Pragmaticpatchwork

  4. Elita Sharpe says:

    Oh, it’s just like you – Delightful!! Very nicely done Dearest. Carry on & grab more squares!

  5. Pingback: Quick piecing diagonal strip blocks | Pragmaticpatchwork

  6. Katy says:

    I got slightly distracted by the fabulous backdrop in that first photo, but the video works fine for me on Chrome on a PC running Windows 8.1. Alas, I fear it will still take me forever to choose the fabrics to hack up in the first place, oh well…

  7. Pamela says:

    Great tutorial. I had no problem with the video. I’m using a pc.

  8. Lynne says:

    What a simple idea. I always end up with pieces in a different order to how I laid them out. I couldn’t get the video to play.

    • Thanks! Can I ask what browser you use, and whether this is a PC or a Mac? I use a Mac, so I wonder if that might be the problem. I will ask a colleague what is likely to be the most accessible video format. Thanks for your comment! JJ

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