The Quarantine Quilt – Week One

Hi everyone!  Welcome to Week One of our Quarantine Quilt Quilt-A-Long! (I don’t think I’ve ever used so many Q’s in a sentence before.)  I am “sew” excited to get started on this project!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you.  See the full disclosure here.

If you are just joining us, please read the Introduction post to get a breakdown of the project and some info on supplies and how to pick fabric here.  This is a great project for using up scraps!

Even if you don’t feel like doing the whole quilt, you can practice assembling each of the six quilt blocks we will be learning and learn some quilting skills and precision sewing techniques!

Now, without further ado…

Week 1:  The 16 Square Block (Checkerboard Block)

The square blocks are the best place to start as a beginner, and they are great practice in precision for intermediate sewists as well!

Here’s what you will need:

  • a 3 1/2″ square template – you can buy plastic ones like this one, or you can easily make one from cardboard like I did. Just draw (with the help of a ruler) a 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ square, cut it out, and voila! You have a template you can use for tracing over and over. If you would like to do more quilting though, I would recommend buying a plastic one, because you can use those with a rotary cutter, which makes cutting much faster.  The cardboard doesn’t really hold up to that. But it works just fine for tracing and cutting separately.

Let’s get started!!!

Instructions:

1.  Trace and cut four squares from each fabric, for a total of 16 squares.

(NOTE: This is the amount for ONE quilt block. If you are going to do the full quilt, you will need TWO of each block, so you might as well cut everything out at once! So that means 32 squares total, 8 of each fabric.) 

Do be careful with your tracing and cutting!!! It will affect your finished project.  But don’t worry about perfection, especially if this is your first one! Just do your best! 

Do you have a fabric with a specific part of the print you want to use? See my note on “fussy cutting” below.

What is “fussy cutting”?

Fussy cutting is when you specifically cut a particular part of the fabric so that it is right in the center of the piece.  Say you had a cute llama print fabric –  if you just cut your square starting from one side to conserve fabric without considering the print, you may just end up with a square of llama butts…

But you can center your template right over a whole llama and so get the full cuteness in the square.

It’s not the most fabric efficient way of doing things, but especially when you have a big print like this, it is worth paying attention to for at least some of the squares.

I did this on the fabric with the rose print.

I wanted the big rose to be in the center of the square, so I put my template right over it and traced and cut it out.

So I now have a square with the nice big rose in the center.

2.  Layout your squares how you would like the quilt block to look.

I decided to do it in a repeating pattern but you can put them however you would like! And if you are making two blocks for the full quilt, they don’t have to be the same – you can arrange the squares on each block any way you want.

3. Sew the first row.

We are going to sew all the squares on the top row together first. (We will then sew each row the same way, and then, once all four rows are sewn, we combine the rows together to make the finished block. Just in case you want to see where we are going with this… 🙂 )

Let’s start with the first two squares on the left…

Whenever we sew, we want to put the fabric right sides together (the nice sides facing each other), and we want to sew that side shown with the arrows below so that when we open it up, the squares will be in line how we wanted them.

For quilting, we almost always use a 1/4″ seam allowance, which is really quite small. I like to mark my seams out, and I definitely recommend doing this when starting out – the more precise your seams, the better everything will line up and the nicer your finished product will look!

Using your seam gauge set at 1/4″ (see picture), make little marks along the side you will sew to mark out your seam. Then connect your dashes so you have a nice solid line to sew on.

Pin the squares in place if you would like, and sew directly on the line you made. 

Some quilters do not back stitch or reverse at the beginning and end of their squares, but I do so that my stitches don’t come loose when I am working with the squares.

Now you have sewn together your first two squares!

Continue with the third square. 

Paying attention to the edge you want to sew together, flip the third square on top of your second square, right sides together.

Mark the seam line again using your seam gauge.

Sew on your line.

Yay! Now we’re getting the hang of it! One more square on this row…

Turn the last square on top of the third square, right sides together.

Mark your seam and sew!

First row is completed!!!

4.  Complete the other three rows the exact same way.

You now have four separate rows!!!

5.  Press your seams.

This is an important step for having everything look nice, and it will help you to line everything up.

To press, flip the rows right side down (so you’re looking at the back of your row where the seams are). Alternate which direction you press your seams. So maybe on the first row, they all go towards the right. Second row, they go towards the left, third row to the right, etc.  We do this so that when we line up the rows, everything lies flat and lines up better.

6.  Sew the rows together.

This is a similar process to sewing the squares together. First, take your first and second rows…

Now be careful – we want these edges (circled below) sewn together, so make sure you mark, pin, and sew the correct edge once you flip them right sides together.

Even if you did not pin the individual squares, I definitely recommend pinning the rows together. Start with the seam in the middle and make sure they match up and hopefully all your other seams match up too! If they are a little off, just line them up as close as you can! It takes lots of practice to get those seams to line up every time!

Mark out your 1/4″ seam allowance (it’s a little trickier with the pins already in it, so you can mark it first and then pin, or pin then mark).

Sew along your line, removing your pins before you get to them.

Continue with the third row…

Place the third row on top of the second row right sides together, making sure to keep the correct edges you want to sew together!

Again, make sure to line up your seams as best you can, pin, and mark out your seam line with the 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sew along your seam line.

Last row, almost done!!!

Flip your fourth row on top of your third row, right sides together, pin, mark and sew.

And you are now done!!!!   Well almost…

Take it back over to the iron one more time and press the back seams you just finished so that the block lays nicely.

And NOW you are done!!!

Don’t forget to make two of these blocks if you will be doing the full quilt!

If you completed a block, I would love to see it!!! You can post it in the comments below!!!

Next week, we will be learning a new quilt block to give us further practice with squares and lining those corners up!

Until next week, happy sewing!!!

   -Jamie



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