Americana – Putting the Pieces Together

Once the piecing was complete, I set about laying out the blocks. My goal here was to try and keep similar fabrics separated. Because each block had so many different fabrics, this proved to be a pretty tough task in itself. I enlisted the help of my husband, who has a better eye for detail and we swapped and swapped blocks (“this one over here, now that one over there,” “no, now those two are the same,” etc) for awhile until I was satisfied with the result. Then I laid in the sashing and squares to get a perspective on how the whole thing was coming together.

As he walked away from the “finished” layout he commented that it would be interesting to see how I kept them all in order during assembly. I had a plan for that. I simply labeled each block (A, B, C, etc.) on a diagram of the quilt top and then I safety pinned a similarly labeled sticky note to each actual block.

Now, don’t ask me why I waited until after the layout to square the blocks, but I did. I think I was just excited to see everything all laid out together. So, I still had that task left before I could started assembling the top. After all of the piece work, I had 18 irregular – er “custom” – blocks. Keeping with my squaring plan, I measured each block to figure out which was the smallest and it’s dimensions. They ranged in widths and heights, but the smallest on each side was 13.5″. I knew I would lose some block to the seam allowance when I added the sashing and border, so I wanted to preserve as much size as possible. So, I opted to square each block to 13.5″ x 13.5.” While squareing the blocks, I tried to keep the center sashing in each block centered both top to bottom and side to side.

After all blocks were relatively square, I began assembly. Here, another challenge arose. Apparently my brain works in straight lines primarily. The pattern places the squares on end as diamonds, and for some reason that really threw me for a loop. You typically assemble quilt blocks in rows and then sew the rows together. When I went to sew the top, I thought, well I’ll just treat the diagonals as rows. and then go back and sew the large half square triangles to the ends of the rows at the end.

This was not a great choice.

The blocks came together ok with the sashing, but when I put the rows together I end up with some dreaded y seams. Then, when I went to incorporate the half square triangles, I had almost all y seams to deal with. It was hard…I was frustrated…and I learned that I need to take a class or at least watch some you tube videos on y seams…or avoid them at all costs. But for now I just needed to get the thing done. So I sort of forced it into submission thorough shear will…and a little work with the seam ripper. I wouldn’t be proud to show anyone the inside, but thank goodness no one sees that part.

Once the main part of the top was together, I decided to go ahead and square it, before adding the borders. Since the borders were just long straight pieces, I knew they’d be pretty unforgiving. So, although I love the Beatles, in the interest of not turning my quilt to into “The Long and Winding Road” I tried to get it as square as possible. Then I sewed on the borders, let out a big sigh of relief and moved on to assembling my “quilt sandwich.”


One Comment Add yours

  1. Kathryn Beale says:

    Can’t wait to see the next stage!


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