Project Introduction here
Part 1 (supplies) here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Part 6 here.
Oops, it’s been another long stretch, but perhaps that’s been enough time to complete the pineapple blocks. I had a big push this last week and completed the last two this morning.
As of last Monday, my students had the finish in sight as well. Jason had completed the 80 he wanted to make, Katie only needed to make a dozen more, and Lynn was completing her final two.
This is a good time to put a new needle in the sewing machine. All that sewing on paper foundations dulls a needle. Once the blocks are done, sewing them together and adding borders will go much smoother with a sharp needle.
With all the pineapple blocks done, the next step is to sew them together.
First, lay them all out on a design wall (big piece of batting or flannel pinned, or otherwise attached to the wall) or on the floor. Make sure you like the placement of your blocks, rearranging or rotating them as necessary to make sure the colors are evenly distributed (like mine and Jason’s), or that you have a regular pattern (like Katie’s and Lynn’s). Flip all the blocks over and mark the paper on the backs alphanumerically so you can keep track of the rows (A, B, C, etc), and the columns (1, 2, 3, etc.). Now you can make each column a stack with the As on top.
I like to chain sew my blocks together because: a) not cutting the threads between blocks makes for tidier sewing and less thread wastage; and b) leaving the blocks linked makes it easier to keep track of their order and makes sewing the rows together a snap.
At this point, I gently tear off the large corner pieces of the foundations just before I sew each block. I do this so that the blocks feed more smoothly through the sewing machine and so I don’t have so much of that little seam allowance bit of foundation to tear off later. Do keep the rest of the foundation though as it has your numbering system on it, and it keeps the blocks stable as you are sewing.
Place block A2 face down on top of A1 and sew them together with the usual 1/4″ seam allowance and a slightly smaller than usual stitch size. Without cutting your thread, sew off the end of the A blocks and continue sewing onto blocks B1 and B2 (right sides together). Continue chain piecing with blocks C1 to C2, D1 to D2, etc. until you’ve sewn all your 1s to all your 2s. Now you can remove the chain from the sewing machine, or sew onto a scrap and then cut the chain from the back of the scrap. Backstitch at the start and end of each column for more stability. No need to backstitch on each and every block.
The paper foundations do have two drawbacks: they are heavy and stiff. This makes them a bit cumbersome to sew. The benefits outweigh the hassle though. Just keep your chain in your lap and support the blocks on your sewing table if gravity takes over and they pull against your sewing.
Return to the top of the 1 and 2 columns you’ve just sewn together and add the 3s. Sew A3 to A2, keep the chain intact and sew B3 to B2, continue sewing, adding C3 to C2, and so on until you’ve added all the 3 blocks. Snip the scrap from the top of the column and now sew onto it at the bottom. Snip the column from the scrap and return to the top of your growing quilt and sew on the column of 4s. Continue on this way until you’ve sewn on all your blocks. I had seven columns in all. Depending on the layout you’ve chosen, you might have more, or less.
With all the columns sewn together, you end up with tidy rows of blocks like the photo above. Look closely at the photo below to see the thread “chain” holding the rows together (now you can’t accidentally swap the rows or flip them over!).
When I’m sewing rows together, I like to press the seams of one row in the opposite direction of the next row. The problem with these foundations though, is that all that toner from the foundations will end up on the bottom of your iron. Blech! You could remove the paper now, since everything is in place and you no longer need the alphanumeric prompts, but all those scraps can have stretchy bias bits, and with this many blocks, the quilt wants to throw it’s weight around. I found that it was enough to pin mindfully and keep the stability of the paper.
So, fold row A face down over Row B and pin where the seams between blocks meet (ignore the seams within a block). Make sure that all your A seams face in one direction and all your B seams face in the other. Note that the seams nest against each other to make a tidy and not-too-bulky join. Place the pins at an angle so that you can sew all the way onto the intersection before you need to remove each pin.
Once Row A is sewn to Row B, fold B onto Row C and pin and sew again. Continue until all your rows are sewn. A little backstitch at the beginning and end of each row is good to keep the ends from pulling apart.
And, voilá! Here’s what the back of your quilt top should look like now. Put on a good movie, turn on the radio, or fire up a book on tape, and pull off the rest of the foundation papers. This can be tedious, but it’s not hard. I think I’ll take mine to class and pull out paper while I’m talking to my students.
The next installment will be about borders. We’ve got some good stuff in the works which I hope will be far enough along to show after Monday.