It's Week 3 of the Adventureland quilt sew along and just like that we are over halfway finished! If you're wondering how we can be halfway finished without ever sitting down at a sewing machine, well, that's the beauty of the Adventureland pattern.
Phase 3 of our mission, Quiltketeers, is sewing strips together. For many of you this will be a perfect opportunity to relax, listen to a great audiobook, and let your sewing machine and iron doing the heavy lifting. There's nothing complicated about Phase 3; however, if you are one of my newbies (hey hello!) I've got some great tips that will be helpful for you to use now and store for future quilts.
Adventureland Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, March 22: Pick fabric
Sponsor: Sewing Arts Center - $100 gift certificate
Sponsor: Emily Van Hoff - earring kit
- Week 2, March 29: Cut fabric
Sponsor: Cottoneer - Martha fabric fat quarter bundle
Sponsor: Jenn B Quilts - free longarm quilting on one throw quilt
- Week 3, April 5: Sew strips together
Sponsor: Global Fiber: Sprout wovens bundle (pre-order)
Sponsor: Bessie Pearl Textiles: $50 gift certificate
- Week 4, April 12: Assemble quilt top
Sponsor: Trace Creek Quilting: free longarm quilting on one quilt
Sponsor: Rifle Paper Co: Camont fat quarter bundle
If You Are New to Quilting...
Newbie sewers, you are at the forefront of my mind during this Adventureland mission. Now that we are finally sewing and pressing seams, I think these quick reads will help.
- Sewing Thread Part II: The Best Quality Sewing Thread
- Universal Needles… Are They Really Universal?
- How to Press Seams in a Quilt (with Video Tutorial!)
- How to Troubleshoot Sewing Machine Tension (optional read if you are having trouble with your machine)
- 8 Things You Never Knew About the Tailor’s Clapper
Here's a list of what I'm working with:
- 50 wt. Aurifil cotton thread (cone)
- Thread stand (You will most likely need one of these if you spring for a cone rather than a spool of thread. The reason to get a cone is because it's cheaper and you don't run out of thread as fast. I used to have a really nice weighted thread stand but somehow lost it...how does that even happen? Anyway, this one is a bit flimsy but does the job.)
- Rotary cutter
- 6" x 24" Omnigrid ruler
- 80/12 universal needle
- tailor's clapper (Mine is a limited edition Holiday Party clapper. Chris might make more of these, so if you like it, reach out to him and ask. He's very nice.)
- spray bottle
- wool pressing mat (very optional—for a full review click here. This is the one I have, however it is out of stock indefinitely. You can find large wool mats from other places if you do a Google search.)
- Gooseneck phone holder - currently using this for my baby monitor while Joanna naps, but also great for streaming shows!
The Tricky Truth About Pre-Cuts
We quilters love pre-cut bundles of fabric. They allow us to affordably get a variety of fabrics without having to purchase yards of each. Lots of quilt patterns are written specifically for pre-cuts, in fact. For a list of the SQ patterns that are, check out The Best Pre-Cut Friendly Suzy Quilts Patterns.
The most common sizes of pre-cuts include fat quarters, 10" squares, 5" squares and 2.5" strips—what we are using in this Adventureland pattern. Even though pre-cuts are convenient and so gosh darn adorable, there are a couple tricky things about them.
- Pre-cuts are not always cut on grain. Any time someone is cutting fabric with a ruler and rotary cutter rather than ripping it, there is a chance of cutting off grain. Fabric grain refers to the vertical and horizontal threads woven together to make fabric. In quilting it usually isn't a huge deal to cut fabric off grain, but it's worth noting because cutting off grain allows the fabric more freedom to warp and stretch.
- Pre-cuts are not always cut the right size. Sometimes they are a little wide, narrow, short or tall. I encourage you to take a quick moment to measure your pre-cuts to make sure you know you have enough fabric for the specific pattern you're making.
- Pre-cut bundles vary in fabric quantity. As we discovered in Week 1 of this sew along, some 2.5" strips (or jelly rolls) have 40 strips, some have 20 strips and some have a random number somewhere in between.
Quiltketeers, I'm boring you with this info because unless you learn the hard way, as I almost always do, there's no way to know this about pre-cuts and that can lead to frustration when making a quilt pattern. So keep these tidbits in mind as we jump into the Week 3 assignment. Take my hand and let's go!
Adventureland Quilt Sew Along Week 3: Sew Strips Together
This is one of those patterns that you can zip through, throw accuracy to the wind, and still make it all work during the final trimming process. You might end up with a slightly smaller quilt because you need to trim a bit more, but I doubt 2-3" will ever be noticed. I bring this up because I'm about to give you lots of nitty gritty tips on how to sew and press accurately, but that's just one way.
Tip #1: Measure the length of your strips to make sure they are 42".
Since we are making the throw size, your strips need to be at least 42" to get the correct finished size. If your strips are a little bit short, that's totally fine, you will just be trimming a little more in Week 4 when we square the final quilt top.
You can see here that my solid strip is longer than the printed strip and without the selvages they are both over 42". Yay!
Even though I'm not using this printed strip, I know for future reference that it will be long enough.
Tip #2: Measure the width of your strips to see what you're working with.
I'm sewing with both a jelly roll and cut yardage. Since I'm the one who cut the yardage, I already know those strips are 2.5". The jelly roll strips, on the other hand, are a hair wider than that. If this is the case for you, here are a couple options:
- Sewing with just a jelly roll: Line up the tips of the pinked edges and sew a 1/4" seam or a slightly generous 1/4" seam. Don't sew a scant 1/4".
- Sewing with yardage and a jelly roll: Center the 2.5" yardage strip with the jelly roll strip. Sew a 1/4" seam using the yardage strip as the guide.
Tip #3: Note on page 3 of the pattern—consider waiting until your quilt top is finished to trim your strips to size.
The cutting chart on page 3 of the pattern lists the exact strip sizes you need to make the throw quilt; however, above the cutting chart is a note that mentions if you leave your strips the width of the fabric, you will have some wonderful scraps to play with once your quilt top is finished and trimmed.
In Week 4 of this sew along we will include some fun tutorials for projects you can make with those trimmed scraps.
Tip #4: If your strips are different lengths, consider trimming off the selvages before sewing.
I'm using fabric from three different manufacturers who all make their selvages differently. If you aren't paying attention, it's easy to lose valuable inches by sewing small selvages to big selvages and switching back and forth with which side of the strip you're lining up. If you do that, when it comes time to trim, you will have to trim more fabric so it all lines up and your strip sets could end up on the shorter side.
Below is one strip set. I lined up the selvages that are the same and you can see the other side of the strip set is very uneven because the selvages are so different.
Like I mentioned before, in Week 4 of this sew along there's any easy fix to have short strip sets, which is trimming the entire quilt top down a little bit; however, if you aren't keen on that, either make sure you're lining the selvages up consistently and correctly OR go ahead and trim off all of the selvages before you begin piecing so you know for certain you are on the right track.
I'm choosing to keep the selvages on and then trim after they are all sewn together. We'll see how the chips fall. 😉
Tip #5: Lay out your strips in order, then bring them to your machine for chain piecing.
Since my four blocks are two sets of identical pairs, I placed two strips on top of each other and laid out only two blocks.
Tip #6: Pinning isn't necessary when sewing the strips together.
Pinning when piecing is usually a good idea because inevitably the two layers of fabric are fed through a sewing machine at different rates of tension—causing the fabric to get more and more distorted the longer the strip of fabric.
The reason pinning isn't necessary in this case is because once all of the strips are sewn together, you will trim the raggedy edge. If your strips are warping or the edges are frequently not lining up, slow down when sewing and use a few pins. You've got a lot of strips to sew, so test out pinning vs. not pinning and sewing speed until you find a groove that works best for you.
I ended up pinning these strips. Since some of them were pinked and some not, I didn't have a clear edge to line up. It ended up being faster for me to pin a little rather than fiddle with the two layers while sewing.
This optional pinning tip does not apply to next week's sewing when we piece the large triangle to each strip set. If you are skipping ahead and piecing that as well, you must pin the triangle or it will distort in such a way that the quilt top is effected.
Tip #7: When to press your seams—it's a personal preference.
When to press your seams comes down to personal preference and what helps you stay organized. The first time I made this quilt I sewed all of the strips together and then pressed. This helped me keep my strips in order, but I did get annoyed with how the fabric kept trying to fold and get in my way while sewing and pressing.
This time around after chain piecing all of my strips together into sets of two, I took the whole pile to my ironing board and pressed the seams. Pressing as I go is slower, but that made it easier and more accurate. You can try it one way and then switch to another way. As long as your strips get sewn and pressed, you're doing it right.
If you are new to pressing with a tailor's clapper, here's a detailed post with the process explained - How to Press Seams in a Quilt.
The one difference from this tutorial and video below is that for Adventureland, we press the seams open rather than to the side. Can you press your seams to the side if you would rather not press them open? Yes! That's fine too. The pattern instructs pressing seams open because you aren't nesting seams (aside from the very center one) and pressing seams open keeps the seams extra flat and uniform. All in all, either way works and it's not a big deal which one you choose.
Next week we will sew our large triangles to these strip sets, sew the quadrants together, and then trim our quilt tops.
Week 3 Sponsors & Prizes
We've got TWO more amazing prizes for you this week! If you love yarn-dyed woven fabric as much as us, get pumped up for the giveaway prize from Global Fiber Textiles & Notions. This week's winner will get a bundle of this beautiful fabric. Note: this fabric is not quite available to the public, but will be soon. The prize is a pre-order.
Our second giveaway is for $50 to Bessie Pearl Textiles. This shop sells beautiful handmade bias tape and quilt binding. Also, lucky for us, we snagged Karen, the shop owner, for a day in this informative tutorial post on how to make your own bias binding.
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of your sew along progress. Use #AdventurelandQuiltSA in the caption.
- You must have a public Instagram profile to participate.
- Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
- Your photo must be posted between Tuesday, April 5 and Tuesday, April 12. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the 12th. Good luck!