Welcome to Weeks 3 and 4 of the Fireside sew along! If you're thinking, "Suzy, are you slackin' on us and trying to get out of writing a blog post for each week?" The short answer is yes, BUT the longer and better answer is you don't need two posts!
In Weeks 3 and 4 of this sew along our assignment is the same, just broken up into two different weeks. In Week 3 we make Blocks 1 and in Week 4 we make Blocks 2 and 3. Actually, while we're talking about the weekly sew along schedule, why don't I post it again so you have it handy.
Fireside Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, September 23: Pick Fabric
Prize sponsor: Global Fiber Textiles & Notions
- Week 2, September 30: Cut fabric
Prize sponsor: Crimson Tate
- Week 3, October 7: Make Blocks 1
Prize sponsor: Quilts Made with Love
- Week 4, October 14: Make Blocks 2 and 3
Prize sponsor: Sewing Arts Center
- Week 5, October 21: Assemble quilt top
Prize sponsor: Trace Creek Quilting
Weeks 3 & 4 Assignment: Make Blocks
What I love most about sew alongs is that we leave no quilter behind during the process. This past week, after filming an Instagram LIVE, I had someone send me a message saying that they picked their fabric, cut their strips and now they feel stuck and a little scared about how to tackle the sewing section.
Well let me take all of that fear away with this three step video. In it I show you how I piece, press, then trim my blocks as they grow bigger and bigger. Keep reading for more additional tips too!
Supplies from the Video
In this video I use a few tools that help me get crisp flat seams:
Tip #1: Chain piece every chance you get.
Chain piecing is when you sew multiple things without snipping your threads. I like to first chain piece all of my strips (making sure to sew right sides together). Once it's time to sew blocks, I'll chain piece the blocks too. That way you sew multiple things at once and save time. Yeehaw!
Below my sewing helper Omoleye is chain piecing strips together. you can see that she didn't trim the selvages first. Instead she sewed and then will snip the threads and trim the seams down to a 1/4" once she's finished.
You can trim first and sew second or sew first and trim second. Whatever you prefer.
Tip #2: Lower your stitch length.
Whenever I sew narrow strips together, like these Fireside strips, I lower my stitch length from 2.5 to 1.5. I do this because then the strips do not come apart at the edges. The photo below is from the Shining Star sew along and shows two different stitch lengths.
The long golden sashing strip was pieced at a 2.5 and the cornerstone was pieced at a 1.5. I do this when piecing small pieces of fabric to keep the stitches secure.
See how I'm trying to pull these strips apart and they aren't budging?
Tip #3: Use the guide marks on your ruler to trim.
The fun thing about the Fireside pattern is that you don't have to measure and cut a bunch of strips. We make the assembly much easier than that! That does mean, however, that once you have sewn and pressed your strip to your block, you need to trim it.
To keep your block square, line up both the vertical and the horizontal guide marks on your ruler before trimming.
Tip #4: Press gently and try not to stretch.
It's still possible that even if you are sewing and pressing very carefully, your blocks will be slightly off. That's okay. We'll troubleshoot that in Week 5. If you press like I show in the video above, first gently with your fingers and then with a tailor's clapper, you are less likely to warp your fabric. This also means that you are less likely to distort your blocks.
You've been so careful sewing your 1/4" seam and pressing everything gently but still your block is slightly off. No problem. It's okay to slightly tug the fabric so it lays on your cutting matter more squarely.
If that doesn't fix the problem, line up both the vertical and horizontal lines on your ruler and shave off a teeny tiny bit to get it more square. Don't shave off more than an 1/8". If you cut off too much you may be setting yourself up for more distortion a few strips down the road.
My best advice is to do your best to keep these blocks square, but you haven't ruined anything if they're not.
In Weeks 3 and 4 you don't need to cut any of these blocks. We will do that in the final week during the assembly process. These weeks just focus on sewing them together.
Week 3 Sponsor & Prize
Even though we are mashing up the Weeks 3 and 4 blog posts there are still two separate opportunities to win prizes. Our Week 3 sponsor is Michelle Ramsay from Quilts Made with Love. She is offering one winner FREE longarm quilting on a throw Fireside quilt.
Additionally, you can get 25% off longarm quilting on all Fireside quilts through January 2023. Find Michelle on Instagram @quilts_madewithlove.
Week 4 Sponsor & Prize
One of our absolute favorite sewing shops, Sewing Arts Center, is the Week 4 sponsor. SAC is giving away a $100 gift certificate to one lucky winner!
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 #FiresideQuiltSA 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 for Week 3 must be posted between Friday, October 7 and Friday, October 14. Your photo for Week 4 must be posted between Friday, October 14 and Friday, October 21. The winners will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on each Friday. Good luck!