You did it! In four weeks you made this quirky quilt top from start to finish. Way to go, you! During the final week of the Garland sew along we trim our improv strips, sew the quilt top together, then trim everything down.
Seeing this quilt top come together is so fun and these last three steps are immensely gratifying. I can't wait! First let's do a recap of the schedule and then jump right into this week's assignment.
Garland Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, January 6: Pick fabric and gather supplies
Sponsor: Cottoneer - 1/2 yd. bundle of Trellis woven fabric by Fableism
IG LIVE - @suzyquilts: Thursday, Jan. 12 @ 2pm Central - We will discuss fabric selection + Q&A. If you have specific questions you want covered, post them in the blog comments below.
- Week 2, January 13: Cut fabric
Sponsor: Sewing Arts Center - $100 gift certificate
- Week 3, January 20: Sew improv strips
Sponsor: SunRae Designs - Free longarm quilting for one Garland quilt
IG LIVE - @suzyquilts: Wednesday, Jan. 25 @ 2pm Central - I will do an improv strip sewing demo + Q&A. If you have specific questions you want covered, post them in the blog comments below.
- Week 4, January 27: Trim improv strips and assemble the quilt top
Sponsor: Trace Creek Quilting - Free longarm quilting for one Garland quilt
Week 4 Assignment: Finish the Quilt Top
As I mentioned before, finishing the Garland quilt top can be broken down into three main steps — trimming your improv strips (pattern page 8), sewing all of your strips together (pattern page 9-11), then trimming the entire quilt top so it has straight edges (pattern page 12).
Tip #1: Watch this trimming video tutorial.
If you're feeling hesitant about trimming your wonky strips, check out this short video. It covers page 8 of the pattern in more detail.
Tip #2: Measure your strips before you trim them.
There's a lot going on with these improv strips. Before trimming them down, measure the length of each one and double check that they are at least as long as the diagram in the pattern (pages 5-7).
This is also a good time to label your strips or stack them based on size to keep them organized.
Tip #3: Measure twice. Cut once.
Not to add pressure to this step, but this is a good time to take an extra moment and double check that you are cutting your strips correctly. Look at the pattern, double check where your ruler is lining up, then slice.
Ooops! I trimmed one of my strips wrong, what do I do?? You're going to love this answer — probably nothing! Unless you trimmed your strip multiple inches smaller than you were supposed to, this quilt will still fit together just fine and you'll never be able to notice.
I accidentally trimmed one of my e strips down to a width of 5.25" instead of 5.5" and that didn't change the final assembly construction at all. Pretty cool, right? 😉
Tip #4: Lay out the entire quilt top.
And if you don't have room for the entire quilt top, lay out one entire block before sewing it. In this step you need the pattern right next to you so you can constantly reference what piece goes where.
I even like to have my measuring tape out during this step so I could double check the right strip is in the right place. If you were diligent in labeling your strips, you probably don't need to do that.
And ya'll, even with the pattern right in front of me I still got the big and little base triangles mixed up! Luckily I figured it out after sewing only one seam...
Tip #5: Bump your stitch length back to normal.
Previously when we were piecing our improv strips I suggested you take your stitch length down to a smaller size. Now that we are in the quilt top assembly phase, you can go back to whatever stitch length you like to typically use when piecing a quilt. For me, that's 2.5.
Tip #6: You may need a leader.
If you've never heard of leader fabric, it's a piece of scrap fabric you send through your sewing machine before piecing part of your quilt. This is helpful if you have ever experienced thread bunching at the beginning of your stitches or your feed dogs "eating" the corners of your fabric.
It makes your seams more secure because sometimes it takes a couple stitches before the threads securely chain together to create a seam. Lastly, another great perk is that you get a more accurate seam allowance from the very start.
You know how sometimes right in the beginning your 1/4" seam is a little too wide or narrow? This helps you correct that before piecing your quilt.
You didn't need a leader last week because we were chain piecing, which is basically what a leader does. This week, however, some of our blocks have strips that hang off quite a bit and don't let you chain piece well.
Tip #7: Press your seams with a tailor's clapper.
Quiltketeers, it is RARE for me to get all the way to Week 4 before mentioning my best friend the tailor's clapper. But honestly, you haven't really needed one (unless you're like me and used one for every single improv seam. Again, not necessary.)
Now that you are sewing together long seams, it's a good time to bust out the clapper if you have one. Not familiar with a tailor's clapper? Ooooh boy...
Tip #8: Flip your improv strips face up.
If the seams in your improv strips are getting flipped and messy while sewing your top together, flip your sewing so the improv strip is face up. This will make it easier for you to manually press your seams through your sewing machine so you sew them down in the right direction.
Tip #9: Use a fork pin for that center seam.
Since there is only one seam intersection in this quilt that needs to line up, if you don't already have fork pins don't feel like you need to purchase them for this one thing. I will say, however, if you get them, I'm confident you will use them a lot in the future.
Fork pins are the best way to ensure your seams nest and line up accurately. I have more info on fork pins in this article, Fork Pins: The Best Way To Match Seams Perfectly.
Tip #10: Trim on the floor or on a large table.
If you can find a large flat surface for your trimming, that will help you trim the most accurately. You want to be able to lay an entire side of the quilt out flat. Crawling around on the floor is not possible for everyone, but if you have access to a dining room table or even a picnic table outside, that would do the trick.
Tip #11: Use multiple long rulers to help keep the corners square while trimming.
I like to butt up the rulers to each other so I know my cutting is square. If you only have one ruler, you can also use books, or even a taught piece of string. If you check out the Week 4 post in the Adventureland sew along, I use a water soluble marker to draw a guideline and then I trimmed my quilt with scissors. That's better for people who prefer to not hunch over and cut on the floor.
And there you have it! A finished Garland quilt top. Bravo!! What do you think? Did you have fun? I can't emphasize enough how little thought I put into the placement of my Color 1-5 fabrics, but what do you know, it turned out ok! I think those improv strips help balance the fabrics no matter where they end up.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this process and if you have any questions about finishing your quilt top. Just pop them into the comments 🙂
BONUS: Quilting Tips
You now have a finished quilt top, but what to do next? You have a few options:
1. Send it to a longarm quilter. This is the priciest option. It's also the option that involves the least amount of effort. Currently you can get 25% off longarm quilting on your Garland quilt from SunRae Designs, Trace Creek Quilting and Thai Charm now through the end of March 2023. You must mention this deal when filling out their info forms. Below are some edge-to-edge longarm quilting examples.
Made and quilted by Trace Creek Quilting.
Made and quilted by Trace Creek Quilting.
Machine quilt it yourself. With these types of quilts (ie. Adventureland, Maypole, Sugar POP — strip-based quilts) I like to quilt in the ditch. That basically means that after basting, I quilt as closely as I can in the seams of the quilt top.
With this baby quilt below I used the strips as a guide and just quilted at 45-degree angles two directions. If you want to get fancier than that, I recommend drawing your design with a hera marker so you don't run the risk of permanently marking on your quilt top.
Hand quilt it yourself. Someone recently commented on one of my Instagram posts that "Nobody hand quilts anymore."
Well call me Nobody then! I adore hand quilting and if I had the time, I would exclusively do it. If you have any interest in dabbling in hand quilting, this is a great quilt for it. Why? Because you can first quilt in the ditch with your machine to stabilize your quilt sandwich and then add some hand quilting after. See a full tutorial with video on that — How To Hand Quilt (With Video Tutorial!)
I used my hera marker to free-hand mark swirlies on the quilt sandwich before pin basting. I then obsessively hand quilted this Adventureland quilt in about four days until it was finished. Did I mention that I LOVE hand quilting? 😉
I'm showing you this Adventureland quilt as an example because it uses a similar layout as the Garland quilt — four triangle quadrants with a center point. You can see that even an organic curvy quilting design looks great. You don't have to go linear if you are feelin' funky.
Week 4 Sponsor & Prize
Trace Creek Quilting is our Week 4 sponsor giving away FREE longarm quilting for one Garland quilt! Trace is also running a fantastic deal of 25% off longarm quilting from now through March 23. So maybe after making one Garland quilt, you should take all of those skills you now have and make another one! 😉
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a pic of your FINISHED Garland quilt top and use #GarlandQuiltSA 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 Friday, January 27 and Friday, February 3. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the 3rd. Good luck!