Welcome to Week 6 of the Voyage Quilt Sew Along! It's time to assemble all our blocks! After chain piecing last week, we're putting the finishing touches on our blocks to prepare for finishing the entire Voyage quilt top during Week 7. Keep reading for tips about pressing, nesting seams, and accuracy!
For details on how this sew along works, check out the Voyage Quilt Sew Along introduction post here, and don’t forget to join me on Wednesday at 7:30pm Central for a live video on Instagram where I’ll go over all of these tips and answer as many questions as I can.
Voyage Quilt Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, March 31: Pick fabric and gather supplies
- Week 2, April 7: Cut fabric
- Week 3, April 14: Make HSTs - video tutorial
- Week 4, April 21: Make HRTs and finish HST overflow if more time is needed - video tutorial
- Week 5, April 28: Chain piece blocks together - video tutorial
- Week 6, May 5: Assemble blocks
- Week 7, May 12: Sew blocks into rows to make the finished quilt top; discuss quilting ideas
Week 6 Assignment: Assemble Blocks
Assembling the quilt blocks might be the most exciting part of making a Voyage quilt. Seeing this vibrant and lively block come together is so much fun!
Have I mentioned lately that you should double check the Voyage quilt diagrams while you sew? Oh, I have? That's because it's important at every step of making the Voyage quilt!
Chain piecing each block's rows together is a great way to stay organized and minimize mistakes like sewing your HSTs or HRTs upside down, so you're off to a great start after last week. But, it's still important to check the diagram this week because you don't want to get confused and sew a whole row upside down. So, before you start sewing rows together, take a look at the quilt diagram in your pattern and double check that everything is facing the right way.
Tip #1: Press Rows in Alternating Directions
Pressing rows A-E in alternating directions, instead of pressing open or pressing to the dark side, will help you nest your seams and improve the accuracy of your piecing. Here was the pressing pattern I used for my quilt.
For the top four blocks, I pressed row A to the right, row B to the left, row C to the right, row D to the left, and row E to the right.
For the four blocks below that, I pressed for A to the left, row B to the right, row C to the left, row D to the right, and row E to the left.
I repeated this pressing pattern for the next two rows of blocks. If you don't want to keep track of a pressing plan like the one I did, you can press all of your blocks like I pressed my top row of blocks. You'll have a little extra bulk when you sew your blocks together, and it will be slightly more challenging to nest your seams, but it's easier to keep track of pressing every block the same way.
You have two choices when pressing rows A-E of your blocks. If you chain pieced last week, you can snip your rows apart and press them all separately, which is what I did. Or keep them chained together to press while shifting each completed row to dangle off the edge of your pressing mat so that your iron can more easily press one row at a time.
If you snip your rows apart, make sure to stack rows A-E in the right order when sewing them together so you don't end up with an upside down row.
Tip #2: Nesting Seams
Pressing your seams in alternating directions helps to nest seams, which is an excellent way to increase accuracy. Your squares will lock together when you line then up!
It may take some wiggling and shifting before you feel the seams lock together. But as you can see in the picture above, pressing your seams in alternating directions gives you a very tiny bump on each block that you can nest next to the tiny bump on your other row. The seams should lay next to each other and be locked in opposite directions, they should not lay on top of each other.
Nesting seams takes practice, so don't feel discouraged if your seams aren't as accurate as you'd hoped at first. Just like you noticed your HST technique improve over time as you worked through nearly 300 of them, you'll notice yourself getting more comfortable with how nested seams feel and look as you sew. By the end of your quilt, after practicing many times, you'll start to feel more confident!
Tip #3: Use Fork Pins for Increased Accuracy
Pressing your seams in alternating directions and nesting them helps with accuracy, but only if your fabric doesn't shift while you sew! If your fabric shifts, your neatly nested seams will become unlocked and not match up. That's where fork pins come in!
Suzy has an excellent blog post about how to use fork pins that covers everything you need to know!
Tip #4: Pressing Rows to Reduce Bulk
Once rows A-E are sewn together, you're almost done with your blocks! The last step is pressing the four long seams that connect your rows. Suzy recommends pressing these seams open to reduce bulk. Be careful not to accidentally press your block seams open or to the other side while pressing your long seams open.
A miniature or travel sized iron can be very helpful to make sure you're not accidentally folding or pressing other seams while you press these long seams open. Also, make sure to use your trusty tailor's clapper to get them as flat as possible.
Here's a picture of what a seam looks like pressed to one side. You can see that it looks pretty bulky.
And below is a picture of a seam pressed open to reduce bulk. It's much flatter!
Once you've pressed your seams open, you're all done for the week! Next week, we'll make our top and bottom rows and join all our blocks together to complete the Voyage quilt!
Voyage Quilt Sew Along Book of the Week
This week, I wanted to encourage you to write a book about your quilting! As a historian and a curator by training, I always encourage all quilters to record the stories behind the quilts they make. Who knows, your great-grand child may turn out to be a quilter, stumble upon your notebook full of photos and stories, and read every page!
This week, I'm recommending a beautiful quilt notebook for you to document your quilts, starting with your Voyage quilt! You can tape a picture of your finished Voyage quilt onto a page, and write all about your experience with the sew along. Did you learn new skills? Choose the fabrics on your own for the first time? Write it all down! Maybe this is even your first quilt! If it is, this will set you up for great quilt documentation for years.
The journal I'm recommending is the Barn Quilt Wood Notebook by Sunny & Clear. And the most exciting part is that Sunny & Clear is offering 25% off for Suzy Quilts readers! Just use the code QUILTER25 at checkout (offer limited to one notebook per customer, coupon code valid through May 31, 2021). Thank you, Sunny & Clear!
I searched high and low for a beautiful quilt journal. There are lots of options out there, including ones that have prompts to make sure you write down the same information about each quit you make. But I fell for this journal because of the beautiful wood cover and the option to customize it with a name or short phrase. You could even use this as your go-to quilting notebook for quilt math, fabric ideas, or any other notes while you quilt if you don't want to use it for quilt documentation!
Sponsor & Prize
This week's sponsor is one of our favorite quilt shops, Lamb and Loom, who is giving away a $100 gift card! Lamb and Loom is known for having a gorgeous selection of textured fabrics, apparel fabrics, and quilting cottons. Plus, they also make and sell beautiful tailor's clappers. You won't have any trouble using this gift card if you win! I recently ordered three bundles of peppered cottons from Lamb and Loom and made a beautiful quilt with them, so I should know!
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of any completed blocks, whether you've finished one or 16. Use #VoyageQuiltSA in the caption. Make sure to use the correct hashtag! Remember that the quilt is called the Voyage Quilt, not the Voyager Quilt.
- 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 12:00 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, May 5 and 1:00 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.
- This prize is open in the United States only.
- The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.