Tuesday 30 June 2015

Super speedy chain-piecing tutorial

I have just been writing up my latest pattern, Cross My Heart, which is made up of rows of 5” squares - a super easy quilt, and so quick to put together, thanks to some speedy chain-piecing. 

Now, I’m not just talking about chain-piecing the squares here, one row at a time, I’m talking about chain-piecing the whole piece! You really could have this and many other quilts done in a day using this method!

I have tried explaining this method verbally, and got a little tongue-tied, so I thought I would write a tutorial, pics an' all.

Lay out your quilt blocks as the your pattern shows, in this case I’m using the Cross My Heart quilt as an example.

Working from the right-hand side towards the left of each row, place each square on top of it’s neighbour, so in the case of the Row 1, place orange on top of dark blue, then grey on top of this, then yellow on top, then yellow again, yellow, dark blue, turquoise, white, and finally white again.

Do this with all of your rows, then label each one with their number, Row 1, Row 2, and so on. I use scraps of paper for this. Place each pile next to your sewing machine, being sure to keep them separate. If I have a lot of rows, I bring my ironing board to the table and use that. 

So we’re going to sew all these rows together at the same time. Starting with Row 1, take your first two squares, in this case the two white squares, lay the second square on top of the first and sew down the right hand side. This placement is very important, particularly when you have two different coloured squares, as in Row 2 below. Do not break thread.

Now move on to Row 2, and do the same, in this case turquoise onto white, then again, without breaking thread, Row 3 – dark blue onto yellow – and so one until you have attached the first two squares of every row.
Now break your last thread. 

Pull your chained pieces back through the machine so you can start again at the top. Open out your first two sewn squares of Row 1, take the next square from the Row 1 pile (turquoise) and place on top of your second square  (white), sew down the right-hand side as before. Don’t break thread.

Now do the same with Row 2 (turquoise onto turquoise) and so on. To keep track of which row I’m on, I turn over my numbered scrap of paper on the row I’m working on, then when I go back, I know where to go next.

When you’ve attached the third squares to all of their rows, break your last thread, pull your sewing back to the top and carry on with the rest of your rows. 

Once your rows are all sewn together, you should have a unit looking something like this with your rows attached to each other by strands of thread.

Carefully place onto your ironing board, and press your seams in opposite directions, so for the even rows, press seams towards the right, and for the odd rows, press seams towards the left. Now pin the first two rows together - as you have pressed your seams in opposite directions, they should lock into each other, matching up your seams nicely! Pin and sew all your rows together, press from the front and attach any borders. You now have a complete quilt top, how quick was that!?!

I made this quilt for my nephew's 18th birthday, he's a design student (no pressure then!) off to uni in the autumn, hopefully this will keep him warm in his student digs!

I pulled the solids from my stash, and then decided to add this orange print from Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics collection, I love how it just blends in with the solids.
When it came to the quilting, I chose to use wonderful Auriful threads in six different colours, and a couple in a heavier weight, which just added to the quilt's texture.

The Cross My Heart pattern is now on sale click here for more details and for so much more quilting fun!

I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts, for more inpsiration and new projects, come and visit.


  1. Thank you, I'm hoping the nephew will like it!

  2. This is an incredible tutorial, Louisa! Great explanations and photos! And your nephew is sure to be grateful for this beautiful quilt.

  3. Isn't chain piecing the best? I work it into my projects whenever and wherever I can. It really speeds things up! I'm going to share your tutorial on my guild's FaceBook page. It explains things so nicely!

  4. Thank you both very much, I'm really glad the instructions make sense. As I said, when I try to explain this verbally, or even written down with no pics, it never made sense to me! Thanks for the share too Jenn :)

  5. that it so darn clever!! And the quilt turned out beautifully, I'm convinced your designer nephew will love it.

    1. Thank you, I think he liked it, you never know with teenagers! :)


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