Saturday, October 23, 2010

Colorbrick: Hello Quilt Top!

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along. You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner! Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

Isn't October just flying by?  So is this quilt-along.  At least, for me!  I see it's time for another post.  This one is oh-so-easy to explain.  Cool.  And when you're done piecing, I'd so very much love to see your quilt top!!!!  Please share a picture at our Flickr group when you have a minute!

Step 1: Piece Rows

quilt top 1

Let's connect our bricks into rows by stitching brick to brick with right sides together.  Use your trusty 1/4" inseam and have at it.  You can either add one brick at a time, which is the no-brainer way to make sure you keep everything in order.  Or, you can lay out your row, then make sets of bricks right side together and chain piece them to move things along a bit quicker.  You'll then have a few sets of bricks that need to be joined to complete a row. 

quilt top 2

Before you continue, give all of those seams a nice pressing. I like to press seams open, for the flattest look.

Step 2: Add Long Sashing

So to be honest, I had three rows stitched together this morning when my quilt-hating husband, nicely asked "Isn't there something wrong here?"  I stared blankly and he pointed out that I'd forgotten the long sashing.  Duh.

Attaching the sashing is easy, though tedious.  The Colorbrick quilt has 11 rows of bricks and 12 long sashing strips.  When you're finished you'll have sashing between every row and at the top and bottom too, to frame your bricks.  Sew one long sashing strip to the bottom of each row.  And, then add your last strip of sashing to the top row of bricks, so that it's sandwhiched in sashing.

quilt top 3

I suggest you break out the walking foot attachment at this time, since it helps me sew a long seam like this quite evenly.  To sew, flip your sashing so that right sides are together.  Pin along about every 4 inches (pin closer together if you don't have a walking foot or if you're having trouble with fabric bunching).  Stitch with a 1/4" seam.

Step 3: Join Rows

quilt top 4

Lay out your rows in order, noting the numbers you made on masking tape. The rows that contain chopped bricks should be 1/2" shorter than your regular 5-brick rows. Center those narrow chopped-brick rows so that they are 1/4" short on each side of the row. I chose to work with 4 rows at a time on my tabletop, just to avoid being on the floor so much.

quilt top 5

Starting with the rows nearest to you, flip the bottom row over onto the next row. Again, make sure it is centered. Pin every 4-5 inches and stitch a 1/4" seam.

Unlike when piecing individual bricks, I like to press my rows as I go. This makes a nice flat quilt-top-in-progress that's easier to match up with the next row. So, go ahead and press your row seam now.

Lay out your work and flip the next row (a 5-brick row) over onto your quilt-top-in-progress. Line it up with your first 5 brick row, to keep things straight. Pin, stitch and press.

Continue adding row by row!

Step 4: Trim Edges

After pressing your last row, you're nearly done. Before putting your gorgeous quilt top away, let's trim those edges. I like to do this on a smooth floor.

quilt top 6

Spread out your quilt nice and flat. Slide your cutting mat under the uneven edge until one of your cutting lines matches up with the short rows. Cut off that extra 1/4" of each side of your quilt, so that you have a nice straight side. (Note: I did not trim my sashing to the exact right size, hence the big sashing dog ears).

So, due to some backtracking and an unexpected trip to Target (that place is too good), I only got part of my quilt top pieced today.  When I finish it, I promise to share.  You too, OK?

Step 5: Prepare Your Quilt Back

I know, I threw this one in sneaky-like.  I hope you don't mind!

Measure your finished quilt top and note the measurement. For my next quilt-along post on Tuesday, you will need your quilt back ready. Your quilt back should be bigger than your quilt top by about 2" on each side. This leeway just makes the basting process more fail-proof. If you're using the wide linen I recommended, just cut a quilt back to size - easy peasy!  If you're using Kona cotton or any regular 44" wide fabric for your quilt back, you'll need to piece something together. You could keep it simple - just solid yardage with a seam wherever it falls. Or, you can dress up that seam by piecing some bricks from any leftover fabric into a single row and placing that row where your solid yardage pieces meet.  It would look something like this quilt back.


I personally like a lot of solid on the back for this quilt to show off the stair-step quilting design.  The above is a picture of the back of my first Colorbrick quilt.  This baby was my first quilt ever... I hope to get the quilting a little straighter this time.  But, really, there's no harm in a little meander now and then!


  1. does your husband really hate quilts? now i'm just curious...

  2. Rachel, this has been such a fabulous quilt-along - time has not permitted me to sew along with you, but I've been following and enjoying it vicariously! I hope to have time to make one of these very soon - it's a great design, and I can't wait to see how you quilt it!

  3. Oh Rachel, I am so far behind, but so thankful that these posts are all online and accessible. I will get it done!

  4. Your second colorbrick quilt is going to be gorgeous!

    One thing I noticed in your posts is that you cover with your ruler the fabric you are cutting away. I learned to do the opposite: always put your ruler over the fabric you are keeping. That way, if you accidentally roll off-course (which happens to me more than I care to admit), you'll save the piece you are cutting (or in the case above, your quilt top).

  5. major quilt top issues...I want to cry. I have ripped out 2 rows twice!!!

    After attaching all the sashing to each row, I began to piece the rows together...but as I sewed, as I got to the end of each row, the row was longer than the one before it! Up to 1 1/2" longer!! After ripping and trying again, this has kept happening. I have 4 rows together and I layed them flat on the ground and they are obviously curving slightly like a rainbow...which is making each progressive row get longer...does that make sense?? I am sewing slowly, using a perfect 1/4' seam but its as if the fabric is stretching as I go and curving. Thoughts!?!

  6. I finally figured it out after hours of trial and was the guide on my 1/4" presser was bunching fabric and always was tweaked on a tiny angle and that's why I was curving...all is resolved but I have to tear out 3 rows and then it will be done.

  7. Oh, Aimee, I am SO sorry to hear that. I had to rip a few rows tonight too - seams to come with sewing (or with learning?). Glad that you've figured it out now. Sending you smooth-sewing-vibes.

    Jenn, Yep, my husband really is a quilt-hater. It's just the truth. I keep showing him cool designs I find online thinking he'll surely change his mind, but nothing's done the trick yet. Isn't that funny?

  8. Me too! My rows also started shifting. It was because I skipped the pins - yikes, I know - as the rows where sewn together the heavy section, with rows already attached, was pulling the fabric and stretching it even though I thought I was being super careful. Next quilt = pins :)

    We've had a lot of rainy days - as soon as the sun comes out I'll post a photo to your flickr pool. Thanks again for all the work you've done on this project!

  9. Thanks for posting the quilt-along! I've been working on it over the past couple weeks and finally I am to this part-which is the most fun. I'm loving how cool it is to see such a big section of pretty fabrics that i've sewn together.

  10. This could be a silly question because it's 1230 in the morning, you know, the best time to quilt. Anyway, my rows of 10" blocks, plus 1.5" plus an extra 1/2 block... minus 1/2 seam allowances (both sides...) so WHY are my sashes that are 53 inches TOO SHORT???? I'm going to stash it and think it out.. any help will be super! Thanks a bunch!

  11. AHHHH, about 5 seconds after i posted that last question it hit me. I had 5 1/2 blocks on EVERY row. meaning...

    i. did. it. wrong.

    ack. but better than loosing all the cut strips of fabric so i'll just chop off the extra pieces. YAY.
    Thanks so much for listening! :)

  12. This is my very first quilt and I have loved doing it so far. Your directions are fantabulous-thanks for putting this out there.

  13. I do a fair amount of sewing, but I've never really made a quilt. I'm using your tutorial to make a quilt top (baby steps!) for the current Craft Hope project. Making quilts, quilt tops and blocks to donate to an organization called Phoenix Quilts -- the quilts will go to families who lost homes in the recent wildfires. :)

    1. That is the perfect baby step! Thanks for doing that and for letting me know =)


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