Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Colorbrick: Quilting Along the Lines

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!

Quilting 1

Let's quilt! I am using a variegated yellow/gold Gutermann thread. I love the way a little touch of color looks on the natural linen I've sashed with. To avoid an annoying interruption later on, wind an extra bobbin now - you'll need it before you're done!

Getting Started

Quilting 2

Start quilting from the bottom of your quilt, two bricks in from the side as shown. This position isn't crucial, but it will help you stabilize the quilt to quilt one of these longish runs first. Also, this isn't the very longest run of quilting, which is nice for your first go at it.

You will sew in straight from the bottom, crossing over that first strip of long sashing as if it wasn't there.

Quilting 3

Drop your presser foot on the very edge of the quilt, so that your stitch starts off the quilt (on the excess backing) or right on the edge of the quilt. Take a backstitch at the edge of the quilt to secure your stitching. As long as your backstitch is just 1 or 2 stitches, it will be hidden by the binding when we finish the quilt. When you finish quilting a line, take a small backstitch then too.

The Quilting Path

Quilting 4

Stitch along in the "mortar" (the sashing) 1/4 inch from the edge of your bricks. You will be stitching one continuous line from the bottom edge of your quilt that zigzags through the quilt like a staircase until you reach the side of the quilt. So, as you go along that first short sashing edge, turn when you reach the end of the brick.  Continue stitching, still 1/4" from the brick, and proceed along until you reach another short sashing mortar path.  Turn there and continue.  The key is to take a turn at every path.

Here's what your quilting path will look like when you've finished one line:

Quilting 7

Next you'll follow the same paths again, this time stitching 1/4 inch from the bricks on the other side of your "mortar" strips. This creates a double line of stitching like so:

Quilting 10

Notice that there are gaps (horizontal only) of mortar that are NOT stitched. From the back, these gaps create that staircase design. Quilt all paths from the bottom all the way through the quilt until they emerge to another side.

Quilting 11

Notice that from the side, every other row edge is quilted. Again, these are the gaps that make the staircase -just this time they're at the edge. After you quilt all paths from the bottom of your quilt, you will notice that there's more to be done. Quilt from the side of your quilt, starting at every other mortar line, until all stair steps have been completed.

Quilting Technique

I am not an expert quilter by any means, but I have some tips that will help you tame this quilt!

Quilting 8

Roll your quilt on the diagonal to help it fit into your machine.

Quilting 9

Support your quilt as you go. Many quilters throw the rolled quilt over one shoulder (test to see which side feels right to you) to support the weight of the quilt when starting a line.


As you stitch one line, more and more of the quilt will be resting on the table. Be sure to continue to support the quilt from the front and side so that your sewing machine is not having to pull the heavy quilt through the machine. Gently feed the quilt into the machine, to protect your machine from damage and to maintain an even stitch quality.

Quilting 5

This is no picnic. You've got to grasp and "drive" your quilt like you mean business. Hold it firmly with two hands. Quilting is actually tiring, so take a break when you need it!

Quilting 6

In this quilting design, aim to make each turn a nice right angle. Before your turn, make sure the needle is in the down position. Lift your presser foot and turn the quilt. Lower the presser foot and continue. Don't forget to turn at every path!!!

It can be tricky to judge the exact right time to turn. If you think you need one more or one less stitch before the turn, use your manual turning wheel to move the needle one stitch. On most sewing machines, you can go back one stitch without leaving any traces on your work.


What if you totally screw up a line?  Well, that's up to you.  If you hate it, your best bet is to use a seam ripper to remove the entire line and start again.  That is the "correct" way, I suppose.  But, if you can handle a little wave or whatnot, just let it be - especially if this is your first quilt.  Honestly, I never notice the mistakes in my first quilt.  I'm too busy enjoying it, I guess!  And, my current Colorbrick is FAR from perfect.

If you just made a little mistake, you could also choose to rip out the wrong part and restitch that section only.  With these straight lines, I simply take a small backstitch at the beginning and end of my repair section.  I don't think it's noticeable.  But, be aware that these repaired lines may be less strong than a perfect continuous line.  


After you've double-line quilted all of the paths, it's time to finish the top, bottom and sides. I finished the top and bottom long sashing strips with a double-line of quilting that coordinates with the rest of the quilt.

Quilting 12

Next, I finished the sides with one line of quilting 1/4" from the edge of my bricks. This line of quilting will be hidden by the binding when we finish the quilt. I just feel better seeing all those edges firmly quilted down!

Quilting 13

And lastly, trim off the edges. This part is so satisfying!  Using your quilting ruler and rotary cutter, trim off the excess batting and backing. It's important to trim until only the quilt top is left (no extra batting/backing showing). It's OK to trim off a little of the quilt top here and there when necessary to make a straight cut.

Here are some pictures of the back of my first Colorbrick quilt.  I hope these pictures of larger sections of the quilting help clarify any lingering questions.


Stairstep Back

Oh my goodness! All we have left is the binding. Whew - two more posts!


  1. Is there anyway that you can post a photo of the whole quilt so that I can see the "bigger picture" of what the quilting will look like? I don't know if that would work or not but thought I would ask...

  2. such great instructions- lots of helpful little tips :)

  3. Aimee, I agree that seeing the whole thing at once would be helpful, but it's surprisingly hard to do that. I guess when I get far enough back to take a big picture you pretty much can't seen where the quilting lines are and where they aren't. I'll update the post with 2 pictures of my first Colorbrick from the back. I think the back is easiest to see from far away.

  4. that really helped Rachel!! I am so visual that I need to really see the finished product before I "get" it...otherwise I second-guess myself the whole time I am sewing and keep thinking "i hope this is right!"

  5. Thanks for the great walkthrough! I have been hand quilting my quilts together, but I am thinking of trying to machine quilt...maybe. I only have a simple plain old sewing machine. Do I need one that has free motion, or would mine work?

  6. Beth,

    For this type of quilting, you don't want to use free motion, since you're going for straight lines. You do want a walking foot though! You should be able to pick up a walking foot attachment for your machine for about $25.

    Good luck!

  7. on a diagonal, you're so smart, now how will I justify buying that long arm machine I've been eyeing? lol.


Related Posts with Thumbnails