Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Assembling The Top

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Hello again, quilt-alongers – welcome to the last tutorial on your way to a finished quilt top! Eeep!

Hopefully you’ll now have 36 / 144 / some other crazy number trimmed blocks, and you’ll have decided on your layout. If you haven’t played with your layout yet, read on, because this post might help you with that.

OPQA - Assembling the Top

Of course, I’m sure you’re all quilty enough to know that assembling the top is nothing more than sewing all of your blocks together (except for taking care to keep your peels each pointed in the right direction). Most quilts with single, same-sized blocks would be sewn together first in long rows, then each row together. You could totally do that. It would make pressing seams nice and simple (all to the right on Row 1, all to the left on Row 2, etc). But, to keep our peel points meeting nicely, and keeping the focus on the rings (or x’s, depending on the layout you choose!) that the peels create, we’re going to first sew bigger blocks, then join those blocks into blocks, and so on. The risk of the row-by-row system is that a couple of slightly-off seams will shift along the row. For a design like this one, it could get messy.

So instead, we’ll make larger blocks from 4-peel combos. From your layout, take the top left four blocks (the corner four, if that makes sense) and join like so:

OPQA - Assembling the Top

First sew (with a 1/4″ seam and thread to match your backgrounds) the top two, and press seam to the right. Then sew the bottom two, press seam to the left. Then join top to bottom, and you should have a nice peel-y ring (we’ll call them ‘ring blocks’ – or, with the peels meeting in the middle, you could choose to have ‘x-blocks’, that’s totally up to you):

OPQA - Assembling the Top

Note: You’ll notice I haven’t pressed that horizontal seam yet. If you press the vertical seams as above, you’ll always have alternating seams when you join your ring blocks. To make sure my horizontal seams alternate, I’ll hold on pressing them until joining the ring blocks, just to make it easier to keep track of.

Here I interrupt this tutorial to talk about layout for a moment. If you are making a gigantic quilt and deciding on a layout for the whooooole thing out of tiny peels is a little daunting, you could leave it up to chance and first make a stack of random ring blocks, THEN lay THOSE out. This isn’t that helpful for wall quilt makers, there’s just not enough blocks to play with, but could make it a little less crazy for large quilt makers. BUT! If you do that, don’t forget to mind your seams when you lay out the ring blocks!

OPQA - Assembling the Top

Label your first block ‘1’, with a pinned post-it or something, to keep track, and set aside. Repeat for the next four peel blocks, repeat, repeat, repeat.

To assemble the rest of the top, continue in the same exact way, now using four ring blocks to make an, erm, quadruple-ring-block, and so on. For wall quilt makers, your assembly will be a slightly abbreviated version of the same:

OPQA - Assembling the Top

And huzzah, you’re finished with your quilt top! Sit back and admire it for a few minutes. You done good. Lookit all that glorious hand-stitching and all those beautiful fabrics you picked out. I’m so damn proud of you all!

I will post a check-in late next week, to give you all time to work on these steps and myself to catch up (yikes!) and then I hope you’ll show us all your progress then. If you are making this quilt as a holiday gift, you’ll probably want to just get on with the next steps, so go on, get quilting – but pleeeeease stop by next week and show us how it’s going! If you are going to stick with me to the bitter end, we’ll discuss how to progress next week.

Happy assembling – and, as always, shout if you have any questions!

Lots of Dots Halloween Quilt

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

I have to admit, all I want to do right now is sew. Sew at my little Bettie, sew peels by hand, whatever – as long as it’s sewing. I seem to have lost my mojo for pretty much anything else, crafty or otherwise. I guess, for me, right now, sewing is the exact distraction I need.

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

So when a Halloween quilt-along popped up on Instagram back in September, I jumped right in. I had been planning on a Halloween quilt for next year, but I needed a distracting project and the quilt-along was sitting right there, just begging me to join. Also, Halloween is my favorite thing on earth, for realz.

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

I don’t have a lot to share about this project, really – it was straightforward and the pattern, Lots of Dots Quilt by Green Bee Patterns (Alexia Abegg is totally my new quilting crush!) is awesome – easy-to-follow and such a clever design! If you’re afraid of sewing patchwork curves, this is a great one to try out – the blocks are huge, so the curves are nice and wide. I’d never even attempted patchwork circles before, and each one came out perfectly.

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

My only modification was to make nine blocks for a very, very large Halloween throw quilt – 72″ square. Well, really, that’s totally big enough to use on a double bed – it’s the pattern’s twin size but less one row of blocks. It’s just more likely I’d use a throw for Halloween decoration, so the full twin size seemed much too large, but four blocks was definitely too small. Plus, nine of those circles looks lovely, doesn’t it?!

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

I’m absolutely crazy about this finished quilt and the design – I think it says a lot that I never got sick of making these blocks, even though each one is a whole little project on its own. Only by the ninth block was I finally ready to move on, but I totally loved every minute of the process.

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

I cobbled together the back from two large appropriately-colored fabrics from my stash, plus scraps from the front. I love a cobbled-togther back, don’t you?

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

And I used a print from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence for the binding – a piece from my stash that I bought ages ago, just because it would make awesome binding. I love it when a plan comes together.

Halloween Lots of Dots Quilt

I only managed to finish this one the day before Halloween – I think I popped it in the wash on Halloween morning – but I love that I have a snuggly decoration that can come out on October 1st next year. I have to admit, when I first started quilting, I totally didn’t get the idea of a holiday quilt. All that work, just to have it out for a few weeks per year?! But it makes so much sense now – what other holidays can I made quilts for?!?!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Layout + Prepping Blocks

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

As we established yesterday, we (ahem-me-ahem) aren’t all ready to start laying out our blocks just yet. But those that are can start planning their final layout and prepping their blocks for assembly.

We aren’t actually going to discuss layout – that’s totally up to you, of course. My only advice is to just keep playing with them until you’re happy! Depending on how you want to organize the next steps, you may choose to lay out your quilt first, then pile each row up separately and trim from those piles. I myself am working with a million blocks, so it’s probably simpler for me to just trim them all in a big heap, then worry about layout. So have a think about what will work best for you, and when you’re ready, here’s how we’ll trim each block:

First, press each block well, making it all nice and crispy neat.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

Now we’ll actually trim! If you happen to have one or if you decided to splurge (which I did, because jeeeez, 196 blocks, people!), this will be simplest with a 5.5″ square ruler. If you don’t have that exact size, use another ruler that is at least 5.5″ on each side, this will make it easier to trim two sides at a time and properly line up your peel.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

Positioning these blocks for cutting is easy-peasy: just line up the diagonal marking on your square ruler with the points of your peel. You want to place it so that the ruler corners are positioned 1/4″ outside your peel points – this is your 1/4″ seam allowance.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

OPQA - Trimming blocks

You may notice that it’s not exact, and you’ll probably have a seam allowance that is slightly more than 1/4″. It’ll probably be more like 3/8″ if you center your peel along the diagonal of your square ruler. That’s totally ok – I planned that little tiny bit extra in from the beginning. If your peels really went exactly right up to the corner of each block, it’d be really easy to sew over the points if you do not have a precisely perfect 1.4″ seam allowance while sewing the blocks together. And who is really that precise all the time, I ask you?! It’s just a bit of safety space that will not effect the overall look of the peels meeting at their points.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

So, you’ve got your ruler positioned with the diagonal across the point, so trim trim trim! If you have the 5.5″ square ruler, you can trim on all sides at once, taking care to not to let the ruler move as you go. If you have a different size ruler, position the diagonal so that you can do two sides at once, then flip the block and do the same for the other two.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

That’s it! Trim every block in the same way and then come back Friday (the 28th) for tips on assembling the top!

OPQA: Final Check-In

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Ok, guys, it’s the final check-in! (Sorry I’m a day late – I went away for a week and then forgot all about posting, d’oh!) I know some of you are finished with all of your blocks, some are still stitching away – me? I’ve done a lot in the past two weeks, but yikes, there’s still a lot to do!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Final Check-in!

I decided to get crazy and add an extra 50 blocks (yes, an extra FIFTY blocks) to make my quilt 70″ x 70″. Why? Well, it seemed like a good idea to go the extra miles (or FIFTY miles) and end up with a quilt big enough for my bed. So that takes my total to 196 blocks needed. Hmm. Seemed like a good idea when I started?!

Above, you’ll see:

– 84 finished blocks
– 11 pinned, ready-to-stitch blocks
– 51 basted peels

Wowzers, that means I have 112 still to stitch. I repeat: YIKES!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Final Check-in!

There must’ve been a miscount somewhere; I thought I was further. But – I have now cut all of my background squares (including the extra 50 I’ve added) and prepped all the remaining peels (including ironing on freezer paper) – shown above. Although there’s still a lot of blocks to get through, there’s something satisfying about having at least reached a point where what I see, I sew. It was making my head a little chaotic being at so many points in the process at once – cutting, basting, ironing, sewing. Even though there’s still 112 to do, I don’t even have to think about it anymore, I can just stitch stitch stitch.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how to prep your blocks for assembly. In the meantime, tell us how you’re doing!

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Updated Orange Peel Quilt-Along Schedule

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Thank you all for your input on how we want to go forward with our quilt-along! Everyone who commented was fine with adding a couple of weeks to complete our applique work. Ok, some of us (ahem, me) know we might not have all of our peels done by the next tutorial step even with the extra time, but that’s ok, the information will be be there for us when we’re ready!

Here’s an updated schedule for finishing our quilt tops:


November 22: Final Progress Post + Link-Up
November 24: Layout + Prepping Blocks
November 28: Assembling The Top


So we’ll have a last check-in on the 22nd, during which we will hopefully all share a photo of a stack of finished blocks! (Don’t forget to share your progress, guys, that’s half the fun!) Where I originally planned on three tutorials to complete the top, now I think two is plenty. There’s not that much to it, really, just some pointers and tips to share, so I’m not exactly sure why I thought a third was necessary! I’ve got those two planned through the last week of November, so wall-quilt-alongers should be able to have their top finished by the end of the month, if they wanted to. (When I made my own wall quilt, prepping and sewing the top took me about two days.) Full-sized-quilt-alongers might have to put in a little more time to finish their tops, but that still gives you several weeks before the holidays to finish, if that’s an issue.

Just a note: as we talked about at the beginning of this quilt-along, for now I’m only planning tutorials to get you all a finished top. A lot of you will have plenty of quilting experience to just finish on your own with your own preferred basting / quilting / binding methods. Some of you may want to continue this as a group and have me show you all the steps to a finished quilt. If you want that, I’d be happy to do it, so let’s all weigh in again about the next steps once we have finished tops!

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