Orange Peel Quilt-Along

OPQA: Tips for Assembling The Top!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Hey, remaining quilt-alongers! How are you doing with your quilt tops??? I’m sorry I left you hanging for a while – we had another loss at Christmastime when our gorgeous and funny Mr. Winston got suddenly very sick and then passed away. Sigh. I miss him so much.

So I didn’t get much / any peel stitching done over the holidays, and since then I’ve been trying to catch up. I’ve now finished hand-stitching ALL ONE-HUNDRED-AND-NINETY-SIX PEELS. Yeah, boi. And you know what? I totally miss them. I’ve gotten so used to them as my evening project, I don’t quite know what to do with myself now! I’ll catch up on some knitting projects I’ve been wanting to do, but then I have another idea for a hand-stitching project – but more on that in time.

Anyway, so my peels are all stitched, and trimmed (oh, the humanity. That was definitely the crummy part of this project – though I didn’t help myself by powering through it and trimming them all in two afternoons):

OPQA: Tips

(The photos in this post are mostly from Instagram, where I’ve been posting as I work, with a few unedited ones in between. I’m sorry they’re not the best, but I’ve been sewing at night and taking quick snaps as I go.)

Now I’m working on assembling the top, and as I work, I’ve noticed a few things that might be helpful to share, for anyone still to assemble theirs. This is how I’ve gone about mine:

First, I laid out piles on the table, based on peel fabric. (You could do it with background fabric too, I suppose, it depends on your selection, really.)

OPQA Tips

From those piles, I made pairs of peels, as randomly as I could, trying not to repeat pairs too often and keeping directionality of print in mind (where applicable). Once I had a massive stack of pairs, I chain pieced them, which saves both time and thread. If you aren’t familiar with chain piecing, it just means you feed one pair of fabrics in one after the other, without removing the fabric or trimming the thread. They will be all sewn together in a ‘chain’ when you’ve finished, then you can clip them apart. It’s pretty awesome.

One note about sewing your peels: I don’t have a walking foot on my Featherweight and sometimes she wanted to swerve around the peel corner bumps (this will totally make sense when you sew them, I swear), making my seam wonky. If you have a walking foot on your machine, this probably won’t be a problem. To adjust for this with Bettie, I raised the foot pressure just a touch, and added a little pressure from the side as I got to that point in each block –

OPQA Tips

– to make sure she took that little step up over the thicker area. Again, I know this won’t make so much sense now, but I’m sure it will once you start joining your peels.

When I had a stack of peel pairs, I divided them into pairs containing a directional print, and pairs without. This might not be an issue for your fabrics, but I had quite a few that would look silly upside down. I matched directional pairs (right, below) to non-directional pairs (left):

OPQA Tips

And then set the pairs aside with a pin in them. Once I had a stack of matched pairs (aka soon-to-be ring blocks), I pressed the seams of each match like so: seam of top pair pressed to the right, seam of top pair pressed to the left. Then chain pieced those pairs, same as before …

OPQA Tips

… which left me with a stack of ring blocks!

At that point, I could have finally laid them all out and placed them just so, but two things stopped me. First, I would seriously have to move a lot of furniture to lay out a top this big – I wan’t prepared to do that last night, but I wanted to keep sewing!

Second, I wondered what I would really gain by nitpicking over the layout at that level. Yeah, I might’ve made it perfect – but I’m trying to question what ‘perfect’ really means in this context. Who says a layout obsessed over will really end up more ‘perfect’ than a random one? Maybe it’ll be exactly the same. Or maybe it’ll look overworked and less interesting! Mom was always trying to teach me this, but I think it’s just something that has to come on its own with your own confidence in your craft. But that’s probably a post for another day – the point is, I decided to just wing it and see what happens! Of course, my quilt is so large, it’d be so difficult to really fine-tune so many peels into a ‘perfect’ layout. It was always going to be pretty random. And I only have two colors, so I don’t need to worry about creating a balance in that way – depending on your fabrics and quilt size, you may really need to have a look before you start putting them together.

OPQA Tips

Anyway, so now I’m putting together quadruple-ring-blocks. :) Then I’ll lay them out. I ordered my batting from Doughty’s today, so that should get here just as I’m finishing up. I’ll share more about how I baste quilts as soon as I get there!

How’s your quilt going? These are just tips and whatnot, so I won’t add a link-up, but let us know in the comments!

Orange Peel Progress: 73 To Go!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Hello there quilt-alongers! It took me a little longer than expected to get to a new progress update, but here I am – and I finally feel like I have made progress worth showing off!

OPQA - Progress Update!

Ok, I’m not finished, and I haven’t trimmed any blocks or sewn anything together. BUT! I have completed all cutting, basting, prepping and pinning! The left pile above is completed peels blocks, the right (smaller!) pile is all remaining blocks, ready and waiting for stitching.

OPQA - Progress Update!

And the numbers? 123 blocks completed, 73 to go! Woohoo! Progress had definitely slowed over the past few weeks, because I was busy with swap and Secret Santa packages. But those are now sent off (more on those soon!) and I have made a lot of progress since. I know 73 sounds like a lot still to stitch, but I got about 28 blocks done just in the last few days. I’m pretty excited about seeing the finish line on these and getting to the next step – not that I’m tired of them! I don’t understand how I can keep making these peels and never, ever get sick of them. They’re magical.

Anyway – I assume that anyone wanting to move forward with their projects, as gifts or to just get them done, is doing so (please show us in the link-up below!) and the rest of us are still stitchin’ away. For anyone who would like me to continue through the entire process, right down to the binding: how should we proceed? I’m sure a lot of us are stuck head-first into a pile of holiday crafting now, and I doubt we’re really going to have a lot of time to dedicate to this project until that’s done – am I right about that? I suggest we keep stitching – this will be a lovely project to snuggle up with over the holidays, dontcha think?, with the goal of all having a finished quilt top when we meet back here after the holidays.

Sound good?

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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!

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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