After deciding on the design, the colour, and the fabrics, then doing all the cutting, it was time to start putting the main part of the quilt top together.
I stitched a sashing strip to one side of all the squares in a each row (70 squares in total). I chain pieced these so that I kept the squares in each row together, and in the order in my ‘design wall’ photos.
Then I stitched a sashing strip with a ‘key’ square to the adjacent side of 6 of the 7 squares in each row (the last square didn’t get one as I didn’t want the key squares in the border area). I only stitched these sashing/key strips to 9 of the 10 rows — the last row didn’t get them either as I didn’t want the key squares in the border area.
Here’s what one row looked like chained together:
Next, I stitched all squares in a row together, and pressed them alternately — I pressed the seams of the even rows towards the sashing pieces, and pressed the seams of the odd rows away from the sashing pieces (into the square).
Here are all the rows pressed and laid out ready to piece together (notice the use of numbered pins to indicate the rows):
Finally, I stitched the rows together. To avoid warping and skewing, I stitched rows 1 and 2 together in one direction, then row 3 to row 4 in the same direction, then 5 to 6, 7 to 8, and 9 to 10 all in the same direction. After pressing the seams, it was time to join rows 9/10 to rows 7 /8 — this time stitching in the OPPOSITE direction. Likewise, I stitched rows 1/2 to rows 3/4 in the opposite directions, then rows 5/6 to both large pieces.
This ‘stitch in the opposite direction’ was a technique Michelle Pearson (at Handcrafter’s House in Midland, Western Australia) showed me at a quilting workshop a few years ago — it stops large joined pieces from skewing… and it works! One way to know which direction you’ve stitched is to leave a decent amount of thread either at the beginning or end of a stitched row (but NOT at both ends!). I leave the thread at the beginning of my stitching. That way, after I pin the next rows together, I can tell which end to start stitching from (the opposite end is the one without the long threads).
A final press and the main top was all done — the only thing to do was stay stitch about 1/8 inch in from the edges just to hold everything in place as it may be some weeks before I get back to this quilt.