Charm Squares Baby Quilts – Piecing advice

Charm Squares Baby Quilt with wallpaper marigold - Charm lines done

Quilt for E – Result of yesterday’s piecing and today’s pressing

Since the Charm Squares Baby Quilt is a perfect choice for a first quilt, I’m going to give a tip for piecing the whole and half charm squares. Elizabeth Hartman has written the instruction out of the idea that additional information is to be looked for elsewhere, her blog mainly, and since I just pieced these charm rows yesterday, here are my two cents.

Lots of time will be saved if you chain piece, meaning once two pieces of fabrics have been sewn together, you don’t break the thread, but lift the presser foot, place the next two pieces underneath and put the foot back in down position, then sew. A chain of pieces will form and you can sew a huge number together before breaking the thread. Then clip away with your scissors!

You don’t necessarily need to pin anything, because these lengths are short, five inches only, and fabric tends to stick together. I was really sceptical until I tried it, so go see for yourself! I was also taught to end a seam with a knot, but it’s not done in patchwork like this; yet another reason why chain piecing works like a charm (ha, pun intended).

And a bit about the order of piecing:

  • Start by chain piecing the first pairs of fabrics of the uppermost charm line, then break the thread. You could of course chain piece all pairs of the whole quilt, but it might be confusing and especially if you’re using directional prints like my robots you want to keep things organised.
  • Once the pairs of the first row have been created (five pairs out of ten pieces) and you’ve cut the thread, open up the five “books” and place them in the correct order. This is where things get interesting, because I’ll advise you to start your next chain piecing from the end of the row, with the two last pairs (my (half robot + whole wallpaper marigold) and (half darker red + whole stripes)).
  • If you don’t do this, you’ll break the thread (use more of expensive thread and create more work too) more than necessary, because the pairs aren’t even numbered. Regardless of order, you’ll create two pieces of two pairs each and a single pair, so the single pair has to be attached to one of the two larger pieces before the last stage can happen, where the final seam is created.
  • If you choose to start from the end, you will sew the two last pairs together, then the two first pairs (my (half donut + whole robot) and (half wallpaper marigold + whole darker red)), then clip the thread in between and sew the middle lonely rider to the front of the component from the end (my (half stripes + whole donuts) to the (half robot + whole wallpaper marigold + half darker red + whole stripes). Then you break the thread and sew the first chunk ending with a whole dark red to the second chunk starting with a half stripe, which creates a full row.

It sounds more difficult than it is, but keep your guide of fabric selections next to the sewing machine and try this method. It will help you think ahead, train efficiency and also see what belongs where even when pieces are still not sewn together. If you prefer to break the thread, then do so (and maybe try this on the second row), as long as you think it’s fun.


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