In classes, I teach a step about how to put together sewn blocks. Initially, this was called "making a spiderweb" because that's what it looks like. Landauer suggested spiderweb wasn't such a pretty word, so it was shortened to "web." For the book, I sewed samples and we photographed the web-making process. Then, editors decided not to include it in the book because it was too difficult to see!
So after being asked several times for a tutorial on this (thanks Des Moines MQGer's), that's what you're getting.
In a nutshell, making a Web is a process for:
- keeping blocks organized just the way you laid them out;
- and, economizing on time and thread to put together a quilt top.
For this tutorial, I prepared 6-1/2" X 6-1/2" (unfinished) blocks to make a 36" X 48" baby quilt for Project Linus.
Eight blocks running vertically are in columns - column A; column B; column C; and so on.
Six blocks running horizontally are in rows - row 1; row 2; row 3; and so on.
Remember this by thinking of an electronic spreadsheet with alphabetical columns and numbered rows.
Until you get the hang of columns and rows, it's helpful to use flat-head flower head pins, or sticky notes to remind you of positions.
You don't need to do both. Just mark according to your preference.
Sew a Web
Place blocks in column B, right sides together, on blocks in column A, as shown in this photo.
Row 1 column B block is right sides together on row 1 column A block; row 2 column B block is right sides together on row 2 column B block, and so on.
After putting block pairs together, pick up pairs keeping row 1 on top, followed by row 2, row 3, and so on. If you've used a pin at the top of the block, this will be a reminder that, "I'm the first pair of blocks." Otherwise, you can pin your sticky note to the top block.
Take the stack to your sewing machine, keeping the pin on top. Sew together A-B from row 1.
Without cutting threads, feed A-B row 2 under the needle. This is called chain-piecing, or chaining.
This is what the thread looks like between blocks.
Continue chaining together all A-B blocks through the last row. For my quilt, this was eight pairs of A-B blocks.
Here, the A-B pairs are sewn and back on the design wall, ready for the next step. Only the chaining thread between each row is keeping them together.
The next step follows, but please read ahead before continuing.
Place column C blocks - right sides together - onto column B blocks.
Here, each row of column C blocks are, right sides together, on top of column B blocks.
At this point, you are probably noticing that this will be awkward to take to the sewing machine. It's necessary to explain it this way so you can understand why it's better to do the follow:
Simply pick up and make a stack of every row of column C. Keep row 1 on top, followed by row 2, row 3 and so on. Take the column C stack to the sewing machine.
As when sewing together columns A-B, join column C to column B. Chain-piece together each row of column B-C blocks.
I bet you have this figured out now, so it won't be a surprise to know that you'll continue putting your top together by stacking column D and sewing it to column C; stacking column E and sewing it to column D, and so on.
And if you've got it down pat, you can stack and line-up all the columns. No hopping up and down from the machine to the design wall and back again.
When you've sewn together all the columns you've got a Web! Yay for you!
I pinned my Web to the design wall so you could see what it looks like. Every block is where it's supposed to be, with columns joined to one another and "Webs" connecting each row.
|A big picture, to see those connecting chain threads.|
The first time pressing is needed is now. With the back facing up, press seam allowances one direction in each row. It doesn't matter which direction you press, only that each row alternates direction.
Here's a close-up of seam allowances going opposite directions, and chaining separating rows.
This step can be done at your sewing machine, but for purposes of explanation, I put my Webbed quilt on the design wall.
With the quilt facing up, lay row 1 on top of row 2, right sides together.
If you're a person who likes to pin, feel free to do so.
When pinning at seam allowance intersections, do not pin through the seam. Doing so only pushes apart the accurate intersection we're aiming for. Instead, butt together the seam allowances and pin on both sides of it.
This is what you're striving for. A tight joining - also called "nesting" - with seam allowances aiming opposite directions.
Sew to join row 1 to row 2, backstitching at the beginning and end of the row.
Still with the quilt facing up, place row 2, right sides together, on top of row 3. Pin if desired. Sew to join row 2 to row 3, backstitching at the beginning and end.
Another nested and pinned intersection.
Continue in this manner, sewing row 3 to row 4, row 4 to row 5, and so on, to complete your quilt top!
Final PressingPress row seam allowances one direction. Whether you choose to press them up or down doesn't matter.
My completed quilt top didn't take long to sew together, and more importantly, none of the blocks got turned the wrong direction.
|36-1/2" X 48-1/2"|