Atlas QAL Week 5: Pick Layout & Assemble Rows

Posted by Kit Garcia on

This week we are taking time to pick our layout and sew the rows together. 

Picking The Layout:

I'm not kidding when I say that this is the hardest part.  My original atlas quilt... You remember, The lovely green one?  Well, that layout of the blocks was a total disaster.  I had meant to do an orderly layout, but when some of my blocks were sewn together, the pairs got flipped when I put them into the rows, and the rows got flipped upside down as well... you get it.  The only good news is that I did it consistently and realized about half way through what had happened, so I made it look uniform by continuing the same mistake. 

It is best if you can lay it all out on a design board or flat space and then TAKE A PICTURE!  just in case you need a reference.  Also take this time to play with it;  It really can be such a versatile pattern.  Sometimes when picking a layout I start from the center and work out, or just go one by one rotating as I please.  For this QAL, I didn't want any more mistakes, and also wanted to show how orderly (to contrast the crazy above) it can look so I went with a layout that has straight lines across it.  Here are my rows sewn together:  

Once you've settled on a layout and TAKEN A PICTURE -  (Do it, you will thank me later.) you can start sewing the blocks together

Sew the Rows:

I have to preface this part with a personal story.  I had a friend named Theresa who lived near me when I started quilting.  She never quilted herself, but every time she saw one of my beginning quilts she would compliment my quilt by saying things like, "your points don't line up." or "It's not sewn straight here." or "you turned this corner wrong." (I'm using the term "friend" loosely here).    I would ask her how to fix it, and she would respond, "That's what you have to figure out!"  Knowing she would do this, I became highly aware of my mistakes, and I obsessed over cutting and sewing with the utmost accuracy so that she eventually wouldn't have anything to say.  (I can dream, right?!)  However I never really did "figure it out" no matter how perfectly I did everything.

Well fast forward a few years to a new address, and a new sewing group and suddenly I had a new friend, Kay, who knew how to fix those small mistakes, and who actually taught me how...Which is what I'll show you how to do...

Not every quilt you make has to be done this way, sometimes it's just a quick little project, but on this quilt if you want the path on your quilt to look seamless this is how:

First you'll need to mark the corners on the back of your blocks so that you can start and stop the stitch 1/4" away from the edges. 


I'll show sewing 2 blocks with seams ironed in the same direction, as well as 2 blocks where the seams are ironed in opposite directions.  

Put the 2 blocks you are sewing right sides together and pin them on either side of the seams you want to match up (shown below).  That's literally it!  

Ok, Ok, there is a little more to it...When the seams are ironed in opposite directions you will lock them together where the fabric naturally grooves into the opposite block. (There are lots of tutorials about this online)  Most people will say to simply pin them together, but in all honesty, it's not just one pin you need, it's 2 per seam that you want to line up.  Lastly, you DO NOT pull out the pins before sewing.  Some people sew straight over the pins fearlessly.  I do not.  I go very slowly, and then turning the machine by hand, I'll gently ease the needle over these sections.  I've bent a few pins and broken needles recklessly sewing over everything. On seams that are ironed in the same direction there is no difference to method, only just my advice of being mindful to make sure the lines are lined up while you are pinning.  Once pinned, however, you can proceed slowly sewing over the pins.

On this quilt, remember that your seam will start and stop on those corner markings you made (I used blue thread so you could see it).  Work slowly and intentionally to get those perfectly lined up seams.

You'll notice that I didn't pay as close attention to my pinning for the seams on the second block,  What would Theresa say!?!


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