I feel so much better! I was finally able to get into the studio and play. And my playing consisted of starting the quilting on my 1930’s Courthouse Steps variation. And, as I promised, I took photos of each step and have a tutorial ready for everyone!
Here it is (warning, there are a lot of photos):
First step is to prepare your blocks. I am only using two blocks for the tutorial. Here they are layered and pinned, ready for quilting.
Quilt your block as desired. I chose a spiral pattern. With this method you can quilt all the way to the edges of your block, so I filled the entire block with the spiral.
After the blocks are quilted, trim them to size. You need to have your blocks all the same size. Also, since the sashing strips that hold the blocks together do not cut off the seam allowance, bear in mind that the size of the sewn block is the finished size of the block. ie: a 12″ finished block actually measures 12 1/2″. So, with this method the blocks will finish at 12 1/2″. For large blocks on a queen size quilt this isn’t a big deal. But, if you have small blocks for a large quilt, it can easily make it many inches bigger than you might have planned.
Cut strips for the sashing. For the front sashing you need to cut 1 1/4″ strips. For the back sashing you need to cut 1 3/4″ strips. My front sashing is in white to blend in with the blocks. For this particular project I do not want the sashing on the front to stand out. I decided to use up the leftover strips from making the blocks for the back sashing. So the back of my quilt will have a multi-color grid of thin strips connecting white blocks.
Press the 1 3/4″ strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.
Now you need to layer your block with the 1 1/4″ strip on the front of the block and the 1 3/4″ strip on the back of the block. Be sure to match the raw edges of the folded strip to the raw edge of the block. Sew a 1/4″ seam.
Take the next block and line it up with the edge of the front sashing strip only. Keep the back sashing strip out of the way. Sew a 1/4″ seam.
On the back, fold the sashing strip over to just past the seam line and hand sew the sashing. I find it best to fold the block down to just above where I am sewing, so that I can grasp the fabric easily. be careful when sewing to NOT sew through to the front – only catch the backing fabric in your stitches. If you are confident in your ability to machine stitch very straight, or you are pressed for time, you can machine sew the back sashing down (which will, of course, show on the front of the quilt) You would have the problem of fitting it through your sewing machine, if it is a big quilt, but you only have to sew a straight stitch so it’s not as difficult as doing the actual quilting on a big quilt.
The finished sashing on the front.
The finished sashing on the back.
I hope you can understand how this works. I’ve made a number of quilts this way and they turn out really well.