Print and Pattern · Quilting

Sometimes I do Things the Hard Way. 

It is how we learn best. We get more out of doing something the hard way rather than the easy way or short cuts. Not to say that short cuts aren’t smart. My point is, I am pretty much a self-taught quilter. I haven’t taken any classes, I haven’t watched any YouTube channels, all I’ve had are a few bits of people tell me how to do things. 
Today I learned A LOT. I’m working on my Farm Fresh Table Runner, and I began sewing the checkerboard border. Wow. I was doing it the LONG way. I literally cut 144 white and black 1.5″ x 1.5″ squares, and began sewing lengthwise (36 squares).


At this point, I’ve alternated every other and made 2 rows of 36. I proceeded to iron the seams so that the rows lay flat, and then my next step would be to sew both rows together so they create a checkerboard pattern. And that is what I did. 


It’s tricky that way, though. I’m dealing with having to match up 36 alternate squares and hope one isn’t longer than the other. There were some trouble areas, but in the end they matched up, and it really didn’t turn out so bad.


I was informed by a 40-year quilt master of an easier way to do this. Take 2 long strips of the white and black at 1.5″ and sew them lengthwise, THEN cut them into 36 little rows and piece them like that. Haha, I laughed at how much more work I was doing, then decided to try it that way and see the differences in the outcome.


The LEFT checkerboard piece is the one I sewed all lengthwise. The RIGHT checkerboard piece is the one I sewed with columns. This looks better and saved a lot of time, for a few reasons. Instead of dealing with 56″ of trying to match up tiny corners, I was only matching up 2.5″ doing things in columns. 

Next, I started the body of the table runner, and realized yet again, that I am doing far too much work. The pattern pieces can be made to twice their current size, which will in-turn show more of each pattern, give me the effect in look I was going for, and probably be easier to sew altogether. I love learning. 🙂 But I also love a challenge, and challenge I have given myself.


This little tid-bit of information opened my eyes to quite a few things I have made more difficult for myself, sewing-wise. But now, I see the light! And am excited for my future postage-stamp quilt that I hope to one day make.I can’t wait to see the outcome! Until then, I will re-draw my pattern so it makes more sense to piece, and then begin from there. The other issue with cutting such small pieces as I have already done, is that it cuts down the patterns of the fabric, and you don’t get to enjoy what the fabric has to show. My little tid-bit of advice is to always write things down and note what you’ve learned. I’m not saying I do it great or best, but here’s a little insight to my project notebook:


Stay tuned for more progress!

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8 thoughts on “Sometimes I do Things the Hard Way. 

  1. I’ve been quilting for almost 13 years, and I would cut individual pieces. So don’t feel bad for choosing that! Why would I? Because after all this time, my seams are pretty accurate, so matching up after the fact isn’t usually a problem. Also, I don’t like cross-cutting pieced units. Though I do sometimes depending on the task, it generally isn’t my first choice.

    One piece of advice for when you sew 2 strips together and then cross-cut: cut your strips along the selvage. They are substantially more stable that way, so your pieced strip will warp less.

    Have fun!

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    1. That is great advice! I will be noting that in my notebook! Your confidence in your piecing is pretty awesome. I feel the same, for i feel my sewing and accuracy skills are on point the good majority of the time. I think I enjoy the more tedious tasks because in the end it feels more satisfying to step back and look at it and say “I sewed ALL of that.” 🙂

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    1. Yeah! Blows my mind now how I never thought about it. I did a quilt back in 2011, and I had soooo many small pieces. It was a 9-patch, twin sized (with a border) and took me 6 seasons of “The Office” and a few movies to sew! 😆

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m trying to work on documenting my processes better for my benefit and for the benefit of others in the hopes that I can help people learn!

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  2. Yes, as mentioned above, there are good reasons to strip sew and then cut. Bargello is one of them. Lone Star quilts or other joined-diamonds is another. I recently finished a quilt of 60-degree diamonds. I used alternating diamond blocks that were constructed of 9-patches and 4-patches (all cut diamond shaped). It was easier in some ways to do them as strips and then cut the angle. (There are drawbacks to this, too.) Also in the past year I made a Ricky Tims kaleidoscope quilt, and that uses strip sets, too.

    So I guess my best advice is to use whatever method works best for you. It does help, as I said before, to cut strips along the selvage. (I do for any cutting, whenever I can.) Instructions rarely recommend this but use WOF. I have not figured out why, other than that yardage is easier to calculate!

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