Monday, January 6, 2014

Book It - Aha! Moment Tip #1

I'm putting my Turning Twenty quilt top together using this "Book It" method I learned many years ago from Judy Villett, (not sure if "book it" is her terminology or mine) when I took her Shady Corner Watercolour Class at Earthly Goods.  It works on any quilt, no matter how big or small, that has a grid pattern.  I've shown several people, and every single one of them loves it.  I have just had a revelation: my next 3 posts will all be about that very thing:  revelation!  Or "It changed my life!" Methods I have learned throughout my years of quilting that have changed my quilting life. 

I've been saying I'm going to make a little quiltlet to put over the back of my husband's much-loved Poang from Ikea, to save on the headrest area that shows dirt so easily.  Well, here is the perfect opportunity, so I can show in miniature what I'm doing with 16" blocks for Turning Twenty.

Here is the quiltlet.  I basically need about a 12X18 rectangle.  I remembered the Meals on Wheels placemats I'd made, so thought I'd use leftovers from Turning Twenty.

Step 1
Fold each of the blocks from row 2 face down onto its partner block beside it from row 1.  Then pick up each pair of blocks in this column beginning with the pair in row 1, and stack that pair on top of the pair from row 2.  Pick up these 2 pairs now, and stack them on top of the pair in row 3, and so on until you have all of the paired blocks in a stack with the row 1 pair on top.
Step 2
Pick up the stack of pairs from the top edge, keeping your hand oriented the way I have mine, and carry it over to your machine, placing it to the left of the needle in exactly this orientation.  You want to be sure to sew the correct edges of each pair/"book" together.

Step 3
Take the top pair off the stack and sew them together, leaving a nice tail of thread, as you see below. This tells you that is the top of the column, and therefore the top of your quilt.  Chain sew the pairs in the entire column, without breaking your thread until you are done.

Put that column back on your design wall, and repeat the process with Column 2.  For a bigger quilt, label column 1 with a small piece of masking tape (but don't iron it!) on the first pair or "book" so the columns will remain in correct order even if they fall off your design wall. . . yes I speak from experience!  I've also labelled the columns with a Pigma Micron pen in the seam allowance.

Keep working your way across the entire quilt, being sure to label each column as you finish it:

Step 4
Take column 1 to the ironing board and lay it down flipping the little books from one side to the other.  Press the seams to warm them.
Step 5
I like to begin at the bottom, opening up each little book, and pressing it.  Because you've alternated sides, the seams will be pressed in each row of the column in opposite direction to the row above and/or below it!  This will make the seams nest together snugly.

Hang all your columns back up on your design wall.

Step 6
Take the first column to the sewing machine, and sew row 1 to row 2, and then row 1/2 to row 3, etc. until you have the entire column sewn together.  Press the seams all in one direction.  The seams will abut perfectly.  I did not pin one of these and they came out pretty much perfect.  Notice the tail of thread?  That reminds me that is the top of the column.  Very important!  Sew all of your columns in this way.
Pressing tip! Press the seams of column 1 and 3 down, and press the seams of columns 2 and 4 up.  This will make the nesting of these vertical seams a snap!

Step 7
Here is my quiltlet with all four columns sewn and pressed.  You can see that columns 1 and 3 have seams pressed down while 2 and 4 are up.  Again, this applies to any size blocks.  My Turning Twenty blocks are 16" finished and I am doing this exact method for the 20 blocks.  They just take a little more room on the ironing board, lol.
Ta da!  I will probably put a small border on it, and then use the backing-as-binding method to bind it.
Hope this little tutorial will help tackle with ease the final stages of quilt construction.  If you have any questions or comments please leave a comment and I will get right back to you.  My apologies for the wonky picture layout, but I moved two pictures which had uploaded in the wrong order, and they decided to right align or left align themselves, and if I tried to put the picture back in the centre, it went back to the original wrong order.  I'm still on a learning curve for formatting here!


  1. Wow, I'm lost.
    That's from a non-quilter, so it's ok.
    And no surprise, considering its source. LOL

  2. Cool Sandra! I'm going to have to give this a try. I do something similar, except never thought to leave the chain's attached before sewing the columns together. Your way must do a better job of keeping the squares from ending up out of order. Thanks for the tute!

  3. That’s great Sandra! I use chain stitching but as I’m still quite new to quilting I hadn’t thought of piecing this way. You certainly make it look a lot easier. Thank you!
    Barbara x

  4. Wall-mounted ironing boards are strong and sturdy, and can be swiveled out at any angle into the most convenient position for ironing. iron table


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