Most non quilting people think quilters are patient. That couldn't be farther from the truth. As a quilter I know just how impatient I and other quilters can be. I mean really lets be honest. Almost all of us have a drawer stuffed full of UFO's or WIP. Why does this happen? Could it be we lack patience? Well of course! We can't wait to start the next project. We will give excuses for our lack of commitment to a project. But really it all boils down to we don't have the patience to stay with that project from start to finish without interruptions. You can deny it if you want, but you know deep down in your heart I'm right. To me the ultimate patient quilter owns no rotary cutter or mat. Their sewing machines are used only when an emergency mending is needed. They don't keep count of how many quilts they made this year. From start to finish these quilters take their time and use only the basic of tools.
The rest of us however use every trick, tool and tip to get us to finish line as quickly as possible due to our lack of patience and still have UFO's hidden away. It's hard to admit, I know. Sure you're going to kid yourself by saying things like "work smart, not hard". But to the ultimate quilter it's not hard to use the old fashion methods. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with quick tips and tricks, I quilt by them everyday. One of my favorite fast quilt making tips is assembly line sewing, speed piecing or chain piecing. The discovery of this magical technique many years ago changed my quilting world. I use it to make almost all my quilts. We have become so accustomed to the tricks that we forget the newer quilters have no clue what we are talking about. This very thing became apparent to me last week when quilting with my friend Judy. She's fairly new to quilting but has be sewing for years. As we quilted together and discussed many things, she brought it to my attention that she felt many quilt patterns are written with the experienced quilter in mind. How very true. Even I will add to my patterns "Basic quilting knowledge is required".
With that being said I thought it would be a good idea to share my current quilt and the assembly line sewing I used to make the quilt go together super quick. Most of the time setting up for assembly line sewing takes very little extra effort. This quilt however took a bit more since it's scrappy. I needed to lay out all the pieces to make sure no two fabrics touched. How much extra time? About an hours worth of work putting the pieces on the design boards. (click here for design board tutorial) Not all speed piecing requires design boards. The blue fabrics below are an example. In the video at the bottom of this post you will see examples of the two types of speed piecing mention, with boards and with out.
Speed piecing is a game changer once you get the rhythm down. I'll admit it, the first few attempts at this years ago I failed miserably. The seam ripper and I became best buddies. But like with anything, the more you do it the better you get. My advice to anyone trying this for the first time is to take it slow and talk yourself through it so you don't need to break out the seam ripper. Making super scrappy quilts also helps because no one will now if you didn't use the fabrics as they were planned. As long as the same two fabric don't touch it's sewn correctly! The idea is to cut your thread as little as possible, just keep feeding the fabrics through your machine until you have no more fabric.
There's also a technique called webbing quilt blocks where you don't cut the threads in between the pieces. I used this method when making my Podunk Posy quilt. (all links to the Podunk Posy FREE pattern can be found here) Cutting the threads in between isn't necessary if you are pressing the seams to the side. This also keeps your blocks together with no fear of getting the patchwork out of order. Not cutting threads is also a real time saver. Not all blocks can be done this way but most can. However if you will be pressing your seams open I don't suggest this method, it's easier to cut the threads as you go.
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