Sew Let's Quilt Along: Sewing Machine

Sew Let’s Quilt Along has started! It’s a free, sewing-themed mystery quilt along, and I’m so excited to share our first block with you. If you missed the intro, you can get all of the details here. I also have a handy dandy quilt along page with links to each block as it comes out.

Our very first block is a sewing machine! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there’s any better way to kick off a sewing-themed quilt along than with a sewing machine. And Sandra did a fabulous job designing this one. She even included embroidered details to make it look more realistic, but I opted to leave those off of my block.

Head on over to Sandra’s post to get the pattern. All of our block patterns will be free until the quilt along ends on September 24, 2019.

Getting Started

Choosing Fabrics

I always think choosing fabrics is one of the hardest parts of making a block, so I was excited when my choices came together pretty easily this time. I started with the machine and table fabrics. Since there’s so much fabric in the machine, I wanted something with a lot of movement and variation of colors. Once I had that, I wanted a lighter fabric for the panel. From there, it was easy to find fabrics that went with the rest. Since the spools are so small, I was able to use some of my extra tiny scraps!

Helpful Supplies

The right tools make everything so much easier. Since some of the pieces in this block are pretty small, I heavily starched all of my fabrics with unscented Best Press before cutting. I used small office labels to keep track of my pieces, and a Sewline ceramic pencil to draw the lines on the stitch-and-flip squares. Finally, I pulled out my pack of Steam-A-Seam for fusing the knob on the machine. This was my first time using Steam-A-Seam, and I think I’ve been converted. It was so much easier to work with than Heat-N-Bond.

Piecing Tips

Seam Test

Any time a block has different sized pieces coming together, it’s essential to test your seam allowance. It’s the only way you can be sure everything will fit together nicely and your block will come out at just the right size.

To test your seam allowance, cut two 2" squares and sew them together. Press as desired, and measure the resulting rectangle. The rectangle should be 3 1/2" long. If your rectangle is shorter, you need a narrower seam allowance. If your rectangle is longer, you need a wider seam allowance. Adjust your seam and try again. Once the rectangle is exactly 3 1/2" long, you're good to go.

Stitch Length

Some of the pieces in this block are only 1 1/4" square. To keep those short seams from pulling apart, I recommend using a pretty short stitch length. I set the stitch length on my Viking to 2.0, which is about 16 stitches per inch.


As I was cutting, I labeled each piece with its letter or number from the pattern. That made it so easy to be sure I picked up the right pieces when it was time to sew! To make sure nothing got lost, I arranged all of my cut pieces on a baking tray. I inherited this tray from my grandma, and it lives in my sewing room for just this purpose.

Stitch and Flip Corners

My favorite tool for drawing the diagonal lines is a Sewline ceramic pencil. They come in several colors, but I just bought one pencil and change out the lead as needed.

The secret to making a successful stitch and flip corner is to stitch just outside of the drawn line. The line you drew isn't the stitching line - it's actually where the fabric needs to fold! By stitching just outside of the line, you give yourself the extra fabric you need to reach all the way to the corner when you flip it over.

Just to be safe, I always test to make sure my corner is covered before I cut away the excess fabric from the back.


I generally avoid pinning, but some of the seams in this block are pretty long! I find that pinning long seams makes a huge difference in my finished block.


You can press the seams in this block any way you would like, whether that’s open or to the side. Since I prefer to press to the side, I put a little bit of thought into the best way to press all of the seams. If you would like to press the same way I did, here’s a diagram.

And here’s a peak behind the seams. I was pleased that everything laid so nice!

Applique Tips

Avoiding Stiffness

Before I fuse the Steam-A-Seam to my fabric, I like to cut out the centers about 1/2” from the edge. This helps keep the applique from getting too stiff. Sometimes I will nest pieces inside each other to save on fusible, but these circles were a bit too close in size for that.

Here’s a look after fusing. I make sure my fabric is a little bit bigger than the fusible web so I don’t end up with any sticky residue on my ironing board.

Fusing the Knob

I found it easiest to fuse the center onto the knob before moving it to the block. That way I could deal with the whole knob as a single piece.

Peeling the Paper

Sometimes I find it pretty challenging to get the paper to peel off. If you score it with a pin, it makes it so much easier to get started!

Centering the Knob

I wanted my knob to be centered horizontally on my sewing machine. I pulled out an acrylic ruler and lined it up with the center of the knob. I played with the placement until I was happy, then fused it in place.

Secure with Stitching

It’s important to stitch around your applique so you can be sure it will stand the test of time. You can use any stitch you would like. Zigzags and blanket stitches are both popular options. Personally, I went for a simple straight stitch just inside the edge.

For best results, choose a thread that blends. I used Aurifil 1148 Light Jade in the blue, and Aurifil 1147 Light Leaf Green in the green. I used needle down option on my machine and went slowly. I frequently lifted the presser foot to adjust the fabric in order to keep the stitching going nicely along the round edges. If you’re nervous about this part, just take your time. It’s easier than it looks.

A Fleet of Sewing Machines

We have nine hosts for segment one, and we all made our very own sewing machine blocks. Be sure to visit all of the lovely ladies below for more tips and inspiration. If you like what you see, leave a comment! We all love a bit of encouragement from our fellow quilters.


We will have a prize package at the end of every segment, as well as a grand prize at the end of the quilt along. The prizes are open to all participants that are at least 18 years old. If you don’t remember what I mean by segment, check out the intro post for a refresher on how this quilt along is structured.

How to Enter

To be eligible to win a segment prize, you need to make all of the blocks from that segment. Share a photo or photos of your blocks (in a single post) to be entered.

For segment 1, entries will be open from 12:00 am May 7 to 11:59 pm May 20, 2019 (Eastern time). There are three places you can share your blocks to be entered in the drawing:

Segment 1 Prize Package

We have a wonderful array of prizes for each segment! Here’s the prize package for segment 1:

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Grand Prize

To be eligible to win the grand prize, you need to make all 13 blocks from the whole quilt along and turn them into a quilt or other project(s). Quilt tops don’t need to be quilted, but projects do need to be finished. Share a single post that shows all of the blocks in a quilt or project. It doesn’t matter how many projects or what projects you make, or how many blocks you use in each project as long as you show that you’ve used all 13 blocks in a finished project or projects.

Important Note

To keep the contest portion of the quilt-along fair and fun for everyone, only quilters that use all of the designers' blocks [in a quilt or project(s)] will be eligible for the grand prize. Likewise, our segment prizes will only be open to those that make all of the designers’ blocks for that segment.

Fabulous Sponsors

We are really lucky to have some amazing sponsors on board for this quilt along! Please check them out as thanks for supporting us. Bluprint, Dear Stella, Everything Mary, Island Batik, Paintbrush Studio Fabrics, Prym, Shabby Fabrics, Timeless Treasures, Warm Company Additionally, many of the block designers are donating their quilt patterns.

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Time to Sew!

I hope you’re excited about this week’s block! I certainly can’t wait to see everyone’s sewing machines. Please remember to share your pictures so we can all cheer each other on. You can share in the Partners in Design Facebook group, or on Instagram with the hashtag #SewLetsQAL.

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