This is a post about the Paintbox Quilt-Along. Read more about it here.
To make the Paintbox Quilt Top, you'll need your 80 blocks, each squared up to 6.5" x 6.5" and 2 yards of a neutral solid fabric that is at least 42" wide.
If your blocks came out slightly smaller than 6.5", don't worry, but do trim them all to the same size and then trim your Vertical Sashing pieces to fit that size.
The sashing for this quilt is super-simple. We do need to cut along the length (the 72" side) of the fabric though, so you'll need to unfold your yardage and then refold it in the opposite direction, along one of the selvage edges.
Unfold your yardage. Standing up, hold the unfolded fabric with both hands on one selvedge edge (we'll call this the top selvage), allowing the other selvage edge (we'll call this the bottom selvage) to hang to the floor. Bring the cut ends of the top selvage together, folding the entire piece of fabric in half. Hold the fabric up as high as necessary to make sure that the bottom selvedge edge of the folded fabric is also matching up. Fold the fabric in half a second time, continuing to hold the fabric by the top selvedge edge and making sure the bottom selvedge is lining up.
Once the fabric is evenly folded, lay it on your cutting surface, as shown in the above photo, allowing the bottom selvage to hang off the end of the table. (Use weights, if necessary, to keep the fabric from falling off your cutting table.) Trim away the top selvage and cut the fabric into 20 strips 2" x approximately 72" (the length of the fabric).
11 of the long strips are your Horizontal Sashing. From the Remaining 9 strips, cut 90 Vertical Sashing pieces 2" x 6.5".
Sew a piece of Vertical Sashing to the right side of each of your 80 blocks. It may seem strange to do this now, before you've laid out the blocks, but it will save you time in the long run!
Square up each piece of Vertical Sashing, making sure it's 1.75" wide after being sewn to the block. Taking the time to do this will make for more accurately-pieced rows.
Lay out your blocks in an 8 x 10 arrangement, alternating blocks with print and solid outer borders.
You can use any arrangement you like for this. As I was experimenting with different layouts, I found that a) my brown and black blocks were distracting when placed amid other blocks, and b) I had a disproportionately large number of green and blue blocks.
Here's what I did:
- I placed the brown blocks in the top left and bottom left corners and the black blocks in the top right and bottom right corners.
- I then started filling in blocks from each of the corners. I added reds, oranges and yellows to the corners on the left (with the brown blocks) and gray, pinks and violets to the right corners (with the black blocks).
- I then filled in the middle with the green and blue blocks, adding green from the left side and blue from the right.
The following piecing instructions assume a quarter inch seam allowance, with all seams pressed open.
Once you've decided on a layout, stack each row of blocks, keeping them in order from left to right and labeling them by row number if desired.
The Horizontal Sashing strips are longer than the quilt is wide. This is done on purpose to give you more wiggle room when piecing the quilt top. Trim off excess length as you work, but wait until the quilt top is complete before you square up the edges precisely.
I find it easier to line up sashing strips and pin rows together by laying them across the end of a table, as shown in the photo above.
I recommend beginning to line up rows in the center and working outward, rather than starting at one end. If your rows are "off," doing this will spread the wonkiness across the quilt top, rather than making it progressively worse as you move from one side of the quilt top to the other.
Use pins generously to ensure a straight seam, but don't pin blindly. Peek under your work at the edge of each block to make sure that everything is lining up. It's okay if you need to pull and prod a bit in spots to get things just right.
At all points during the piecing of this quilt top, you'll be sewing a pieced block or row to a solid sashing strip (meaning a single piece of fabric with no seams in it). As you sew, always keep the solid piece on the bottom. This will ensure that the seam allowances in your blocks and pieced rows aren't pulled askew by your machine's feed dogs.