Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tutorial: Piecing with Fusible Interfacing


Welcome to the Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along & Block of the Month (BOM) club!  We're so excited that you're joining us over the next 12 months to make this AWESOME quilt!

Our quilt, finishing at 82" x 100", is constructed with over 5,500 tiny squares, most finishing at 1".  Don't let that turn you off, though!  We'll be piecing using Fusible Interfacing.

Credit for this genius method of piecing belongs to Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!  You can view her original tutorial here.

A Word about Fabric Choices:

While the Fusible Interfacing piecing method is an amazingly quick way to accurately piece together hundreds of tiny squares, you'll be using your iron a lot.  Be sure to select quilt shop quality fabrics for your project.

With a large quilt like this, it might be tempting to use cheaper, chain-store fabric to cut costs a bit ... but those fabrics are cheap for a reason!  They're more likely to bleed, distort, scorch and shrink significantly, even with a lower-heat iron.

We've chosen to use Moda's Bella Solids in our quilt kits.  You can find the color chart for our kits here

Other great solid lines are Connecting Thread's Quilter's Candy Solids and Robert Kaufman's Kona Cotton Solids.

How Our Patterns Work:

Patterns for each of the blocks will be available on the Mario Quilt Along & BOM Information Page.  Each pattern will provide a cutting list for the fabric squares and for the fusible interfacing.  As the interfacing only comes in a 20" width, we've provided grids on the pattern to show you how to divide up the backing for each block.

Gather Your Materials:

For piecing using the Fusible Interfacing method, you'll need:
  • Fabric Squares as directed by the pattern
  • Fusible Interfacing - we like Pellon 906F or P44F
  • Cutting Mat, Rotary Ruler (18" or longer), Rotary Cutter or Small, Very Sharp Scissors, Pencil or Fabric Pen
  • Iron and Ironing Surface (18" or wider makes the process much easier!)

Mis En Place:

1.  Square up and press your fabric.
Note: Pre-washing your fabric is a personal choice.  We chose not to, opting to use a "color-catcher" with the quilt's first washing instead.  We do highly recommend starching your fabric with the first pressing, however.  This gives you nice crisp fabric to work with.
2.  Cut out your fabric squares as directed in the pattern.

3.  Cut out your Fusible Interfacing Squares as directed in the pattern.

4.  Lay the first Fusible Interfacing square textured-side-up on your rotary mat.  Using the rotary ruler and fabric pen, draw the grid in the size directed by the pattern.

Use the markings on the rotary mat to align each grid line.  Using the pencil lines and ruler alone will make parts of your grid too big!

5.  Place the Fusible Interfacing textured-side up on your ironing surface and lay out the fabric squares according to the pattern.

Once all the squares are in place, double check your square placement against the pattern.  This is the point of no return!!

6.  Following the manufacturer's directions, press all the squares into place.  It's important to press the squares (pick the iron up and set it back down in a new place) rather than iron (moving the iron back and forth without picking it up).

Vertical Seams:

7.  Once all the fabric squares have been pressed into place, fold the Fusible Interfacing fabric-sides-together along the first vertical line and press with the iron to make a crease.  Open and repeat with the remaining vertical lines.

8. Sew each vertical seam using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Keep them as straight as possible.

9.  You won't be able to press your seam allowances open until you've cut through the fusible webbing along the edges.

There are several methods for cutting them open:
  • Good: Use a small pair of scissors with with very sharp tips to carefully cut open each seam.  This isn't a great choice for those with small amounts of patience or carpel tunnel.
  • Better:  Use a rotary cutter and ruler to gently trim off a scant portion of the seam.  This is still a time-consuming process, and it's easy to mis-align the ruler and trim off more than intended - that fusible interfacing is slippery!
  • Best:  Use a rotary cutter and gently trim off a scant portion of the seam, free-handed - without the ruler.  While this is the speediest method, it's still a good idea to go slowly ... and watch for those fingers ...

10.  Once all the seams have been trimmed, press {not iron!} each seam open.  Trim away any excess threads and remove any bits of fabric fuzz caught in the seams.

Horizontal Seams:

11. Once all the Vertical Seams have been pressed open, fold the Fusible Interfacing fabric-sides-together along the first horizontal line and press with the iron to make a crease.  Open and repeat for the remaining vertical lines.

12.  Sew each vertical seam using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Keep your seams as straight as possible.

13. Open up your seam allowances using one of the methods in step #9.

Putting It All Together:

14.  Finish assembling all of your squares according to the picture grid in the pattern.  Lay the pieces out on your design wall or on a clean surface to double check for mistakes.

15.  Using 1/4" seams, piece together the larger blocks, carefully aligning the seam intersections.

16.  Press all seams open and then sit back and enjoy your block!

Share process pictures and photos of your finished blocks with us.  Post to our flickr group or on Facebook or Instagram using #cqmario.

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