Getting Ready - Girl Next Door Quilt-Along May 22 2020 2 Comments

 Girl Next Door QAL - Getting Ready

This is Charlotte Noll (@kirkenoll) leading the Red Thread Studio Girl Next Door QAL.  I have been quilting for many years and will pass along my knowledge during this project.

This sweet scrappy medallion quilt pattern is written by Louise Papas (@louisepapas) for the Jen Kingwell Design Collective.  Finished size is 71inches square...perfect for that special little girl in your life or to snuggle up with when you want to remember feeling like a little girl!

First let’s discuss the plans and getting ready to sew.  Following will be the order in which the quilt top is created, concentric row by row and then finishing:

  • Center Schoolhouse block (1)
  • Picket fences borders (4)
  • Flower corner blocks (4)
  • Girl border blocks (24)
  • Dog corner blocks (2)
  • Cat corner blocks (2)
  • House border blocks (24)
  • Shop border blocks (4)
  • Tree corner blocks (4)
  • Quilt Assembly, Quilting, Binding

My favorite thread for machine piecing is Aurifil 50wt thread - thin, strong and very little lint.  I will be using #2021 Natural White with a new 70/10 sewing machine needle.

It’s a good idea to clean and oil your sewing machine according to instructions before starting a project.  After do some stitching on scrap fabric to make sure any oil residue is removed.

Before starting to work on any pattern, check the designer's website to see if there are any changes that need to be made. I’ve incorporated the changes for this pattern at this writing but there may be new ones to verify. See Jen Kingwell’s Erratas information before starting.  Still need the Girl Next Door pattern or fabric pack?

Rotary Cutting vs Plastic Templates -  The pattern pieces are mostly made up of templates. However many of the templates are rectangles that can be measured and easily cut using a rotary cutter.  I will provide the template measurements and template tips as part of the QAL so you can easily cut what you need and get to the fun part of sewing faster.  Putting a new blade in your rotary cutter is always a good way to start a new project.

Before cutting the fabric pieces it’s a good idea to press the fabric.  I sometimes use a spray to make the fabric nice and crisp.  My favorite is Magic Sizing that you can purchase in the grocery store in the laundry section.  Other people use steam (I love my dry, no-holes, heavy vintage iron), starch, Best Press or other products to make the fabric easier to work with.

Some of the pieces are not rectangles and you will need to create a plastic template to cut properly. Others simply put the template sheet on a light box and trace the shape on the fabric with a pencil then cut out. When cutting using a plastic template, especially one with a long straight line, put an acrylic ruler next to the template and use the ruler edge to make the cut. It will be more precise and will avoid cutting the plastic template piece.  If your template is slipping put a small piece of non-slip shelf liner between the template and fabric and that will hold it better while cutting. I used 4 clear template sheets.

Precision - For all the rows of this pattern to fit together correctly it is necessary to cut the pieces precisely and make sure you are sewing with a true ¼” seam. If you are a beginner there are online tutorials for precise piecing and checking your ¼” seams. I always use a ¼” seam presser foot for my sewing machine. Along the way I will point out places where you can verify you are staying on target and where you should pay particular attention to matching seams and points.

Pinning - it’s a hot topic! I’m a pinner from way back but it takes time so I’m trying to use less. I find that if I pin at the beginning and end of a seam and only where matching is needed that is enough. These are my all time favorite piecing pins, very thin and sharp - Karen Kay Buckley Short Perfect Pins . It also helps to sew with the side that has the most opposing seams facing you so that you can make sure you keep them flat and open.

Pressing the sewn seams is also very important.

  • For this pattern I’m pressing the seams open (unless directed otherwise) to reduce bulk and avoid shadowing of the printed fabric to the light backgrounds.
  • Sometimes I press the newly sewn seam to set the stitches flat if needed.
  • I use a Strip Stick to help press the longish seams open without disturbing the rest of the block.
  • For bulky seam intersections, I use The Wacker hammer to help flatten them if possible.

When a block is completed I like to give it a final press on a fluffy towel using just a little Magic Sizing to flatten all the seams nicely.

I will be Big Stitch Hand Quilting using Sue Spargo - Eleganza Perle Cotton Size 8. If you are interested in this method see my Big Stitch Quilting Tutorial.

In June, the first step is cutting and sewing the Center Schoolhouse block. Let the fun begin!