How to Assemble the Quilt Top – Part 2 – T-Shirt Quilt Series Week 5

**Check out this post for the series overview and printable checklist!**

It’s Week 5 of our T-Shirt Quilt Sewalong! Time stitch together those rows you sewed last week and finish your quilt top.

First things first, no matter which layout design you’ve chosen, lay your sewn rows out on a floor or table to double check three things:

  1. All rows are the same length.
  2. You have the rows in the order you want them sewn.
  3. Your seams are pressed in the correct direction. (For patchwork quilts, you want the direction to alternate by row.)

Now, find your layout design below for specific instructions on the next steps!

Quick Note: As with last week, you’ll be using a 1/4″ seam allowance for all of your sewing. If you’re new to quilting, here’s a great tutorial for how to get a consistent 1/4″ seam.

Simple Patchwork & Other Layouts with Consistent Blocks Widths

For a standard patchwork quilt, or an uneven rows/columns quilt or pieced patchwork quilt that has blocks of equal width, make sure your rows have seams pressed in alternating directions. Check out the photo below for a good visual. This is an important step for matching up the seams and blocks when the rows are sewn together.

With your top row still laying face up, flip your second row up and over to lay face down on top of it. This will put their right sides together.

Now you’re going to “nest” the seams. Line up where the rows’ seams meet and make sure they’re flush with one another. You may need to apply a little pressure with your fingers until you feel the seams nest together. Make sure all of the seams along the side you’ll be sewing match together like the one below.


Use a clip or a pin to keep these seams nested while you clip the rest of the row before sewing.

Clip or pin along the rest of the side to be sewn. I use a lot of clips when sewing with knit fabrics. Even if they’re stabilized, they shift a bit more than a regular quilting cotton!

Quick Note: I like to stop here and pull back the top row for a quick check that I’ll be sewing along the correct side. I’ve been known to pin the wrong seams together!

Sew along the clipped edge, slowing down when you get to your nested seams. I like to sew with the top seam facing away from me. This allows me to pause and make sure the seam allowance doesn’t get flipped under itself when it passes under the presser foot.

Sew slowly over the seam. Whichever side you have up, make sure the seam allowance stays flat under the presser foot.

After you’ve sewn the entire row, press the new long seam in one direction. The back of your top should look like the photo below with seams pressed in alternating directions row by row, but the long seams all pressed in the same direction. Pressing all of your long seams in the same direction makes for an easier basting process down the road!

Hopefully, when you open your rows, you’ll end up with some pretty points! Not all of your seams will match perfectly, though. Well, unless you go super slowly, check your trimming a million times, and don’t have either a preteen keeping a constant stream of conversation in your ear or a toddler on your lap.

Don’t get discouraged if it’s not perfect. Sometimes little imperfections bring the handmade touch to your project. The point, here, is to sew joyfully!

Uneven Rows or Columns with Varying Block Widths

Some of the above steps do not apply if your quilt doesn’t have seams that need to match up. If you’ve chosen an Uneven Columns with Varying Block Heights/Widths or a Wonky Pieced Patchwork Layout (both shown below), you don’t need to worry about nesting your seams and making perfect points. That’s part of why I love these layouts!

For these types of quilt tops, lay the rows down in order after you sew them to see where you seams will line up. You can always change around what order your rows are laid out in to avoid having seams match. Last week you chose whether to press these seams open or to one side. Either way works.

Now, once you ensure all rows are the same length (and adjust by trimming if necessary), pin your rows together and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance, row by row. Afterwards, press your newly sewn seams open or in one direction as described in the patchwork method above.

Next Steps

That’s all for this week! Next time we’ll talk about how to square up your quilt top and baste it for quilting or tying.

For another take on the Pieced Patchwork method, I took some of my t-shirt scraps and smaller logos to make a mini quilt top I’ll be turning into a pillow cover. Here’s a quick video of how I worked from scraps to a completed top.

Next Post >> Week 6 – Basting

Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our sewing.

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