A Short Lesson In Chain Piecing

by Debby Kratovil

Finding quick ways to put together your quilt blocks, especially when you are making several identical units of the same block, not only speeds up the process but keeps you from having to stop and clip long pieces of thread after each section. Sewing this way also eliminates the need to backstitch to secure the ends of the seams and you can take all the same pieces to the ironing board at one time. This method feeds identical patches through your sewing machine, one right after another, without lifting the presser foot.

Illustrations can be found here

Step 1. As in all machine sewing of quilt blocks, check and make sure that you are sewing with a true 1/4" seam. Don't assume that the distance from your sewing machine needle to the right edge of the presser foot is 1/4". Sometimes placing a piece of masking tape on the throat plate exactly 1/4" from the position of the needle is the only way to have an accurate guide.
Step 2. Place two patches together, right sides matching and stitch together edge to edge. Stop sewing but don't remove the patches nor clip the threads (Diagram 1).
Step 3. Without lifting the presser foot, slip the next pair of patches up to the presser foot and begin sewing again. There will be a bit of space/thread between the two sets of patches (Diagram 2).
Step 4. Continue sewing sets of patches until all your sets are sewn. All sets are attached to each other by short lengths of twisted thread (Diagram 3).
Step 5. Remove the chain of patches from the sewing machine and clip apart the sets.
Step 6. If you have more pieces to attach to these units, chain piece in the same manner as described above, adding the new patch to one end as shown. Continue sewing until you've pieced all your units (Diagram 4).
Step 7. Clip apart as before. Take all your units to the ironing board. Press seam allowances to one side, usually this is done toward the darker fabric.
Step 8. Complete the sample 9Patch block as shown by aligning the vertical seams of the rows. Since your seams in all rows were pressed toward the dark fabric, the alternate rows will align very nicely as the seams butt up exactly. Press your completed block.

Back to Quilting Lessons Page