Thursday 25 June 2015

Pin codes or code pins

 Have you ever joined your quilt blocks upside down, left instead of right or to the wrong end of the row? I have. To avoid this I have used pieces of masking tape with row numbers and block ABC written on them. Lesson: if the quilt is a slowly progressing UFO, there will be glue remains and permanent stains. I have used little pieces of paper with row ABC and block numbers pinned on the blocks, and kept the countless used papers in a tiny box. Lesson: it is very hard to find the numbers or letters needed for a second project. Then I started using one pin for the first row, two for the second etc. Lesson: I run out of pins when I had very many rows to mark.

Yesterday I was piecing 9-patches for the Shadow Plaid quilt and had an excellent idea. I just had the three rows to sew, so I marked the top left HST with a blue pin, the beginning of the next row with a red one, and the bottom row with a white pin. I always think of these colours as blue-red-white, no other order, so it was easy to remember which row was which.

I wanted to make all four 9-patches for a block at a time, so I pinned the finished rows together with an extra pin (no colour code here ;o)).

This way it was easy to keep each set separate for ironing. When the 9-patches were sewn after ironing, I marked the top left corner with a pin again, because it matters that they stay the way I planned.

I don't want the same fabrics side by side in two blocks, and in a scrappy quilt like this I don't have my fabrics representing those of the pattern. I just make my own combinations. When a whole block is ready, I have removed all the other pins but use again one pin to mark the top left corner. I think I will use the blue-red-white system here too for the first row of three blocks, or, because I will have 12 blocks at the end, I could use any colour in the alphabetical order of their names.

This quilt has had such a slow start but now I'm at the stage I love most, and the little scraps of old shirts stored in a box are finally coming together to blocks that look like something with a plan.

How do you keep your blocks organized?


  1. Red, white and blue, red white and white and blue...haha...I'm just messing with you!! :o)) Great system!!

  2. I have a flannel board where I put my blocks. Sadly, it's not big enough for a lot of the quilts but it's a start.
    I like your method. Whatever works for you is the way you should work.

  3. Mukavan näköinen ruutupeitto tulossa.

  4. Love your plaids. I use the left side pin, too, and pin all of a row then go to the sewing machine. It works great for me. Once sewn I put the row back on the design wall (mine uses pins) and work the next row. You have a more sophisticated system than mine. I say 'whatever works'.

  5. I tend to write notes. i.e. top rt row 1 and pin on. I also take photos on my tablet as a reference. I can see from the sneak peak why you need to be precise about the placement.

  6. What a wonderful system, Ulla! Very clever! In the past I've just kept blocks in order from top down and then left to right. Unfortunately, with two furry critters who like to mess things up this does not always work anymore! They also like pins, so I may have to come up with a new solution! The iris in your garden is so pretty!

  7. Your works looks amazing and I love all the shirt fabric..
    Yes I also organize my blocks by using pins. 1 pin means it is the beginning of the row. That way I do not have to think again when I sew them together :-)

  8. It seems you've tried many numbering systems and found something that works! I can't wait to see your quilt. Those plaids are cozy. Gorgeous irises.

  9. Looks great! When I try same fabrics not to come next of each other, I always seem to fail at least once. I have this whole plan, but then I sew the rows together on the other side and voila, two of the same comt together. Pinning is my magic word, but sometimes I am too lazy for that, even if it means more work afterwards.
    Happy Sunday!

  10. Well done for finding a method which works for you. I tend to lay everything out on the floor as it is intended to be, then gather into piles 2 at a time according to rows keeping the order correct, the. Take 2 of the piles at a time to the sewing machine. I then lay the rows back and double check that nothing has gone wrong. Then I do the next 2 rows. Good luck your progress looks good. A very nice way to use the good material left in an old shirt.


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