I’ve been working on a new postage stamp quilt for the last several weeks and it is finally approaching completion. People have asked me how I sew these quilts together, especially as they have gotten bigger and bigger (this new one is probably going to be about 100 x 70"). Answer: it’s all in the system, and it took me two or three quilts and a lot of trial and error before I figured it out.
I start by making a lot of little quilted rectangles, aka postage stamps, and then sewing them into columns. Each column has two rows of stitching, to prevent the column from twisting as I work. That’s the easy part. The hard part is to join the columns by rows of horizontal stitching.
Why is it so hard? Because until the horizontal stitching secures everything in place, the long columns of little stamps are prone to get caught on table edges, tangle with one another, get out of order, wedge themselves into crevices and snag on small parts of the sewing machine. I minimize the danger by putting each column into a zip lock bag, with only two or three stamps let out at a time. But the bags themselves like to get caught on table edges, tangle, etc.
The key to my system is to prepare a totally smooth, huge surface for the quilt and the bags to slide on, with as few opportunities as possible for them to get caught on, behind or between obstacles.
My zip lock bags are numbered starting with 1 for the right-hand column as you would look at it hanging on the wall, proceeding across to 63 at the left. The first horizontal stitching is the top row. I arrange the pieces so the top of the quilt is to my left. My stitching starts on the top right stamp and proceeds across the top row from right (as you would look at it on the wall) to left.
This is probably way more than you want to know about how to sew a postage stamp quilt, and I still have some things to tell you about this particular quilt, so I’ll stop here and resume the story in a later post.