Monday, 25 June 2012

Tutorial: Chain Web Piecing

I was reading a blog post a while ago that mentioned chain piecing in a web, but it didn't explain how to do it and when I went back to try and find the post I couldn't remember where I'd originally read about it. But I really liked the idea and decided to work it out for myself... and now you can do it too!

If you're wondering what chain web piecing is, it's a form of chain piecing that helps keep all your blocks in order and can be used for anything from individual blocks to piecing whole quilt tops (in row format). 

The block I'm demonstrating with is the Starflower block made famous by Ellison Lane, but I first used this with my Split Drunkard's Path Star blocks (as previously mentioned) and I now use it as my default block piecing technique (as applicable - it doesn't really work with different sizes/shapes in the same block).

Start by laying out the blocks/quilt top to be pieced in your desired layout.

Place the 2 pieces from each row right side together as shown. Chain piece as normal, but do not cut once complete!

*I don't know why, but I always seem to start from the end of the rows.. there is no reason you couldn't start at the beginning.

Step 3: Press seams open, or if you prefer to press to one side you'll need to alternate sides for each row.

Step 4: Lay out your still chained pieces right sides up, and then align the next blocks for each row right side down (as shown below). 

Chain piece as before and press seams.

Continue to repeat layout, (pin,) chain, press sequence for all blocks in the row.

(Pin blocks if desired - this is a good idea to keep them in order if you have quite a few rows)

(As you can see, it keeps the rows in order so you never have to worry about accidentally sewing them in the wrong order or upside down, and if you're chain piecing multiple blocks you don't have to worry about keeping each block separate so that you don't mix your blocks up because it comes together automatically.)
Once each row is complete, fold one row over and pin at seams. The beauty of leaving them chained is that all your seams are already roughly lined up!

To speed things up I like to pin two rows at a time and then sew. Press. You will find that at this point you will need to press to the side, or if you'd prefer to press open you will need to snip the thread chain to allow the seams to open up. I pressed to the side for these, but that's because I'm lazy and I never seem to have scissors in the right place at the right time!

Repeat for all rows (in my case this only leaves one final seam to pin, sew, press) until your block/quilt top is complete.

And here's my completed block (visualise your block or quilt top here)..

Aside from being relatively easy, this technique really works well when you are piecing multiple blocks (eg Starflower or Split Drunkard's Path Stars) as you can chain piece all the blocks to the web stage, (cart them to a quilt guild meeting, or a bee group, or a friend's place as desired) and not inadvertantly mix block pieces up.. and then all you need to do is sew the final 3 (or however many) horizontal seams on each block and you're done! Streamlined, accurate, quick and easy - this lazy girl's idea of perfect piecing!


  1. Beautiful and great tutorial too! Thanks!


  2. Wow--great tutorial. I've never thought to try it that way. By the way, the colors are beautiful in the block.

  3. Chain piecing really is helpful! Your demo block is very pretty, too:). I saw this post linked at Plum and June. Have a great day!

  4. I love chain piecing and I also use two pieces of scrap fabric to sew off and on the ends of each row so that the machine foot never touches the bed of the machine and doesn't have to lift on and off the fabric. This saves you so much thread as well. Great tutorial :)

  5. This is such a great idea! I just put a top together and this would have made it so much easier. I will have to try it the next time around!

  6. Great tutorial. I'm going to try that for my next block.


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