Become a More Efficient Quilter With Chain Piecing

Looking for ways to spend less time piecing, and more time enjoying your beautiful quilts? Want to piece a quilt top together on a deadline? Chain piecing is a technique that many quilters use to piece just as accurately — but much more quickly.

Why chain piece? 

Chain piecing is faster, saves thread, and can lead to more accurate piecing. By feeding one piece directly after the next, and piecing in batches rather than pressing after each seam, you’ll find your quilts come together much faster.

If you’ve never chain pieced before, you’ll find it takes some practice to get into the habit. But if you’ve ever had your threads knot up at the beginning of each piece, you’ll soon fall in love!

threads under the presser foot

How to chain piece

Step 1:

Chain piecing is very simple. When you come to the end of a seam, don’t stop. Continue a couple stitches beyond the end of the piece, then tuck the next piece under your presser foot, and continue on.

tuck fabric under presser foot

Step 2:

Stitch to the end of the next piece, then repeat the process. You will end up with a series of pieces chained together at the back of the machine.

chain off the back of the sewing machine

Step 3: 

After you have stitched the pieces, cut the threads between each to separate them. You can use scissors, a rotary cutter, or the blade on the side of your machine.

chained pieces

Step 4: 

Chain piecing is much faster that starting and stopping between each seam. Chain piece as much as you can, cut them apart, then press the seams for all the pieces. Once they are all pressed, take the pieces back to the sewing machine, chain piece as many seams as you can, then press again. 

By sewing and pressing in batches, you’ll spend less time moving between your sewing machine and ironing board, and more time watching your quilt come together.

How to chain piece two quilts at once

You can become a very efficient quilter by chain piecing two quilts at once! Instead of piecing just one quilt top, work on two simultaneously.

Simply chain piece one, then the second, without cutting your threads between. Then cut them all apart, press them all, and continue.

By making a very large batch of cutting and pressing, you are working in a more efficient assembly-line fashion. You’ll be surprised how much more productive this technique makes you.

How to be more efficient with chain piecing

For a quilter with only small pockets of time, chain piecing will make you more efficient as well.

During one short session, piece as many pieces as you can, cut them apart, then place them on the ironing board. During the next session, iron your pieces and prepare them for their next seam. Place them next to the sewing machine, ready to be stitched.

Repeat these steps during each mini quilting (or pressing) session, and you’ll find your quilt is always ready and waiting, and comes together much more quickly.

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