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How to sew quilt squares together (step-by-step tutorial)

Many quilts are made from squares, but sewing them together can be a problem. Many people find it challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. You’ll never have to worry about mismatched seams again when you use this tutorial. I’ll show you how to do it quickly and easily, so your quilt will look amazing.

When it comes to sewing quilt squares together, there are a few different methods that quilters can choose from. Let me show you a few most popular options. The first one is called chain piecing, the second one is called nesting seams and the third one doesn’t even have a name yet – let’s call it row-by-row piecing.

How to sew quilt squares together

How to chain piece quilt squares

As any quilter knows, piecing quilt squares together can be a time-consuming task. One way to speed up the process is to chain-piece the quilt squares. This technique involves sewing the squares together in rows without cutting the thread or lifting the presser foot in between blocks

If you’re sewing a quilt with many small squares, it can be time-consuming to start and stop your machine to cut the threads between each pair of squares. A more efficient method is to sew the squares in an assembly line fashion, without cutting the threads between each one. To do this, simply feed the paired squares through the machine, aligning the edges as usual.

When using this method, there is no need to backstitch. This is because you will be crossing over each seam when you sew the rows together. This will prevent the seams from unraveling and coming apart. So, don’t worry about backstitching, just sew the squares together and then cross over the seams when you sew the rows together. This will give you a strong seam that will not come apart.

sew the squares without cutting the threads

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By chain piecing the squares, you can quickly and easily assemble the quilt top. Chain piecing can prevent errors and ensure that the squares are all aligned correctly. As a result, it is a valuable time-saving technique for any quilter to master.

The quilters usually use ¼ “ seam allowances. There is a special presser foot that makes it easy to achieve perfectly accurate ¼”  seams – it’s called a quarter-inch foot. Just keep the edge of the fabric along the edge of the presser foot when you sew.

Once you have your fabric squares arranged in a pattern, take every two squares in the first column and put them right sides together, aligning all sides. You can pin them together in place if you want, but quilters usually don’t pin small squares.

Next, stitch every two squares together with ¼”  seam allowances. And then just continue adding squares. 

Nesting seams when sewing quilt squares together

Nesting seams are a great way to achieve precise intersections of quilt squares and can be especially helpful when working with complex patterns. It’s a relatively quick and easy technique once you get the hang of it. 

This simply means that the seams of each block should nest perfectly into the seams of the other block. 

To do this, first press the seams in opposite directions.

press the seams in opposite directions

Then, place two rows right sides together and move the seams between your fingers until you feel them ‘lock’ together. They should fit tightly since you pressed the seams in opposite directions.

move the seams between your fingers
sewn quilt squares

How to sew quilt squares fast using row-by-row piecing

One of the most frustrating things about trying to create perfect square quilt blocks is getting the corners to match up perfectly. It seems like no matter how hard you try, there’s always a little bit of discrepancy, right? 

However, there is a simple trick that can help you get matched corners every time. Let me show you. 

For this method, you will need a piece of fusible interfacing. It should be very lightweight. 

Prepare the pattern you want to use and cut your quilt squares. 
I am using an Accuquilt Go fabric cutter to cut my squares. I decided to go with a 2.5” square for my quilt so the machine cut 24 fully identical squares in just one minute (or maybe even less).

use Accuquilt Go fabric cutter to cut squares

Step 1. Arrange the squares on a piece of interfacing according to your pattern

Once you’ve cut a piece of interfacing, lay it out on your work surface with the adhesive side up. Do it on a flat and smooth surface for example, on a wool pressing mat because later on, you will need to press the prepared fabric squares with a hot iron. An ironing board might be too small for the squares to fit. 

cut a piece of interfacing, lay it out on a flat and smooth surface

Next, arrange your fabric squares on top of the interfacing in rows and columns, making sure you are following the quilt pattern. Fabric edges should be put very close together without overlapping. Try to keep the rows and columns as straight as possible. 

The top side of the interfacing piece is straight so start putting your squares right at the top.

Arrange the squares on a piece of interfacing according to your pattern

You’ll also want to make sure that all the squares are smooth before you begin pressing. If there are any creases or folds, they will become permanent when you press them with the iron.

Arranged square pattern

Step 2. Fuse the interfacing to the prepared squares

Now that you have your fabric squares arranged and ready to go, it’s time to press them with a hot iron. Simply press the iron down onto the fabric for a few seconds, moving it around until the entire surface is fused. Once you’re done, let the squares cool completely before you begin using the sheet.

You can use a pressing cloth This way, if any glue comes off of the interfacing, it will be absorbed by the pressing cloth instead of sticking to the iron. But try not to touch the interfacing with the iron. 

Make sure that the iron is set to the appropriate heat level. You don’t want to damage the fabric. I kept my iron on medium heat (or wool setting). 

press them with a hot iron

Once you’ve finished fusing the interfacing, trim away any excess interfacing.

✅ Related tutorial: Iron buying guide

Step 3. Sew row by row in one direction

Now that you cover the entire sheet with fabric squares, it’s time to move on to the next step. 

Fold the first row of squares right sides together with the whole sheet, and stitch along the fold using ¼” seam allowances.

Fold the first row of squares right sides together

Continue until all the rows in one direction are stitched together. 

It’s very important to keep the same seam allowances (¼”) over the entire piece. But it’s very easy to do if you use the special quarter-inch presser foot.

stitch along the fold using ¼” seam allowances

Step 4. Open the seams and press

It’s very easy and fast to open the seam allowances on each row. Just use a seam ripper and cut the interfacing between the seam allowances.

use a seam ripper and cut the interfacing

Fingerpress the seams open. I like to use a special finger presser to do that. And after that, press with a steam iron making sure the prepared sheet with squares is completely flat and there are no wrinkles or folds.

Finger press the seams open
make sure squares is completely flat

Step 5. Sew rows of squares perpendicular to the already sewn rows 

Now it’s time to sew the remaining rows. To do this, simply fold down the first row so that the right sides are together with the sheet, and then sew along the fold in the same manner as you did with the previous rows. Work your way across the whole piece until all of the rows have been sewn. 

Sew rows of squares perpendicular to the already sewn rows

It’s very important to keep the same seam allowances over the entire piece.

keep the same seam allowances

Step 6. Press the seams

These seams don’t need to be open. Press them on one side all in the same direction. Use a finger presser first and after that, press with an iron. It’s better to do it from the front side of the block.  

And this is the result. Now you can see that all squares in this quilt block are exactly the same size and the corners are perfectly matched.

squares are same size
perfectly aligned squares

In conclusion: Now that you know how to sew the quilt squares together that have matched corners, you can use this same method to make other quilt blocks, too. With a little practice, you’ll be able to use this method to make any kind of quilt block you want, and your quilts will be better than ever before. 

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you need this information on how to sew quilt squares together and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!

How to sew quilt squares together

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Susan

Saturday 13th of August 2022

A friend at our quilt club noticed that I had pieced my squares with a tiny bit of the bottom one peeking out. I got in that habit with sewing clothes; if I could see the bottom fabric, I knew that it hadn't slipped away. I replied, "Oh,it's only about 1/16th of an inch." She pointed out, "Well, if you have 16 squares, your whole quilt is an inch off and will be wonky" I now make sure the edges are perfectly together. Another tip, line up your squares in a pile. Trim any that are too large (yes even a 16th of an inch) If you have one that's really small, cut a new one or you'll have to trim all the good ones to match the smallest one, and your quilt won't be the size you wanted. Besides that, who wants to trim ALL their squares!?!?!

jeanne

Saturday 13th of August 2022

What type of interfacing do you use? Does it make the quilt top stiff? Is it harder to quilt through? I am a hand quilter. This sounds interesting; I may give it a try.

Olga Balasa

Saturday 13th of August 2022

I use Pelon featherweight fusible interfacing. It's very lightweight and doesn't make quilting cotton fabric stiff, the fabric stays soft and flexible. The needle goes into fabric with batting without any problem (I just tried) but you should avoid the exact area of intersection of 4 seams in the corners (but still, not interfacing is a problem but the seams).

Sharon

Saturday 13th of August 2022

@jeanne, I am also, interested in this answer. I hope she will answer it.. :)

Donna

Saturday 13th of August 2022

What a wonderful tutorial. I am wondering if using the interfacing would help in matching striped of checked fabrics when making a side seam on clothing. I recently made 12 month sized overalls for my grandson out of a small gingham check. It was tedious trying to match the checks from the front sides to back sides. I did it, but would love a fool proof method. Just trying to think through how it would work using the interfacing?

Olga Balasa

Saturday 13th of August 2022

Thank you! I know your problem. There is a method to do it easier (but still, not really faster). I use Wonder tape to match seams before stitching them. Pinning also helps. I actually have a tutorial on how to match stripes when inserting an invisible zipper, maybe it will also help.

Lynn

Saturday 13th of August 2022

Can't wait to start my first quilt. Love your method of sewing quilt squares.

Olga Balasa

Saturday 13th of August 2022

Thank you; quilting is somewhat different than garment sewing, but in the end a seam is a seam!

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