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Sewing Together, Virtually

Sewing Together, Virtually

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

What’s more fun than making a quilt? Making it with friends!

Some of us are lucky enough to have friends nearby who sew, or to take classes or go on retreats. But if not, or even if you do have sewing comrades, online sew-alongs and quilt-alongs may be for you. We've written about them before, but there are so many going on it seemed time to revisit them.

Typically, online sew-alongs and quilt-alongs (abbreviated SALs and QALs, respectively) involve a number of people chosing to sew the same pattern. An administrator sets some guidelines, such as how long the QAL will run and whether blocks and corresponding instructions will be revealed all at once or doled out week-by-week.

An example of a QAL schedule

Members share their progress via social media. The fun comes in seeing the variety of ways people choose to complete their project—different fabrics, tips, and twists on the pattern are shared via posts, providing an opportunity for both learning and inspiration. I love following QALs on Instagram, even if I don’t participate—the ingenuity of quilters, their personal styles and color selections provide an array of inspiration. 

In addition to inspiration, QALs provide a community of like-minded individuals. There’s nothing quite like getting comments like “I love those colors!” or “So clever, the way you flipped the darks and the lights in that block!" to keep you motivated. QALs can provide a great way to learn new techniques—Carrie wrote just yesterday about Moda’s Block Heads , which gives quilters a chance to try dozens of different blocks. 

If you’re not up for a long-term commitment, Moda’s recent Love Quilt SAL provided a way to make a quilt (or a mini) quickly, with satisfying results. (People are still posting their finished quilts on Instagram—look here.)

Last summer’s Choose Your Own Adventure by the Moda Bake Shop gave participants the opportunity to put their own spin on a quilt. No two of the finished pieces were alike as quilters selected from a variety of blocks for each subsequent row of the medallion-style quilts.

Kathy Rutter used American Jane fabrics to create her Camp Oda May Medallion quilt.

Moda’s current Spell It With Fabric SAL offers techniques that enable each maker to create a quilt with words of their choosing. Some of those finished thus far feature song lyrics, family names, and funny sayings. (You can see more of these on Instagram under the hashtag #spellitwithfabric.)

And the results of Moda’s String-Along were as varied as could be—the only thing that was “taught” was a technique, and quilters were left to their own devices in terms of layout and the color and variety of scraps they incorporated. Check #modastringalong on Instagram to see lots of examples.

A QAL that’s currently underway is one by designer Jessica Dayon. Jessica queried her Instagram followers and learned that the majority of them were intimidated by setting a quilt on point. So she decided to run a QAL via her blog jessicadayon.blogspot.com and Instagram (@jessicadayon). “I really want people to feel confident in trying a new technique and I’d love to be able to help them gain confidence,” she says.

Jessica Dayon designed this quilt set on-point for her QAL

She designed an on-point quilt and each week for six weeks she’s posting a portion of the pattern, using Instagram Stories and photos on her blog to demonstrate techniques. 

Jessica's on-point blocks in solids and prints

Jessica’s participated in some online QALs and appreciates being able to reach out to others who are sewing the same quilt, as well as to the pattern designer, to ask questions. She’s also enjoying watching the blocks people are posting on Instagram with the hash tag #onpointqal. “I get to see lots of fabric choices and combinations that I might not have that thought about,” she says. “That aspect continues to inspire me!” 

Jessica's working on another on-point quilt with Jen Kingwell's new fabrics

Moda will be hosting more QALs in the future, and so will Jessica. Check Instagram for QALs, too. There are new ones starting every week, so if you haven’t yet, give one a try. And if you have, tell us about it—what you made, what you learned, and what you enjoyed about it. 

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