"She seeks wool & flax, And works willingly with her hands" ~ Proverbs 31:13

April 8, 2013

Pixelated Quilt Tutorial Series - Pixelated Strips {Part 1 of 4}

Since I began the Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along last year I've been thinking about putting together a tutorial on how I went about putting together this pixelated quilt.  Then Saturday I did a demo on 3 of 4 ways that a pixelated quilt could be put together and knew that I wanted to do tutorials on those methods as well. Which method is the best really boils down to two things....
1. The look you're going for with the quilt.
2. Personal Preference. 

Proper Credit: I did not design these patterns. These were designed by Angela Pingel of Cut to Pieces
Angela's tutorial for this quilt can be found HERE.
If you are interested in the Super Mario Brothers patterns, they can be found HERE.
Each unfinished block measured 18 1/2" square and finished at 18" square.
The fabric is Michael Miller's Solid Cotton Couture.

Super Mario Brothers
The Pixelated Quilt that inspired this tutorial series

Today we'll go through one of the four methods for making a pixelated quilt....Pixelated Strips.
This is the method I used to piece the entire quilt pictured above. 

Once you have chosen the design and decided on the size of squares you want to use, it's time to cut out all those squares. For this quilt I started with 1 1/2" squares.

1. Cut Squares
 Cut 1 1/2" strips the length of the fabric and then cut as many 1 1/2" squares as needed. 

Helpful Hint: 
 It is possible to stack several layers of fabric and cut lots of strips and then to turn your ruler the other direction to cut the squares. When I tried this I found that if I worked with more than 4 layers of fabric at a time the squares were not as accurate as I wanted/needed.

I got bored really fast trying to cut all the squares for the whole quilt. There are 3,888 squares in the entire quilt, that's a lot of squares to cut all at one time! After I had a bunch of each cut, I quit cutting so I could get to piecing.  Once all of those were used, I pretty much cut what was needed for the next block.

2. Stay Organized
To stay organized I labeled each of the fabrics with their color name or where it would be used in the blocks (i.e. shoes) so that I could keep straight which green was which and which brown was for shoes, etc.
I also placed them all in a small box to keep everything contained and easily stored away. 
Stacks of 1 1/2" squares

3. Layout Design
 Using the Pattern design layout all the pieces row by row. Keeping the rows straight, makes things easier later.

Helpful Hint:
 I used my cutting mat for two reasons it made the design movable and it provided a grid to help me keep the rows straight both vertically and horizontally. 

4. Prepare for Easy Chain Stitching
Next, pair up each row. Starting with the bottom right square....flip it over on top of the square to the left. Keep flipping squares until you have paired up several rows of squares. It is important to keep everything lined up and in the proper rows.

Keeping the same orientation of the block I transferred the pairs to the area on the left of my machine, putting all the pairs in easy reach. I pair and move as many rows as that area on the cabinet will hold.

Helpful Hint: 
I like to keep the side where the seam will be stitched, on the right (facing toward the machine...exactly like it will be when I place it on the machine to stitch.
Transfer pairs closer to machine

5. Chain Stitch
Starting with the row closest to you (the bottom row) begin to chain stitch the pieces together.
Begin with a leader and at the end of each row place a scrap of material. These scraps will help to easily identify where each row begins and ends. Allow the chain to pile up behind the machine until all the pairs are stitched.

Chain Stitching Defined: 
Simply put it's sewing without breaking or cutting the thread between each piece.

Helpful Hint:
1. Start stitching on a scrap (leader) and this will keep the thread from trying to ball up on the first piece.
Chain Stitching

 6. Prepare to finish piecing each row. 
Locate the pattern. Clip the thread after the last pair is stitched.
Keeping the last pair to be stitched on top, bring the entire pile of stitched pairs next to the machine.

Helpful Hint:
From here on keep the pattern handy for referencing while piecing.

7. Clip apart the Pairs.....Row by Row
Locate the end of the first row and clip the thread between the scrap and the left most pair.
Place this string of pairs in front of the machine.
Without moving the pairs clip the threads between each pair.

Helpful Hint: 
Open up each pair laying out each piece in the direction it needs to lay.
Pay close attention to which row you're on and the orientation of each pair when different colors are involved. On the row pictured below this doesn't matter, but the rows with different colors this will matter greatly. 

  8. Stitch Pairs to Pairs. 
Starting on the right flip the first pair over onto top of the pair next to it and stitch the seam.
Reminder: Begin the row with a leader scrap. 

9. Finishing the row.
After stitching the last pair of pairs together, stitch a scrap piece leaving it under the presser foot, clip the thread between it and the chain of pairs behind it. Clip  between each piece and lay out the pieces in the proper order in front of the machine. Continue stitching sections together until the row is complete.

10. Lay out all the rows. 
Because the first row chained together was the bottom row, the first row that was completely pieced is the top row. Lay it aside in an area where there is room to layout all the rows in order as each is finished.

Helpful Hint: 
DO NOT do any pressing at this time. Wait to press until all the rows are pieced.

11. Pressing Seams
Starting with either the bottom or top row, press all the seams in that row the same direction.
It doesn't matter which direction the first row goes....the only thing that matters is that every seam in that row is going the same direction.

Place the row back in its place.  Take note of which direction you just pressed seams in the first row and press the next row the opposite direction. Continue to alternate the direction the seams are pressed until all the rows have been pressed.
Seams pressed in alternating directions.

12. Stitch Rows together. 
Starting at the bottom pair rows pair up the row with right sides together.
Pinning is not necessary, but pin if you like
Match the seams and "lock" them together where the seams butt against each other.
Stitch all the pairs of rows together. 

Helpful Hint:
 I found it difficult to continually match the seams on these small blocks as I stitched when the row was not pinned.  If you have a computerized machine and choose to pin, be sure to remove your pins as you come to each and avoid stitching over the pins. Stitching over pins messes with the settings on the computer and can cause the need for a trip to the repair shop.

13. Press seams open.
To create a flat block pressing the seams open is the best choice.

Helpful Hint: 
With these long rows it is easier to pair up the next set of rows after these have been pressed open. 

14. Continue Stitching and Pressing Rows.

15. Finished....
Starch the block if you like.
Celebrate and Place Your Finished Block on your Design Wall!
Finished Flower Block

Advantages of the Pixelated Strip Method:
1. Makes for a very neat and tidy block.
2. It's straight forward and doesn't take any extra planning time or thought.

Disadvantages of  the Pixelated Strip Method: 
1.  Laying out the entire block at one time takes up a lot of space.
2. Once it's laid out it is not easily moved or stored, until the rows are stitched together.
3. It can be difficult to stitch the long seams and keep everything lined up and straight.

Thanks for stopping by!!
The next tutorial in the series will be: The Four Patch Method

Happy Quilting!


  1. I'm getting ready to cut and piece my first pixelated quilt. So nervous, but I appreciate your tutorial and great photos. Thank you!

    1. How exciting, new adventures in quilting are so rewarding and yes at times a bit scary/intimidating! With a little bit of organization you'll do great and I'm sure you'll love your newest quilt!

  2. Wow...I love, love, love this quilt. You are amazing! My 6-year-old (and his siblings behind and before him) is a Mario fan and has been since around age 2-1/2. I neeeeed this quilt in a twin size!!

    BUT...I'm no quilter, but I just love handmade quilts! Do you sell these...like "made to order?" How much would this exact quilt be (if you do sell them, that is)?

    Thank you!

  3. Wow...I love, love, love this quilt. You are amazing! My 6-year-old (and his siblings behind and before him) is a Mario fan and has been since around age 2-1/2. I neeeeed this quilt in a twin size!!

    BUT...I'm no quilter, but I just love handmade quilts! Do you sell these...like "made to order?" How much would this exact quilt be (if you do sell them, that is)?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Charlotte! Sadly you are a No Reply blogger, meaning your email address is not attached to your comment and I'm not able to send you a reply on your questions. I'd be happy to custom make the Super Mario Brothers pixelated quilt for your son. But, to be able to set up all the details I need you to email me directly to info@littlepinkrose(dot)com. I look forward to hearing from you.


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