5 easy steps to quilting a checkerboard background

Welcome back. Do you have your supplies collected and your strip sets created? Yesterday I finished off the day calculating the size of squares I wanted for my checkerboard background and sewed the strip sets together to create the checkerboard. Today I’m going to walk you through 5 easy steps to quilting a checkerboard background.

I figured that quilt-as-you-go would be the perfect method to create the checkerboard background because once the sewing is done so is the quilting. This doesn’t mean you can’t add extra quilting after the fact but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Another bonus is no basting is required with this method.

First off I need to cut each strip set into 10 – 2″ strips.

Each checkerboard background piece will be made with 10 strips – 5 from each strip set alternating to make the checkerboard.

Alternating strips to make checkerboard

Also needed is a piece of flannel 13″ x 17″ for the backing and a piece of batting the same size. I used a 80/20 batting which is a loftier batting and will give just a bit more padding to the laptop sleeve.

What thread should you use for the quilt-as-you-go?

A 50 weight sewing thread either polyester or cotton will work just fine. Gütermann makes a huge range of colors and I usually use a thread that matches the fabric when I’m using this construction method.

Turquoise thread for quilting and piecing strips


Step 1 Place the batting on the wrong side of the backing fabric. Draw a line ¾″ from the left hand edge of the batting. Draw a second line 1″ from the top of the batting. These lines will act as a guideline for placement of the strips. The Heirloom Chaco Pen is perfect for making these lines – it is easy to use with a wheel at the end and easy to hang onto as you slide it down the edge of your ruler. This is one of my favorite tools in my quilting tool box.

Placement lines marked with a chalk line

Step 2 Place the first strip right side up along the top line and vertical line.

First piece in place along placement lines

Step 3 Place the second strip on top of the first strip right sides together matching up the seams – the seams should nest together as the seam allowances should be pressed in opposite directions on each strip. Pin the strips together through all the layers with sharp pins at the seams – just beside the seams, not through the seams. This will be enough to keep everything lined up.

Second piece pinned in place

Step 4 Use a walking foot to sew the pieces to the batting and backing. The walking foot will help to ensure that everything moves smoothly and evenly keeping the seams matching. Sewing slowly will keep everything aligned and sewing each seam in the opposite direction will help prevent drifting or crookedness in the strips.

Walking foot makes sewing much easier

Step 5 Press piece over with a hot iron for a nice crisp seam.

Second strip sewn and pressed in place

Continue sewing strips until 10 strips are in place.

Completed checkerboard background

Adding extra quilting

I decided to add some extra quilting lines to the checkerboard. Nothing elaborate just some straight lines to echo the seam lines. I used 2 different colors – a blue and a green. They’re the Dekor rayon thread by Gütermann. I love the look of shiny threads.

I increased my stitch length a bit so the stitches will show up better and used a Microtex 80/12 sharp needle with this thread. A Topstitch 80/12 needle will also work. Both of these needles will go nicely through the layers of fabric to create even and smooth stitches.

Echo quilting with rayon thread

The checkerboard background pieces are made and ready for some applique to be added. Think about what design you want to add to the background pieces and tomorrow I’ll show you step by step what I’m going to do with mine. 5 easy steps to quilting a checkerboard background makes quick construction of the laptop sleeve.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: 3 tips for sewing perfect strip sets, sewing a quilted laptop sleeve

Go to part 3: 5 practical reasons why you should use HeatnBond Soft Stretch

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