Use a quarter inch seam allowance. Not occasionally...not sometimes..not most of the time...Always. The difference between an “almost” quarter inch and a quarter inch gets bigger the more seams your quilt block has. To achieve a good quarter inch you can:
A. Buy a quarter inch foot for your machine (some machines have quarter inch settings)
B. B, Run a thick layer of tape on the bed for your machine measuring a quarter inch away from
the needle (which is a pain in the tushi if you load your bobbin from the top) or ........
C. draw the quarter inch seam line on every piece of your fabric. Option A is my favorite. Whatever you do...don’t depend on your ability to “eye” the seam. Carpenters don’t eye measurements when the cut for a reason. Here are some pictures of estimated quarter inch seams vs. accurate quarter inch seams.
Now I know what you might be thinking. “ If I use the same “almost” quarter inch seam throughout out the whole quilt, won’t everything turn out the same? “ If you are only quilting squares that are the same size, yes. But most of the time your blocks will be a variety of techniques...half square triangles, quarter square triangles, flying geese...placed next to each
other. The more off your seam is..the more off your block is. It’s so easy to get an accurate quarter inch seam by investing in that foot. Why set yourself up for failure?
pulled in to the parking lot.) I learned the hard way that the money I saved at the “J” place was not worth the hassle. Some of the fabric shredded, some faded, and some just would not stand up to quilting on my machine without the threads pulling or shredding. The cost of fabric at that store that starts with a “J” is creeping up to the same cost as your Quilt Stores. There is a
HUGE difference in the quality. Buying fabric there may save you between 10-40 percent (depending on coupons) but the life expectancy of the quilt will be about 60 % shorter due to fabric fading, shredding, ect.
You also need to watch out for “free” fabric. For instance, my Grandma talked about her Grandmother backed quilts with old sheets. She then handed me a stack of sheets from the linen closet she was cleaning out and sent me home to try it. Yes, the backing was “free”, but the fabric (maybe some kind of weird poly blend) feels slick to the touch and made a crunchy noise
every times my needle pierced it. I only saved about thirty dollars by using that sheet for backing, but I truly detest how the back looks. It’s also not very cuddly.
Save your money by buying generic Catsup...not fabric. and if your grandma hands you a stack of old sheets...use it for foundation piecing.
Learn to Cut: Sounds pretty basic, but it’s still important. Accurate piecing starts with accurate
cutting. Learn to fold and cut your fabrics accurately so you don’t end up with “rainbow” strips. Learn to square up the edges before your first cut. Always cut AWAY from you ( trust me...if that blade cuts into your stomach they will not give you a tummy tuck at the ER just cuz your there anyway......) Sharp rotary blades make life much easier as well. Just don’t run them over you fingers.
looks like the opposite of what I just stated above. But
think about it...if NONE of your blocks are lining up
together, will the design still look like you intended it to
look? If blocks are not meeting -oh say...by half an inch
or more-check your seam allowances and measurement. ALL of your seams should be sewn....there should be no gaps or holes where a seam was intended to be. The edges of the fabrics should be lined up together so that both sides have a quarter inch seam allowance. Stitches should be secure...not basting stitches or “Toe” catchers. Use thread intended for sewing and not top stitching. And again. You should
have a straight quarter inch seam allowance. See the wavy one in the photo below? We are going for straight lines here.
The quilt fairy will not come along and fix all this for you. Why spend money on good fabric, patterns, quilt books, sewing machines and maybe long arm quilting if your are going to put outproduct that will not survive longer than a few years due to poor construction?
See that seam? It starts out at
almost a quarter inch and
gradually decreases to 1/8.
The fabric edges are not lines
up together..so when it hits
1/8...no seam to speak of on the other side
Additionally, the stitches are
to big. So when it was opened
for pressing half the seam popped out.
This is more of what we are
going for. Even, quarter inch seams.
Notion wall. Do not try to force yourself out of your box. When you are ready to expand your fabric horizons it will happen naturally. In the mean time, If you don’t like what your looking at you will never want to finish that quilt.
Keep an open mind. Again. Contradicting advice. Say you won that fat quarter your friend from step five donated to the guild. Grab it, find colors from your stash that compliment it, and see what happens. You may be surprised.
Give your eye somewhere to rest. When choosing fabrics for your blocks, not only should you
pay attention to how the colors flow or compliment each other, you need to think about small scale prints or solid color fabrics that will provide contrast and help give your other fabrics the extra punch they need to stand out.
Measure your quilt borders. Many quilter just sew a long strip to the border, and then trim it even with the body of the quilt. This is really not a great plan...it will lead to a wavy-hard-toquilt top.
For great looking borders measure all sides of the quilt. The chances are great they are not all going to measure the same, but if they are within the same range there is nothing to worry about. Then, figure the difference between the two measurements and piece and cut the border to THAT measurement before sewing to the quilt. Pin the border to the quilt starting from the
middle to ensure that it is evenly placed. The “long” side (quilt or border) will go against the feed dogs. The feed dogs will work that extra bit in, helping to square things up. It takes a bit of extra time but it will save you ALOT of time when your quilting it!
how-to advice. I’m talking about the old gal who always
wants to rearrange how you have your blocks laid out on the design wall. She douns’t even ask! She just does it!
Or the self imposed member of the quilt police who
constantly suggests you use a color you dislike to give
your quilt a little more “punch.” It’s YOUR quilt. Da Vinci
did not ask for painting suggestions from people around
him. Your not obligated to change your design or fabric
choices for anyone else either! If you want advice or
help people are always happy to give it, but that does
not mean your obligated to do something you don’t like.
Additionally...say your stuck and it’s not going well. Eat some chocolate!!!! (another method of “fudging”) Drink a diet pepsi or something stronger and take a break! Sometimes your project needs you to walk away for a bit.
What are your favorite methods or tips for creating a Quilt you are happy with? Keep stitching..................