Several have written to me that they prefer to measure their tops and several have written to ask how I’m sure my sewing is perfect.
I am sure my sewing is not perfect! But, in order to get closer to perfection, without stressing too much about it, here are some tips that may help. Make sure:
- Your fabrics are carefully pressed, maybe use a little Fabric Finish or similar product, before you begin cutting.
- Fold your fabric carefully. Make sure your folds are straight before you begin cutting.
- Carefully and precisely make your cuts. All rulers are not equal. The edges of rulers can be worn away after much use. I love the Creative Grids rulers and I believe they make my cutting much more accurate. They are available at your local quilt shop. They may be more expensive (in that you can’t use Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s coupons) but for me, they are so worth it. When I’m teaching and I pick up someone else’s ruler just to demo, if it’s a brand other than Creative Grids, afer one cut I immediately begin looking for a Creative Grids ruler. They do make a difference.
- Make sure your 1/4″ foot is exactly 1/4″ and if you need to make a scant 1/4″ seam, know how to do it. Invest in a good 1/4″ foot. Like rulers, some 1/4″ feet are better than others.
- Press gently but effectively. Make sure those seams are going the way you want them to go. Keep them straight while pressing.
- Pin and make sure things line up.
- When you see a problem, fix it! Don’t just let it go. It only compounds a problem.
I’m surely not telling anyone how to sew and if measuring works best for you, then by all means — measure! But, if you’re saying you’re measuring because your tops don’t come out to be the exact measurements they’re supposed to be, that concerns me because:
- What if you’re making a top and some of the blocks have 12 pieces and some of the blocks have 24 pieces? If your seams are a bit too large or a bit too small, then your two blocks aren’t going to be the same size.
- What if you’re using a pieced sashing? The measurements for the pieces may be based on your block being a 9″ finished block. If your block isn’t 9-1/2″ unfinished, that sashing isn’t going to work.
- What if there’s a pieced border? The sizes of those border pieces are based on your top being a certain size when it gets to that point.
Whether or not my quilts are perfect is not something that keeps me awake at night. I leave that to a 20 year old!
But honestly, it’s just so easy to get close to perfect piecing with so little effort . . if that’s a priority.
I’m not judging anyone. If your pieces don’t match up and your measurements are off and that doesn’t bother you one bit, it surely doesn’t bother me and I’m not one who looks at quilts made by others with a critical eye. I think having fun and enjoying the process is a whole lot better than stressing over perfection. Maybe that’s why I stick with very simple designs!
Cutting accurately aside, the biggest thing that helped me was getting a good 1/4″ foot. And slowing down!!
Also make sure that you have a sharp rotary cutter blade! I was cutting fabric last night and my blade wasn’t going through so I kept having to go over some of the spots and the way I’d move the fabric pulled it out of position and made my edges wavy!
Good advice Judy. I use Creative Grids too and find them to be much better than other brands. Oh I have some of the others hanging on my wall but I only use them in a pinch and rarely does anything pinch! I’d still like to find a good 1/4″ foot for my Janome though – the one that came with it is off. I can’t seem to find a 1/4″ foot I like but I’ve learned to adjust my machine by moving the needle and that works pretty well for me. blessings, marlene
I have actually not had luck finding a universal 1/4 inch foot. I have a Brothers machine that my mom bought me from Wal-Mart.
I have found that measuring each block have I have finished the block construction helps also.
Lynne in Hawaii says
Great advice Judy. Mahalo!