September 14, 2011

Bella and Edward Wedding Quilt: Tips for Success

How many times has everyone watched the trailer????????????????????  OMG!!!  Okay, now that that is out of the way....  I'm sure glad I have quilting, soccer weekends, and football Sundays to fill the time between now and the movie.  Yeah, right, that's not going to be enough.  Is anyone surprised at how much we saw in the trailer?  I'm not sorry being the spoiler queen that I am.  MTV gives a good breakdown.

Back to our regularly scheduled post:

Beyond you me to tell anyone how to quilt......  I get myself in enough trouble with my exacting standards.

I would think that anyone would want their blocks to finish the right size and looking nice, though, right?!

I don't think it should be too annoying that I share some things that I find helpful in finishing a good block, specifically as it relates to this quilt and paper piecing projects in general.

I'll let everyone in on a little secret even though it will ruin everyone's opinion of me, my test Wedding Ring quilt block didn't finish to size.  What?!  Yes, it's true.  It was a little under 1/8" off in some places.

I made a new block with different focus fabric:



It finished just right!

I don't always sew with a scant 1/4" seam by moving my needle over that one position on my machine.  I should have known to do so with this block because of the type of block that it is with all the HSTs and sections.  If a block only has a couple of seams and isn't complicated, then sometimes I don't sew with a scant 1/4" seam.  I also take into consideration the fabric I'm using (I though the batiks would help because they're thinner and more stable.)  Consider this....  If a block loses just 1/32" per seam, which is like one to two thread counts of fabric, for four seams a block could finish 1/8" smaller.  Sewing with a scant 1/4" seam can help counteract other issues.

Here is a list of some things that one might want to consider:

1) Sew with a scant 1/4" seam for this block...accurately!

2) Be careful going over all those intersection seams, especially the HSTs, because they are tough and your machine might fight the seam a bit to be pulled off line.  If you do stray, go back and fix it!

3) Press carefully.....I am NOT a fan of using starch, steam, or sizing during construction.  I think you get distortion.  Use these products on your fabric before using them in a block.

4) Don't trust the printed seam allowance line of the pattern, necessarily, or a better thought, achieve consistency by using the same ruler for every point of construction (cutting fabric, patterns, and blocks).  I lined up my 1/4" line on my ruler with block line and NOT the printed seam allowance line to trim the section or block to size after its been sewed.  I noticed a miniscule difference in my seam allowance in some areas of certain sections sometimes when I did this, but I think it matters.

5) I cut up all my fabric for the blocks before I started and doing so really made a difference in the amount of time it took me to complete the block.  I was able to chain piece the sections and it really seemed like I was able to piece the second block a lot faster--or maybe I just knew what I was doing the second time around.  I'm going to piece all the A blocks tonight the same way.

6) Speaking of cutting fabric....  I am generous when I estimate and cut fabric for paper piecing block parts.  I think it saves time in the end.  For instance, I cut 2.5" strips of fabric for the HST's and squares.  For the HSTs, I did cut the squares into two triangles.  The triangles and squares were more than big enough to cover the pattern piece without worry and fussing.  I had a bit more waste, but less stress.  I never had to unpick and restitch a piece after discovering that it didn't cover the area or wasn't enough for the seam allowance.  (There is a handy ruler that I have onhand, but I rarely use it.  It is a good tool, though.  Add-Enough Ruler)

7) Use the shortest stitch length you can when paper piecing.  I used a 1.0 for these blocks.  Someone I used to know complained about visible stitches in their paper pieced blocks....well, she used too large of a stitch length and it showed up in the seam allowance when she pressed or worse started coming undone in the quilt.  The paper really gets perforated, too, with a short stitch length making removing the paper easier--this is the step everbody hates, right?  (The one bad thing about using a really short stitch length, though, is that if you make a mistake it makes seam ripping really tough and maybe even unsalvageable.)

8) Adjust tension as needed on your machine.  You might need to adjust tension when sewing through fabric and paper to be different from regular sewing.  Someone else I used to know wasn't mindful of tension and used too loose of tension causing thread in seam allowances to be seen, to come unsewn, and be unstable.

9) Invest in an Add a 1/4" Ruler and Add an 1/8" Ruler.  These rulers qualify as tools I can't live without!  (I used the Add and 1/8" to trim my interior block seams to 1/8" in the block sections, not the outside seam allowance, to help cut down on bulk seams.)  I use the rulers to trim my seam allowances for each seam and also to trim seams to add the next piece to cut down on waste.

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