Friday, April 6, 2012

Random weekend thoughts....

I'm going to be a bit random today as I've had lots of thoughts floating around in my head these days. My "get to the point" statements/questions will be in bold and I'd love any input you'd like to offer!

~ the Fast Forward quilt top is finished and I'm contemplating where to go next with it. I have a difficult time adding accurately sewn borders onto quilts (ditto with sashing) but I'm considering it for this one to increase its size a bit and use up a bit more of the white fabric. What are your feelings on borders, and does anyone have any border tips???

~ I've joined my first on-line quilt bee! 'Don't Worry {bee} Happy' on Flickr and I can't wait to get started! My month isn't until January 2013 but I'm gathering some block ideas already. I like the Octagonal Orb Block, Liberated Churn Dash block, this new Kaleidoscope Quilt block, I love Bow Tie quilts like this one..... SO many options! Many of you have participated in online bees - what have been some of your favourite bee blocks?

~ Any tips for increasing accuracy in piecing? I struggle a bit and would love a few tips. Do you use a 1/4" foot? Do you press with steam or without steam? How much do you think the quality of fabric has to do with accuracy in piecing?

I have more but I think that's enough questions for one post! I look forward to hearing from you. Happy Easter everyone.


Danny Heyen said...

Let me give you some of the tips that have helped me.

-PIN! Don't be a hero. Just pin. Especially where you match up seams. I always match up the seams, then put a pin on either side. And when I sew, I leave the pins in. I know you aren't supposed to, but I've only broken one needle and I survived.

-Starch. Use lots of it, especially on pieces you cut on the bias. Or small pieces. I use it on small pieces too.

-I use a 1/4" foot ALWAYS. I love it. Couldn't live without it. Amazing. End of story.

-Don't steam! It wil stretch the fibers. Don't iron either. You want to press. Sometimes when I have really nasty creases in my fabric that I can't get out with just heat, I will spray it with water then press (or steam. whatever) After, though, I always set it aside to dry and cool completely so the fibers can come back to their regular shape. I don't know if this helps at all, but that's what I do.

I hope this helps! Oh yeah, go slow! I find that when I'm not in a hurry, I get a much better seam.

Sharon - Lilabelle Lane said...

I have to agree..... always Pin and never use steam, just a hot iron. I never use starch. Also, something I have found, your cutting ruler, does it have a colored line/boarder on the very edge? If so try a ruler that does not ... my cutting / piecing accurace improved heaps. have a great easter xx

Debbie said...

Good questions! I really don't like borders or sashings & avoid them when possible! RE: borders - I do the trick where you measure thru the middle of the quilt to determine sashing length, but still sometimes get ripples... ;-/
I confess I use steam most of the time, but really need to try not.
I haven't been in a bee where you choose 1 block for folks to make for you, so not much help. Tho I really love all the blocks I've made for the 4x5 bee:

Suz J said...

Quilts usually dictate whether they want borders or not - some need one, some don't, some could go either way. Some protest and look strange no matter how desperately you want to add a border to it because it just isn't big enough - but the quilt always wins. I always work out what the maths says the border piece should be. Then compare it to the actual measurement. If it's within a whisker (and by whisker I mean up to 1/2"ish), I'll use the maths measurement. Cut the correct length using your measurement - making sure the ends are square, and pin on evenly. Your border will always stretch longer if you let it - measuring and pinning means at least you know what you're aiming for. I use a 1/4" foot - and have a line closer towards me on the sewing plate - I aim to line up between the two lines, and I think this helps me to keep straight. Sewing is only half the picture, you need to ensure your cutting is exact also and I think it is an individual process of understanding your personal cutting tendancies, then working on your personal seam allowance required to make a complete package - because at the end of the day I don't want perfect 1/4 inch seams - I want the finished piece to measure correctly.

Alli said...

Yay for joining your first bee! How exciting! I was so thrilled when I joined my first one last year. :)

I use a 1/4" foot, but I only pin for longer lengths. I nest my seams as much as possible in order to avoid having to pin. :>

Kate said...

1) I like borders, though I don't always use them. My method is to measure across the quilt in three places - middle and each end - to average the measurement. Then I press the quilt side and border in quarters and match it - WITH PINS - in each of the four places. I don't pin at any other time, but borders always get pins and evenly spaced ones.
3) I press, not iron. I don't use steam - even if I wanted to, that feature broke on my iron a couple moves ago! I use a 1/4" foot, which I tested - I have another one that is NOT 1/4" despite it's name!

Leanne said...

Your quilt is looking lovely. I think that Kate has all the border tips, especially marking the middle and quarter points and matching them - like you might match the marks on a garment pattern. Then ease in any part that is too big as you sew and pin a lot.

For the seams, practice what works for your cutting and your sewing and your thread - all can impact. You may need to move your needle's position if you can or find a better mark for the 1/4" point. I put a plastic tape mark on my machine leading up to the needle at the place my fabric needs to be to get a good seam and I follow that. Do several practice pieces, measure the resulting seam and also the resulting piece after pressing to see what sewing location works.

You will have fun in your bee, I love all of mine. My advice is to consider giving your bee mates room for some creativity in making your block - they will send you amazing results.

Katie said...

Not much I can add for borders, pinning etc.... but I will vote for you choosing the octagonal orb for your block. Pure selfish reasons though, I just want to make one!

Poppyprint said...

Great questions! The surefire way to get an accurate border is to measure through the middle of the quilt only. So for the side borders, measure the length of the quilt from top to bottom through the very middle of the quilt. Use this measurement (it's much more accurate than the averages method). Fold your border in 1/2 and fingerpress, match that 1/2 way point to the folded 1/2 way point of your quilt (NOT the 1/2 way dictated by the seam of two blocks that is 'supposed' to be the middle!). Pin the 1/2 way points then match the ends of the border with the edges of the quilt and pin. Pin between the 1/2 way and the ends, distributing ease if there is some. Always sew with the pieced quilt on the bottom, so your feeddogs can take up ease and you can gently stretch the border fabric on top if necessary. Using this method will eliminate wavy borders on quilts.

As for 1/4", there's a test you can do to see if your 1/4" is actually a scant 1/4" (required in accurate traditional block piecing). Cut 10- 2 1/2" squares. Piece them all together in a strip. Press all seams to one side (not open). Measure. Is your strip 20" long? If not, make the necessary modifications (increase or decrease your s.a. accordingly). I find piecing with a fine thread like Aurifil can improve accuracy like crazy b/c it doesn't take up space in the s.a. like chunkier (Mettler) threads can.

Finally, don't be too hard on yourself! I've been quilting over 10 years and I often struggle with seam allowance. I am the queen of fudging. I do have 1/4" foot and another 1/4" food with a fence. I can piece more accurately without the fence, I find (plus, I like to pin important intersections and the fence gets in the way of the pins). I do use steam sometimes, but not with any seams sewn on a bias, like 1/2 squares.

Looks like you've got heaps of useful tips already. Your work is beautiful Heather and I'm sure you'll love the bee. Your fellow bee-ers are lucky to have you!

Jenelle said...

I have been trying a lot of different things lately to increase my accuracy and I found the one thing that made the biggest difference was to use starch on every fabric before cutting. It not only makes the fabric crisp and easier to accurately sew, but for me it also reduces a lot of the fraying that I find I have.

I don't currently use a 1/4" foot, but I have thought about purchasing one to see how I like it.

I haven't run into any issues yet with wavy sashing and borders, so this may not be exactly the answer you need, but I can tell you how I usually tackle it. I tend to cut my sashing and border pieces a little longer than needed and sew leaving excess on both ends. It allows me to be able to just trim off the extra and not worry too much about easing the fabric to fit. With sashing, there may be some easing that is unavoidable since you are working to line up the blocks inside the quilt (like on my Just Wing It Quilt with the cornerstones). I do exactly what Poppyprint suggests, pin in place and then sew with the pieced portion underneath and the sashing on top to help ease into place.

I am going to be following this discussion closely since I am always looking for tips myself. :) Thanks for asking these great questions!

felicity said...

I've been in a few online bees and here are a few tips that you may not have thought of:
- specify the colour of thread you want people to use, even if it's just to say you'd like it to be light-coloured.
- don't choose an overly difficult block unless your fellow bee participants are really experienced sewists.
- have fun and be open!

Katie B said...

You've received some great answers already! I'm no good at borders, so I can't help you there. I do use a 1/4 inch foot, and I love starch (no steam)!

Congrats on your first bee! How fun. You have some great ideas already. I like to give my bee friends some freedom. For one of my bees, I asked them to make star blocks, but they could be any star they wanted. I also asked my new to make any blocks they want for my Christmas quilt. Both turned out awesome. Check out the finished quilts gallery from do. Good Stitches for more ideas.

Kirsten said...

If a quilt is not big enough then adding borders is an easy way to make it the right size.
Love your Fast Forward quilt:)

Heidi Grohs said...

I wish I had an answer for the border for you! I am a fly at the seat of your pants kind of girl ;)!