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Thread: New to quilting, and it shows...

  1. #1
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    New to quilting, and it shows...

    Hello from Wisconsin. I'm a new quilter who joined looking for some desperately needed help.

    SO I just started my third quilt. (My first two quilt tops would be disasters to you guys. LOL They look fine...but were sewn with 1/2" seams! Luckily it only took me one and a haf tops to realize why they turned out so much smaller than what they were supposed to be. HAHA)

    So now that I have my 1/4" foot, I decided I'm sticking to all simple patterns until I get everything else down. I thought I was doing great until after I pressed two blocks and found out they won't match up when I go to sew them together (one horizontal and one vertical). They're literally a good 1/2" short so it's not like I can muss with the seams and get by.

    Can give me an idea of what to check to find out where I went wrong? My seams measured to 1/4", I am fairly certain I cut my strips to the correct size, but I am going to measure those, as well. I'm completely crushed at this point, as I thought I was doing so well and everything would be fine now that I have the correct presser foot.

    Any help will be appreciated.

    Stacey

  2. #2
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    It can only be the seam allowance, inaccurate cutting or inaccurate pattern. Keep in mind that many, many 1/4 inch feet are not really 1/4 inch and many patterns really require a "scant" 1/4 inch seam.

    If you can show us a picture, we can probably help more.

  3. #3
    Super Member SandyinZ4's Avatar
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    Hi Cooksa, Please don't be discouraged. We are glad you joined us. Like Lisa said, it can either be cutting or sewing. Pictures would help a lot, too and what pattern you are doing. There are so many people here who can help so we will have you quilting better in no time. I wish you could see the first quilt I made. You would not feel so bad! Also, you might check in your area(?) and see if there are any guilds who can help out in person. Ok..your turn. tell us more about what you are doing. Quilty hugs!
    She who dies with the most fabric, didn't sew fast enough!

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies. Lucky for me, I cut enough fabric for two of these quilts, so I have abother set of the one color to try again.

    The pattern I'm using is the "Fat Quarter Four Step" by Harding Hill Designs. I'll get pics of the ones I didn't steam and pull the bejeebus out of to try to get that extra bit of fabric out of them...
    Last edited by cooksa; 12-05-2013 at 09:48 PM.

  5. #5
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    Don't be crushed! I've been quilting for 6 years and still can't get all my seams to match!

    If the blocks are off by 1/2", it's possible that the blocks are cut wrong. That can happen if the ruler doesn't 'grip' the fabric and it slides out of place while you are cutting. There are all kinds of aids to get the ruler to grip the fabric.

    The method I use is to spray the back of the ruler with a small blast of basting spray, use a soft cloth to wipe a lot of the basting spray off so that the sprayed side of the ruler is slightly tacky. I've only had to do that once with each ruler, and have been using this method for at least 3 years.

    Other things that improved my cutting accuracy:

    1) The fold of the fabric - when you cut over the fold, the cut is curved, kind of like an elbow. I read somewhere that pressing the fold into a sharp crease in the fabric reduces the size of the elbow. It works for me!

    2) I have no luck at all with cutting multiple layers of fabric. Since I know it is a problem for me, I don't do it.

    3) In the last year, i learned that my cutting is much more accurate if I use a piece of painters tape to mark the cut line on the ruler. It's hard for me to see the ruler lines, so the painters tape makes the 'cut line' stand out for me.

    4) Not sure how to explain this, but I'll try anyway. If, for example, you want to cut a strip that is 3" wide by the width of the fabric,

    a) Make sure your fabric is evenly folded and straighten the edge of the fabric where you will begin cutting.

    b) Assuming your ruler is 6" wide x 24" long,
    * align the ruler so that 3 inches of the ruler are over the width of the fabric and 3 inches are off the fabric. In other words, 3" of the ruler will cover the strip of fabric you want to cut, and 3" will rest on the cutting board.

    * Since our hypothetical strip -to-cut is 3", make sure the edge of the fabric aligns with the 3" line of your ruler before you cut!

    Then cut the fabric 3" in from the edge.

    c) I only recently learned that it is necessary to straighten the edge of the fabric after every third strip. It seems like we shouldn't need to do that, but we do. Apparently the fabric shifts a little bit with each cut.

    4) Many people starch their fabric before cutting. It's not something I usually do because of allergies. Starch turns into dust as you handle the fabric.

    Having said that, I learned the hard way that starching is extremely helpful when cutting on the bias or when you have a fabric that wants to shred itself back to threads.

    Good luck to you on your quilting journey!
    Last edited by cathyvv; 12-05-2013 at 10:05 PM.

  6. #6
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    Thanks again for the replies and tips. They are definitely being noted.

    My pictures have to be approved before posting, so when that happens they'll be here.

  7. #7
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    Don't be discouraged! There are many patterns that don't require matching seams. It takes time to get it to where you will feel it's "right". You'll get it, just keep trying.

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    Welcome from Adrian, MI

  9. #9
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    Hi from Ohio!
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    Welcome from Michigan!

  11. #11
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    oh please keep going. you should see my first few quilts. but you get better every time.
    don't give up welcome from a cold North Dakota

  12. #12
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    Good morning and welcome!!
    I like the pattern, a cool 'twist' on rail fence!

    So, on the pattern you have picked where the piecing only runs in one direction it will be very obvious if your cutting or piecing is off even just a bit. A couple threads on each cut and/or a few threads on each seam and you could quickly end up that 1/2" off. Or, 1/16th of an inch on each seam...that is pretty, um, tiny!

    So, I would suggest double checking to make sure you strips are the correct width.
    Suggestion. When cutting, be sure to use the same ruler for all your cuts for a quilt. Or at least the same kind/brand.

    The ever elusive 1/4" seam is a pain! Most everyone on here has struggled with it at some point, so you are in good company!
    One of the best suggestions I ever followed was, cut some squares, whatever size you want 2" or 3". Sew a set together, press them open and then measure the unit. If you cut 2" squares, the unit should measure 3.5". If you use 3" squares the unit should measure 5.5". If your unit measurement is off, make the necessary adjustments and try again. When you have it right, put some painters tape on the sewing machine bed to use as a seam guide. Voila!!

    Good luck!!
    let us know how it goes!



  13. #13
    Super Member Abby'smom's Avatar
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    welcome from se TX -- keep at it -- I am surprised at how many of my skills have improved with practice
    diane

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    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    Welcome from S CA!

  15. #15
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    A warm welcome from Michigan.

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    Super Member bjsmith57's Avatar
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    Welcome from Arizona
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  17. #17
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Welcome Cooksa. As a hint, not all 1/4" feet are equal. I always test my 1/4" feet by using 1/4" grid paper.
    Sweet Caroline

  18. #18
    Senior Member musicaljan's Avatar
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    Welcome from Illinois! I usually choose patterns where you don't have to match seams! =D
    I know that the night must end and that the sun will rise. I know that the clouds must clear and that the sun will shine. Simba

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    Welcome from western NY and happy quilting
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  20. #20
    Super Member GrammaNan's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting your question Stacey, I have learned some things from the answers you received. Good luck, stick with board and Welcome from Colorado!
    I am too POSITIVE to be doubtful, too OPTIMISTIC to be fearful and way to DETERMINED to be defeated.

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    Welcome from NE Ohio.

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    Welcome from the small country town of Meeker, Oklahoma!
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    Welcome from Spring, Texas

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    Super Member CherryPie's Avatar
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  25. #25
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    Thanks again for all the helpful tips. I have now tried adjusting my 1/4" seams and tried again. My block has yet to be pressed. I'll let you all know how it went.

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