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Can anyone else relate to this?

Can anyone else relate to this?

Old 07-25-2022, 06:55 AM
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Default Can anyone else relate to this?

I'm not all that far into making my latest quilt and already I have the frustration that I get with every single quilt I make. It's a bear claw quilt (and I'm so frustrated I'm saying grrrrrrrr over and over). No matter how slow I go, how careful I am when cutting, how much I measure and remeasure at every step, how much I over-cut, etc. nothing ever comes out square as it should. I can take a pile of squares, 1.5" x 1.5", sew them together 2 at a time. If I've done my math right I should end up with a pile of rectangles that measure 1.5" x 2.5". But no, every single one will be off by a few threads to a sixteenth or even an eighth of an inch or more off. And the more parts of the square I put together the worse things will be.

In this latest quilt, I just finished making the 96 individual claws (which should be 3.5" squares). Looking at all of them I would say that pretty close to 100% of them need to be redone . I'm only pulling the absolute worst to redo and it's a full 25% of them. And of course every time I pull the seams apart a couple threads are lost at the cutting line which creates more problems especially if I have to redo 2 or 3 or 4 times.

Every time I make a quilt I say this one will be better, I will be careful, I will watch every step, but no matter what I can't cut or sew a straight line. I've made about 30 quilts so I'm not totally new to quilting. It seems I'm no better at this now than when I first started. Between the extra time it will take to undo the seams of the ones I am redoing and then put them back together and then still have them be off, and then putting the 4 claws together with sashing to make a larger square, I'm losing interest fast knowing that things will become even more wonky as I go along despite giving it my best try.

Does anyone else have this problem?
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:23 AM
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Here’s a picture of one of my squares that “passed inspection,” so this is one of my better ones, lol. But now that I’ve taken a picture, the flaws are even more obvious so I will be redoing this one. Blowing up the squares definitely makes things more visible; I think if I did this to all of them I would be redoing 100%.
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:25 AM
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Don’t get so hung up on perfection over function. Try your best and then appreciate the overall beauty when finished and quilted.
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:25 AM
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I am sorry you are having such troubles, I think we have all been there!

1: I highly recommend starching fabrics before cutting. It provides oomph to the fabric and makes cutting more accurate, at least for me, YMMV.

2: When measuring and cutting, be sure the line is on the fabric. Bonnie Hunter has an excellent video on this.

3: I always make a practice block, and adjust accordingly if needed. I then make a notation of what is needed so I don't forget. Each quilt gets notations on a legal pad until I am done with it, in case I have to pause for a while.

4: Pinning! I am a firm believer in pinning, especially if there are smaller units involved. Yes, it takes more time, but IMHO it’s worth the effort. I am a methodical quilter, I set my machine to sewing speed to middle, not too fast not too slow and I guide my fabric, and let the feed dogs do the work.

5: This is what works for me, YMMV, and I am sure others will chime in with more tips and tricks.

You’ve got this!
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:26 AM
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yep, and I have decided to make a goal of "improvement" So, I no longer look at the points that aren't perfect. I chose to look at the ones that are. My goal is just to make a usable quilt so if the quilt will hold together and it is flat enough to quilt, and big enough for the intended purpose, it is good to go. Over the years, I find I actually have more "good points" to count and less strange points. I would not worry about something being 1/16 or even most of the time,1/8 of an inch off. Fabric is actually a fairly "fluid" media to work in and things will usually look just fine when together and quilted. Now, if you want to do a ribbon winning quilt, well, that will take a bit more perfection. I do this quilting stuff mainly for my own enjoyment and to have fun. If I get too into perfectionism, it is no longer fun. I think everyone has to decide how much perfection they will settle for in their quilting. I do not quilt for others. Again, my purpose is to have fun while creating a useable quilt for others that can thrown in the washer and dryer and end up wearing out from being used.
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Old 07-25-2022, 07:38 AM
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That’s usually how my blocks look. (Insert sad face). What I end up doing is sewing them together as if they’re square, then adding additional sewing in any seam area that’s skimpy. I don’t know what to say about making them turn out better. I think starching probably helps, even though I rarely use starch. (So that may be my problem too!). I actually think that block you show doesn’t look too bad!
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Old 07-25-2022, 08:13 AM
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I was resistant to squaring up units (trimming) for many years, as it seemed like a waste of time. The unit you've shown was typical for me in my non-trimming days. I think it was making a quilt with Edyta Sitar one time, where she said (in answer to a comment about her quilts looking so good), that her secret was that she sewed a scant 1/4" and trimmed up every unit (and if you've seen her quilts, that's a lot of units!). So I tried decreasing my seam allowance by a smidge with the aim of ending up with a unit that is just slightly larger than it should be, and then trimming. Once I experienced the ease and satisfaction of sewing accurate units together, I was hooked.

I think as long as you end up with usable units (that is, units that are 1/8" or less off), don't worry about how they look before being sewn into the quilt.
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Old 07-25-2022, 08:17 AM
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I have experienced your frustration.

I think there are some fabrics that are more ornery than others.

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Old 07-25-2022, 09:43 AM
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First, my quilts/stitching are far from perfect. I’m ok with that. However there are tricks to help.
1) accurate cutting. Use good rulers, investment. Sharp blades, investment. And fabric with enough body so it’s not flimsy.
2) make sure the seams are 1/4 inch. ‘Power Cutting”, a book, has great teaching on achieving this for straight edge shapes. A barrier on the machine bed can help. This is an old credit card or stack of masking tape adheared at the 1/4” mark. On my 9mm wide machine, it sews more accurate seams with a standard foot and move the needle 2-3 clicks to the right.
3) Use a 50 or 60 wt thread
4) pressing (not ironing) with NO steam.
5) a note on machines, a straight stitch only machine does a more accurate straight stitch than a zig zag machine. It has to do with the motion of the hook, ascillating or rotating.

Relax. I think this is suppose to be fun?

#2)….cut 3 1.5inch x 4inch strips. Easily differentiated values will help this process. Sew them together on the long sides. Press with seams open. Measure. It should be 3.5 inches. If not, try again, adjusting width of seam or weight of thread. Keep trying until correct. Remember this isn’t rocket science and doesn’t need rocket science accuracy, it’s not going to hit the moon.

Again. Relax. Have fun.
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Old 07-25-2022, 10:10 AM
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Re-check your squaring up technique.

I see that the "diagonal line" of the ruler is not going through the first white square (upper right side) at the point.

Tilt the ruler so it on the diagonal throughout the block and then square up.

Another issue may be that you are putting the line "UP" to the fabric and cutting. You want the ruler line to cover the fabric and be "ON" the fabric. It's a few threads but will make a difference.

If you are starching and pressing after sewing the blocks, that can cause shrinkage too.

PS: If you are using two different rulers for cutting & squaring up they could be off on the measurements.

Last edited by Rhonda K; 07-25-2022 at 10:20 AM.
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