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Thread: Getting seams to match up. Will I ever master it?

  1. #1
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    I'm piecing together some blocks right now that are definitely a challenge for me. I know for your seams to match up correctly it all depends on you cutting accurately, sewing 1/4" accurately and pressing accurately. I certainly do my best to do all that as well as I can, but I still have seams that don't line up. How can you ever do everything perfectly, so your block comes out perfectly?! Is it just a matter of years and years of practice?

    I'm not the type that can seam rip over and over until it's right. I just don't have that kind of patience. My straight seams are all matching up, it's these angled pieces that you can't match up while pinning that I'm having trouble with. I can't see that they've matched up, or not, until I sew and press open. I can kind of pin it in place and open it a little to see if it's close, but can't tell if it's exact until it's a done deal.

    I know there's probably no magic tip that can help me. It's the same 'ole cut well, sew a correct 1/4" and redo it if it's not right. I just needed to complain. :P

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  2. #2
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    You're doing some fairly complicated blocks, give yourself a break!! Being off that much on one seam in a whole block isn't bad at all!! Quilt it and wash it and you'll never see it.

  3. #3
    Super Member Deb watkins's Avatar
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    Just quickly looking at the misaligned seam, I am wondering if the the seams are just a tad more than 1/4"....it looks like it may be, from what I can see pressed back, and that can throw the alignment off.

  4. #4
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    I stick a pin straight down through both seams to be sure they're even then I pin along the seam line with a long pin, run it in and out like basting so I can open it up and peek, if it looks good I carefully repin off the seamline and remove the first one so I can sew. Sometimes nothing works. I've never made a perfect quilt but I have places on all of them that are!

  5. #5
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Angles are harder to pin, have you ever tried glue basting? I have found it helpful for alignments like these.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-29275-1.htm

  6. #6
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    My blogjust disappeared. I was saying, I took a class recently for a bargello and she gave us each a glue stick and we put a dab of glue on each seam and then matched the other side to it and pressed the two to go together with my finger. Then when I sewed them together the fabric worked itself in and the seams matched. I finished a king size bargello and all seams matched up. And the glue disappates quickly and does not gum up the needle for some reason. Hope this might work for you.

  7. #7
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    When I look at the blocks "from a distance" - as in the top picture - everything looks aligned to me.

    It may be that one's eyes/brain just sort of "fill-in" to what it's supposed to be, but it does look good to me. (I'm really NOT a member of the **, but I DO notice)

    Like Deb Watkins wrote, your seams may be a bit "off." It may be that your seams are a bit too deep and that's what causing that. Try deliberately making a seam too shallow and see if it does the opposite and that may help diagnose the problem.

  8. #8
    Super Member Pamela Artman's Avatar
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    Here's a tip I use when piecing angled pieces. Put a pin through the seam 1/4" in from the edge. Then poke the pin through the seam 1/4" from the edge of the other unit. Hold the pin straight up and down between two of your fingers (don't come back up through the fabric with your pin, just hold it in place) and take another pin and pin on each side of your first pin, then sew your seam, making sure to hit the "spot" thats marked with the first pin, removing the pins as you come to them. Kinda hard to explain! When you put your pin through the two seams, you'll see why it's so hard to sew them correctly because the seams don't line up.

  9. #9
    Pam
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    It is frustrating to get the angles to line up, that is for sure. Try the glue basting, if that does not work, this might, it is time consuming and I learned this from a pro that enters quilt shows to win. Let me know if it works for you. Hand baste, eww, I know, right? Just one or 2 stitches at each intersection, leave the thread hanging and just go down the block. It takes a little longer than pinning but before you sew you KNOW it is lined up, and the stitches are easy to take out. I have not done this yet.

  10. #10
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    I also have a 1/4" foot and marked a 1/4 using blue paint ers tape and putting a second layer on the tape gives it a border to follow. And "press" don't iron. I tend to stretch my seams when I ironed incorectly. I am talking about what happens to me, not you. Just a thought. lol

  11. #11
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    So with the glue basting, just stick a little bit right where my seams match, stick them together and press it with a dry iron? What about if you don't line them up correctly and you have to redo the glue? Does the fabric come apart easily at all?

    The problem is happening on that outside strip that I piece on last. Seems that some of the strips are too long for the block and I'm having to pin on the straight seams and ease inbetween. I was thinking maybe my 1/4" was too scant on those last strips. I'm sure I'll get it all figured out on the last block. :)

    Kathy, I love where you said you've never made a perfect quilt, but each quilt you've made has perfects spots. How true!!

  12. #12
    Super Member Quiltgranny's Avatar
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    I'm in agreement with Deb, too. It 'looks' like your seams may be too deep, more than 1/4". Does your pattern call for 1/4" or a scant 1/4"? Have you measured your seam width to make sure it is what your pattern calls for? Some directions will call for a scant 1/4" when you have so many pieces in a block, but others do not. Consistency is what matters.

    Also, what type of thread you use for piecing can make a big difference on the outcome, too. Many quilters have switched to using 50 weight 2 ply for piecing instead of the traditional 3 ply. It makes a HUGE difference!! My piecing has improved tremendously just by switching to a 2 ply, like Aurafil or any other 2 ply. They are just as strong as the 2 ply, but thinner so they take up less room in the seam.

    I've pieced a lot of blocks similar to the ones you're doing, and it does look like, as Deb mentioned about the alignment, that your seam might be too deep, more than 1/4".

    Be patient, checking these few steps will go a long way to improve your piecing, as will practice. As another poster said, you are doing a fairly complicated block, so please, don't be so hard on yourself. You will be much happier with the end result if you rip and redo once you've found out what's causing the misalignment. Best of luck and please, keep us posted on your progress.

    Karla

  13. #13
    quiltilicious's Avatar
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    I also ease the fabric (pull on the top or bottom) to get the seams to line up if there's a slight mismatch.

    If I absolutely, positively have to have everything be "perfect" I paper piece. I get much better results with points that way.

  14. #14
    Super Member GrammaNan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam
    It is frustrating to get the angles to line up, that is for sure. Try the glue basting, if that does not work, this might, it is time consuming and I learned this from a pro that enters quilt shows to win. Let me know if it works for you. Hand baste, eww, I know, right? Just one or 2 stitches at each intersection, leave the thread hanging and just go down the block. It takes a little longer than pinning but before you sew you KNOW it is lined up, and the stitches are easy to take out. I have not done this yet.
    I call them tailor tacks and that is what I have to resort to. I have been afraid that glue will gum up my machine. Any thoughts?

  15. #15
    quiltilicious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiltgranny

    Also, what type of thread you use for piecing can make a big difference on the outcome, too. Many quilters have switched to using 50 weight 2 ply for piecing instead of the traditional 3 ply. It makes a HUGE difference!! My piecing has improved tremendously just by switching to a 2 ply, like Aurafil or any other 2 ply. They are just as strong as the 2 ply, but thinner so they take up less room in the seam.
    Karla, you just gave me an epiphany! I haven't been paying much attention to thread weights when I piece. It never occurred to me that it could significantly affect the piece size.

  16. #16
    Pam
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    Isn't this board just a wealth of information?

  17. #17
    Super Member Theresa's Avatar
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    Just a thought...my sewing machine has a tendency to "push" places with seams. Am in the process of pressing all my seams open to try and counteract this problem. It happens when the seam is pressed towards the machine as it approaches. It doesn't happen when the seam is pressed in the direction towards me. (Does this make sense?)

  18. #18
    Super Member Theresa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam
    Isn't this board just a wealth of information?
    Ohhh my gosh - I just love it!!!

  19. #19
    Super Member GrammaNan's Avatar
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    50 weight 2 ply? I never knew about this, thanks for the tip.

  20. #20
    Super Member franie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam
    It is frustrating to get the angles to line up, that is for sure. Try the glue basting, if that does not work, this might, it is time consuming and I learned this from a pro that enters quilt shows to win. Let me know if it works for you. Hand baste, eww, I know, right? Just one or 2 stitches at each intersection, leave the thread hanging and just go down the block. It takes a little longer than pinning but before you sew you KNOW it is lined up, and the stitches are easy to take out. I have not done this yet.
    Oh I want to try this. Actually I do this sort of basting with my Lizzie when I think anything will shift--I baste or tack with the machine every few inches across. I pull it out before I roll the quilt.

  21. #21
    Senior Member aliaslaceygreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by debbieumphress
    I also have a 1/4" foot and marked a 1/4 using blue paint ers tape and putting a second layer on the tape gives it a border to follow. And "press" don't iron. I tend to stretch my seams when I ironed incorectly. I am talking about what happens to me, not you. Just a thought. lol
    hijacking, debbie, your kittie is dancing to Wham as I read, its very funny...

  22. #22
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    Good grief, Rachel :) You're making some beautiful blocks there...and you're worried about your seams being a smidge off??? (I know, I know ~~ YOU know and that's what bothers you.............I'm the same way :))

  23. #23
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    I haven't read all the answers, so I am sorry if I am repeating, but I was having the same problem when I first started quilting. I discover what my problem was. I was making sure that the seams were pressed in opposite directions, but when I butt them against each other, I was only doing it on the edge, instead of all the way down. Your seam is 1/4 inch, so you need to make sure the seams are butted all the way down. It helps to pin on both sides of the corners.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Rachel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam
    It is frustrating to get the angles to line up, that is for sure. Try the glue basting, if that does not work, this might, it is time consuming and I learned this from a pro that enters quilt shows to win. Let me know if it works for you. Hand baste, eww, I know, right? Just one or 2 stitches at each intersection, leave the thread hanging and just go down the block. It takes a little longer than pinning but before you sew you KNOW it is lined up, and the stitches are easy to take out. I have not done this yet.
    Taylor tacks. That's perfect. I've been letting a tumbling blocks pattern age forever because I couldn't get them to line up right, i think this will work. thanks Pam!!!

  25. #25
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    Don't stress over it. This is supposed to be fun and relaxing, not stressful.

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