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How to Piece Straight Seams in Columns and Rows

How to Piece Straight Seams in Columns and Rows

Old 08-22-2020, 09:32 AM
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Question How to Piece Straight Seams in Columns and Rows

Hi everyone,

I am trying to piece 7 columns and 7 rows together. Each row/column alternates either a 4" square block or a 4" x 16" block so that all the main intersecting seams every 20" should line up. (This is only 25% of the total quilt, so there will be many more to add to this quilt section later).

I am new to quilting with this many blocks, so I am having a lot of difficulty getting nice straight seams. I have been trying to complete all the blocks on one row, and then add this row to another row previously completed, then add another, etc. But while close, the connecting seams are just not precise enough to form a pretty straight line.

What are you doing to make sure your seams are nice and straight?

Thanks for any ideas!
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Old 08-22-2020, 09:51 AM
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For me, it starts with making sure my cuts are all the same. Being off 1/16" or 1/8" can really add up. As important for me is making sure I have a precise 1/4" seam. Then I make sure to nest the seams that come together, and I match up each row/intersection to make sure they are even, then I pin, pin, pin. As I sew I then check and double check and usually have fairly good luck. I also use the seam guide on my machine, and extend it out with tape to keep everything straight.
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Old 08-22-2020, 09:57 AM
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I will watch what advice you receive. All I can offer is the way I do it. I line up the seams and ease between. find the middle and pin, then pin in middle of those pins. Then, when I'm sewing and see a section of closer pins, I know I had to "ease" there and slow down my stitching speed.
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Old 08-22-2020, 10:05 AM
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In addition to the previous suggestions, have you pressed all the seams on the odd number of rows either right or left and the seams on all the even number of rows the opposite directions? This will allow you to line up those seams by "nesting" which makes it way easier to keep those seams straight. if you goggle "nesting seams" you should get some videos on how to do this. Once I got the seams lined up I pin them....then I look at the fabric between the pins along the seam line and if one side is a bit "baggy", I will pin additionally evening out the fullness along that seam....I usually start doing that by pinning in the middle and then in the middle of each half again....and yes...pressing those seams really helps and you can often feel if the seams have nested properly and I don't even pin them often anymore...but a good idea to start out that way.
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:01 AM
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Is this your layout?
Attached Thumbnails 7x7.jpg  
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
Is this your layout?
Yes it is- I forgot to mention the 16" square block in the center of the smaller pieces. You've got the experience to figure out the pattern, even though I left out a piece!
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:23 AM
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Some people starch their fabric, that can help many different situations. I've never gotten into the habit myself -- the secret(s) to my success is pressing and pinning. I pin about every 2", all the time. Yeah, it can be boring but it works for me. I press my seams open and also have to pin every leading edge so it doesn't flip over. Again, it's what works for me.

For longer seams it might be easier to layout it out on your ironing board (it's my largest work surface).

I'm always looking for "justifiers" places where it is clear what the measurement is and where the seams come together. When things are off-set a bit, I've got no problems making a little pencil tick another 4" down or where-ever the next seam is supposed to meet. You can do a pinch pleat or pin as well, when I'm matching a border to a top, I have the centers and quarters marked separately and then fit the two together according to the marks.

One final tip is to keep pieces as close to the same size as you can. If you have 6 blocks to sew together, you want to start with two together, so 1+1=2, then you can maybe go 2+1=3, or 2+2+2, but you don't want to end up at 5+1. We typically have the smaller piece on top but it doesn't have to be that way, for me with my open seams I put the side with the most seams up.
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:29 AM
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Ok! The things we find out when Ms. Wordy types and Bear draws a diagram!

We call that sort of setting by different names -- lattice, sashing, cornerstones.

For me, I prefer to put on the sashing around each block in the shape of an L, that is, one length and one width. At the end you have to put on extra strips along one side and the top or bottom (depending on how you put them on). But again like in my post above, you are keeping like sizes together.

I spent years making long unwieldy chains of blocks and then tried to put them together with long skinny even more unwieldy chains of sashing without much success. Lots of stretch and issues.

edit: I looked and didn't find any good process photos, but the attached picture shows how I think of my units as blocks with L frames instead of the skinny rows of sashing.
Attached Thumbnails 100_5219.jpg  

Last edited by Iceblossom; 08-22-2020 at 11:39 AM. Reason: add picture
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:38 AM
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Starch is your friend, there is not such thing as too much!
Pin, Pin, Pin, it will really help you win!
Accurate cutting
Squaring up each block as you go!
Stop if your getting frustrated and come back when your ready.

Remember, we are all beginners at some point and there is always a learning curve. Be kind to yourself!
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:42 AM
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I'm not sure of your question. Are your seams crooked or are your seams not meeting?

Either way, there are two factors, cutting and sewing.

On cutting, make sure your ruler doesn't move when you make your cuts.You either need to use a non-slip ruler (Creative grids makes some.) or use something on the back that will help you keep the ruler from slipping. Things I've used include Nexcare tape (a surgical tape), invisigrip (sticks on the back of your ruler) and that sticky shelf lining. Watch a couple of youtube videos on cutting will help you considerably.

On sewing, I use a stack of blue painters tape to mark my quarter inch all the way past the feed dogs. I think it's Bonnie Hunter that suggests using a piece of plastic (I think she said it was a hotel room key.) to mark that quarter inch line. It give you a guide that you press your fabric against and keep it straight as you sew your seam.
The best video I've ever seen on piecing is by Donna Poster. I think she has probably retired by now, but she left us some great videos on quilting.

The second quilt is easier. Keep asking questions. The folks here are generous with their advice. Keep watching you tube videos on quilting. There are some great free lessons there.


Last edited by bkay; 08-22-2020 at 11:44 AM.
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