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The most basic of questions

The most basic of questions

Old 02-18-2015, 03:23 AM
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Default The most basic of questions


I have quilted, on and off, for about 30 years. You would think at this point I'd have certain basic things down, but no.

This weekend I started a quilt for my grandson who will be here in June. I picked a simple cornerstone and sashing pattern since it had been awhile since I've done any quilting. I bought a stack of 5" squares online, and proceeded to cut 5" by 1.5" strips, and 1.5" squares for the sashiing and cornerstones.

Here's the problem: No matter how I cut and sew the pieces, I can't get the pieces to come out the right size. The cornerstones, which should be exactly one inch after sewing 1/4 inch seam, always come out just shy of an inch, same thing with the sashings. I have tried my 1/4 inch foot, regular foot, and no matter what I do, I can't get the pieces to line up! It's very frustrating and I think I know now why I go so long without quilting. The squares are exactly 1.5", the seams are exactly 1/4", yet the squares are smaller than an inch!! The math should add up but yet it doesn't.

Short of hand piecing everything, which I don't have the time to do, any suggestions on what I'm doing wrong?


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Old 02-18-2015, 03:29 AM
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I don't know what to say because I'm experiencing the same problem. I'm working on a quilt with rather small pieces like yours. I am being so accurate and precise in everything I do. And seams just aren't matching up, points are disappearing.
I too have been sewing all my life and quilting about 13 years. You'd think by now I could handle the challenge. Mostly I sew quilts for kids. I have always tried to do my best on them. And for some unknown reason things match up on those.
It is terribly frustrating to the point I'm ready to put this project in the trash. I just keep asking myself "why are you doing this?"
So if anyone out there can help the both of us, please chime in.

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Old 02-18-2015, 03:38 AM
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your seam can be exactly 1/4" but it can be smaller because of the size of the thread. if the thread is thick-ish and you fold over your fabric, space is taken up by the thread. make sense? you could try using a finer thread and/or sew a scant 1/4". practice with 3 1.5" strips sewn together. sew and press as usual. then measure the center strip... it should be exactly 1". some machines have the capability of moving the needle over a little. good luck for a successful finish. And welcome to the QB.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:55 AM
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What weight thread would you recommend? I use the 50 weight from Connecting Threads. I have the needle moved over to the right enough to make a nice scant quarter inch. I am trying to be so precise and accurate, sewing slower, etc. So when it doesn't come out right, it ceases to be fun.
I have been wondering about which foot is best for accuracy. I have opted for one of the walking feet because it allows for the fabric edge to be on the feed dogs. And also a nice scant seam allowance. But is a big foot. As the quilt block progresses I find I like a walking foot when I'm joining over seams.
I've always heard practice makes perfect. But I've been practicing a really long time. And sometimes feel I can't sew a straight seam. UGH
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:10 AM
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Welcome to the board! I always feel that 1" or 1 1/2" squares take on a life of their own - so easily stretched! My avatar quilt has strips of 1 1/4" nine patches (3/4" finished). All I'm saying is that if I hadn't disciplined myself to do them first, the quilt would never have been made........ Don't look too close
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:18 AM
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Okay, as a relatively newbie (only my 5th year of quilting), I had the same issue. And yes, the thread can make a significant difference as you make more blocks. So, I sew sample piece putting my fabric on the 1/4" line on my my machine using the fabric and the thread that I intend to use. I sew it and iron it (both kinds of seams to one side and open depending on the pattern I am going to use) and then I measure to see how much I am going to have to adjust the seam size. I have found when the thread is thicker and sometimes the thickness of the fabric, an adjustment needs to be made. So, I measure from the inside edge of the thread to the outside of my seam and if the seam is larger, I try again until, I get an exact 1/4" from the inside edge of the thread and the outside of the seam. Then I put a piece of painters tape, the seam allowance attachment with the screw tight (older machines), or any of the new seam allowance attachments that will keep my seam exactly at 1/4" and making sure that little seam doesn't get away from me at the very end when it tries to make a smaller seam. Steady as it goes. I am getting better at this quilting thingy as I learn from all these great people on the Quilting Board!!!!!!!
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:19 AM
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Welcome from NJ.

You could also try pressing your seams open vs to one side. I find my blocks lie flatter and things fit together better pressing open. I don't generally deal with pieces that small but it may help. And yes, the math says it should work out but it seems that the elusive 'scant' 1/4" seam is what is needed due to, as QuiltnNan says, thread taking up some of that seam allowance.

Good luck.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:27 AM
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Also, do you set your seams before you press? With such small pieces, all these things together can add up to throw you off just a wee bit.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:37 AM
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Try glue basting the whole blocks together. This helps me find the problem when my block sews up too small. I found most of my problem is in the pressing of the seams. Connecting Threads cotton is 50 wt 3ply. That is too thick for top and bobbin for piecing. Try a thinner thread in the bobbin. I like Connecting Threads Pro on the cone. It's 70 wt and strong.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:46 AM
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When you measure, you should NOT be measuring the seam. Cut 3 strips 1 1/2 inch x 3 1/2 inch. Sew the long sides together. Press the seams to the side. Now, from the right side, measure the center strip. It should measure 1 inch - from seam to seam on the FRONT. If it does not then you need to adjust your seam allowance (even if the seam itself measures EXACTLY 1/4 inch). In the end it really doesn't matter what the seam allowance is. The only thing that matters is the size of the piece after it is sewn.
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