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Thread: Piecing. What am I doing wrong?

  1. #1
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    Piecing. What am I doing wrong?

    I square my blocks up, but when I sew them into rows the seams don't always match up. HELP!!!

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Have you tried nesting your seams? Or pinning?

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    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
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    When I first started quilting I had the same problem. I (eventually, lol) discovered that as I got to the end of the block I was piecing I let the fabric slip, ever so slightly, to one side and it ended up squint. Then, when I went to put the blocks together, everything would be 'off' just that little bit. Now that I mostly chain piece (and pay more attention to the end of stitching), my blocks are much better.

    Also, someone told me, once you've nested your seams, to pin at a 45 degree angle, rather than 90 degree and leave the pin in until the foot is just on it before removing. This has worked for me.

    (I don't leave pins in any more - all I'm saying is - I'm glad I wear glasses for close work )

    Good luck!
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

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    Super Member DebraK's Avatar
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    I will forever and always love this phrase, " ended up squint"
    I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health - Voltaire

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    Junior Member gigigray032447's Avatar
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    I'm convinced that good piecers are good pinners. Nine years, and 235 quilts, after I started piecing I still use a lot of pins. One thing to make sure of is that you are sewing a true quarter inch seam. Use an index card and sew along a printed line, without thread, until you know exactly where your quarter inch is on your machine. I've taught three people to piece and this is the step I always start with so they will know where a quarter inch is and so they can practice sewing a straight line.

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    Nesting and/or pinning made all the difference for me.

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    I have had that same problem some time they line up and sometimes not. i always pinned
    but that didnt always work. then i read on here some one basting first and wow had very
    good results with that.

  8. #8
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I use pins and my seams are actually pretty good, but on the last couple of quilts I've made I have joined the blocks in square or rectangular sections rather than long rows. So like if you have a quilt that is 9 blocks by 9 blocks, I would first join a 3X3 section in the upper left, then the 3 block by 3 block section in the upper right, then lower left & lower right. Doing it this way, you only have to sew one seam that is the whole length of the quilt. I find it much easier to control a shorter seam.
    One of the board members (sorry don't remember who) also posted that they add the sashings and cornerstones to the blocks before joining. This also works great.

    Hope this makes sense.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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    I am a fairly new quilter. What does the term "nesting" mean!!

    Jmillie

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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmillie View Post
    I am a fairly new quilter. What does the term "nesting" mean!!

    Jmillie
    Here's a pretty good video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMFf_lnsr50

    It's not always possible to nest them depending on your design, but if you take a minute to think about how your block goes together before you press, it really does help.
    Last edited by PaperPrincess; 02-20-2013 at 05:37 AM.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    These are all good suggestions and I have one more. If a particular seam really just won't match up, take it apart and fix it by either making it deeper or less deep depending on what you need. You can also deepen or let out the seam allowance on just one of the blocks instead of both if that is what you need.
    Wendy

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    I agree with the others' comments about taking time to pin accurately. The first quilt I made though, some of the seams didn't line up AT ALL, despite squaring and trying to pin accurately. Baffled both me and quilt group tutor until I realised what I thought was a 1/4" foot wasn't QUITE 1/4" (cheap machine that a neighbour was getting rid of). The pattern measurements had obviously been calculated to account for seam allowance, so that the pieced blocks would end up the same size as the single fabric blocks, but because of the inaccurate foot, they didn't, so the rows didn't match properly.

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    Nest your seams and put a pin in on either side to hold it in place.

  14. #14
    Super Member TexasSunshine's Avatar
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    That is a very good video, thanks PaperPrincess.
    Texas Sunshine, piney woods of NE Texas

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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtygirl View Post
    I square my blocks up, but when I sew them into rows the seams don't always match up. HELP!!!
    I have always been a "pinner". But the main thing I have found is to press everything. Make a little cheat sheet of your block with little arrows telling you which way the seams should be pressed. Then when you have to put the rows together all the pressing is the same for each block to nest together. Then all the rows will have their own pressing order so their seams will nest together. Hope this helps a bit. Just keep at it, you'll get there!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knitette View Post
    When I first started quilting I had the same problem. I (eventually, lol) discovered that as I got to the end of the block I was piecing I let the fabric slip, ever so slightly, to one side and it ended up squint. Then, when I went to put the blocks together, everything would be 'off' just that little bit. Now that I mostly chain piece (and pay more attention to the end of stitching), my blocks are much better.

    Also, someone told me, once you've nested your seams, to pin at a 45 degree angle, rather than 90 degree and leave the pin in until the foot is just on it before removing. This has worked for me.

    (I don't leave pins in any more - all I'm saying is - I'm glad I wear glasses for close work )

    Good luck!
    Love squint would that be the same as squish (crooked).

  17. #17
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    I would recommend to beginner quilters to watch Eleanor Burns and/or buy her books. She is a wonderful teacher and has a really good method of quilting that makes things go faster and easier.
    Heres a tip for sewing two patches together that I learned from Liz Porter when she made an appearance on the F&P show recently: Align your patches and make sure that the seam allowance on the back of the patch is going up toward the needle instead of down toward you. The feed dogs will push the seams together and your seams will match every time. Just make sure you have them together before sewing and let the machine do the rest. Works every time for me. I hope that makes sense. You might just have to make a sample 4-patch to see what I mean. Gina

  18. #18
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtygirl View Post
    I square my blocks up, but when I sew them into rows the seams don't always match up. HELP!!!
    the problem is probably already in your own words "I square up my blocks"
    If they need squaring up there are several solutions.

    The fabric needs to be pressed flat before cutting (I also starch as I fall in the prewashers camp)

    Cutting has to be consistently correct. An inch is an inch is an inch, BUT different brand rulers have different sized lines on them. Do you consistently cut on the line, short of the line, over the line? Even a 1/16 off will add up when you put 30 or 40 or 90 blocks together.

    And piecing...You have to know where the scant quarter falls using the foot you use.

    the easiest way to do this is making sample 9 patches using 1.5" strips plus the steps above.
    Often the first three strips sewn together measure correctly across when pressed...
    but once cut and reassembled in the 9 patch the block will suddenly comes up short of true. Because those crossing seams eat up a bit of fabric behind your back Keep making them until it all falls right.
    I have a quart baggie full of these 9 patches, they remind me no one knows everything...

    I promise you, if you revisit your basics (including the squint advice above) you'll never have to waste time squaring up blocks again. And I never pin until I have the long assembly seams to do.
    Best wishes and happy quilting!
    Last edited by KalamaQuilts; 02-20-2013 at 07:38 AM.

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    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    when squaring blocks up you must trim them all exactly the same way, otherwise any pieced seams could be off. always use your 45 degree line on your ruler and place it the same on each block as you trim.

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    Super Member grammy Dwynn's Avatar
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    IMHO ~ cutting, accurate 1/4" seams, pressing, check piecing as you go and pinning ~ when final block is competed, one should not (hopefully) not have to square up the block. One or ALL could mess up a block.
    "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confucius

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  21. #21
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    I agree with Kalamaquilts. If seam allowances are accurate and are pressed without wrinkles, you shouldn't have to square up your block. Before starting any quilting project, I do a seam test as she described. Then throughout the piecing process I measure finished pieces to make sure I'm still sewing accurately. Should I have a problem then I can correct it before I get too far along. If you do this, your seams should nest together perfectly without a lot of pinning. However, that doesn't help you with your current dilemma. So, I suggest pin your seams as some of the other ladies suggested. It may be that since you have squared your block the seams may not match up at all. Wishing you good luck and happy quilting. I might suggest Harriet Hargrave's "Quilters Academy" books. They explain the fundamentals of piecing. She has published four books so far. The first one dealing with basic piecing of squares and rectangles and each dealing with progessively difficult piecing techniques, I had always preferred applique because I could never get my piecing to go together well (same as you are experiencing now), but since I bought and followed her techniques I can now piece with confidence, and it is so exciting to get your seams to match up without stress.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knitette View Post
    When I first started quilting I had the same problem. I (eventually, lol) discovered that as I got to the end of the block I was piecing I let the fabric slip, ever so slightly, to one side and it ended up squint. Then, when I went to put the blocks together, everything would be 'off' just that little bit. Now that I mostly chain piece (and pay more attention to the end of stitching), my blocks are much better.

    Also, someone told me, once you've nested your seams, to pin at a 45 degree angle, rather than 90 degree and leave the pin in until the foot is just on it before removing. This has worked for me.

    (I don't leave pins in any more - all I'm saying is - I'm glad I wear glasses for close work )

    Good luck!
    this is my experience too. Also, in joining at cross seams, I make sure the top seam allowance reaches the needle before the cross seam, even if I need to clip the allowance to have it end up "to the dark". At a guild mass sewing event, I found that about 1/2 of my much more experienced guild sisters had troubles with ross seams.

  23. #23
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Try glue basting at the ironing board before you take your pieces to the sewing machine. First step is to push a straight pin down into the seams that need to match, right at the seam allowance. Once you are sure the pin is positioned so that the seams match, lift up the seam allowance on the top one and insert a tiny dot of Elmer's washable school glue (white). Close the seam and press for a few seconds with a hot iron. Remove the pin.

    I find glue basting more accurate than pinning.

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    Thankyou so much ladies for all of your experiance suggestions. I can't wait to try these on my next quilt. It is a horrible feeling after all that hard work for the seams not to match up. I learn something new everyday. God bless

  25. #25
    Super Member audsgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knitette View Post
    When I first started quilting I had the same problem. I (eventually, lol) discovered that as I got to the end of the block I was piecing I let the fabric slip, ever so slightly, to one side and it ended up squint. Then, when I went to put the blocks together, everything would be 'off' just that little bit. Now that I mostly chain piece (and pay more attention to the end of stitching), my blocks are much better.



    Also, someone told me, once you've nested your seams, to pin at a 45 degree angle, rather than 90 degree and leave the pin in until the foot is just on it before removing. This has worked for me.

    (I don't leave pins in any more - all I'm saying is - I'm glad I wear glasses for close work )

    Good luck!
    This is also what I was experiencing. I found that when I was getting close to the end of the seam, I put my finger up next to the foot until the seam finished. It seems to keep the fabric in place better. I, too, love the phrase "it ended up squint."

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