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karlin68 03-10-2017 04:38 PM

How did you get better at quilting?
Hi all - I have quilting on and off for the past 10 years. I must be doing something wrong because I don't feel my skills have improved much- my piecing has gotten better but I still struggle with getting all my blocks the right size, bindings, etc. How did all of you improve your quilting skills?

PaperPrincess 03-10-2017 05:12 PM

Slow down! Take your time with all the steps: cutting, sewing and pressing.
I think my biggest leap came when I realized that a 'quarter inch seam' was a moving target. first of all, you don't measure the seam, you measure the patch. Here's how to check:
And the second thing is that different fabrics and thread weights can affect this. In other words, you need to do it at the start of every project and adjust it if needed.
Obviously, the seam allowance isn't going to matter if your patches aren't cut accurately. Use the same ruler or same brand of ruler for your whole project & consistently place your fabric the same way each time. Right on the line, or just to the left.
And finally, pay attention to your pressing. Make sure that you aren't pressing a tiny fold in the seam, and pay attention to any pressing instructions in your pattern. It will help the block assembly.

meyert 03-10-2017 05:20 PM

I often feel the same way!! am I ever going to get better!!?!?! But when I look at some pictures of my older quilts I have. I think I have only gotten better by doing it!! The more I do the more confident I feel.. and I can try things different ways to find the way I like to do it best

bearisgray 03-10-2017 05:26 PM

What paperprincess said.

I also soak my fabrics in hot water and then wash them gently before cutting them.

I like to know what the fabric is like after it is washed - sort oflike kknowing what one's fiancee looks like without makeup.

quilterpurpledog 03-10-2017 05:41 PM

Being accurate is essential. This means cutting, measuring, stitching and pressing. Use good tools. I always use a steel tape measure-never cloth or plastic as they stretch. One of the most important things I have ever learned is to measures everything flat on the cutting table-never hold it up in the air. Square block segments up as you work. If they are wrong in a partially constructed block they will be more wrong the farther you go. I just finished making a quilt top using these principles. When I finished I was off 1/4 inch in one direction and 1/2 inch off in the other direction. The quilt is 99 inches square. I recommend watching lots of tip tutorials and adopting some that work for you. There are good ones and there are some not so good ones.

quiltingshorttimer 03-10-2017 06:03 PM

Purpledog hit on something that really makes a difference for me--squaring up the units in a block before I put them together. When I rush I am always tempted to skip this--but then remember some quilts I did (3) which I call my "no points" series cause I ended up with blocks all over the place size-wise and too often the points "went missing". So now I force myself to slow down and not skip this all important step.
I also got an Accuquilt Go as my cutting would get sloppy before I'd get a quilt all cut out (and I usually like to cut the entire quilt at one sitting so I know immediately if I have a fabric shortage). that has helped a lot too. I also check andn adjust my 1/4" seam with each project--thank goodness for needle positioner on my machine.
Can't say mine are always perfect, but by focusing more on precision and taking my time they are getting better.

joe'smom 03-10-2017 06:13 PM

If you want to work on your piecing accuracy, I'd recommend doing the yearly Bonnie Hunter winter mystery quilt. Her patterns use a lot of small pieces, and she gives very detailed instructions and many helpful hints during the mysteries (her instructions in her books are not as detailed; I think doing the mystery is like taking a class). Since I did my first mystery quilt three years ago, my accuracy is greatly improved.

dunster 03-10-2017 06:19 PM

When I first read your post my first thought was 'practice, practice, practice'. But that's not a good answer. It needs to be purposeful practice. One day of sewing carefully, getting back to the basics, checking for accuracy as you go, is better than years of doing the same thing if that thing hasn't been successful in the past. All of the responses above are right on target.

Jennifer23 03-10-2017 06:40 PM

One big thing that helped me improve was joining a guild. When I was sewing with other people, I could ask them "what am I doing wrong here", or "why are these blocks not the turning out the same size?" These questions are much easier to answer by someone who can see exactly what is happening. Practice only makes you better if you know what you're doing wrong, and can focus on improving it.

Garden Gnome 03-10-2017 07:46 PM

The first quilt I made that had points was awful. The stars were all blunt ended! The pressure foot I was using measured a 1/4 inch that was too "scant" so all my seams were too small. I have made about 4 quilts with stars now, and they look better each time.

It might help to choose one favorite block and keep making it till you get it perfect. Everything you do is subject to change if you find a better way to do it: Finer thread, starch/don't starch, prewash or not, different rulers, etc.

Probably the biggest thing, though, is perfecting your 1/4" seam.

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