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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Hello everyone,
    Iam a beginner, I have a question for all the expert quilters,
    what am I doing wrong, no mater how accurate my cutting and
    sewing my squares do not come out the same size, sometime there
    is a big difference. Any advice.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    I think its really hard to get them absolutly perfect but I have to press down firm on my straight edge to keep it from sliding when I'm using the rotary cutter.

  3. #3
    bj is offline
    Super Member bj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Ft. Worth, Texas
    One thing I find the most helpful is to trim as I go. If I'm working with hst, for example, I make the hst, then I trim to the size it needs to be (say 4.5") before I add it into the bigger block design. I find I lose fewer points that way and my finished block size is closer to what it is supposed to be. If my finished block is a little too small, sometimes I can press it into submission and get it a little bigger. If it's a little too big, you can sometimes ease them together and they'll be okay. Put the piece/block with the most bulk on the bottom when you're sewing. If it's way too big, I take it apart and resew or throw it in the orphan block box and redo completely. Clear as mud?

  4. #4
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Out searching for some sunshine :-)
    Blog Entries
    Measure your blocks after every seam and make sure that you have true 1/4 inch seams.
    Check that when you are pressing, you are not distorting your blocks or maybe not pressing them all of the way open.
    Do not use steam when pressing, either.
    Start off sewing on a scrap of material and butt your block up next to that, it helps get an accurate seam allowance at the beginning of your seam.

    I'm sure you will get more hints/help too :wink:

  5. #5
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    East Coast
    You titled this "Rotary Cutting" so I thought your size problem was due to the cutting. But then in your post, you said they weren't the same size after cutting and sewing, so I'm wondering at what stage the size gets inconsistent.

    Some beginner tips from another beginner:

    1. When you decide what size to cut your pieces, make sure to add the seam allowance on all sides. For example, if you are cutting a strip that you will then cut into squares, and your seam allowance is 1/4 inch, you need to add 1/4 inch to each end of the strip and 1/2" for each cut you'll make into squares (so it's 1/4" for each of the squares).

    2. Use the same ruler for all your measurements, because they can differ by 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch, and this adds up.

    3. Until you have your sizes under control, only cut one layer of fabric at a time.

    4. Hold the ruler down as you cut. It should be over the side of the fabric that is not being cut to size, the side that will be left after you cut your piece.

    5. Hold the rotary cutter straight up, so it's perpendicular to the cutting surface. If you're cutting a long piece, move your hand along the top of the ruler as you go, being careful not to move or slide it or the fabric.

    4. Cut starting closest to you, moving away from you.

    5. When you finish making the cut, you may want to measure it to confirm that it's the right size before going on to your next cut.

    6. If it's just slightly off, like 1/8" or less, your seam allowance should cover that flaw.

    7. Mark the seam allowances on the wrong side of the fabric so you know exactly where you need to sew. Use a fine point/tip, because a thicker one makes a larger line, which is less precise. You can use a mechanical pencil, a fabric marking pencil in white, yellow or some other color, or washable marker if it doesn't bleed into the fabric.

    8. When you sew two pieces together that have pieces within them, don't line them up end to end, but seam to seam. So if you have strips of three squares each and you want to attach the strips to make a nine patch, line up the middle seams and pin, then the outer edges and pin, stretching or leaving loose as needed to make them fit.

    Oh, yeah, and what amma said! Press each seam as you go by just setting the iron on it. Don't drag the iron around over it or you'll skew the fabric. (Although it occurs to me that this might be a way to adjust for pieces of different sizes.)

  6. #6
    Super Member JoanneS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    AZ and CT
    Blog Entries
    Good question - and there's a tutorial with pictures to help you. I think your problem is probably with the 1/4" seams. It's very easy for them to be off slightly, which makes everything else go wrong.

    Go to the Main page, Click on tutorials. Click on the NEXT page. The tute you want is 'Beginner's Blocks #1 - the 9-Patch and Variants.' Scroll down until you find the part where she describes how to check to see if you're sewing a PERFECT 1/4".

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Clay Springs AZ
    If I use a full 1/4 inch my blocks come out too small.
    So I always use a scant and they come out right. Has to do with the fold taking up room.

  8. #8
    Super Member SharonC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Tucson, Arizona
    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Marie
    If I use a full 1/4 inch my blocks come out too small.
    So I always use a scant and they come out right. Has to do with the fold taking up room.
    I also read (just a couple of days ago) that the thickness of your thread counts too.

  9. #9
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    North Carolina
    Try to sew a scant 1/4", it really makes a difference. If you think about how many seams are in a block and every time you sew if you are off by one thread on several it will make a difference. If I am with in an 1/4 to even sometimes 1/2" on my blocks they will work either by pressing or easing. And the quilt will still be beautiful and lay flat and I can work with the points that will come together with other blocks on the outside edge of the block.

  10. #10
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Lebanon, Missouri
    When cutting your fabric use your ruler to measure not your cutting mat. Also, when measuring your blocks use a ruler from the same manufacturer as the ruler you used to cut the fabric. Measurements between manufacturers can vary as much as 1/8th of an inch.

    Double check your 1/4 inch seam. I suggest stitching a 1/4 inch seam and measure it with your ruler to see if it is a true 1/4 inch. Does your 1/4 inch foot have a guide on it? If not you may be getting off mark just a bit.

    PRESS your block, do not iron. Press is to lift up and down. If you are ironing the block, make sure you are not pressing down on the iron so much as to distort the block. You can stretch fabric as much as 1/2 inch if you're not careful. For pressing seams to one side I use the small Clover iron, then when my block is complete I PRESS it under the large iron.

    hope this helps.

  11. #11
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Front row
    Blog Entries
    Be sure you fabric is lined up on the left side of the measuring line on the ruler not the right side. That little line makes a big difference. Try using a thin thread for piecing, not a 40 weight. 50 or 60 two ply is the best. Pressing seams open will be a big help until you master how to press to one side and not have any distortion. I press most all my seams open. Do not iron your seams or blocks. Press them. Do not move the iron at all on the fabric. Sit and lift the iron.
    Also one very important thing. Do not iron on a soft or spongy surface. If the fabric sinks into the ironing surface it will distort into a bowl shape, so little you can't see it but it's there.

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