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Thread: trouble lining up seams

  1. #1
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    trouble lining up seams

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm hand piecing a very large quilt with very small squares. (King size postage stamp, was I crazy?) I have been on and off with being able to line up my seams when joining rows. Any tips? This is my first hand piecing. Also will it take me years more to quilt it? Or will that go easier than the piecing?
    Any tips for speed and accuracy appreciated. I've been working on it for a few years now and only 1/4 through the piecing. (I have put it away for two and three months at a time though).
    Thanks,
    Sun

  2. #2
    Power Poster joyce888's Avatar
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    If your only pinning in the center of a seam try pinning on each side of the seam close to the center.
    Joyce

    Four things you can't recover: The stone.....after the throw. The word......after its said. The occasion.....after its missed. The time......after its gone

  3. #3
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    It probably would have been easier to work on it in sections instead of rows. It's probably too late for that now. Since you're doing it by hand, line up every seam, pin and then ease in the side that's too long.

  4. #4
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    One really good tip I learned in a Stack and Whack class this last month:

    Put a pin in the center of the seam edge you are trying to match. Take that pin and put it in the opposite row center of the seam edge and stand it up (it helps to use a hot pad or pincushion as an extra hand). Take another pin and pin it at an angle across the seam. Take a 3rd pin and make an X with the pin you just inserted at an angle going from the next side back across the seam. You can then remove the pin standing up.

    What this does is match the seam exactly with the opposite side.

    Its a total pain to do, but the results are astounding. It matches up every seam exactly. All you have to do is ease the remaining seam together and wha-la you have perfectly matched seams every time.

    I was taught to do this to match the points of the hexagon star Stack and Whack I was making in the class and it worked! It should work for your postage stamp quilt as well.

    Good luck!
    VickyS

  5. #5
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    to add to VickyS suggestion. She suggests a hot pad or pin cushion.

    Try a cork hot pad to stick pins in thru the fabric. It really helps hold the fabric.

  6. #6
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    HI Suncenter. Start something smaller and easier to get yourself motivated to quilt. I'm afraid you'll burn out. Pick this up at night and work on it then. But finish something for yourself soon. Barny

  7. #7
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    also, as suggested, break it down into smaller units.

  8. #8
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    be sure your seams are consistent too. very important

  9. #9
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    This is an after-the-fact hint, but... taking into consideration that the width-wise grain of the fabric has a TINY bit of stretch in a 1.5 x 1.5 inch square of fabric, and the lengthwise-grain had pretty much NO amount of stretch... if you sewed the *strips* sewing the sides with NO stretch together ....(and of course they really do need to be accurate seams too)... then when sewing the long strips of little squares... you are working with a TINY amount of stretch or give to help match seams........
    Yes, when picking up a little square, you can just barely tell which edge is lengthwise or crosswise grain, its a tiny but different response to a very slight pull....
    And, because this is after the fact LOL... I have heard of people putting a perhaps 6 stitches per inch basting line inside the seam allowance, and pulling up a stitch when attempting to ease the fabric inbetween two small seams.... .I dont know if this is helpful in an area 1 inch in measurement.. but it might help..... LOL

  10. #10
    Super Member woody's Avatar
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    I hand pieced a wallhanging and had a similar problem of lining up rows of seams, I found pins were a pain in the ....... as I was always stabbing myself or getting the thread tangled. I ended up taking a needle and thread and tying the seam. I put put the needle through one side of the seam I needed to match up, leaving a nice long tail of thread, and then brought it up the other side and just tied a knot with the 2 ends. I did this to all the seams in the row before I started sewing, they all line up beautifully. ( I hope this makes sense )
    The biggest risk is the one not taken

  11. #11
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    was the cutting accurate and are you making a consistent and accurate seam.
    It sounds like it could be one of the two.

    When problems like this occur it is helpful to go back and analyze each step to find out where the problem is.
    If you afre hand piecing then it should be easy to ease in some areas.

    I am not sure I understood the process to give a really informed answer.

  12. #12
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    Do you mean doing it in blocks instead of rows. I thought of doing that at one point and maybe could try that. There is one square per row that I need to place by where I feel it looks best. The rest I am just doing random. I'm also trying to be sure there are no squares of the same fabric that end up next to each other, so it might be hard to plan it in blocks. In this photo I have 3 sections joined rows.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by VickyS View Post
    One really good tip I learned in a Stack and Whack class this last month:

    Put a pin in the center of the seam edge you are trying to match. Take that pin and put it in the opposite row center of the seam edge and stand it up (it helps to use a hot pad or pincushion as an extra hand). Take another pin and pin it at an angle across the seam. Take a 3rd pin and make an X with the pin you just inserted at an angle going from the next side back across the seam. You can then remove the pin standing up.

    What this does is match the seam exactly with the opposite side.

    Its a total pain to do, but the results are astounding. It matches up every seam exactly. All you have to do is ease the remaining seam together and wha-la you have perfectly matched seams every time.

    I was taught to do this to match the points of the hexagon star Stack and Whack I was making in the class and it worked! It should work for your postage stamp quilt as well.

    Good luck!
    Oh, that sounds cool. I'm doing the hand piece method where you don't sew the seems down, you just sew through them so the seams are left floating. Would this work with that?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by barny View Post
    HI Suncenter. Start something smaller and easier to get yourself motivated to quilt. I'm afraid you'll burn out. Pick this up at night and work on it then. But finish something for yourself soon. Barny
    OH yeah, I agree, I've had to make sure to add many short term goal projects such as sewing clothes or bags, or knitting stuff along the way .This quilt is a long term goal...like I've never taken on!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by woody View Post
    I hand pieced a wallhanging and had a similar problem of lining up rows of seams, I found pins were a pain in the ....... as I was always stabbing myself or getting the thread tangled. I ended up taking a needle and thread and tying the seam. I put put the needle through one side of the seam I needed to match up, leaving a nice long tail of thread, and then brought it up the other side and just tied a knot with the 2 ends. I did this to all the seams in the row before I started sewing, they all line up beautifully. ( I hope this makes sense )
    I'm intrigued by this tip. I think I might try it. /Sounds like more work but maybe less in the long run.

  16. #16
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    I use that skinny double back tape when I am trying to match up seams. I place it on one seam horizontally, then press the other seam down on it, matching the seams. I open the fabric to see if the seams are together. If they aren't, I reposition. The tape stays sticky through several adjustments if needed.
    Thought for EVERY Day: You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them.

  17. #17
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    I love hand piecing and long to do a grandmother's garden quilt that way some day. The "boring" part of hand piecing for me is marking all the pieces to ensure an accurate 1/4" seam. I have used the thread basting method to ensure matched seams even when machine piecing as it allows you to "ease" the longer side without puckers, especially on the straight of grain side. I was also taught to "stitch through" not stitch down the seam allowance. When I do use pins, they are the little tiny ones.
    Would love to see a pic of what you've done so far. It sounds ambitious!
    Fay

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  18. #18
    Senior Member teddysmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nativetexan View Post
    be sure your seams are consistent too. very important
    This helps me get my seams matched up. I hand quilt and mark 1/4" seam allowance on ALL sides of each piece. It takes time but I'm not having any trouble matching seams.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by faykilgore View Post
    I love hand piecing and long to do a grandmother's garden quilt that way some day. The "boring" part of hand piecing for me is marking all the pieces to ensure an accurate 1/4" seam. I have used the thread basting method to ensure matched seams even when machine piecing as it allows you to "ease" the longer side without puckers, especially on the straight of grain side. I was also taught to "stitch through" not stitch down the seam allowance. When I do use pins, they are the little tiny ones.
    Would love to see a pic of what you've done so far. It sounds ambitious!
    I posted a pic in this thread just last night. It's six replies up from this one. Yeah, after I finish a row I mark the next set of squares with my seam allowances. It does take time but it's important.
    Last edited by suncenter; 12-08-2011 at 09:51 AM.

  20. #20
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncenter View Post
    I posted a pic in this thread just last night. It's six replies up from this one. Yeah, after I finish a row I mark the next set of squares with my seam allowances. It does take time but it's important.
    Sorry, I saw that. I am majorly impressed by your ambition and tenacity! What I can tell from the picture looks well matched!
    Fay

    "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  21. #21
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    I would work towards making the three sections the same size, you're almost there now. I would then run a strip of fabric lengthwise between the sections. Maybe you look at that as cheating but sometimes getting done is better than perfect. You could add nice wide outside borders to match the inner strips and call it done. What you have done is very pretty!

  22. #22
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    matching seams

    I too become frustrated when the corners are off. This is what I do after sewing the piece seam; I keep a small Dritz black ruler next to my machine. It has a moveable red marker on it. I move the to size needed. If the seam is off, then I sew it again. then I move on to careful joining...looking down the seam to make sure the length of the seam if lined up beyond the end (because you sew 1/4" below the edge).

  23. #23
    Senior Member Jo Belmont's Avatar
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    Sometimes it's best to just alter the pattern. I've made several postage stamp quilts, tablecloths, etc. I found by alternating the seams from row to row, there's a whole lot of stress alleviated. Simply have the seams from one row fall in the middle of the square from the previous row. Makes life so much simpler and I must say that the look is, if anything, even more "postage stamp" looking.

    Be kind to yourself. Enjoy your journey.

  24. #24
    Junior Member SandyQuilter's Avatar
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    Check your seam allowance for evenness. I bet that the amount of the seam allowance varies. If so, that is your problem for having trouble making things match. Be accurate when you cut and stitch to get really accurate finished patches. Also, when hand piecing, don't stitch into the seam allowance and you'll have more "play room" to manipulate the seams to meet. Good luck--you chose a simple, but challenging size.
    SandyQuilter

  25. #25
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    It looks great in the pictures. Remember others are going to look at the overall affect, not individual corners of the tiny pieces.
    Thimble and Thread

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