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Thread: What to do when your seams don't line up?

  1. #1
    diogirl's Avatar
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    I am working on a trip around the world quilt and the middle vertical seam is the only one that needs to line up... I am really nervous about trying to get the seams lined up perfectly... what do you do if you come across a seam that doesn't line up? do you stretch the fabric like mad to get it to line up or pinch the fabric causing a kink to get it to line up? What's the best way? :?:

  2. #2
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    How much is it off?

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    diogirl's Avatar
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    I haven't tried to put the two sides together yet.... I'm really hesitant to see if they don't match up.. If they don't then I will need to know what to do to make it look the best it can.. I have had that problem in the past and just had it uneven, but the two halves on this quilt need to line up perfectally or the un-evenness will be very noticable.

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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I would start pinning from the center out and pin on both sides of EVERY matching seam. I know it's a lot of pinning - but hey, we will go the extra step for perfection. I can't imagine that you will have a lot of "play" between the individual squares.

    Do you press the seams row by row in alternating directions? I find that can help when you put the rows together as the seams "nestle" into each other.

    That said, when I have one of the pieces a little wonky, I mark both pieces in the middle and if necessary in quarters and pin on those marks. That way, the bulk of the "overage" is evenly distributed and matched to an equal amount of stretch on the "short" piece.

    Then again.....it may be perfect to start with.

  5. #5
    k3n
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    I'd pin the seams, diagonally thru each allowance works best for me, and try and ease the two layers flat. I wouldn't pinch because that shows. If there's too much to ease, I'd rip it out and redo UNLESS I could live with it. But that's happening less and less these days - I've become much more of a perfectionist, especially since posting pics of my work on here. :lol:

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    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by k3n
    I've become much more of a perfectionist, especially since posting pics of my work on here. :lol:
    Isn't it funny how a little (self-imposed) competition brings out our personal inner quilt police?

  7. #7
    diogirl's Avatar
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    I have a 1/4" foot on my machine that i use.. but when I cut out my fabric strips, I marked my fabric and cut with sissors.. My rotary cutter didn't work.. it was dull, so when I hand cut, I don't get as even as I could with the rotary cutter because of hand shaking and fabric shifting..

  8. #8
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diogirl
    I am working on a trip around the world quilt and the middle vertical seam is the only one that needs to line up... I am really nervous about trying to get the seams lined up perfectly... what do you do if you come across a seam that doesn't line up? do you stretch the fabric like mad to get it to line up or pinch the fabric causing a kink to get it to line up? What's the best way? :?:
    It does depend on how much the seam is off. If it is off more than a few threads, I would pick out one of the seams and resew it until it matches what I need.

    That said, the thing to do is find out why your seams are off. This is probably one problem everyone experiences from time to time. The first thing is to check your quarter inch seam. Is it a quarter inch or are you off a bit? In a quilt that uses all the same sized units, being off a bit isn't a big deal, but ONLY if all the seams are off by the same amount. If some of your seams are a perfect quarter inch and others are off, it will throw the seams off when putting them together into the quilt top.

    Another problem that is common with a lot of people is that when they are sewing and the piece is coming toward the end, they will reach down for the next piece instead of looking at the piece that is taking the last few stitches in the machine. It's a very common practice and would seem to help save a lot of time, but what happens is that the pieces can curve away at the end, so that the corner does not have a perfect quarter inch seam. It is better to guide the entire piece in and once the needle has taken the last bite of fabric and moved past the piece, stop your machine and then pick up the next pieces you want to sew together. This is most vital when working with half square triangles, because it is important to get the seams just right at the end or the points either float or are cut off when the block goes together. Just about everyone can remember a star block where the points simply would not come together right. Usually the problem is as simple as making sure the quarter inch seam remains true at both corners when sewing the initial units together.

    Geez, I hope that makes sense. Another reason for the quarter inch being off is not that your foot on your machine is off. It could actually be a result of the thread. I know, sounds crazy huh! I was amazed when I was shown how much thread can make a difference with the size of a seam. If you are using a thicker thread, you will want to move your needle over a click or two, or make adjustments with the fabric that make allowances for this. If your thread is thin, it may give you a larger seam allowance. This is one reason why it is recommended not to change thread types on the same quilt project; something I used to do a lot during my first decade of quilting. Basically, these tips are something I learned from my teachers/mentors because I was making them.

    Without seeing your quilt, it's hard to know what to suggest. I hope the above helps in some way and I can't wait to see the finished quilt. :D

    Edit: Well, when I started this post there was only 1 other post. I need to type faster. :lol:

  9. #9
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    When you were sewing your squares together, did you notice a huge variance in size between the squares? If they were pretty much the same size, then you should not have any problems, particularly since you sewed an even seam.

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    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diogirl
    I have a 1/4" foot on my machine that i use.. but when I cut out my fabric strips, I marked my fabric and cut with sissors.. My rotary cutter didn't work.. it was dull, so when I hand cut, I don't get as even as I could with the rotary cutter because of hand shaking and fabric shifting..
    Since you haven't sewn them together, I would measure each square to make sure it is exactly the same size. If not, you can trim a little with the scissors and it should be good. Try sewing a few and once you've ironed them, remeasure and see if they are all the same size. If they are, you are good to go! :thumbup:

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    diogirl's Avatar
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    I'm doing a pattern where you sew 4" strips together into a tube, the cut the tube sideways to make more strips with each color on it.. There aren't any squares, so far it's just sewing one horizontal strip to another.. When both sides are done, then they go together and both side seams are to match up.. I up til now, i haven't seen any unevenness... yet!

  12. #12
    k3n
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter
    Quote Originally Posted by k3n
    I've become much more of a perfectionist, especially since posting pics of my work on here. :lol:
    Isn't it funny how a little (self-imposed) competition brings out our personal inner quilt police?
    :mrgreen:

    I think it's not so much what other ppl will say, it's just that errors I didn't see in the flesh leap out at you from a photo - that's my story and I'm sticking to it! 8)

    WTG Diogirl! I'm sure your seams will be fine! :D

    Re the 1/4" thing, it should be scant to allow for thread and the fold in the fabric. 1/4" feet are exact so you need to sew a shade under the edge and this can vary with thread and fabric thickness. I recently made a log cabin following the Judy Martin method and that was a great way to check my seam accuracy - when you lined up the next pre-cut log to a pair sewn, you saw straight away if the seam was right on or not so could adjust before making a whole lot of blocks which didn't line up. :D I did rip quite a lot at first, FYI! :shock: :lol:

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    Personally, one of the first things I would do, is get a new blade for my cutter. All great hints and tips, but one thing that wasn't mentioned is to have the slightly longer piece on the bottom and pinned as mentioned and sew.

  14. #14
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    I saw this on QNNTV, when a seam just wont line up use a piece of scotch tape to hold it in place. Be sure and use a 1 /2 inch size tape so it gives you the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Lay your pieces out flat match your seams then tape in place and fold tape in half.

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    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pocoellie
    Personally, one of the first things I would do, is get a new blade for my cutter. All great hints and tips, but one thing that wasn't mentioned is to have the slightly longer piece on the bottom and pinned as mentioned and sew.
    I agree, nothing beats a fresh rotary blade! And when it begins to skip, flip it over and you'll get more use out of it. :wink:

  16. #16
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    Flipping over the blade when it skips"

    Why didn't I think of this? (Thumping myself on the fourhead) Duh.

    I have saved some BLADES by running them through Aluminum Foil, (like I was taught to resharpen my scissors.)
    But never considered that flipping the blade over would help.


    You are a genius

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    I put my blocks on my design wall and use the camera. mistakes just jump out at me. If it looks good I sew them.. this is more about colors matching up than seams . have had to adjust my seams a little.

  18. #18
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chattyK
    Flipping over the blade when it skips"

    Why didn't I think of this? (Thumping myself on the fourhead) Duh.

    I have saved some BLADES by running them through Aluminum Foil, (like I was taught to resharpen my scissors.)
    But never considered that flipping the blade over would help.

    You are a genius
    Well, I'm not shy and will gladly bathe in the warmth of that genius comment. (Boy, you don't know me, lol!) That said, turning the blade over works great but I've never heard of running the blade through aluminum foil. :shock: Does that actually work well? If so, I'm not shy, I'll be more than happy to swipe that idea and use it. I just love a good tip! 8)

  19. #19
    diogirl's Avatar
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    Update* I sewed my two halves together lastnight and the lined up pretty much perfectly.. Just had to seam rip one edge about 3 inches down and redo it, but it really turned out fine... PHEW* lol thanks for the advise... Will post a picture of my quilt when it's done.. :wink:

  20. #20
    Senior Member sewgray's Avatar
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    I didn't know that about flipping the blade. Good tip Tiffany.

    Being a beginner quilter I make a lot of mistakes, but I took a hint from sewing clothes. Instead of stitching the whole length of a seam where it's critical the corners or seams match, I just stitch the seam intersection first, maybe an inch or so to make sure they match perfectly, then you can lay it flat to see it matches between the seams before you sew the whole thing. It saves me a lot of frog stitching.

  21. #21
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    diogirl: I am looking forward to seeing a picture of your quilt!

    sewgray: A lot of quilters will sew the intersections or points first, making sure everything matches up before sewing the entire section. I've done this for really pesky points. Most quilters who use this method use a basting stitch, which is easier to take out if the seams don't line up the first time, but is still sturdy enough to hold the piece in place when sewing it together completely. It seems you are naturally following in the heels of some of the great quilters of our time. :wink:

  22. #22
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diogirl
    Update* I sewed my two halves together lastnight and the lined up pretty much perfectly..
    see, you worried about nothing. Glad it worked out for you and looking forward to the picture.

  23. #23
    Super Member GailG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadQuilter
    I would start pinning from the center out and pin on both sides of EVERY matching seam. I know it's a lot of pinning - but hey, we will go the extra step for perfection. I can't imagine that you will have a lot of "play" between the individual squares.

    Do you press the seams row by row in alternating directions? I find that can help when you put the rows together as the seams "nestle" into each other.

    That said, when I have one of the pieces a little wonky, I mark both pieces in the middle and if necessary in quarters and pin on those marks. That way, the bulk of the "overage" is evenly distributed and matched to an equal amount of stretch on the "short" piece.

    Then again.....it may be perfect to start with.
    With this so well-said, I would then place the piece the greatest amount of fabric to ease on the bottom near the feed dogs. Chances are it will all ease in.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rose Marie
    I saw this on QNNTV, when a seam just wont line up use a piece of scotch tape to hold it in place. Be sure and use a 1 /2 inch size tape so it gives you the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Lay your pieces out flat match your seams then tape in place and fold tape in half.
    Now THAT is just an awesome trick! I use scotch tape when I set in zippers as a topstitching guide and it works great as well.

    Thanks, Rose Marie :-)

  25. #25
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    You are welcome.
    I dont use it often but sometimes a seam just will not match and with the tape it does.

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