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Thread: More Practice and Lessons Learned

  1. #1
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    I spent a good part of Saturday trying to piece the perfect block. Since I was cutting imperfect strips, it wasn't an easy task.

    After much reading, the best advice I could find on my impferct strips was it came from an imperfect fold of the fabric. I decided I'd have a perfect fold one way or the other. It involved pins and irons and starch, but I got there! My strips were very nearly perfect by the end of the day! Yeah!

    The next thing I learned is starch is a beautiful thing. I love it. If I starch the fabric into cardboard, it cuts much nicer. :) Maybe I spent too many years working with construction paper.

    The last thing I learned is square rulers are the best invention ever! I want one in every size possible.

    These practice blocks are still not exactly perfect. My points have a habit of running away, but I'm getting there and having fun doing it.

    Lisa

    Mr Roosevelt's necktie - again slightly undersized
    Name:  Attachment-47027.jpe
Views: 37
Size:  51.9 KB

    Shoofly variation - perfect size - a little funky on the points
    Name:  Attachment-47028.jpe
Views: 38
Size:  54.7 KB

    Friendship star - about 1/4 undersized
    Name:  Attachment-47029.jpe
Views: 43
Size:  51.7 KB

  2. #2
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    Well, I think you're doing just GREAT!!!! :D

  3. #3
    Super Member KGoodhand's Avatar
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    You keep saying - slightly undersized - have you checked your 1/4"?!? That will make a big difference too!

  4. #4
    Esqmommy's Avatar
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    You are doing amazingly well. Keep up the learning and practicing.

  5. #5
    Super Member Ducky's Avatar
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    Lisa, they look wonderful! You've done a great job. Keep going -- you're on a roll!

    I had to laugh when I was reading what you said about starch. I learned that if I starch the heck out of something, I can do anything! I just discovered that with binding strips.

  6. #6
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    Very pretty and bright looking.

    Have you checked your seams?

    This has been mentioned here more than once, but it's still worth doing just to check on your "personal measurementd" - Mary Ellen Hopkins' term -

    cut three strips 2 inches wide - they only need to be about six inches long

    sew them together with your 1/4 inch seam - press like you usually do - measure -

    the three strips sewn together should measure 5 inches -

    if they measure more or less, then you need to do some adjusting with either how you cut or how you sew -

    Some of the places where differences can happen:

    In the original cutting - where do you put the line of your ruler?

    When I cut a "two-inch strip" - even though I have the line at 2 inches on the fabric, it's a smidge wider than that because of the extra width gained from the distance the rotary blade is from the edge of the ruler and I sew with about a "real" 1/4 inch seam.

    I've seen people use the lines on their mats as guides - the fabric they are cutting off is not under their ruler - so they might end up with "skimpy" two-inch strips

    But if you are cutting "exact" two-inch strips, maybe you need to sew a "scant" quarter inch (which is somewhere between 3/16 and 15/64 of an inch)

    Your pressing looks nice. If seams aren't pressed properly, little tucks or pleats can gather there also, and make the block "smaller"

  7. #7
    Super Member Kyiav10's Avatar
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    I think you are doing great!! I learned the hard way about folding too! But I have never used starch. Maybe I should try it sometime.

    The blocks are coming together nicely.


    Kyia

  8. #8
    Senior Member sandybeach's Avatar
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    I learned this from a quilt guild member. If your blocks are slightly too small, you can iron them a little larger.

    Take a piece of heavy muslin about 15 inches square. On it draw squares with a permanent marker starting about 5 or 6 inches. Go out 1/4 inch on all sides until you get a square about 12 1/2 inches. I keep this under my cutting board.

    Now when you want to square up or enlarge a block, simply lay it evenly on the muslin, and, using a STEAM iron, iron it until it fits perfectly on the size square you need.

    I hope this makes sense. I have a tendency to sew a little larger than 1/4 inch seam, so my blocks have a tendency to be a little too small.

  9. #9
    Super Member Quilt4u's Avatar
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    Great job.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Auntie M's Avatar
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    I shrink with sprayed water and stretch 'em out with starch. It's amazing what can happen.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    great work!!

  12. #12
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. My seams appear to measure at 1/4" exactly, but the pattern said use a scant 1/4". I guess I didn't expect scant to make that much difference.

    Later, I saw a post that said "scant 1/4" should be about 3/16". I had my handy dandy husband make a 3/16" guide for my machine and PRESTO! A block that measured exactly right!

    I think I will give some of the stretching tips a try on my undersized blocks. They may be saved yet. And if not, I'm feeling some Christmas potholders coming on.

  13. #13
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    You're going to be a master in no time!! :D :D

  14. #14
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    The best advice I can give a new quilter is to use Quilt in a Day patterns.
    Eleanor Burns makes things oversized then squares up to the right size so you get perfect blocks.
    Her half square triangle method makes 8 perfect HST from large squares.
    Her triangle square up ruler is a must have for HST and quarter triangle squares. It gives measurements for making both up to 6 1/2 inch sizes.

  15. #15
    quiltluvr's Avatar
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    While classes certainly have benefits and value, practical hands on experience is the best teacher. The confidence and self satisfaction are priceless. You did a great job on your blocks.

    Do you hear a quilt calling out to be made? I do! :D

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jaynie's Avatar
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    I think your blocks are terrific. If you still feel unsure about accuracy, you might try using "Thangles" for your half square triangle. I have used them and it is hard to go wrong using them. Check out this link as they provide pictures and great instructions on how to use them:
    http://www.thangles.com/howtheywork.html
    Keep up the good work and good luck!

  17. #17
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaynie
    I think your blocks are terrific. If you still feel unsure about accuracy, you might try using "Thangles" for your half square triangle. I have used them and it is hard to go wrong using them. Check out this link as they provide pictures and great instructions on how to use them:
    http://www.thangles.com/howtheywork.html
    Keep up the good work and good luck!
    Thangles look helpful..............and the word is just fun to say!

  18. #18
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    Lisa, Good work! It show how dedicated to perfecting your art to spend the time working so diligently! You go girl!!!!!!!! :thumbup:

  19. #19
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Your blocks are terrific looking!

    The best advice I would give anyone of any level of experience is to pay attention to making sure your seams are straight and even. Whatever size your seam allowance is if your seams are at all crooked it will show in the finished size of your blocks. Also pay close attention to making sure your seams meet accurately and things will fall in place like they should!!

    I like to take the time to tack a stitch instead of using pins when I am joining blocks together. A stitch is less likely to allow the fabric to move and pins don't always keep the fabric in place well enough when you are matching seams. I tack everywhere 2 seams meet and at the ends where the seam will go through. If you place your tacks where the seam will go through you don't have to take them back out and you don't have to mess with pins.

    Keep up the good work!! Your blocks are looking great!!

  20. #20
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    Those are all beautiful blocks. I think you are doing a great job.

  21. #21
    Super Member Marcia's Avatar
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    I am glad to hear that you are persevering and not giving up---that persistence is what will make you a great quilter!! Just keep working at it! Your blocks are looking good.

  22. #22
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    Great job on your blocks!!! :thumbup: I love them in the Christmas fabrics!!!
    ~ another now added to my list! lol!!!!! :D
    It's funny how you think you're sewing each seam perfectly, until you measure them.... The quilt top I just finished for my daughter started out being 7" blocks. They all ended up a perfect 6 3/4"! Some were a tad too short, so I shortened them all on each side. I could cheat as I was the one who made up the pattern. lol!!!
    I think I'm going to copy your idea and mark my machine too, at 3/16th, as I usually have the same issue!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhonda
    Your blocks are terrific looking!

    The best advice I would give anyone of any level of experience is to pay attention to making sure your seams are straight and even. Whatever size your seam allowance is if your seams are at all crooked it will show in the finished size of your blocks. Also pay close attention to making sure your seams meet accurately and things will fall in place like they should!!

    I like to take the time to tack a stitch instead of using pins when I am joining blocks together. A stitch is less likely to allow the fabric to move and pins don't always keep the fabric in place well enough when you are matching seams. I tack everywhere 2 seams meet and at the ends where the seam will go through. If you place your tacks where the seam will go through you don't have to take them back out and you don't have to mess with pins.

    Keep up the good work!! Your blocks are looking great!!
    Rhonda - do you usually also press your seams open, rather than to one side?

  24. #24
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    Quote Originally Posted by Rhonda
    Your blocks are terrific looking!

    The best advice I would give anyone of any level of experience is to pay attention to making sure your seams are straight and even. Whatever size your seam allowance is if your seams are at all crooked it will show in the finished size of your blocks. Also pay close attention to making sure your seams meet accurately and things will fall in place like they should!!

    I like to take the time to tack a stitch instead of using pins when I am joining blocks together. A stitch is less likely to allow the fabric to move and pins don't always keep the fabric in place well enough when you are matching seams. I tack everywhere 2 seams meet and at the ends where the seam will go through. If you place your tacks where the seam will go through you don't have to take them back out and you don't have to mess with pins.

    Keep up the good work!! Your blocks are looking great!!
    Rhonda - do you usually also press your seams open, rather than to one side?
    Yes Bear I always iron seams open. As I work with minis I think if the seam is ironed to the dark side -the fabric is raised on that seam and I don't like that. I like everything to lay flat. So if you open your seams and iron they will usually lay flat. If I have a seam or part of a seam that doesn't want to stay laying flat I just do the best I can. I iron and then as I iron the next one I will go over anything that isn't laying flat in the previous seams. Mine don't always want to stay flat but I use a scant 1/4" and that doesn't allow for much fabric left in the seam allowance. You can spray them with sizing and make the fabric lay flat but I don't usually bother unless it is in an area where I really need it to behave.

  25. #25
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    Lisa, your blocks look great. Others have given the same advice I would, but it looks like you're doing just fine!!

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