Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tuesday Tip! The Scant Quarter Inch Seam


Are you ready for another tip?

This week’s tip goes back to the fundamentals of quilting: the scant 1/4″ seam.

Many times in classes I hear frustrated students getting upset over their pieced blocks not coming out square or can’t get their seams to match. The first thing I always check is their seam allowance.

Quilt blocks are mathematically designed to fit together perfectly with a 1/4″ seam. I know you’ve heard that before-but there’s a second part. When we sew pieces together, we typically press to one side. The simple act of folding the fabric takes up part of the finished quilt block space. In other words- the one or two individual fibers that are part of the “turn” need to also be taken into account when we sew. You can hopefully see the slight “bump” in this photo:

When we sew with a scant 1/4″ seam, it takes that “bump” into account & leaves us with a perfect finished size block.

So what does a scant 1/4″ seam look like? This is a picture of mine:

See how the thread of my seam is just to the left of my ruler? And the fabric ends slightly before the 1/4″ mark on my ruler? That’s a scant 1/4″ seam- it’s just a slightly smaller seam! I mean a hair smaller seam.

So how do you get that?

There are actually several great tutorials already out there on that, so I’m going to link to those today:
Gen X Quilters: Scant Rant: A 1/4″ Seam Tutorial
Gen X Quilters: Scant Rant, Part 2
Quiltville: That Quarter Inch!
Diary of a Quilter: Quilting Tip: Scant 1/4 Inch
A Quilty Kind of Girl: Tutorial Tuesday- Quarter Inch Accuracy

Now it may seem tiresome & time consuming to find your perfect scant 1/4″- but rest assured- once you have that technique down- block construction will come together incredibly easily- without all the hassle of ripping out!

Tuesday Tip: Trimming Threads

Thank you all for being so patient last week when I needed to take a week off. I’m back home & going 90 mph again- it’s great to be back in my routine! I hope this Tuesday tip is helpful for you. In preparation for sending your quilt to a longarmer, you may have heard the request to “trim your threads.” Sound familiar? The first time I heard this I had no idea what it meant. Turns out it’s pretty important- more so than I initially thought. When you’re asked to “trim your threads,” you are basically being asked nicely to clean up your quilt. I pulled out a quilt I pieced back in college for an example. Here’s a portion of the top. See those dangly threads? Yeah, they need to go away. The longarmer’s hopping foot can get caught in them & things can get ugly fast. Also, if they aren’t cut before hand, they could actually end up being quilted in & then it’s a pain to get them out from under the stitching. Then let’s look at the back of the quilt. This is a great picture of a hot mess of threads in the back: Those need to be cut away as well since they could get caught & get tied up together while the longarmer is loading the quilt. Remember- you don’t want your quilt to have anything that might cause it to not lie flat! Finally, there’s this: Notice my green fabric has frayed a bit? Because I’ve used white sashing between blocks, that green thread has the possibility of showing through the white fabric when quilted- yikes! That’s something you definitely don’t want to happen! So take a look at both sides of your quilt before sending it off- it will look that much nicer after a few minutes of trimming threads!

Tuesday Tip- a bit different

Life took over this week & I’m currently away from home visiting family unexpectedly, so I didn’t have time to prepare an actual tip.

But I do want to share an episode from Thinking Allowed- a BBC Radio 4 show. Back in 2011 they discussed “Craft & Community”.
You can listen to it here:

For me being fully immersed in the quilting & knitting community- I completely agreed with the “pro-craft” interviewee.

But the “anti-craft” interviewee made me think about the perception of crafters in the world & how we many times aren’t appreciated & fairly recognized for our contributions.

What do you think?

Thanks for being patient- I hope to have the Tuesday Tip back next week!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday Tip!: The Stay Stitch


This cute little quilt top was a mystery I did with Stitchin’ Tree Quilts in Harlan, Iowa at a retreat back in January.  It’s a great scrap quilt & a fun play with color value.  Since my neutral was more of a medium color, I chose dark scraps for my piecing- but what, this isn’t a post about color theory- let me get onto the Tuesday Tip!

See how the outside border is pieced with all the different squares? Here’s a close up:

Notice how those seams that piece the border together run off the quilt? This can lead the stitching on the outside edge to become loose:

See how loose those seams are? And that’s just from folding & unfolding the quilt top! To keep those seams secure, we can sew a “stay stitch” around the outside edge of the quilt to keep them in place.

This is how I do it:  I simply sew around the edge of the quilt, 1/8″ from the outside edge.  Here it is in more detail:

I first get my “regular sewing foot.” This is the foot I use when constructing clothes or appliqueing. Basically it’s the foot I use when I’m not piecing a quilt. Now my foot has an 1/8″ marking on it. See where my needle is? Look just to the right of that- see that red line? That’s my 1/8″ line. I line up my fabric to that guide & start sewing as normal.

Now for thread, I don’t usually care what color I use for this technique- I just use whatever because since I’m stitching at 1/8″ from the edge & I usually sew my binding on at 1/4″ or 3/8″, it will be hidden in the binding. Here’s I’ve used a dark blue thread. So I continue sewing down the edge of the quilt side, until I get to the end, here I just stitch of the quilt:

Then I turn the quilt top & start the next side from the top:

My corner ends up looking nice & crisp like this:

You may be wondering why I bother sewing to the end, cutting my thread & rotating the quilt & starting again on each side- I do this because I get a crisper corner with my sewing machine. I found if I turned the corner, the corner ended up smaller & not as nice & even something crooked with my sewing machine. So in the end do what works for you- for me, I like the method that may take a little longer & use a little more thread, but I prefer it for the nicer finish. Thank you for joining me again for the Tuesday Tip! The stay stitch makes for a much nicer top to give your longarmer when you have a pieced border or a quilt that has curved edges (like in a Double Wedding Ring.) I hope to see you next week!

J’s Christmas Quilt

I was looking at my quilt photos & realized I didn’t blog about J’s Christmas quilt for 2012!
For the past 2 Christmas’, I’ve made J a special quilt with distinct custom quilting. For the 2012 quilt, he actually noticed the pattern in a magazine when we were at a quilt shop. I was busy picking out other fabrics & before I knew it, there was a pile of fabric bolts next to me & him smiling saying “I want a quilt with these fabrics!” He had found a modern pattern (that I basically completely changed) that he chose batiks for (big surprise about the batiks if you know J).

I was able to piece it at a quilt retreat with friends back in June of 2012 & then it sat on the shelf. Then about December 22 I realized I didn’t have a quilt for him, so I dug the top out & grabbed some Hawaiian fabric for the backing.

Since I wanted to create a secondary pattern with the quilting, I pulled out my circle templates & quilted radiating circles in a random pattern. It was so much fun to just plop a template on the quilt & have at it!

And best of all- he loved the quilt & the circle design!