Sit back, relax, this is NOT the Quilt Police knocking on your device’s screen!
Quick recap from my previous post: ‘I’m on a gentle mission to reassess my piecing techniques and figure out where inaccuracies have crept into my process. My mission is NOT to create a perfect quilt but to increase the sense of satisfaction I gain from the piecing of quilt blocks and quilt tops. In this mini series I’m going to share what I’ve learned about accurate piecing, share how I apply the knowledge and, of course, share the results’.
Using some of the tips and piecing techniques I read about and/or watched during my internet search (find the links in my previous post) I made several changes to my piecing process. Obviously not a truly scientific bit of research on my part – changing more than one variable at a time (apologies to those of a scientific nature).
I broke down the piecing process into three areas: well maintained equipment; careful stitching; and careful pressing.
As for well maintained equipment I’ve got into good habits over the years and do: regularly replace rotary blades and machine needles; clean out lint; use good quality thread.
Change: I decided to try using a smaller needle size with my 50wt thread, switching from an 80/12 Schmetz Microtex down to a 70/10.
Moving onto careful stitching I continued using thread savers/chargers (this is such a good habit to get into!) but made quite a few changes in this area of the piecing process.
Change: After using a ‘Perfect Piecing Seam Guide’ and checking my ¼” seam accuracy using the simple method of stitching three 1½” strips of fabric side by side I was surprised to discover I needed to change the long established settings I’d been using on my Pfaff machine. Just moving the needle position one more notch to the right has made a big difference.
Change: I also shortened the stitch length one more notch. The stitches stay in place at the end of seams without being re-enforced but they are only just big enough to unpick!
Change: Pins! Yep! I’ve gone back to using pins even on blocks with no seams to match.
Change: As well as using pins I’ve been holding onto the bottom end of a seam, keeping the two layers of fabric in perfect alignment, as the seam is being stitched. I think this has definitely reduced the amount of movement between the two layers of fabric as they are being stitched. Quilt top edges are much more even with far fewer ‘over-hanging’ blocks.
Change: Pinning seam intersections just to one side rather than through the stitching. (Place the pin on the side of the seam that will go under the machine foot first).
As for careful pressing:
Change: Finger pressing seams open (on the back of the patchwork) before pressing open or to one side with an iron.
Change: I have invested in a tailors clapper but I must confess to not using it with as much patience as is required for it to work effectively! I did find laying my freshly pressed and ‘clapped’ patchwork pieces under the wool mat while I continued pressing the rest of the pieces did help keep the seams flat.
All-in-all quite a lot of easy to implement changes. My assessment would be that, not surprisingly, many of these changes slow down and add time to the piecing process. Maybe not such a bad thing to be crafting and creating at a slower, dare I say more ‘mindful’ pace?
These changes have had a beneficial impact on the accuracy of my patchwork and definitely achieved my aim: ‘to increase the sense of satisfaction I gain from the piecing of quilt blocks and quilt tops’ …without turning me into a neurotic perfectionist!
Do you think you might implement any changes to your patchwork piecing process to achieve greater accuracy? Are there any tips or techniques you’d recommend we use to aid piecing accuracy?
Linking with Susan for Midweek Makers.