Piecing Tips I Wish I Knew 20 years ago

I’ve been piecing quilts for over twenty years. Recently, my granddaughter wanted to help me with a quilt and asked that I teach her what I knew about sewing. That's a pretty tall task, teaching someone what I've learned about sewing and quilting over the course of two decades. I realized that this was a fantastic opportunity for me to reflect on what I wish I would have known as a beginning quiltmaker. I hope you enjoy reading some of the tips that I believe will help beginners become more skilled and make better quilts than I did.

Seams

It’s important to use an accurate 1/4” seam! A difference of 1/8th of a seam allowance adds up quickly as you try to put blocks together. A little too-big of a seam can result in your quilt being 3” smaller than it’s supposed to be. The solution is simple; use a 1/4” foot. Next, practice until you feel confident that you can use the foot to keep a straight, even seam

Pressing

Once you sew a seam, iron it in the direction the pattern calls for. Press as you go. It’s worth the effort because the fabric fits better and you’re left with a completely flat quilt top. Using a smooth thread like MasterPiece will help keep your seams flat.


Piecing a quilt with MasterPiece thread
Piecing a quilt block together
quarter inch seams
No bulk at the seams with MasterPiece
Unpicking

I used to get so frustrated and upset when I realized that I had sewn something wrong or made a mistake (anyone not have their points matching when completing a block understands) that required the stitches to be unpicked. I use to think of it as such a loss. Unpicking is not a loss, it’s a gain. It’s the chance to do it better. Understandably, there is a balance as to when you should spend time unpicking your stitches and being OK with imperfect stitches. There is no need to unpick everything. I think we tend to be our own worst critic and guaranteed, unless you are piecing a show quilt, you are the only one that will notice that the corners are a millimeter off.

Thread Choice

I wish MasterPiece was around when I was learning how to make quilts, or even when I just started sewing. Why? Because the time required to clean your machine is time consuming! You have to stop working on your project, arrange your blocks and tidy up your sewing station so nothing falls out of order, find your brushes, open the case of your machine and that's only the prep work required to start cleaning. MasterPiece is a 50 wt./3-ply low lint Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton thread. It's strong, smooth, creates lasting stitches. Using threads with low lint has made my life much easier and my sewing experiences more enjoyable. Not only am I able to clean my machine less often, my seams lay totally flat.


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