One of the keys to getting quilt blocks to go together well is making sure your seams are 1/4 inch. Sounds easy, but how elusive it can prove to be. Did you know that different threads can affect the size of your seam, among other things. It is important to check your seams before beginning a new project, especially if you are using different thread and needle sizes. And just what is a scant 1/4 inch that almost every quilter says you need to have for the pattern to turn out right?
Here is my little tutorial on how to achieve that mysterious seam needed for quilting. There is nothing new here, but perhaps you, dear reader of my blog, will find it helpful.
Step 1: Cut three strips that measure 1-1/2 inches wide. I find using two different fabrics works well for this, ideally scraps from the project you are about to begin.
Step 2: It is important to sit facing your machine "square on." As you look at the needle you want your eyes to align with the presser foot in such a way that you are looking straight at it. My machine has a 1/4 inch foot that I use, I line the right edge of the fabric up with the edge of my presser foot and watch this edge rather than focusing on the needle.
I tried my best to give you a view of how I look at my machine as I sew.
With right sides together sew two of the strips together and then press the seam open towards the darker color. (In general quilters go to the dark side...think Star Wars.)
Step 3: Sew the third strip to your strip-pieced unit.
Step 4: Press it towards the dark side as before.
Step 5: Line a ruler up with your middle strip. SInce we cut our strips 1-1/2 inches wide, after the three are sewn together that will give us a middle strip that should measure exaclty one inch. (We took 1/4 off of each side of that middle strip with our seams losing 1/2 inch all-together leaving us 1 inch.)
If all went according to plan the middle strip will measure 1 inch and we are good to go. Sometimes I may need to make a slight adjustment. Most often that is achieved by moving the needle position on your machine. By scooching my needle position over to the rightor left just one "click" it usually solves the problem. (If your strip was wider than 1 inch move needle to the right; if your strip was short of 1 inch move needle to the left.)
If your machine does not have this lovely little feature you will need to change how you align the fabric with the edge of the presser foot. You may also find it helpful to use a seam guide, of which there are many available options, that will help you line up your fabric on your machine as it enters the stitching area. I used to do this a lot when I was first trying to improve my sewing accurancy.
Making sure you are using an accurate 1/4 inch seam will really help in when it comes to those sharp points we all desire in our work.