Friday, January 10, 2014

A Few Threads...


 ...can make a Big difference!  Half an inch's difference if you have 5 seams, as you do for the Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks.

These blocks look innocent enough, but one if them is 12 1/2 " square, while the other is barely 12".
That isn't going to make a very nice row, especially if I send it away to a swapper!  It may not matter if all my blocks are off, but they're not. I'm not sure how my seams got to be soooo off, but I think it may have started when I switched feet and started using my machine's quarter inch seam setting. Add my over 40 year old vision, and I have trouble lining up the fabric under my foot.  I am sure I have had the seams sticking out to the right a bit too much.

This doesn't really matter with paper piecing, where you sew on a line, or with improv quilting or even applique, but it's been bugging me that I haven't been able to work out a consistent seam.

Luckily, I found a great discussion about this on several blogs, including the Gen X Quilters.
There I found several ways to check if you have a true quarter inch seam, or a scant quarter as I have seen it called.  I followed Anne Marie's test for checking the seams, and checking my ironing preferences-- for the scrappy trip, I like to iron to the side so the seams lock in nicely.   

Off by half an inch--that won't do!!!
Turns out, after trial and error, my quarter inch setting + my sewing as a blind person style + my ironing preference for these blocks means I need to move my needle 3 clicks to the right to make everything line up when I finish sewing and ironing all the seams. 

I like to say I am a recovering perfectionist, but in this case, I can't let the chips fall where they may. As they say in carpentry, "off by an inch means off by a mile!" and it'll only get worse the larger the quilt gets.  Especially if I mix different size blocks.  I might let it slide for me (or try to) but I can't send the swap blocks away like that.  

I hated the trial and error process! It wasn't hard, just a tiny bit tedious.  I made it out much harder in my head than it turned out to be. Now I know my settings, and I feel prepared and confident for trickier pieced blocks, and confident to send my scrappy trip blocks away.   They aren't going to be shy, and they won't be warped. That is going to give me time to do more sewing and less ripping!

What a difference!
You all probably already know this, but if not, check out different blogs and even youtube for posts and articles about the scant quarter seam.  I sure am glad I did!
As for the shy blocks, I'm not sure if I'll turn them into scrappy trip pillows to go with the quilt, or use them on the backing, but I like'em so I'll not scrap'em too far!

Happy sewing!



  1. I had exactly this problem with scrappy trip blocks for a group charity quilt and I remade them over and over until I realised my stitch width setting was wrong! You could unpick your small ones and resew them, then they'll be the right size! Very pretty blocks though and there's that lovely spoon and plate fabric again :) x

  2. The small blocks would make a gorgeous pillow! I had this problem, too. I just started using a spool of 50 wt Aurafil thread, which is noticeably thinner than my old thread. I had success, even with very tiny blocks!


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