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Quilt Troubleshooting – Check the Basics

Are you ever disappointed with your quilt when you are finished?

quilt too fast

Ooops! Now this was just a case of going too fast!  The trusty seam ripper and a flip of the fabric will fix the problem.


But sometimes the problem is a little more, and harder to fix – it’s not square, there are tucks or gathers, it’s not the size it’s supposed to be, it’s just generally wonky.  It might be time to go back to basics.  Even if you are not having trouble, it would still be a good idea to revisit these important habits.

1. Prewashing. Now that’s a whole debate on it’s own (LINK TO PREWASHING POST), but whatever you decide to do, it’s a good idea to do the same thing with all the fabric in a particular quilt.  Either wash it all before you start, or don’t wash any of it.  Otherwise when you wash your completed quilt, the parts that were prewashed have preshrunk; the parts that weren’t prewashed may shrink more that the rest and skew the whole project.

2. Cutting. If you need to cut several strips, be sure to square up your fabric after every few strips.  It’s not uncommon to be just the tiniest bit off on each strip and then that adds up.  The next thing you know you are 1/8″ (or more!) off. It’s also a good idea to keep change your rotary cutter blade as soon as it gets the slightest bit dull.  A sharp blade means smooth and even edges.

3. Quarter inch seams – make sure they really are!  Being off by just the smallest fraction on every seam can really add up!  There are several ways to ensure you are sewing consistent quarter inch seams.  Choose your favorite way, then stick to it!

4. Pressing. That’s right. Pressing. Not ironing. Always lift your iron as you move to a new section to be pressed. Pushing your iron around the fabric and result in fabric that is stretched out of shape.  Even worse, it can stretch your finished blocks out of shape!

5. Pin your borders.  When sewing long lengths of fabric together one of them can stretch or get “gathered in” as you go, thereby throwing your quilt out of whack. After you have measured and cut your borders, lay them on your quilt and use several pins.  This will ensure that both the border and the center of the quilt will load through your machine evenly.

Do yourself a favor and review these before you next project. Then reap the rewards of a quilt well done!

Oct 15, 2012 - Tips    No Comments

Finding Time To Sew And Quilt

Recently, we asked our Facebook fans if they had any (many?) UFOs and, if so, what was the main reason they hadn’t finished.   By far, the most frequent response was “not enough time”.   I can relate!   We all have different lifestyles and responsibilities that require our attention, so the same tips and timesavers won’t work for everyone, but you’ll probably find a few tricks here that will apply to you.  Hopefully you’ll be sewing more soon!

Label your pieces.  After cutting fabric for your quilt, label it right away.  When you cut it you know what piece it is, but halfway through the pattern you may so remember so clearly.  You’ll save time not having to re-measure or re-read the cutting instructions to see what’s what.  It will be easy to know which piece to use next.  No guessing, and no incorrect seams that require ripping.

Use sewing time for sewing.  As you come to them, set aside tasks that don’t involve actual sewing.  Make a little pile of them or put them in a basket or plastic box. Rip out those stiches or remove that stabilizer when you are sitting in from of the tv or waiting for an appointment.  Even ironing.  Just sew!  If you work on a few projects at once you can sew one step for each project and do the ironing when you get a spare moment.  Then you’re ready to just sew next time.

Put it away.  A place for everything, and everything in its place. You’ve heard that before, right?  It’s so tempting when you’re time is limited to just set things anywhere. Then when you need it, you waste minutes looking for it, moving fabric, looking under patterns, looking where it should be but isn’t.  It’s annoying and feels time consuming to take a moment and put something in it’s place but keep doing just that and it will soon become a habit.  The payback is sweet – when you need something you’ll be able to lay your hands on it right away!  and with no frustration!

End your sewing session with a couple minutes of prep for next time.  Set up for your next sewing session.  If you are using a pattern, mark your place so you don’t have to waste time looking for it.  Set up the next step in your project with the next pieces to stitch, right sides together, ready to feed into the machine. Or write yourself a note about where you are and leave it right by your machine.  You know what’s next when you’re right there, but leave and live – feed the kids, or visit the grandkids, or go to work – and all kinds of things crowd that sewing info right out of your brain!

Use your scraps.  Scraps of time, that is.  Don’t discount the amount of sewing that you can accomplish in just 10 or 15 min. Plus you’ll get a little sewing buzz to help you through the day.  This works best for those who have a dedicated sewing area or sewing room because everything is out and ready.  If you have to clear the dining room table and pull out your machine it is a little harder.  But try clearing the table and setting out your machine first thing in the morning.  See how many little scraps of time you actually can use.  If it doesn’t work, at least you cleared the table!

If you have any tips or suggestions about finding time to sew, we’d love to hear them! Leave a comment! Please!