Top Tips for the Novice Quilter – Tip The First

3 Oct

A couple of years ago on the way back from an overseas assignment the Big Cheese and myself did a tour round New Zealand’s  South Island. Not being a slouch when it comes to sniffing out a quilt shop I did just that and  bought some local fabrics to make into a memory quilt. I was making this and thinking about how I learned to do various techniques when I realised that there might be people out there who could benefit from a few things I learned along the way. Experienced stitchers may want to go off and do something quilty at this point as they might otherwise get bored.

I decided to do a simple showcase quilt as the fabrics  all feature something that says ‘New Zealand’ to the viewer and chopping them up would spoil that feature. The whole point about a showcase quilt is that it tends to frame the fabrics a bit like a picture. This in turn means that as the quilt comes together seams have to be matched. In this particular piece I gave myself extra grief by having whole rows with seams that had to be matched. I did not despair, however as I have a technique for just this problem.

Framed squares ready for joining.

Two framed squares lined up ready to be joined.

If my squares do not have to sit in one direction I often turn them 90 degrees so that the seams are not actually right next to each other. Here is an example. If you look closely you can see the seams in different directions on the borders. Then you only have to worry about the seams between the blocks.The best way to make sure your seams line up is to pin them very carefully. Look at both sides as you do this and put a pin  at rightangles when you are sure the two seams line up.

If you use an ordinary sewing machine to stitch your seams leave the pin in until you have finished sewing over that point. If you have it at rightangles your needle should go over it.

I make life more difficult for myself by overlocking all my seams as I find they are stronger and don’t come undone as some did in my very early experience of quilting. I sew a short length on my normal machine first to keep the seams aligned when I come to use the overlocker.

Seam anchored before overlocking.

Once stitched this  gives  several rows of joined squares that then have to be stitched into a whole top. The same applies again with the seams. Line up, pin and stitch.

Then the joins should look like this.

The photo is a bit blurry but you get the picture.

With this technique  a bit of patience and a deal of concentration your seams should line up beautifully.

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