Every quilter has a story about their first ‘big quilt’ they completed, and what struggles or “ah-hah” moments they’ve had. I love reading about other quilter’s experiences, good or bad. This is my experience with my first ‘big quilt.’
Even with the knowledge I gained from tutorial videos, quilting how-to books, and conversations with helpful coworkers, I had to learn hands-on the importance of an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance. I had to make mistakes (over and over I might add) until I got it right, in order to understand how important this seam allowance is. I am convinced that practice makes perfect (well almost). We even have a cool picture tutorial all about sewing an accurate quarter inch seam allowance. Check it out here!
At work we test our patterns for accuracy and I tested, “Fall in the City” (available this summer) designed by Melissa Burt. It’s a really nice pattern for the adventurous beginner because it uses lots of strips to form blocks. I chose to sew mine up in Urban Odyssey.
Mistakes I made:
1) Switching Machines: I used two sewing machines, one at work and one at home. Not such a good choice. Why? Because your 1/4″ will be off, even if you put tape down and measure it accurately. I highly recommend using a good ¼” ruler to measure your seam allowance, like this one from Olfa.
2) Measuring: I measured 1-2 times before I cut, but I think 3 times is good… Oh, and stop cutting when you get tired. That’s when mistakes happen.
3) Cutting: I cut too many layers of fabric at a time. Inevitably, some were way off, and I even used these strips because I thought I could ‘compensate’ by adjusting my 1/4″ seam allowance to be slightly more or less. That made things REALLY complicated, and I’ll never do it again!
Notice all the wonky, unevenness? I had to rip out SO many stitches! Below you will see some of my photos. I put painters tape on my sewing machine plate, and I measured my needle position very carefully–after that it was much easier to sew accurate quarter inch seam allowances. I was even able to confirm that my blocks were indeed measuring 6-1/2” square, thanks to my handy Omnigrid ruler.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for part 2 when I reveal how my rows came together with my sashing, and my finished quilt top!