Something New and a Couple of Questions

20150519_172101

And When We Kiss… 32″ so far. To be bordered and then turned on point. When done, will be sized for a big bed.

Last week at my local guild meeting, we had our annual book sale. Our guild library keeps an inventory of about 300 items. Each year we sell some that are outdated or not of interest, and members also donate unwanted books from their own libraries to sell.

I bought three books, two bucks apiece. One of them offers a number of patterns for 60″ blocks. Add a couple of borders to a block that size, and you have a quilt!

The block above is adapted from one of the book’s blocks. I didn’t have enough of the grey background fabric to make it at 60″, so I downsized it to 32″.

I like the star in a star in a star arrangement.

Here’s a question: how accurate do your seams need to be to keep you happy? What magnitude of error (points not showing, seams not lining up) leads you to re-do a seam?

Another question: do you always press seams to the side? or open? Do you ever deliberately press seams multiple directions, just smashing them down in between?

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “Something New and a Couple of Questions

  1. Yanic A.

    First of all, gorgeous block! I love the grey, such a stunner. To answer your questions : 1- I’m VERY VERY picky which is why I 2- ALWAYS press open. I find it easier to line up seams since I see them and by seeing my points, I never bury my points. Plus, I never lose my scant 1/4 that way. My measurements are always flawless. It’s longer and I’ve burned myself more than I can count while pressing them, but the result is well worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That is picky! I’m not quite that particular, but I am pretty good. And since I’m “pretty good,” I don’t mind if now and then things don’t match up correctly. I figure the occasional one will get buried in the quilting. And I mix pressing methods, depending on the type of seam.

      Like

      Reply
  2. katechiconi

    Love your colour choices for this one! I’m not incredibly picky. I like things to line up, but if you can’t see the flaw from normal viewing distance (ie, looking at a quilt lying on a bed), I don’t stress it. My thinking is that I’m making a quilt, not a mathematical exercise. I’m human and don’t aspire to perfection, just a neat result. Of course, if you’re making something where inaccuracy will escalate the larger the quilt becomes, it’s more of an issue and I would take more care. As for pressing, I press to the side in alternating directions to allow things to nest tidily, and I don’t hesitate to clip seam allowances where many come together to reduce bulk.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      This is the key to me: “if you’re making something where inaccuracy will escalate the larger the quilt becomes, it’s more of an issue” Yes. This is where the real issue is. If it means things won’t fit, I definitely fix it. If it’s a small cosmetic issue, I often don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. farmquilter

    I’m a little picky on my points and matching my seams. I’ll rip out and re-sew 3 times and then I’m done, perfect or not! I generally press my seams to dark unless I’m doing something like a pinwheel, then I will press open to reduce bulk. I prefer to press this way because I will SID before the fun quilting. The only time I’ll “mash” the seams is when a seam gets flipped when I’m sewing and I’m too lazy to take out for just a flipped seam!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I mash when I have complex seams and intersections pushing from both ways. Then I push/press them in the direction they want to go and mash between. I don’t SID, almost ever, so that isn’t an issue for me.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Melanie at 1000Needles dot com

    I like things to be accurate but I don’t generally rip and redo. I just try to do it better or look for tricks to help meet points. None of my quilts are show quilts and I look at each one as practice for improving my skills. if I ripped every time, I’d get nothing done. I only rip if I piece the fabric wrong….regarding pressing… I generally press to the dark side. but if I’m doing HSTs I press whatever direction will nest my seams. sometimes I will do a test to see if there is a particular way to help keep my points and nest properly. I like it when pressing instructions are included with the pattern instructions. I noticed my older instructions included them while the newer instructions leave them out.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That’s an interesting observation, that older patterns give direction and newer ones don’t. I wonder why. Any thoughts?

      Yes on these: I don’t do show quilts, and if I ripped all the tiny errors, it would slow me down too much. As to ripping for wrong construction, I was working on 5 blocks this morning, some of those biggest complex HST. And I did 5 wrong in a row… Migraine brain…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Lucie the Happy Quilter

    I love your centre block Melanie. As for accurate seams; well I like to be as accurate as possible and don’t like my points cut off however there are times when I accept that I’m less than perfect and embrace my work as is. Pressing seams; I’m a stickler for pressing. I generally press to the dark however there are times that I do press open if it helps to reduce the bulk. I hate trying to longarm quilt thru big lumps of fabric!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I press carefully and often, but I am pragmatic and try to press to reduce bulk. Sometimes that means pressing one way, sometimes another. YES on quilting through big lumps! That’s tough stuff.

      Like

      Reply
  6. Teri Lucas Terificreations

    In this particular block, with these particular fabrics pressing to one side to get the seams to nest. When I’m piecing I generally us a 50 weight/2 ply thread and either a microtex or top stitch needle (I have these on hand). The 50 weight thread sinks into the seam allowance so that no matter which direction I press there is always an accurate quarter inch seam. One thing I find that helps is a straight stitch plate (single hole not a lozenge shape) and the patchwork/quarter inch foot for my machine)
    That said my level of intended accuracy changes with the purpose of the quilt. I will spend more time on a show quilt or one that is intended for public consumption. If it’s for home eh, not so much. Who cares.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, purpose matters. A baby quilt intended as a memento would be treated differently than a baby quilt intended as a play mat, for example. Show quilts are a different category altogether.

      I do use 50 wt thread and have appreciated its weight since I started. Probably won’t change that now that I know how well it works. I also use a 1/4″ foot. But with it I still need to know that diagonal seams (like HST) can snug slightly closer to the “fence” than perpendicular seams. When I am smart, I check my sizing before I’ve done all my work.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. snarkyquilter

    Where did you get that dandelion fabric? I just love that. But to more pressing matters, I was taught to press seams to the dark side, but will now often press seams open to reduce bulk. I still like to press to the side when it helps butt up pieces. And sometimes I will press a seam both ways to accommodate lots of butting. To do this I was taught to make a small clip in the seam allowance and dot a bit of fray check on the clip. A final note on pressing – I was also taught to develop a pressing direction diagram (little arrows on a line drawing of the quilt) before beginning a quilt to reduce unpleasant surprises down the road.

    Accuracy, well, depends on the quilt. I have slaved for perfect points on some quilts just to show I can do it. Generally, I try to make the really visible matches line up, and take up any excess fabric where the fabrics are the same or similar. I don’t like unsewing, but have learned if it bothers me right after I sew the seam I had better redo it, because it will still bother me a year later.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I got the dandelion fabric at the AQS Des Moines show several years ago. I am pretty sure it was from the vendor Material Girl. http://www.materialgirlfabrics.com/

      I used to clip the occasional seam that changed direction, but now I don’t bother. It presses flat enough that I think no one will ever know. And yes, if it bothers me I re-do. As you say, I won’t like it better later.

      Like

      Reply
  8. KerryCan

    I agree with Kate–pretty relaxed about imperfections. I do mostly hand piecing and I’m going so slowly that it’s fairly easy to get the points lined up.

    Like

    Reply
  9. Jenny

    I do like to be fairly accurate, but I’m trying to let go and just finish things. If a point gets cut off and I redo it, I will only try twice before I baste it, then sew it because the third time it’s going to stay!

    I don’t like pressing open, if there’s stress on the seam, the batting can migrate through! I press to whichever side will nest better. I have been known to “split” seams to change pressing direction. Press to one side at one end. Somewhere in the middle, clip one (just one!) seam allowance and press open for 1/2″ – 1″. Clip the other seam allowance and press to the other side. This has worked well for me, and I haven’t heard of any problems with quilts I’ve made.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      They say done is better than perfect! So yes, enjoy the process, use your imperfections as lessons for improvement, and move on. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

      Reply
  10. allisonreidnem

    Good questions with lots of interesting comments! I’ve just made a table runner out of HST. I allowed myself some less than perfect points (up to 1/8″ out) knowing that I’d be quilting using a top stitch that is kind at hiding small imperfections! I tend to press seams open despite the advice in some books that open seams shouldn’t be quilted in the ditch for fear of weakening seam stitch threads and encouraging batting to ‘beard’. I’m hoping in recent years thread and batting quality have improved enough to put aside those worries and so far I haven’t encountered these problems.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve learned there is a right side and a wrong side to lots of batting brands, including the one I use most. When I have it correct side up, I never have bearding. And yep, 1/8″ tolerance on the points, if most of them are very good, doesn’t bother me much. Usually I do better than that, but worse than that, I expect I’d have to re-do!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. cjh

    I’m not super picky, but occasionally will resew to improve a point that is off, usually when it doesn’t quite meet the edge rather than if it’s cut off. But I’ve learned where to sew in relation to my presser foot and needle setting so the most accurate seam allowance usually happens. And I do more squaring up of smaller units before adding to blocks or rows than I used to. As Kate said above, normal viewing distance can provide a “cure” without redoing.

    As to pressing, I press according to mood :-). If there will be obvious nesting of seams, I’ll press to opposing sides for matching rows. If I don’t know where the block or unit will end up, or it’s bulky like a pinwheel center, I press open. My flying geese have both side-pressing and open-pressing in the same unit.

    Your block is beautiful. The gray really makes the other colors glow, doesn’t it? It will be fun to see this one progress. A bit of color adventure…

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, the grey is good here, even though I don’t use it much. I bought 3 more pieces today so I can make this into something big. Julie may want it for her bed. Her anniversary quilt doesn’t seem to suit her very well any more…

      Like

      Reply
  12. Jolly and Delilah

    Lovely block! The colors are wonderful.

    Is everyone having the debate about points and seams at the moment? I’ve been involved in so many discussions about both of these topics in the last week that I’ve lost count.

    As for seams matching, I try not to get hung up on it. I’ve never seen a perfect quilt, and I’m certainly never going to make one. It’s the little idiosyncrasies that make each quilt so beautiful. And in any event, you’re very unlikely to notice seams that are a little off once something is quilted. It’s such a forgiving medium.

    On the pressing, seams are always opened. I read a lot on this topic when I first started quilting, and aside from this being what I was taught to do with them, it seemed to lead to better results for me. I find that the open seams make it much easier to put in points or match diagonals.

    Each to their own, right?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for the nice comments. I didn’t know others were discussing! Yesterday before putting up this post, I sewed a couple of seams that didn’t line up very well. Since I’m usually pretty good, (and I decided to leave them as was,) I wondered what other people tolerate. Also the seams are a little messy for pressing, so I wondered about those, too! Pure coincidence.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Jolly and Delilah

        It certainly is.

        Honestly, I think that we’re all our own worst critics when it comes to what we produce. Where you see a couple of mismatched seams, other people see a thing of beauty. I’d go mad if I tried to make everything perfect, and ultimately I’d be the only person who noticed it. Let me get back to you once I’ve tried to enter a few shows.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Melanie McNeil Post author

          I will say, it’s good to have it as a point of discussion, especially for newer quilters who are learning ins and outs, and also perspective. Improving in the craft is a worthy goal, but having it be a source of joy for them — well, that’s my main hope.

          Like

          Reply
          1. Jolly and Delilah

            I agree. I’m considering putting my voice out there in the multitude of opinions on the technique front and writing some posts, but I’m not quite convinced. I’ve seen a lot of these discussions become very quilt police-ish, and that sucks the fun right out of them. It seems increasingly necessary for those of us who take a more light hearted approach to our art to add our voices to these conversations, as I’m seeing an increase in the number of people I know learning to quilt solely from online sources, and obviously individual patterns assume an amount of preexisting technical knowledge. I would never tell any new quilter that there was only one way of doing anything, but a lot of other bloggers do. I was just talking with someone who said she attended a class where the teacher flat out told her that her quilting was terrible simply because she pressed her seams open. I was shocked. I’ve had nothing but supportive teachers, and I really thought the aim of those classes was to inspire confidence and creativity, not to create robots. I ramble, sorry, but I think it’s something that should be addressed. Whether I’m the right person to throw my hat in to this ring is another question.

            Like

          2. Melanie McNeil Post author

            You are the right person, if it’s important to you. If you want someone to take a look at what you write before hitting “publish,” I can do that for you. Let me know.

            Like

          3. Jolly and Delilah

            Thank you. I know you’re right, I just sometimes feel as though I lack the experience to speak authoritatively.

            When I write on these subjects, I’m going to be a lot less political about them than I have been here, but I’d definitely like to take you up on that offer.

            I’ve had a couple of requests for tutorials recently, so it’s something I’ll be diving in to soon. Hopefully I can start working on something in the next couple of days.

            Liked by 1 person

I love your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s