Quilters love to take fabric, cut it up, and put it back together again.
That is the fun of quilting. I suppose it is like children playing with
building blocks and Legos and making their own creations. We start young!
Sewing fabric together to make quilt blocks and quilts is called piecing or
patchwork. There are a few basic rules that you must follow if you want
your patchwork to fit together, lay flat, and look good.
Here are piecing basics
1/4- Inch seam
Quilters love to take fabric, cut it up, and put it back together again. That is the fun of quilting. I suppose it is like children playing with building blocks and Legos and making their own creations. We start young!
Sewing fabric together to make quilt blocks and quilts is called piecing or patchwork. There are a few basic rules that you must follow if you want your patchwork to fit together, lay flat, and look good. Here are piecing basics
1/4- Inch seam
When you cut them apart, you can cut several pieces at one time. However, do not place them exactly on top of each other. This makes too much bulk at the seams. it is easier to cut through several layers if you stagger them by placing each piece slightly higher than the next, so that you only have to cut through the bulk of one seam.
Do not cut up large scale prints. They are not suitable for piecing. Use them in your borders or in large squares. Be aware of your lights, mediums and darks, and make sure you have contrast where necessary. See the Value and Quilting Page for tips on determining contrast.
Stopping and Starting
If you fabric is drawn down into the feed dogs when you begin stitching, start sewing on a scrap of fabric and then sew onto your fabric. If you have another throat plate for your sewing machine with a smaller opening for the needle, that may also stop it. Or you can try holding the thread behind the fabric, and pulling on it when you begin to sew.
Most quilters do not backstitch because they know their stitching is going to be crossed by another row of stitching to secure it. Also, it makes it a lot more difficult if you have to pull out stitches. However, when attaching border strips and other long pieces of fabric you should backstitch to secure your stitches.
Many quilters do not use pins because they feel it distorts the fabric. Others pin quite extensively; before and after every seam allowance. Most quilters use 100% cotton fabric, so you can use a variety of pins without hurting your fabric. I like the flat headed pins, pictured at the left. I find them easy to use and locate if I drop them. Some quilters like to keep their pins in magnetic soap type dishes. If you are prone to spilling your pins on the floor, this is a good solution.
Always press, either with your fingers or the iron, after every seam. Be careful not to distort the fabric by dragging the iron over it as opposed to pushing down. Most irons will automatically turn off if you don't use them, but always look for that safety feature. Popup irons, that can lay flat when you are not using them, are convenient. A good iron is expensive, but serves you well. See the Pressing Quilt Page.
Strips and Borders
Your sashing strips and borders must be precisely cut to square up your quilt. See the Sashing Strips and Borders quilting page.
You must always leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the edges of your work. When you don't leave the seam allowance, your pieces do not fit together, and you can cut off points, as illustrated on the flying geese block to the left. You can see the black lines where you sew the block to another fabric. Without the seam allowance, the point is cut off.
Eye Candy for Quilters
Pictures of Quilts and Projects