Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oh, what a beautiful day!  The weather is perfect!!  Hubby and I are sitting on the patio enjoying this fabulous day.  I don't, however, think that Mr. Winter is done with us yet.  Spring seems to be in the air but....

I am still working towards perfecting my quarter inch seam and I am excited to say that my Studio Stitch BOM were only slightly off...and I mean slightly!!  

Here are my two blocks.  As you can see, there are lots of room for problems with these two blocks.  I managed to get them very close to 12.5 inches.  Yippee!

Back to crocheting on the patio while Hubby looks for vacation spots at the beach.  No, spring fever here!  :-)

I would love to hear how you are enjoying this wonderful day!

Studio Stitch BOM meets again on Tuesday so next weekend I will continue with the BOM and working on my quarter inch seam.

Until then...

~~Quilt Much! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Elusive Quarter Inch Seam - Part 2

Last week, I challenged myself to perfect the quarter inch seam.  Well, I wasn't successful.  So, I spent some time this week scouring the internet for guidance.  

I found a couple helpful YouTube videos...check them out!

I searched for just about every aspect of the pieced quilt block/...from thread selection to machine set up to cutting and sewing.  Here I will share what I learned...ready?!

Use 50 wt. thread for piecing.  I have been using an Aurifil thread for more than a year now.  Same kind for everything I piece...I have gone through 3 or so of the big spools.  And since it has been a while since I looked closely at my thread,  I had to check to see if it was 50 wt.  I was pleased to discover that it was.  Apparently using a different size thread can actually have an effect on the final results.  

Next you want to set your machine to sew a scant quarter inch.  I put a 6" square ruler under your presser foot and lowered the needle. Be sure that the ruler covers all of the feed dogs.  This will allow the feed dogs to pull the fabric through better than if the fabric isn't in full contact with the feed dogs.  Then I moved my needle to the right so that the needle is just to the right of the quarter inch on a ruler. 

I then created a fabric guide along side of the ruler. I used a double layer of masking tape because that's what I had on hand.  You can use painters tape or buy items specifically designed for quilting.  I used two layers so that there was a bit of thickness to butt my fabric up against.  If you have a quarter inch foot with the don't need this step.  

Now for the test.  I cut three pieces of fabric...3.5 inches by 1.5 inches.  I starched each piece just a bit so that it wouldn't stretch as I sewed them.  

Cut just a smidgen (yes, that is a term of measurement) more than is necessary...basically the width of one thread.    

Sew the three pieces into a block and measure.  The results should be a 3.5 inch square.

The result is an almost perfect square!

Repeat eight more times and the sew into a nine patch.

The result should be a 9.5 inch square block.

See...almost perfect!

Wow!  That feeling of "I did it!" is pretty great!  I still have some work to do but I feel excited that I was able to get so close.

Go ahead and give it a try...and then let me know what you and tricks you have.  I would love to hear them!

The Studio Stitch BOM meeting for January was postponed to this week because of weather...and the weather forecast for North Carolina is a slushy mix of snow and rain tomorrow with snow on Wednesday so the possibility exists that it will be postponed again.  If it isn't, then I will be working on those blocks next weekend...with my new found precision!

Happy Valentine's Day!  Hope you find some quilty love this week!

Until then...

~~Quilt Much!  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Elusive Quarter Inch

Happy Groundhogs' Day!  I heard six more weeks of winter.  Is that what you heard?  

I don't mind.  I actually like winter.  Here in North Carolina...the winters aren't that extreme weather wise.  We have the occasional snow and the occasional very cold but for the most is pretty mild all things considered. Today's high was supposed to be in the sixties.  It feels great outside.  There is some winter weather on the way but it shouldn't last more than a day or so...then back to mild.

As part of my intention setting exercise for 2014...I made a goal to improve my quilting skills by working through my list of UFOs.  This actually accomplishes two goals for me....finishes some of those lingering projects as well as improves my skills so that I can take on more challenging projects...hopefully in 2015.  

Last night while I reviewed all my goals as part of my journaling, I decided that a goal for this week would be to perfect my quarter inch seam allowance.  So when I finally made it to the Quilt Room this afternoon...I made that my objective for the day.   Sew a perfect quarter inch seam allowance!

Has anyone actually seen the Quilting Police??? You know...the people who check the quarter inch seam allowance.  Are they as fearsome as I think they may be???

Craftsy's 2014 BOM is about color theory but they start the year with a little exercise to determine if you can sew the scant quarter inch seam allowance.  

If you don't know about Craftsy, you should really head on over there and check it out.  There are numerous free the BOMs. 

Back to this quarter inch seam allowance the 2014 BOM intro...they discuss how to determine if you sew a true quarter inch seam allowance.

You basically take three pieces of scrap fabric... 1.5 by 3 inches... 

...and sew them into a three piece unit.  Then you should be 3.5 inches wide.  So mine is pretty close there...

Is pretty close good enough for the Quilting Police???  Or should I be worried?

I sewed 8 of these units and was pretty consistent...getting pretty close.  During my sewing, I googled "quarter inch seam allowance for quilting" and there were several great hits...which I read through...and even attempted several during my afternoon quest for the perfect quarter inch...but I never got any better than "pretty close".  

Then I started to it my sewing or perhaps my cutting...where is the problem??  Or perhaps it is my pressing...or the fabric...or my needle...or my thread....SO MANY variables!!!  

I decided to use my 8 little units in a quilt block (maybe a mug rug)...need something to feel good about at the end of a couple hours of sewing, right!

Isn't it pretty purple???

As I am typing out this post...I wondered how far off my "pretty close" would be in the end.  Then I could determine how close is "pretty close".  

Let me tell isn't close enough!  I am almost a quarter inch off!!!  The Quilting Police are definitely going to issue a citation for that!

So while I have determined that if I don't end up with the correct size block, I can't be certain that it is my sewing skills and not my cutting skills that need work...or maybe I just need to make an adjustment for the thread or the fabric.  

At the end of the day, I am not closer to the elusive quarter inch seam allowance. 

I think for my next block of time in the Quilt Room, I will focus on the cutting and see what I can learn there.  Perhaps make this block again with more focus on the cutting skill and the sewing skill...and see if I can get closer.

Until then...

~~Quilt Much!!!