I have a few things I use or do, with almost every quilt I piece. It’s funny how methodical I am about using things when I find something that works. I received a couple of emails this week asking for piecing guidance, and it made me think I should share my tried and true go-to’s.
Do you have a stiletto? I love, love, love my stiletto tool! This tool helps me feed smaller points and pieces into the machine as I go. It's like having an extra finger that can get very close to the needle.
I find it easier to use than straight pins, and I can use its super pointy tip to keep my angled pieces from shifting like they sometimes want to do right at the end. I bought this tool in the pottery and clay department at the local hobby store, but you can find a similar tool in quilt shops too.
I turn my stitch length down to 2.0, or even 1.8 sometimes. That is pretty small and typically the default stitch length for most sewing machines is set to 2.5. You can see here the difference between my 2.0 seam on the left and the 2.5 seam on the right.
The shorter stitch length keeps my piecing from popping open or coming undone while I do the rest of the block assembly.
The thing with piecing angle quilts is you end up working with a lot of bias edges, and those tend to stretch more, pressuring the seams to give way at the edges if you are not careful… the smaller stitch length really helps in these cases.
I press a lot of seams open, especially where there is likely to be bulk. Here you can see the two seams that come together at the center, are both pressed open, which will make for the flattest intersection when this half of the block is joined to the other half.
I use spray starch or an alternative like Best Press to set the seams when the block or section is done. I don’t typically use this while piecing little bits together, but definitely, once the block is complete, I give it a quick spritz and a good press.
I change my rotary blade often. I didn’t always do this and would wait till my rotary cutter was all but gnawing its way through the fabric. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s time to change your blade ;)
And last but not least, I change my sewing machine needle pretty often. If your machine needle is dull it can punch little holes in your fabric, making thread runs, or in the worst cases, it can push your fabric down between your feed dogs where it snarls up with the bobbin thread. I like to use Universal needles size 80/12 for almost all my piecing. These needles fit their name and are very universal. They work well on most fabrics and sew through several layers or thicker seams when needed.
Well, that’s my methodical list of go-to’s. I hope there was something helpful in there for you!
Happy Sunday everyone,