Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Achieving Accuracy

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

For the past three months I have been working at the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Along.  I am quite pleased with my blocks and am improving with regard to sewing accurate sized blocks.  It got me thinking about how to improve your quilting even before you start sewing.  There are 3 points that I feel help me.  I'll share them in the rest of the post.  The block at left is from Lesson 7.  I did some fussy cutting to ensure that the striped fabrics all went the same direction.  Definitely worth the effort.
Lesson 8 resulted in this block.  The hourglass in the middle is quite attractive and easy to match at the centre.  Proper trimming resulted in accurate points.  After completion, this block was sewn to its neighbours.  First section of the quilt assembled.  yippee.

1) I pre-wash my fabrics.  They go in the washing machine and go through part of a wash cycle, then spin and next the dryer.  The only exception is when I am doing a stack and whack technique where I have to match up layers of identical prints, these I don't wash as then it seems so much harder to match them.

Lesson 9.  I have been looking to find the name of these blocks, but it doesn't show in ay of my books.  The fabric in the middle block is one my son chose years ago.  It is very thin.  I wanted to use it, so I backed it with a very thin fusible interfacing.  The interfacing has been there for about 8 years and shows no signs of yellowing or peeling. 

2) Press your fabric after pre-washing and then let it sit and cool before you cut.  The action of the ironing pushes the fabric all around and might stretch it a bit.  The fabric needs some time to relax after all that exertion.  You don't want it relaxing after you have cut your pieces as they might shrink ever so slightly and then it will throw off the size.  Every thread width really does count.

Lesson 10, I am now up to date.  These square in the square blocks were sewn with over sized triangles then trimmed to size.  Yes, it did was a bit of fabric, but I didn't cut off any of the points.  The squares were designed to be a bit small so that they float with in the unit.
3) Cut accurately.  Look at your rulers very carefully and you will notice that all the lines have a thickness.  My rulers have some lines than are thinner and have cross hairs.  Those are the ones that I line up with the edge of the fabric.  If you are a thread or two too small or to large, it will affect the result as all those threads add up.  Also, if you are making a long cut, you should walk your fingers along the ruler.  (cut a few inches, then move your other hand up the ruler to hold it firmly, then cut some more, stop and move your hand, then cut some more.). You can't hold the ruler steady from one spot and expect it not to move 15 or 20 inches away.  You should also check that you haven't shaved off the corners of your ruler.  I know that one of mine is no longer quite square as I have nipped it with the rotary cutter a few times.  Time to replace it.
I hope that you find these hints helpful.
I am being diligent at working at these little churn dash blocks.  It's like eating popcorn, I can't just eat one handful, I have to eat a bunch.  Well, I can't just sew one of these blocks....

Love these long weekends that are spent at home, it always give me extra sewing time.  Today daughter started her last year of high school and in theory that gives me more stitching time during the day, but I'm not holding my breath, other errands await. 

My Travelling Jane quilt has been visiting Ada at The Light-Hearted Quilter.  Ada promises that she'll share Jane's continuing adventures in a future post.

Marie, at Daisy's Book Journal, has had her fingers flying.  Two new knitting projects and a Zentangles plan for the year.

Over at Lit and Laundry, Sarah has posted an update about her intricate Santa's Village Cross Stitch.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I love the churn dash blocks - I have only made one or two that went into a sampler quilt but one just made from that block would be great.

Roslyn said...

I don't prewash unless I think it might have color run, esp. red batiks!
I like your tip about not trimming until the fabric cools, never thought about that.
And the tip on rulers was a good reminder too that they are NOT all the same when it comes to the width of their lines & I have many rulers from different companies. I like to have "fudge" factor so I can always trim a tiny wee bit if necessary but not so much as to lose one of the pointsI too have been remiss in blog surfing Heather, summer is so very busy between escaping the PHX. heat & caring for the youngest DGS who has no preschool for 3 months but must be entertained none the less!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Especially loving the pattern and colours of the churn dash blocks.

Marie said...

Sorry I'm so late in posting, Heather. Great work! I really like quilting, but my accuracy and measuring is so bad that my quilting projects turn out lopsided or the pieces just don't fit together. It usually ends in my frustration followed by me swearing off quilting and sewing.

It's funny that I never thought that accuracy was something you have to practice and really work at. I thought that you were either accurate or you weren't. Hmmm....

Those are great tips. Thanks! I never noticed that my ruler had different lines. I just checked...it does. Another hmmm...