Thursday 26 July 2012

Piecing Tips and Tricks

After participating in my first QAL last year, and discovering I was really really crap at getting accurate seam allowances, I did a bit of research into the best way to get an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. So since my own QAL starts tomorrow (whoop whoop! So excited!) I thought I'd share what I learnt and what works for me. As part of this, I would love to hear if you have any tips and tricks you'd like to share as well - I'm completely self-taught thanks so the generosity of so many bloggy peeps out there sharing their methods. But those of you who have actually taken classes etc probably have way more knowledge about this stuff, and I'm always looking to improve the way I do things :o) I've divided this post into two parts - pressing methods and seam accuracy.

The Pressing Issue

So how do you make sure you're actually getting a 1/4" seam? I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, I'm just going to direct you to some really great tutorials written by way more talented peeps than me. One of the key points I'd like to make though is in regards to pressing - whether you press your seams open or to the side makes an enormous impact on the accuracy of your seams. When I started working through this process I was a hardcore pressing seams to the side convert. By the end I'd started pressing my seams open, and I've never looked back. 

I think this article is worth reading - this was pivotal in changing my thinking, and the reason I gave pressing open a go. But it's a personal choice, there is no right or wrong way to go. I would encourage you to play around with pressing open vs to the side and decide which works best for you :o) 

If you're interested in learning how to press your seams open, this post has some great step by step photos.  

1/4" Seams

So you've decided how you'd prefer to press your seams. How do you know that the seam itself is accurate? I would suggest this brilliant tutorial by Amy of Amy's Creative Side as the perfect starting point. This was my starting point. I worked through her tutorial several times, trying different pressing methods and changing my needle position until I arrived at my perfect 1/4" seam. Every sewing machine will be different, so what worked for me might not work for you. I found on my Bernina, that the edge of my patchwork foot gives a true 1/4" seam IF I press open. If I press to the side, its too big. If I move my needle to the right, it's too small.

I hope you find some of these links helpful and relevant. And if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them! I'll be back tomorrow with a block tutorial :o)

x Jess


Jenelle said...

These are some fantastic links! I particularly enjoyed reading the article by Mabry Benson. I generally prefer pressing my seams open too and now I know the reason why pressing to the side is so prevalent. Very interesting!

Dianne Neale said...

Thanks for these tips - I never thought about moving my needle!

Di said...

Real food for thought here. Thank you for the links. Di x

Katy Cameron said...

Sound advice :o) I always press open and shift my needle slightly to the right

Catherine said...

Thanks for that Jess, they are really helpful tips

Cherie said...

I often wonder if my seam is less that that. When I go to press them open its near impossible as the seams are too small? =D

Kati from Kati's Quilting said...

I actually use the tape method, but use several layers so they create an edge. I only position the tape up to my presser foot so it barely touches the foot. It's mostly important for the fabric to be in position before it hits the needle. This way it's in place and the rest of the fabric is butting up against the tape driving the piece straight through the needle.