This week, in between snow delays and cancellations I had a conversation with a quilter who was having trouble, her blocks came out all different wrong sizes. We checked her cutting, accurate, we checked that she had sewn things in the right order and pressed carefully. We talked through her entire process. She said she had even put a new needle and re threaded in desperation. So I showed her on one of my machines how to mark the bed of the machine with painters tape as a larger and more visible guide for the edges of the fabric. She said she has marked her machine. Ok. Is your lighting good enough to see it clearly? Yes. ( Deep breath here ) Sounds like she was doing everything right, but the results were still inaccurate. I finally asked her to describe her process when she sits down to sew. She needed 42 blocks for her project. She said she takes the first 2 pieces, pins them together and repeats for every block, then sews them together chain piecing. She said, it goes “Lickety Split” this way. Then she would press them and repeat the process for the next step, easing in or trimming any issues until the blocks were done. Sounds ok, but can you guess what I suggested to her?
I told her to slow down. 42 of anything in a row is mind numbing. You lose focus, sew too quickly and get lazy. Instead, do no more than a dozen at a time, press carefully and measure the results. If they are correct do another bunch. If they are wrong, fix them now. Every time you ease it in or trim excess to make it work you are compounding the problem, and inconsistency adds up fast. You can still make quick progress this way, but it is broken up enough for you to stay focused. And by checking as you go you get better results.
Another thing to do is to choose a block/method that includes some checks and balances. Growth Rings is one of those, and the workshop is coming up on February 7. By pre-cutting the strips to exact length you know immediately if your seam allowance is wandering. This also makes the piecing go quickly. Join us and make one for yourself, and then one for someone else, and maybe four together to cover the bed. See our showcase page for details and supply lists.
Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club, the first meeting for the year.
Tuesday I may be late opening as I have an early appointment, If you are planning to come in before 11 that day call to check I got in to work first. It’s nothing medical so please don’t worry. See you all in the slow lane!!!!