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Problems with seams.

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Kate posted on Mon, Mar 19 2012 5:05 PM

I'm having a few problems with the blocks I'm working on.  I am fairly sure my cutting was acurate but once all my sections were together in complete 8" blocks everything seems to have changed shape.  I started to notice this in the sub-sections, but put all together they were all over 8" with some really wonky seams.  My thoughts are that I'm ironing wrong perhaps.  Also, as I have a very limited supply of fabric I've had to mix different weight fabrics.  I think Agnes said that the weave can vary greatly with cotton material, and I've used all my remnants in the same colour group but ignored that some cottons were much thicker than others because I just didn't have anything else to use.  I had to increase the dog feed and pressure on the darner to get the thicker seams through and of course this has thrown my straight sewing lines off in places.  I've had to press the blocks and seams in all directions to rectify things, and hope I've done the right thing in trimming the blocks into exact 8"  ready for sewing in to a top, but I really don't want to go through this again!  Can anyone advise me of other things I might be getting wrong?  Thanks, k.

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Answered (Verified) Ramona replied on Mon, Mar 19 2012 5:42 PM
Verified by Kate

Kate,

It sounds like  increasing the pressure foot has only made the problem worse with it's pulling of the fabric. One suggestion is to press your seams open since you have different weights of fabric. Remember that presssing is exactly what it says, "pressing" not ironing. :-) If you decide not to press your seams open, then when you are sewing the rows together put the top seam thickness facing  your machine and the bottom seam thickness facing away from the machine. That way your feed dogs work for you pulling the bottom fabric closer and the top is pushing your fabric away making those intersections match up better. Maybe a pin here and there will help too. Hope I'm making some sense.

I guess there is one more thing, are you making sure you are cutting your fabric on the straight of grain. Any bias will make a huge difference.

 

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Answered (Verified) Ramona replied on Mon, Mar 19 2012 5:42 PM
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Kate,

It sounds like  increasing the pressure foot has only made the problem worse with it's pulling of the fabric. One suggestion is to press your seams open since you have different weights of fabric. Remember that presssing is exactly what it says, "pressing" not ironing. :-) If you decide not to press your seams open, then when you are sewing the rows together put the top seam thickness facing  your machine and the bottom seam thickness facing away from the machine. That way your feed dogs work for you pulling the bottom fabric closer and the top is pushing your fabric away making those intersections match up better. Maybe a pin here and there will help too. Hope I'm making some sense.

I guess there is one more thing, are you making sure you are cutting your fabric on the straight of grain. Any bias will make a huge difference.

 

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gini replied on Mon, Mar 19 2012 6:07 PM

kate, if you are using a cotton that is so thick you need to increase the feed dog pressure it might not be a good idea to mix it with lighter fabrics.  it sounds like you are working with bias edges, they can stretch a lot. 

gini in north idaho

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Kate replied on Tue, Mar 20 2012 2:09 PM

Ramona,

Thanks so much for this reply, I think it covers everything I'd asked.  I had forgotten what I'd learnt about seams, and so telling me to press them open, or put one seam one way and the other in the opposite direction was perfect - I've been doing this today as I'm sewing the blocks together now and it's much easier getting them through the machine.

I feel such an idiot because you've made me realise that I can't be sure about how I cut my half square triangles.  Everything came out of 2.5" strips  I DEFINATELY cut on the grain, but now I am not certain about those triangles - I think I was trying not to waste fabric and cut them wherever I could.  Shan't be doing that again!  The blocks are coming together well now so it's not a total disaster, but I've learnt alot for next time, thanks, I'm really grateful, k.

 

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Kate replied on Tue, Mar 20 2012 2:15 PM

gini, I really did forget everything I learnt in my basic sewing lessons - should have known not to put a thick cotton with a thin but thanks for reminding me, think I realised a bit too late! Trying to cut corners by using what I had instead of what was suitable hasn't paid off as alot of points are off and there are a fair few bumpy seams.  Have definately learnt my lesson, and thanks for the reminder about the bias - should have known that too. What a twit!

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Agnes replied on Tue, Mar 20 2012 2:36 PM

Kate--I won't add to the advise. Bases have been covered. I can assure you that by making mistakes you will remember the lesson far better than anyone telling you could.

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Ramona replied on Tue, Mar 20 2012 2:43 PM

Kate,

Glad I helped you. There is alot to learn and remember with quilting or sewing. Don't feel bad if you forget. We've all been there and I visit "there" more often than I would like. lol Just glad it's working better for you. I know your finished quilt will be beautiful!  Would love to see the finished quilt.

 

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Answered (Not Verified) Kate replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 3:44 AM
Suggested by Pat M.

Ramona,

Thanks for encouraging me.  I'll try and post a picture when the top is complete - but no close ups!  Now of course I've realised I might have a quilting problem as I'll be quilting by hand and I know those seams are still going to be very difficult to work.  Could I ask what you suggest?  The blocks are hour glass star blocks and puss in boots blocks (Bonnie Hunter's "My Blue Heaven").  What do you think about echo quilting this? k.

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Kate replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 3:46 AM

Agnes, that is so true, I'm not going to forget this in a hurry! k.

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Pat M. replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 8:51 AM

Kate--

I see you want to quilt by hand.  I am the "fearless leader" of the Hand Quilting Group.  I looked at the pattern ("My Blue Heaven").  Since you are having problems with thick seams, I would avoid them as much as possible.  On the triangles, I would stitch 1/4 " from the seams.  In the rectangles, I would quilt them as if there were pieced seams in the "flying geese" part of the stars.  Haven't thought about a border pattern to suggest yet.  Hope this helps. If you think this is the way you'd like to go, I can sketch it out for you just in case my description is as clear as mud!   You might want to "stop by" the Hand Quilting Group and see if someone has some ideas.

Pat--"Keep Calm and Carry On"

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Kate replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 4:18 PM

Hello Pat, thanks for your reply.

Yes, I would love you to explain things further as I am very new at this and not quite sure what you mean.  I've just finished the main section of the top - had to split down the middle on one seam as nothing was lined up and there was a very light rectangle right smack in the middle which you couldn't take your eyes off, so I split it in the middle and swapped the two halves over.  Now you don't notice that rectangle and the seams have joined up much neater.  I was going to follow Bonnie's design and put a 2.5" border all around of one of the fabrics used in the main, and then surround that with hour glass units, only made up of red and cream (my two colour groups) as apposed to just red (Bonnie's are of course blue).  I'd like to stick with this idea, but all help with the quilting ideas I would very much appreciate.  I'll have a look at your Hand Quilting Group too, thanks for mentioning, k.

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Ramona replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 4:53 PM

Kate,

Absolutely beautiful quilt!! I see you have an answer for the hand quilting. I think the 1/4 inch would look fantastic. I also like how it was quilted on Bonni's site. The curves really soften the straight lines and points. I really have to give it to you with the hand quilting. I've taken a class but never could get the hang of it. I don't see how you do it.  How long will it take you to quilt this one? Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it. lol

 

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Pat M. replied on Thu, Mar 22 2012 5:06 PM

Kate--

I will draw something up tonight and post it Friday evening----things are a little "upsetting" around here now.  Our little furbaby dog Charlie has to spend the night (he already spend all day today) at the vet's.  He was recently diagnosed as being diabetic and we are having lots of trouble getting things regulated.  My husband is the photo/computer tech for me and I don't want to ask him to work on photo tonight-he's really worried about Charlie.

Pat--"Keep Calm and Carry On"

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Kate replied on Fri, Mar 23 2012 6:36 AM

Pat,

Really sorry to hear about Charlie, it is horrible when they are not well.  I have two cats, one never ill, but the other becomes troubled easily if anything changes, and especially when we have to move, and bites all her fur away - we have to get in to the vets early when it starts and then she's on steroids for weeks.  Hope you find a routine with Charlie and things get easier.  Please don't put yourself to any trouble with a pattern for me, whenever is fine but only if you have time, it was very kind of you to offer.  I still have the borders and tons of hour glass triangles to cut again so I will be busy for a while.  I might try and post a picture of it in progress, as my next question will be what colour thread should I quilt in?

Good luck with Charlie, and thanks again, k. 

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Kate replied on Fri, Mar 23 2012 6:51 AM

Ramona,

Her work is amazing, isn't it? I like small piecing and also knew this would be a good design to get me going again with quilting and loads of practise with points, and general all-over mistake making and lesson learning!  Also, I haven't hand quilted for a long time and thought simple repetitive echo quilting would be very good practise too.  Lastly, if you saw my machine, you'd know why I'm a hand quilter - I know with practise that could be mastered too, but I'm not that brave and know I will get things mangled and ruined. I'll try a post a picture of my machine, it's all I've got but I do love it.  And I'll try and stick a progress picture in the gallery of Bonnie's quilt that you've helped me with, I'm calling it "Making Mistakes" after Granny Agnes's post!

I can't think how long it will take to quilt - years I expect.  But that's ok, I've been wanting a third long term project, I'm making a hexagon quilt out of my Nana's bed linens, I take that with me everywhere in a little bag.  And so I'll have Bonnie's quilt to pick up when I want to quilt, which leaves me with whichever quilt top I choose to do next.  I'm grateful for everyone's help here because it's moving me along quickly, so thanks again! k

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