4 Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks


Managing to have all the seams meet and all blocks finishing the same size can be a struggle. Following 4 basic steps will consistently make this happen.

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4 Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks

Quilts can be considered art as well as something functional. Managing to have all the seams meet and all blocks finishing the same size can be a struggle. Following 5 basic steps will consistently make this happen. It’s as simple as cutting, pressing and keeping a constant ¼” seam. With practice these steps will become second nature and you will see an improvement in your quilts.

4 Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks


1. Remove The Manufactured Fold

You have picked out your pattern and your fabric ironed to remove the manufactured fold. Sometimes it is not folded exactly in half or the fabric wasn’t rolled evenly on the bolt. Using a longer ruler will make cutting easier since you will not have to keep folding the fabric to make it short enough to cut without moving the ruler. Fold your fabric in half to meet the selvage edges. Hold it up to make sure that fabric hangs straight. If you see a curve, shift the front in the direction the curve flows at the bottom.

Check Fabric Hangs Straight


Once there are no curves showing the fabric will be hanging along the straight of grain. Lay fabric on your cutting surface. With long yardage, it is easier to work with a small section at a time and pin selvages as you go. You may find that your cut edges may not meet. This is natural since fabric will shift when being rolled on the bolt. Make your first cut larger to account for the uneven edge.


2. Lay Fabric And Cut

Place ruler on fabric using the vertical lines to determine the width of your fabric strip per pattern instructions. Line up a horizontal line on your ruler on the fold of fabric. It is easier to use the 1” or 2” line for your horizontal line since it will stabilize the ruler while cutting.

Press firmly and cut using a continuous movement. Do not saw back and forth. This will cause the edges to be distorted. On the first cut, turn do not flip, the strip to cut off the uneven edge. Continue per pattern instructions. Sometimes having several different size rulers for cutting will make cutting more accurate since it will make it less awkward when cutting smaller pieces.

Place Ruler For Cutting


3. Prepare Sewing Machine For Seams

Quarter inch seams are standard when making blocks. There will always be exceptions, check your pattern for details. Quarter inch seam means the distance between the sewing line and the edge of the fabric. There are a few ways to make this possible. Newer machines now have either a quilters foot or a mark on the plate to mark the ¼ inch seam line. With older models, it is possible to mark the line. Remove the presser foot from the machine. Using a seam guide, lower the needle onto the ¼” mark on the guide, place masking tape along the edge of the guide to mark the seam line. The masking tape will have a slight edge that you can but the fabric edge to while sewing, giving you a consistent ¼” seam.

Prepare Sewing Machine For Seams


4. Pressing

Pressing is not the same as ironing. Ironing takes out wrinkles out of fabric. Pressing is making the fabric lay in the position you want it. You’ve followed all the above suggestions and now you have beautifully constructed pieces, first thing to do is to set the seams. Basically, you will press your iron on top of the pieces with a hot iron. This will cause the threads of the fabric to move back into place around the stitching and lock the stitching into place.

How to press for a Seam Allowance


Rule of thumb is to press the seam allowance to the dark side of the fabric so it won’t show through to the front of the block. It may not always be possible so check your pattern to see which way to press the seams. Place the pieces so that the side that the seam will rest against is on top. Using the point of the iron open the pieces to push the top piece to the side.


This will encourage the seam to lay to the side that you want it to. Run the point along the seamline until the pieces lay open. Once open, place the iron on top for a few seconds to set the seam allowance to the side. This will also make the placement of other sewn units to nest against each other so they will line up.

Using these steps and practicing will give you great success in your quilting experience. May all your seams meet and all your points be sharp!


Continue the fun, read More Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks.


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The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Accessories that are available for sewing machines and are especially made for quilting.
The lengthwise and crosswise threads (warp and weft directions) of a woven fabric.
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
Method of using an iron to press seams and blocks. This means simply pressing downwards on the seam with the iron from above and not moving the iron back and forth which can distort the block or seam.
Presser Foot
The removable sewing machine accessory surrounding the needle that holds the fabric in place.
Picking a hot iron up off your fabric or quilt top and then putting it down in another place to remove the wrinkles. When you press your fabric, you do not slide the hot iron.

See Also: Ironing
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Seam Allowance
The width of fabric left to the right of a sewn seam. In quilting this is traditionally 1/4 inch. For sewing garments it is usually 5/8 inch.
The outer edge of both sides of a woven fabric where the weft turns to go back across and through the warp. This is a stiffer and denser woven area of about 1/3-1/2 inch and is usually trimmed off and not sewn into a quilt.

Same As: Selvedge
A construction technique in which long, narrow pieces of cloth are joined lengthwise, sometimes with long rows of quilt blocks, to form a quilt top. The term "strip" can be used to describe the long pieces of fabric between blocks (see Sashing) or to describe the small, narrow remnants used in string patchwork.

See Also: Sashing
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