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More Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks

Summary

Managing to have all the seams meet and all blocks finishing the same size can be a struggle.  Part two of how to make this happen.

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More Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks

You’ve found a quilt block that you want to try. You’ve followed the 4 steps to making a perfect block and have all the units made. Now what? Here’s some ways to make these units square (even) and the seams to meet perfectly.

 

This is part two of 4 Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks. Read that one first.

More Keys To Making Perfect Quilt Blocks

 

Your units will sometimes become uneven because of the nature of the cloth. It will slightly stretch while sewing. You will need to square them up to make them fit together. For example: With half square triangle units (HST), using a square ruler, place the diagonal line on the seam (green arrow). Leave enough at bottom and left side to make final cuts (pink arrow).

pic1

 

With rotary cutter cut away excess from right and top of unit. Turn unit 180 degrees and repeat, matching left edge and bottom with the size line needed.

pic2 pic3

 

If using a rectangular ruler put sewn seam on the diagonal line and cut each side separately making sure first 2 cuts are slightly larger than needed. Last 2 cuts are cut to size. Most rulers have separate angle lines for 45 and 60 degree angles.

pic4

 

When cutting strip sets, use the horizontal lines on the ruler and place them on the sewn seam, not the edge of the set. Cut the same as if cutting strips, making sure to cut the 1st set larger, turn 180 degrees and cut to size.

pic5

 

For rectangular units, cut longer sides the same as strip sets, placing horizontal line on seam. For short sides, center seam on vertical line that marks the exact center of the unit. For example: for a 9 ½” unfinished rectangle, seam should line up with the 4 ¾” vertical line on ruler.

pic6

 

Sewing the units together is as easy as matching seams. Since seam allowances are pressed to one side the seams will “nest” together.

pic7

 

Your pattern will tell you which way the seams should lie. Pin thru the seam allowances to hold. With half square triangle units, place one unit on top of another butting diagonal seams. Pin thru the diagonal seams.

pic8

 

When sewing multiple units or blocks together, always match the seams first, then the edges. At times, you may need to ease edges to get units to match, a gentle tug while sewing thru the area will keep everything matching. Do not do this if the seams are significantly different in size. You may need to remake the unit if this happens. The best way to tell if everything matches is if all your sewing lines cross at a center point.

pic9

 

Quick tip: remove the vertical stitching in the seam allowance on both sides, (pic 10) and open the center area and press just the center. Turn over and press block. Your block will lay flatter by removing the bulk caused by the seams. (pic 11, 12)

 

pic10
pic11
pic12

 

Your units are now a block. Keep going. You will get more proficient as you continue. It is amazing to see how much improvement there will be from the first to the most recent unit, block, quilt is made. May all your seams meet and points be sharp.

 

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Glossary

Block
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Half Square Triangle
A triangle that is made by dividing a square in half from corner to corner. This is a very common type of triangle in quilting.
Press
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.
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
Ruler
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.
Strip
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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