, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been quilting for over 25 years, sewing for quite a few more, and blogging here for a couple of months, so I figured it’s time for some quilting observations and confessions, tips and advice.

Oldies, with it’s inset triangles in the outer octagonal border and circular piecing, is not something I would have tried 5 years ago.

Try new things…  This one is hard for me, too, but you don’t have to show them to anyone. You don’t have to make them into completed projects. You don’t have to count them as UFOs. You don’t even have to save them after you’re done with them. You’re (probably) not going to enter them into a show, but every new technique you try or fabric experiment you do, you will learn from (if only not to do that again!)

This does not (necessarily) mean taking classes or buying patterns.  Some times it’s as easy as looking online for a new way to applique or stitch. or even just playing with fabric colors, patterns, and combinations you haven’t tried before. Push the boundaries. Try a block you have considered “too difficult” for you to do. It might still be too difficult, but, maybe, you’ll surprise yourself!

If you want to increase your precision in piecing, give yourself a target to point towards by marking the corners.

Marking helps… If you’re not totally confident in your ability to gauge “a scant one-quarter inch” (and who really is?), mark the corners on the back so you have something to “shoot for.” I went back to marking corners on Spirographology (all those 60 degree and 120 degree angles!) and stopped when I started with Oldies.

It was a mistake.

If you need precision in piecing to get all the pieces in and lying flat, the best way to get it is give yourself all the help you can, and if that means marking the turning points, or the corners, or even the entire seam line, go for it.  Do it on the back, in pencil or in the seam allowances with anything you can see that’s not likely to run when washed. Who’s gonna know after it’s all quilted anyway?


Press pieces you’ll be inserting flat so you can see where the seams are and any marked guidelines you’ve drawn.

Set in pieces FLAT on the back (if possible)… I’ve been piecing projects with inset seams for several months (Spiro and now Oldies.)  I used to hate doing that, but now I’m kind of resigned to it. If the piece you are setting in is flat, you can see the point where the sides of the piece join the block better and it seems easier (at least to me) to manipulate the fabric when you can see the entire piece to be inset.

You might not need to pin the pieces to keep them aligned, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder about which seam to sew!

Pin… I was never a “pinner” in my early quilting days.  I was also lucky that I didn’t make more piecing mistakes then I did and that my quilt tops usually came out flat (I’m still stunned about RequiesCAT.) Now, I am (re)converted. Yes, I am now a firm believer in putting at least one pin in a seam to make sure I know which side I should be sewing.

Although, if it doesn’t matter and the pieces are smallish and identical, I don’t bother to pin, but usually I stick a pin in so that the “pointy part” is pointing at the seam I need to sew. It’s just a reminder, (and I am getting older…)

In order to align the triangles to the pieced edge, I trimmed off the corner so that side was the same height.

Cut big, trim down…  By now, you’ve probably been indoctrinated to the “add 7/8″ to the finished size” if you want “perfect” half-square triangles.  Here’s a secret:  I add an entire inch.  Oh no!  Call the quilt police!  

Yes, you read that correctly. I waste an entire 1/8″ of fabric on each side of the squares I cut so that I can relax while I sew and know I can trim up any “bobbles” in my sewing or not-perfect 1/4″ seam allowances. (And also, there’s the math thing… it’s sooo much easier to add an entire inch than 7/8ths of one.)

So, confession time is over for this week.  I do probably have other observations I’ve made over the years (and lately) that I can share in the future, but, of course, nothing in my life seems to be scheduled or planned.  You’ll just have to check back to see…

Thanks for reading!