Thursday, June 26, 2014

Matching points and Y-seams: Assembling my picnic quilt

So sorry for the wait!  What's with this summer cold-thing going around, sheesh.
Anywho, here's some of the steps I took to make assembling my quilt easier:

This quilt was full of many firsts for me, as I mentioned in my Perfect Picnic post, and I'm very happy to share with you what I learned.
I made my star points scrappy for this quilt, in the future I probably will not undertake such a challenge as it is so much easier to make strips of the colors and cut them out from there, here's a really good video from Kaye's Quilts on youtube, she explains in the introduction:  Easy Double Wedding Ring
However, the way I chose to make this one was scrappy, and so I laid the pieces out in pattern pleasing to my eye, then stacked all the rows the same, starting from the outermost point and going to the right, stacking one on top of the other.  As you can see in the picture above, I made sure to take a picture of my layout when I got it where I liked in so that when I dropped a pile of pieces, and I numbered the points, then numbered my stacks to correspond to the points in the picture.

I made sure to keep them numbered as I sewed them together point by point, I was really paranoid that I would get them mixed up.

So my trick for getting matching points on my star is pretty easy to do, and I only wish I'd done it before I'd had to take out one of the seams about 8 times, HOWEVER, it is now engrained in me that this is the best way to do it (sorry, started complaining there, naughty naughty :P )
1. Make a mark 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric (not diagonally along the seam!) on both pieces that you are sewing together, I actually went to each intersecting seam and drew my lines with my disappearing ink pen from Joann Fabrics.

2. Next take a pin and place it exactly through both pieces where the drawn line intersects with the seam, and keep it pointing straight through.
3.  LEAVING THE FIRST PIN STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN add two pins that cross each other and hold the fabric in place where the first pin was marking them, then you may remove that pin.  The pictures below show how my points turned out by using this method.

I know the bottom blue looks off point, I just hadn't ironed it flat yet, not entirely sure why I went ahead and took this picture...
See, that's better!  By the way, I was ironing my seams all down, and ended up re-ironing them when I attached the points together, so if you have to do so it's no big deal.
I followed the same matching procedure to sew the points together, and sewed point 1 to 2, 3 to 4, etc, then the 1-2 points to the 3-4 points and 5-6 to 7-8 to form the half stars.  I sewed the seams from the blues to the reds in the very center, I'm not sure if that's part of why my piece turned out perfectly flat, but it may be one reason.

This is one of the few times I ever sew a seam open, but I did so at the seam between points 2 & 3 and points 6 & 7 to help reduce the bulk at the very center.  Then I very carefully lined up the center reds of the two halves, and actually sewed from the center out on these seams, overlapping my stitches about an inch across the center.  Still used the pins to match the points on here as well.
You can see how nice and flat it turned out.  I actually was not aware that it could end up domed in the center, but apparently it can.  I'm guessing that as long as you keep your seams accurate (preferably 1/4 inch) and take your time then you should end up with a flat star.  I found out yesterday while talking to the lady at Highland Quilts in Athena, OR that if you do get a dome in the center, you can take a very hot steam iron and set the iron on the fabric, and the heat/water will shrink your cotton enough to make it lay flat!  She did also say it's a slow process, not to rush it, it will also distort your fabric if you are pushing it around a lot.

So when it comes to the corners and setting triangles let me give you my favorite lesson I learned from when I made my mom's quilt for Christmas:  make them at least 1" larger than you think the measurement should be!  On my mom's quilt I went with the exact calculated measurement (and only so much fabric to work with) and ended up having to stretch it into place and force it to work, which is not conducive to a relaxing quilting experience.  On this piece I added the extra inch, having convinced myself it would be okay to lose some extra fabric, and I was so glad I did.  Strangely I didn't trim that much extra off!  I had plenty of space to cut along and still leave the 1/4 inch allowance for sewing on my inner border, which was something I'd missed on my mom's quilt.
There are a lot of great tutorials for Y-seams (here is a great video:, my biggest suggestion is be sure to mark your 1/4" from the corners and pin, just like with matching your points on the star.  Then start from the center and work your way to the outside edge.  Also, none of your stitches should overlap at that starting point, that will cause a pucker of fabric.
I hope you found some of my insights enlightening, please leave me a comment if you have any questions or if you have other tips, I always love to hear other tricks of the trade!

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