Friday, August 30, 2013

On the Straight and Narrow

A couple of weeks ago when I was teaching the Letters class at Quilted Threads, one of my students was looking at my Nine x Nine quilt and asked, "How do you get the letters the same height?"

Another student interrupted. "Forget about how you get them the same size. How do you get them STRAIGHT?"


I love having students, because they really make me THINK about the processes that I do without thinking. So I have been thinking about this, and now I can tell you how I get my letters lined up straight.
First, I make sure the piece I am going to sew something to has a straight edge. In other words, TRIM! See this edge, above? I thought the green letter "L" was straight, but it wasn't.

Second, I pin. Call me paranoid, but I want straight seams. I hate using the seam ripper.

Third, sew a straight seam. I mean, really? Do I have to emphasize this? It's more important the seam is straight than it is a perfect 1/4" wide.

Fourth, press the seam. I break all the rules here. I use a steam iron, and I press / iron the crap out of it.  How do I do it?  I set the piece down, and press/iron the piece (here the colored letters), just nudging that white piece that has to fold over. When I've got it standing up, I nudge it over gently all along the seam, then press it firmly.

 Fifth, I trim. In this quilt, I want the letters to be perfectly straight, and that means they have to have 90-degree corners. So I trim them to make sure they are, in fact, 90 degrees.

Lastly, put the piece up on the design wall and handle it as little as possible until the next step.

SO! I've now got a big section of letters sewn together, and I've added a spacer strip to the top.  Looks good, right?

Look again.
That edge is wobbly, and has to be trimmed. Use a long ruler. Don't try to do this by shifting a short ruler along the edge.

Isn't this better?

This is the back of the Nine x Nine flimsy, taken before I had it quilted.  See how nice and flat it lies? It's a result of making sure every single seam is straight. I take nothing for granted.


Megan said...

Not only do I use a steam iron and iron/press the crap out of my blocks, I press my seams open!! The quilt police have quite given up on me - thank heavens.

Sydney, Australia

Quiltdivajulie said...

Essentially, you make time to take care of the details as you work.

Queenie Believe said...

Awesome work, your letter quilts are pretty darn amazing.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Always, Queenie