7 Tips for Quilt Piecing

Now that I love quilting again, I have 7 tips for quilt piecing!
Now that I love quilting again, I have 7 tips for quilt piecing!

Hi Everyone! — Quilt piecing is much more fun with these 7 tips. Keep reading to see what I’ve learned over the years….

1. Use 60-weight thread and less than a 2.0 mm stitch length


Thread weight goes the opposite way, so 60-weight is lighter than 30-weight sew-all thread. Using a light-weight thread with a tiny stitch length reduces the bulk, and increases the strength, of your seams. We carry Precensia 60-weight 3-ply cotton thread, which is strong and fine.

Quarter-inch patchwork sewing machine feet
Quarter-inch patchwork sewing machine feet

2. Use a patchwork foot and measure your seam allowances

When I first started quilting, 25 years ago, I didn’t know about patchwork feet. I guesstimated my quarter-inch seam allowance with a regular foot. I also tried putting painter’s tape on my throat plate. It was not pretty. A patchwork foot has a straight-stitch hole and each flange is a quarter-inch wide. It also has quarter-inch marks along the flanges. It can even have a little blade on the edge to keep your fabric butted up against. What a difference in seam accuracy. Even with a patchwork foot, you’ll want to measure your seam allowances to ensure they really are a scant quarter-inch.

3. Use a scrap leader and a scrap finisher

Three of the most annoying things about quilt piecing are when the beginning of your seam gets stuffed in the hole of your throat plate, when the beginning of your seam has a nest of bobbin stitches, and when you veer off your quarter-inch seam allowance at the end of a seam. All of these can be avoided if you use a scrap leader and a scrap finisher. Just start sewing on a scrap of fabric and then put to the unit you’re sewing under the presser foot. Because the machine is sewing along on the scrap, the needle will happily jump to the real unit without stuffing the unit in the throatplate hole. And, any bobbin nest will form on the scrap. Adding a scrap finisher helps avoid veering off course at the end of a seam.

Using the Quilter's Magic wand to mark lines for half-square triangles
Using the Quilter’s Magic wand to mark lines for half-square triangles

4. Sew diagonally on squares to avoid an unsecured bias

Woven fabrics stretch much more on the 45-degree bias than along the grain or the cross-grain. As a devotee of the Studio 180 rulers, I love the Quilter’s Magic Wand for marking seams for triangles on squares. The Quilter’s Magic Wand allows you to mark lines precisely one quarter-inch from the diagonal, and then sew along them before you cut your triangles.

5. Press seams as-sewn to lock in stitches

Before you press your seams toward the dark side, lock in the stitches by pressing the unit as it was sewn to help your stitches meld into the fabric.

6. Spin your intersections

Spinning your intersections reduces bulk and looks cool. Plus, spinning is easy! Just remove the first few stitches above the last seam you sewed, and press one seam south, and one seam north. You should see a tiny little four-patch in the center of your unit.

Trimming a V-Block unit to the perfect size!
Trimming a V-Block unit to the perfect size!

7. Make units slightly oversized and then trim to perfection

This has been another game-changer for me. If you follow the instructions included with Studio 180 rulers, and use the rulers to trim to perfection, each of your units will be the perfect size and fit together perfectly. No more stretching and easing to get your points to line up! We are slowly stocking all the Studio 180 rulers. Try one for your next project. You’ll love it! Here is a link to the Tucker Trimmer, which helps you make half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and combo units in eleven different sizes!

Those are my current tips! As I continue down the quilting road, I will have more tips, ideas and lessons-learned. Thanks for joining me!

6 thoughts on “7 Tips for Quilt Piecing

  1. Greta James says:

    Thank you so much for the advice to spin the intersections so that there is a little four-patch in the middle of the piece! About a month ago, I decided that I want to make a quilt for my mother’s birthday. I want it to be something unique and beautiful. Thanks for the tips; now I will just have to look into materials that reflect what I am imagining.

    • kate says:

      My pleasure Greta! Good luck with your mom’s quilt – I’m sure it’s going to be lovely. And, if you have any more quilting questions, or are in need of materials, don’t hesitate to call or send us an email.

  2. Mary Hilsinger says:

    Morning Kate,
    I just ran across your site and loved this article! Thank you so much for the advice! I working on a project and pulling my hair out -these tips are very helpful!

  3. Ann says:

    I agree, spinning looks cute & I like the reduced bulk. do you have any suggestions on how to plan when doing a large number of squares? I’m trying to press each seam as I sew it, but I’m ending up wanting to make one seam go east at this intersection but west at the next!

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