Do you find that your piecing isn’t as accurate as you would like? Do you sometimes lose those sharp points on your triangles? Well, it really isn’t beyond you with a few useful tips. These are the methods I ALWAYS use. Hope you find them helpful.
1. It probably goes without saying that the most important thing to begin with is accurate cutting. But, hey, I will say it anyway! If your pieces aren’t cut accurately to begin with, then how can you expect the jigsaw to fit together correctly? So, before you begin to sew, try checking the accuracy of your cutting. If you need to wear glasses for close work, forget the vanity and wear them! This could possibly be one of the reasons you are not cutting accurately and so easily resolved.
2. Check the accuracy of your ¼” seam. Once again, if the ¼” seam isn’t accurate then each of those tiny little discrepancies all add up when you try to re-piece the block jigsaw. So, sew yourself a ¼” seam on your sewing machine and check it out with your ruler. If it is not accurate adjust your sewing accordingly. Make a mental note of exactly which part of your ¼” foot you should be lining up to. I find that all sewing machine feet vary and sometimes your fabric may need to be a whisker inside or outside of the foot.
3. Now this one is a must as far as I am concerned. Spray starch your fabric before you cut. You may notice when you buy a new sewing machine that the little stitched fabric samples that they have included with the machine are sewn on starched fabrics. This is because sewing machines love starched fabric. They behave better when a lovely crisp bit of fabric is fed into their jaws. If you use starched fabrics you will find it so-o-o-o much easier to sew those triangles. The machine will be less inclined to mangle up those little corners as you begin to sew and your bias seams are less likely to stretch. I ALWAYS use starched fabric.
Spray lightly once and then iron dry. Repeat this process three times. Do not be tempted to just coat with a huge amount of spray starch and iron dry. You will just end up with a gunged up iron and a messy sticky piece of fabric. Always spray starch your fabrics before you cut out your pieces otherwise your cut pieces may distort shape if starched afterwards.
4. THIS IS MY MOST VALUABLE TIP which I use for ALL my piecing. Your machine, once again being a very fussy sort of a feller, likes to always have a piece of fabric in it’s jaws ready to sew. Therefore, chain piecing is ideal, whereby you keep feeding in pieces of fabric to sew instead of stopping and starting. But also, (this is it!) keep ‘a little tab of fabric’ (doubled) about 1½” ish square next to the machine and EVERY time you finish sewing, sew on to this piece of fabric, just enough for you to remove your completed piece and leave the tab in the machine. Then, when you come back to the machine, sew from this ‘little tab of fabric’ and add in the next piece that you wish to sew and continue sewing. Once again when you have completed your sewing find your ‘little tab’ which will now be at the beginning of your sewing, cut it off and bring it back to the front of your sewing and sew on to the ‘little tab’ once again before removing your completed piece. This may sound complicated. It’s easier to do than to explain! But try it. It is very straightforward and soon becomes routine. Therefore, whenever you see my sewing machine idle you will always see a ‘little tab of fabric’ beneath it. You can keep using this same tab until it has too much stitching on it, then replace with a new tab. Your machine will perform better, it won’t mangle up the beginnings of your fabrics and eat your threads and the added benefit is…….. you will use far less bobbin thread and therefore need to change your bobbin much less often. This tip is a real gem. Try to get into the habit. You will love me for it!
5. My next tip is Pinning. Yes, I know you may think it is an ugly word, but nevertheless critical for accurate piecing where you want your points to meet. I ALWAYS pin, but only where I need to match points. Firstly, place a placement pin directly though the point where you need the points to meet at the ¼” seam point. This pin is only a temporary pin, but is the most critical one. Make sure it is accurate. Then place a pin as close as possible either side so that the points cannot shift apart and then remove your first placement pin. When you piece together, sew as close as possible to the first pin (within a couple of threads), remove the pin and then sew as close as possible again to the next pin before you remove it. This means that your fabrics have not had the opportunity to move apart and your points should be accurate. If they are not, it is only down to how you positioned that first placement pin. So, always double check that this pin is accurate.
(Click on any image to enlarge)
6. Finally, pressing. This is a very important part of the piecing process. I iron EVERY seam after I have sewn it and before I add the next piece. Take a look at my sewing set up in the following picture. You will see how I have everything carefully planned around my machine to make my sewing experience a pleasant one. It involves no movement away from the machine (except to hunt for chocolate), so saves masses of time.
I hope you have enjoyed my tips and you find them useful. Please leave a comment to let me know how you get on.
HAPPY (Hope All Piecing Pleases You) SEWING.