Friday, January 13, 2017

Two Tips: Twirling Seams and Cutting Backwards

Here are my blocks for January's step for the Meadow Mystery at Meadow Mist Designs.  Cheryl has me mystified, as I played around a bit with all 25 blocks, but can't seem to get a design that says, yup!  She's a great mystery quilt writer!!
This is SUCH a pretty block!

We had to make 4 of those and 8 of the others. I am loving the fabrics and colours I chose.
A few of the 25 blocks many possibilities!

Twirling Seams

I like to press my seams to one side.  I like to stitch in the ditch to stabilize a quilt before doing FMQ or ruler work on it, whether I am on my Bernina or my Avanté.  With seams pressed open, there is no ditch, and the stabilizing stitches sink between the seams.  I guess one could say you are stitching the batting to the backing then, but the point of ditching is to stabilize all three layers of the quilt.

Problems arise when there are multiple intersecting seams.  A needle can get broken when hitting a lump like this.  You can get a nice a flat intersection, just as you would had you pressed seams open, by doing this cool little trick.  I first saw it on Alex Anderson's "Simply Quilts" show on HGTV, and then later in Carrie Nelson's Another Bite of Schnibbles book.

Here is what it looks like on the back, and on the front, nice and flat.  All you do is gently push the seams in opposite directions right at the intersection. Sometimes I push them in both opposite directions, one way and then the other. This will make a stitch or two loosen and open and you can then lie the opposing seams flat.  You will get a little 4-patch if you have just sewn straight seams, little pinwheels if you have sewn any HSTs together at the intersection.  Too cute!

Here's a great YouTube video by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts that shows you how to do this.  I didn't spin the 4-patches in this block, but easily could have. Something Edyta says in this video was a lightbulb moment for me: "Whatever direction your first two seams are pressed in, twirl the just-sewn seams that same direction."  Like a pinwheel! Snap!

Cutting Backwards

I've talked about this on the blog before, but it's worth mentioning again, another cool trick I saw years ago on "Simply Quilts".  Actually, this is two tips in one.

First of all you can cut two segments at a time for 4-patches by simply laying two strips sets atop each other with the centre seams opposing.
Here I've cut two 10" segments off my strip, destined to become 2.5" segments for 4-patches.

Lay the two on top of each other with seams snugged up against each other. You can feel the ridges.  I've offset the ends slightly just so you see they are on top of each other, but seams are going in opposite directions.
Place your ruler on the double layer strip set.  We have 10" here and I am cutting 2.5" segments, so the first cut you will slide your ruler backwards, i.e. towards the left, 10 - 2.5 = 7.5, so to the 7.5" mark:
Move the ruler backwards (to the left) again, this time to the 5" mark.
Cut once more.

Make the final cut on the 2.5" mark.
Voilà!  Four pairs ready to sew into 4-patches.  If you do not separate them as I have here for photo purposes, you can take them directly to your machine and piece since the seams are nicely abutted.
I am finished the January Honey Pot Bee blocks. This is a bee hosted by Molli Sparkles, where certain quilters give instructions for a block, and you as the little maker bee, decide to make the block or not.  Remember my modern tree blocks that yielded an entire quilt top?  That was a wild card he threw at us.
Happy, full, colourful design wall.  Happy me.

This month was a strawberry block from Bec at Skyberries Handmade and a Starflower block by Jennifer at Ellison Lane Handmade.
One of my goals for 2017 is to make a quilt of entirely solids. I made all solids placemats for practising FMQ in a class with Angela Walters a while back, but never an entire quilt top.  So this bee is a great place to challenge myself to do that.  Unfortunately, I did not bring very many solids with me, just a few for working on The City Sampler 6" blocks, not a stitch done there yet,  so my first fabric pull of a mere 5 solids did not lend themselves very well to the January blocks, drat! After yoga one day I had to make a pit stop at a big JoAnn's in Sarasota, where I found two more greens (might've got a third because I wanted to be sure they would work with my pale green), and a pale pink.  I am pretty sure I have Baby Pink at home, but alas, I didn't bring it with me.  So I picked up a half yard of these four and well, four others kind of jumped onto the pile.  So I now have some Kona black, Primrose, Buttercup Yellow and Turquoise joined Baby Pink, Chartreuse, Grass Green and Basil Green.
Did I mention these were 40% off?

And then...
In the remnants, which I always check (thank you Preeti, for this terrific tip!) I found this:
Remember remnants are half price so this was $9.44

I nearly left it when I saw the price and what? 108" wide? I don't need a wideback in this colour.  But then I thought, wait, I do need grey. Outside of Kona Silver, I have no grey Kona.  But it seemed expensive.  However, with the help of the calculator on my iPhone, because my menopausal melon is not so reliable these days for math in a hurry, I determined that the price per yard, when converted to 43" wide fabric, worked out to be $3.71!! Score! Sold!

Three quick reminders:
1.  If you are thinking about taking a Craftsy class, or like me, put them on your Wishlist, now might be a good time to buy it as they are BOGO. Buy one, get one free!  With all that's going on, I still haven't finished watching Natalia Bonner's "Free Motion Motifs for Classic Blocks" but as soon as I do I will write a review.  So far it's very good. (affiliate links)

2.  If you are part of our 30 Quilt Designs Challenge 2017 or #30quiltdesignschallenge2017 on Instagram, be sure to get a design in today for another chance at three prizes. I will be drawing this evening for the first bi-weekly winner in our Challenge! There is a $15 gift certificate to The Red Hen Shop, and two prizes, one each from me and from Lisa.  If you aren't on Instagram, consider joining us! It's a great and quick way (unless you get sucked into the vortex) of seeing what people are up to throughout the day.  Also you do not have to be on Instagram to look at stuff there; that's a clickable link with some very cool designs. 😉

3.  You might want to hop on over to Sew Fresh Quilts to check out her newest free QAL! Lorna is getting a jumpstart on helping everyone have a lovely Christmas quilt for this year's Christmas! 🎄

Linking Up:
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Sew Fresh Quilts


  1. I am not one to press open either, I prefer to press to one side so that my seams will nest. I also do the trick you show with four patches!

  2. How cool to find a wide back remnant for such a great price! I just watched a quick You Tube video on spinning seams and I think I finally understand how that is done. It looks so super tidy!

  3. My über talented sister.....That strawberry just tickles me pink LOL....LOVE baby pink ❤

  4. Thank you for the tips; I really like your little christmas trees piece a lot.. hugs

  5. Your Mystery colours are super together. Backing at that price, go for it!!!And the trees, looking so good up there .

  6. I never have learned how to twirl my seams but it would be great to know how. I'm going to go practice now! :)

  7. We have a lot in common! I am doing the Honey Pot Bee (your's looks great), I started the Meadow Mystery but have fallen way behind ( I think this will be my main project on Retreat in February) and I love to twirl!

  8. I have been spinning my seams for longer than I care or for that matter can remember. I prefer to press my seams to the side also. I think your colours are wow.

  9. Your mystery blocks look great. I have all the pieces ready to sew...maybe I'll get to them this weekend. I made my Honey Pot Bee blocks today. Thanks for the tips. And sadly didn't get a design done yet. :(

  10. Your colors for the mystery are so pretty! The trees look wonderful! Glad to see you are finding time to sew down there, LOL

  11. Thanks for all the tips. I have only swirled the seams once before. It was really nice. Your mystery blocks are so pretty.

  12. Love your Meadow Mist Mystery blocks. I'm really looking forward to the reveal next month and seeing how everyone's version works out. There are some very fun color schemes showing up on the Facebook page. Thanks for the swirling tip for seams. I do that for my 4 patches, but haven't tried it for seams.

  13. Great goal to make a solids quilt. I've made a few quilt solid flimsies and my goal is to actually quilt them! I really like you mystery blocks - makes me want to hurry up and catch up!

  14. I have been using that "cutting backwards" method for a long time. It is so much faster as long as my math-co-processor is working.


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