Before I start in earnest, I must emphasise that I am not, nor ever will be, a member of the Quilt Police! I don’t look at a piece of patchwork and wrinkle my nose if points disappear into seams or if seams don’t meet. It is always a wonder to me that someone has persevered and finished a quilt, I have too many unfinished quilts not to admire every completed project I see! That said, I am going to share a little quest I have had this week to move up a level from my usual ‘there or thereabouts’ attitude to perfect points in my own patchwork. A secondhand book bought at North Hampshire Quilters exhibition a couple of weeks ago has given me the confidence to aspire a little nearer to perfection.
Alex Anderson’s ‘Simply Stars – Quilts That Sparkle’ is full of pictures of beautiful quilts made from a wide variety of star blocks (all with pin-sharp points!). There are lots of clear instructions and illustrations showing how those perfect points can be achieved. Keeping with my Christmas Star theme (‘Seeing Stars’ post, October 2014) I chose the block ‘Sawtooth Star’ and decided to make a table runner.
Following Alex Anderson’s instructions gave me far more accurate and consistent points and seam joins than usual. I did start with the attitude that I’d go slow (my machine speed dropped from a middling whirr to a slow plod) and I’d be prepared to unpick seams and re-sew as necessary. I found I needed to adjust my needle one stop over from the usual setting to achieve a more accurate 1/4 inch seam and having pinned seams and points I made sure to sew seams just one thread over from where points had been formed. And I did need to use the seam ripper on several occasions!
Joining the three 8″ Sawtooth Star blocks together was not easy – so many seams made it difficult to keep all of the stitching straight and I had to lower my expectations of perfect precision just a little! I had fun making two 4″ Sawtooth Star blocks – the tiny triangles and squares I had to rotary cut were the smallest I’ve ever done. I followed the instructions in Judy Hopkins’ excellent book ‘501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks’ to cut out the fabrics for my blocks.
So, in conclusion, it is possible to improve accuracy given the right instructions and a bit of applied patience. To achieve perfection though? Well! Maybe that is for the very talented few! The main thing is to enjoy the process of constructing blocks and quilts. Stand back at the end and and see your creation as other people will – the overall impact of a finished quilt rather than the close-up inspection we give our quilts as they travel under the machine needle!
Happy piecing, Allison
Find out more about Alex Anderson at http://www.alexandersonquilts.com
I’m linking this post to Work In Progress Wednesdays at Lee Heinrich’s very informative blog http://www.freshlypieced.com