The easiest way to improve the craftsmanship of your quilts is to perfect your piecing. (say that 5 times fast!) If you’re not entirely happy with your piecing and you want to have Better Quilt Piecing, I’m going to share my tips with you today!
First, the difference between a total beginner quilter and an expert quilter is obviously practicing… More experience = more knowledge on how to work around the ins and outs of sewing and this issues that come up… but that doesn’t mean that you have to wait years down the road to be a better quilter!
You can start TODAY!
…Right now even!
The biggest differences between the beginners and advanced can be seen in the tiny details…
How many times have you thrown up your hands in frustration and said “ah! I don’t care if that seam doesn’t meet up perfectly. I can live with it not being perfect”? Then, instead of picking out that seam to fix the errors, you just kept moving forward, and never looked back?
Don’t be shy. I’m guilty of it too… it is ok!
In fact, I used to tell everyone “don’t look too close” when they would ooh and ahh over my latest sewing masterpiece.
How is that for confidence???
If anyone had a terrible case of sewing insecurities, it was me! I wasn’t worried things would fall apart at the seams or anything… but I didn’t want anyone inspecting my handiwork.
Too many of those quick little “oh well!” decisions and my quilt tops looked like someone gave a 13-year-old a sewing machine and some half-hearted instructions and left her to fend for herself.
It was pretty rough, let me tell you…
It was a decent attempt, but nowhere near what I had pictured in my dreams.
There was a lot that I would let slide back in those days because I didn’t want to take the time to go back and re-do it.
I’m not sure if it was laziness on my part or just sheer willpower to plow my way through thinking more practice was all I needed to get better…
It was the voice of a sweet friend that finally called me out on this vicious cycle of making something that took A LOT of time, effort and money and then not being able to be proud of my work because all I saw were flaws.
Bless this sweet woman for calling me out. When someone who knows way more than I do tells me what to do… I listen.
I’m sharing her advice with you today… You should listen too…
If you want better piecing, pick a pattern and work on your piecing until its perfect.
This “piecing project quilt” doesn’t have a time limit unless you give it one… but it will be the one that you give the title of No EXCUSES to.
I’m not going to lie and tell you it was all rainbows and unicorns. There were some frustrating moments and some lessons learned along the way… but I promise you will have better piecing and more confidence to show for it if you follow these steps!
Proper cutting is essential
You can’t expect things to work out properly if you aren’t cutting your pieces precisely. That is step #1. It is just like a recipe without any measurements. You’re never going to get the exact right outcome if you don’t start with the right pieces.
Check out this post on which rulers are my favorite and most used!
I pulled out my seam ripper more times that I want to admit.
If something isn’t right, fix it now. Don’t move on and say “oh well” or “I’ll come back to it later”. Re-do the seams that aren’t perfect and make it right.
Check and Measure Your Seams
I became obsessed with measuring my quarter inch seams for accuracy (something I wasn’t diligent with before)…
Staying consistent with your seams
Guess what? Just by mastering my quarter inch seam and being consistent…. 70% of my inaccuracies disappeared.
I was kind of shocked… no, REALLY shocked actually…
Seams began to line up without having the stretch the fabric so tight to MAKE it work.
Sew straight seams
This one takes some concentration, but it is a big one that goes with seams consistency. Here is a whole post about How to Sew Straight Seams even!
I also created a product that has helped improved my straight seams so much. Y’all, I can’t even put it into words sometimes. I’ll even pay the shipping for you anywhere in the world (Yay! FREE shipping!!) and you can find it here in my store if this is something that you struggle with. So many people have had wonderful success with the Straight Seam Guide.
Nest your seams
I know, I know… everything has to do with yous seams! But it really is completely in the tiny details of your quilts!
If you don’t know how to nest your seams, you can check out a whole post complete with a tutorial video. It will change your life.
Measure measure measure
In my old quilts… I really prided myself on being kind of a hippy quilter? (if that is a thing?) I didn’t have to measure everything… good enough was good enough and I liked being able to go with the flow and sew how I wanted to. aka, typical artist thinking she knows everything she needs to know and likes doing her own thing haha…
The problem is, I was not a hippy quilter when it came to the end of the process. I morphed into ashamed and naive quilter who wasn’t all that proud of what she had made.
And that is totally ridiculous. I’m so happy that I finally said enough is enough and I fixed it!
I had to learn to measure more than once. Check check and double check everything.
The pattern said that A + B will equal C, and darn it… I was going to have C! So I figured out how to get my As and Bs just right!
What I wish I had known all along…
Do you know all those quilts that I had made where I just assumed that I “needed more practice” as I zoomed past those little mistakes and left them in the dust? If I had just taken the time to fix them as they came up, I would have been a better quilter years ago!
I didn’t need more practice sewing (though mastering my seams was a HUGE improvement) I just needed to slow down and work on those tiny little steps one at a time.
Now, measuring and checking and precise cutting… it is all second nature behavior in my sewing adventure! I’m like a precision MACHINE!
Now, I can still make a quilt where I don’t have to measure and can let my inner hippy free spirit quilter come back out… but even she has higher standards now 😉
My quilts still have flaws
They always will… every single quilter I know still makes mistakes and is “still learning”.
I’m not a perfect quilter by any means, but I don’t hide my quilts like I used to. I love them.
Be proud of yourself at any level you are and know there is only room for improvement as you work on each quilt slowly progressing towards the next one!
I can’t wait to see how your next quilt looks after you put these steps into practice! Let me know in the comments what you think!