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Day 2: Sewing Strips

January 2, 2010

Now that all background and printed fabrics are cut, we are  ready to sew the strips together in pairs.

Note: All seams are a quarter inch, unless otherwise stated. Before we begin sewing, we are going to test our quarter inch seams.

If you’re using a quarter inch foot, then mostly likely you can skip the first step and go straight to the sewing test.

Step 1: Marking Your Throat Plate

The easiest way to test your quarter inch seam allowance is with a index card. Yes, an index card. Using a 3.5 inch index card, starting at the bottom of the card cut away the card to the first blue line and discard the excess paper. Then the position your needle directly over the next blue line and sew along the blue line until you are half way down the card. Then using 3 inches masking tape, place the masking tape directly beside the card to mark the quarter inch seam on the throat plate. Remove the the index card and clip the seams. Voila! Your machine in now ready to sew a quarter inch seam.

On a side note, there are quarter inch foots available on the market. They come in several different styles. If you are having trouble with the sewing an accurate quarter inch seam, I’d suggest purchasing one with a guide foot. It makes sewing absolute breeze.

Step 2: Testing Your Quarter Inch Seam

  • Using scrap fabric, cut out  2 – 2.5 inch squares.
  • Place the 2.5 squares right side together and sew a quarter inch seam along one side.
  • Press the seam open. You should have a 2.5 by 4.5inch rectangle. If you find that your rectangle is larger than 4.5 inches, then your seam is too narrow. You can adjust it by moving your needle to the left. If your rectangle is smaller than 4.5 inches, then your seams are too large and you can move your needle to the right slightly.

Now seams seems like the right to talk about about a scant quarter inch. A scant quarter inch is slightly smaller (about one to two threads) than then a true quarter inch because it compensates for the loft that gets lost in a seam when it’s pressed up and over the thread. Sewing a perfect scant quarter inch takes practice…lots of it. Though many guide foots are already include a scant quarter inch.

Since this  pattern is intended for beginners, it doesn’t matter if you’re sewing a scant or regular quarter inch seam so long as all seams are the same. This will ensure that all blocks nest together nicely.

Step 3: Sewing the Strips Together

  • Take one printed strip and one solid background strip and pin rights side together along the width of the fabric (WOF). You’ll want to pin about every 3 inches down the width of the fabric to keep the fabric from shifting as you sew.  The pins should be perpendicular to width of the fabric.
  • Sew along one of the long sides of the fabric. At this stage, it does not matter which side you sew along, so long as you only sew along one side.  Repeat for all strip sets.
  • If you notice that your fabric is shifting while sewing, you may want to attach your walking foot. This foot will keep all fabric layers moving smoothly through your machine.

Step 4: Pressing Your Seams

After you finish sewing all of the strips, press seams toward the printed/dark fabric. Pressing seams is a little awkward to describe, so I’ve included a video below on how to do it.

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