Today I want to share one of my newest patterns: Ice Cream Social!
It’s a scrappy set of table runners that are made from small blocks. I love working in a standout element like the black stars to focus in on and then use the scrappy nine patches as a colorful secondary design. Both of these runners are quick projects and will dress up any table in your home! You can do the applique on the one runner by hand or machine. You can also substitute in wool for the fabric applique if you prefer!
The blocks in these patterns are 3 1/2 x 3 1/2″. Accuracy in piecing is important in quilting…. especially when making small blocks. There’s not as much room for error the smaller the block.
First, check to be sure your machine is stitching with an accurate 1/4″ seam. Take 2 scrap pieces of fabric and stitch them together, then measure the seam.
If your seam measures 1/4″ ….. congratulations! You are good for step 1!
If you do not get a 1/4″ measurement, time to take some steps to make sure you are stitching with a 1/4″ seam. First way to get an accurate seam is to use a 1/4″ foot made for your machine. Here’s mine:
When stitching with this foot, the edge of the foot is lined up with the edge of the piece you are stitching. This should give you an accurate seam.
If you do not have a 1/4″ foot for your machine, check to see if your machine’s throat plate has a 1/4″ mark like below. Then you line up the edge of your fabric with the 1/4″ mark when stitching. After the seam is stitched, measure it like I showed above.
If you do not have a 1/4″ mark on your throat plate, you can make one by using a measuring tape and some masking or painter’s tape. Start by laying the measuring tape under your needle at the “0” line.
Lower the needle by hand to make sure the needle matches up with that line. Then, find the 1/4″ line on the measuring tape. Use this as a guide to place a piece of tape on your throat plate.
When stitching a seam, you can now line up the edge of your fabric with the edge of the tape to give you an accurate 1/4″ seam. Once again, use scrap fabric to test your seam.
Now that you are stitching with an accurate seam, the final step in having your blocks measure accurately is to measure each unit as you stitch it to make sure it’s the correct size before continuing. For example, if I am making several flying geese units for a block and they need to measure 2 x 3 1/2″ each so the block comes out the correct size, I measure the geese units (like below). That way, when I am ready to piece the block, I know all the units measure accurately. That, along with accurate 1/4″ seams guarantee my blocks will be the right size!
So, there you have it. With accurate 1/4″ seams and measuring individual units as you go, you will be able to churn out blocks, big or small, that measure correctly and make your quilt go together without a hitch!
Share your secrets on accurate piecing and win a free pattern! My pattern, Ice Cream Social! The drawing will be on Monday, October 29th.
**Congrats Sue! You are the winner of the free pattern!**
Happy Piecing and Quilting!
Arlene Gardner says
Great sreps for getting an a curate 1/4 seam.
Mary Jo Ruehlow says
Thanks for the tip! I need all the tips I can get!
I use the painters tape method that you suggested. I like that I can then match up the fabric edge with the tape.
m corder says
new machines have a different size foot, I learned the hard way. Or was it just that I was off somewhere else?!
Sheila Munro says
I think what helps me most is accurate measuring , your cutting needs to be accurate to have accurate finished blocks .
Starting and stopping at 1/4 inch as you begin | end the two pieces is critical to an accurate 1/4 inch seam. Scrap piece of fabric (lender or spider) to start stitching. Single hole plate is very helpful.
Great tips! Thank you. Sometimes I find a scant 1/4 inch seam helps with accuracy particularly on mini quilts. I like the “Perfect Piecing Seam Guide” by Perkins Dry Goods to help with alignment. I use washi tape or painter’s tape to mark the scant seam line; it’s easily removed.
Sue Austln says
Thank You for the tips. I struggle with accuracy and I usually start out with great intentions but I tend to get in a hurry as I go along and that affects my accuracy. I also think careful pressing is important along with a sharp rotary cutter blade.
That was awesome advice,now I’ll have to checkout my machine, for markings thank you
Debbie Horton says
I use the 1/4″ foot and that helps keep me on track. I also measure each block now when done. I try to use a ruler that is the size of the block.
Carmen N says
When piecing small blocks I like to use a stiletto or something like it to help control the block as it feeds through the machine.
Joyce Penney Schroeder says
I use the same ruler for all rotary cutting on a quilt; the difference in markings from company to company can be astounding! I also use the method you showed, but I use that same ruler to mark my 1/4″ line on my machine bed (after all, what good is consistent measuring if your 1/4″ seam is off because you used a different tool to figure out where the sewing line is?). And I try to slow down when I sew, especially with small/tiny blocks. The margin for error seems to drop appreciably when I do these things.
Theresa Powers says
I use my stylus to guide my fabric especially towards the end or the seam where I have a tendency to go off my quarter inch mark.
I like to use washi tape to mark the outer edge of a seam. Because it’s so thin, there is less chance of it “grabbing” the fabric if an edge is lifted. I also find that slowing down the machine helps me maintain a continuously accurate edge. I’m not sure 1/4 inch seams are meant for high-speed sewing! 🙂
Megan Guthrie says
Great tips thank you. I find measuring accurately and rechecking regularly are a great help as well as a consistent 1/4″ seam. Also use the same rulers for cutting the whole project as I have found these can vary.
Debbie Monroe says
Great info. Thankyou.