Avoidance and Crooked Seams

January 13th

Sew! Avoid the edits!

Sew! Avoid the edits!

Sew! Avoid the edits!

Sew! Avoid the edits!


I have other writing projects demanding of my time, so logically I’ve thrown myself into a fairly complicated sewing project. (Why is it we so often avoid what we really want to accomplish? WHY?)

I post these wonky sewn seams to ask the myriads of you who know how to do this better for some help. How do I get the pieces to line up with more accuracy? I’m using a rotary cutter and a seam guide. I’m just not sure on what to do to not have it be a bit off, other than step back and talk it up with a “one of a kind, oddly imperfect perfection!” talk.



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12 Responses

  1. I’m afraid if you want the seams to match up you have to pin. If it looks like one side is longer than the other in between the pins, you have to “ease” it, spreading the difference out evenly, holding it down with more pins. This is how I was taught, but I’ll check back to see if there is a better way. I HOPE YOUR MOM READS THIS POST AND LEAVES SOME WISDOM!! 🙂

    I also use a rotary cutter and use a guide so that all my seams should come out equally. I’m guessing it is operator error?

  2. I just say embrace the crooked parts and have another glass of wine!

  3. I saw a tutorial once where someone ironed all the squares onto iron-on fusing, then folded the right sides together along the seam lines, stitched, then cut along the fold. Obviously it wouldn’t work for everything, but maybe for a pillow cover it would be okay?

  4. Oh, and I totally start craft projects to avoid other things!

  5. Shirley Elliott January 14, 2015

    First, make sure all your squares are the same size and your seam allowances are the same. Consistency pays off in the end. When you complete each row (or strip)of your squares, press your seams in opposite order. For instance, press all the seams in row one to the right and all the seams in row two to the left. Then when you are ready to sew the rows (or strips) together, the seams will nest together. You should also pin at each seam. Then if there is a little extra fabric at any point, it can be eased so all seams match. It also helps to use a stiletto, end of seam ripper or something to gently feed your top fabric as you are sewing. These ideas have been learned thru trial and error and I’m not sure if I explained so it is understandable. Good luck!

  6. gatorgirl4325 January 14, 2015

    Do you have an even feed/walking foot for your machine?

    I use mine for sewing quilt squares together, knits and anything slippery. Your squares are even – it may just be the little bit of slippage between the presser foot and the feed dogs on your machine.

    Love the project!

  7. Let’s see… some possibilities:

    – Are you measuring with the mat or the ruler? (Ruler is supposed to trump all, cover the portion of the fabric you are cutting – this doesn’t work when your fabric cut is bigger than your ruler though.) Are you consistently going to the same side of the ruler line while cutting (does that make sense)?

    – What is your presser foot situation? It can be hard to maintain a 1/4″ seam with a universal foot as that foot generally covers more than a 1/4″ to the right of the seam line. And really quilters aim for a scant 1/4″ which is like 1-2 thread widths shy of 1/4″. Also, it is not uncommon for people to discover that the 1/4″ foot they bought is giving them something closer to a 3/8″ seam allowance. 1/8″ off over 6 seams is 3/4″ of difference, 1/16″ off over 6 seams is 3/8″ difference… And yes the walking foot helps with even feed, but IME it is difficult to get a good/consistent 1/4″ – so a walking foot isn’t so helpful while piecing blocks into rows – but could be helpful while piecing rows together, and I do like it for adding binding around a quilt (seam allowance be damned).

    – Are you pressing seams open or to one side? This is an area where there are opposing viewpoints and you might want to try both and see which you prefer. One of the reasons you want a scant 1/4″ seam is that the act of opening/ironing the seam uses up some fabric too. Proponents of seams open say it is easier to line up the seams and they are flatter. Proponents of seams to one side like to nest their seams. I pick based on the project and block but try very hard to be consistent within a project.

    – Pinning. Depends on the fabric. Depends on the quilter. While sewing those squares together I wouldn’t pin but I did when I started quilting. While sewing up those rows I would pin.

    – I like chain piecing and using enders & leaders.

    – Pressing versus ironing. Ironing can distort fabric. Ironing can be a hard habit to break.

    – You might like using spray starch, a spray starch alternative or (my current budget fav) magic sizing. This helps the fabric be less shifty while you are cutting and sewing. You do this before cutting out your fabric (spray, press, cut). When making more complicated blocks I also do this before squaring up my blocks.

    – Consider alternate layouts that don’t require as much seam matching 🙂 like a brick layout where the seams are offset by half a square (think subway tile)

    I hope this helps. If you want to analyze your current project, flip it over and start by measuring your seam allowances – if you don’t finish it up and move on 🙂 When I started quilting I was amazed at how much I felt like I was accurate and yet… my finished product wasn’t quite. I’m better, but not perfect by any means, sometimes I seam rip, sometimes I say “close enough” and move on. Practice helps along with a variety/combination of other techniques. What works for one person might drive another nuts. Go with what works for you but try to avoid having too many >1/8″ seam allowances for durabilities sake. Also, quilting and washing for a crinkly effect hides a lot 🙂

  8. Um, yeah I wrote a lot. I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all the different options to think about (or not – sew as you wish).

  9. You know I’m not a quilter — but I LOVE how quilting takes totally random colors and patterns and makes them all work beautifully together.

  10. Woot – I can comment again!

  11. Hi K. 🙂 A few ideas.
    1) Is the fabric pressed before you cut it?
    2) Is it cut carefully and all the same? (<this is what I need to pay more attention to!). Also: is your seam allowance the same throughout??
    3) Iron the rows—press seams in different directions on each row so they nest—before sewing rows together.
    4) Use those nested row spots as your guide. Do you need to tug one layer more to make sure they match at the intersection? Go slow when coming to points. (I don't pin.)
    5) But really? Just ENJOY. If it's wonky? Awesome. Drink some wine. Keep sewing. Laughing. And loving the opportunity to create. 🙂

  12. I second the fusing it to interfacing comment!! That’s what I do when I am making squares like this. It works AMAZINGLY and all the corners line up perfectly. Let me see if I can find the link to the tutorial……here’s one – http://weallsew.com/2014/01/10/how-to-make-perfectly-pieced-tiny-squares/