Perfect Your Skills: Small Pieces | Staff Blog

Perfect Your Skills: Small Pieces

Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished!

Love the look of small pieces in quilts but can never get them to turn out right? These tips from designer Mary Elizabeth Kinch will help you become a small piece aficionado in no time! Her quilt, Best In Show (below) from our December 2012 issue, features her work with tiny pieces!



Break the work into manageable portions. Mary Elizabeth prefers piecing one block at a time, a technique she calls “batching.” While you can employ faster construction methods, batching is particularly useful if you have limited amounts of time to sew. Another benefit is seeing entire blocks develop before your eyes. In addition, you can make small changes in seam allowance or needle position to ensure piecing accuracy.

Be consistent when cutting. Use the same brand of ruler, and choose the same place on the lines of the ruler: just inside the line, down the middle of the line, or just outside the line.

Ensure piecing accuracy. While the difference of 1⁄16″ on 10″-square blocks is minor, when working with pieces this small, that minor variation per block quickly multiplies. Perfect a scant 1⁄4″ seam allowance and keep your ruler handy to check occasionally that your stitching is consistent. Use the same thread on top and in your bobbin throughout the entire project. A stiletto may be helpful in guiding pieces under the presser foot.

Press for precision. Instead of taking units to the ironing board for pressing, which can cause stretching, finger-press the seam allowances, and save pressing for when a block is complete. When pressing, to avoid stretching the fabric, maintain an up-and-down motion with minimal sliding of the iron. Use steam judiciously as it can add to the stretchiness of the fabric.

5 Responses to “Perfect Your Skills: Small Pieces”

  1. I find that starch – heavy enough to practically turn the fabric into paper – is a great help in accurate piecing. Unstarched fabric sort of flops around and has a mind of its own.

  2. I love this quilt. Where can I get this pattern?

  3. Where can I find this pattern? What a beautiful quilt

  4. This is exactly the style and coloring of quilt pattern I have been wanting…I LOVE IT!!! Where can i get this pattern or is it in the December 2012 issue and can I purchase that issue?

  5. It’s available in the December 2012 issue. It looks like still has a few copies!