Perfect Your Skills | Staff Blog - Part 2

Perfect Your Skills

14 posts.

Perfect Your Skills: Dimensional Flying Geese

Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn how to add texture to your quilt with dimensional flying geese units!


(Love this quilt? Find it it the August 2013 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.) 


To make one dimensional Flying Geese unit, gather two 2″ squares and one 2×3-1/2″ rectangle. Lay the rectangle vertically on your work surface. Fold the rectangle in half with wrong side inside to make a folded unit. Place the folded unit on the right side of one square, aligning side and bottom edges; pin. Place remaining square right side down on top of folded unit; sew through all layers with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. Open stitched unit and press seam in one direction. Refold rectangle so that the center crease aligns with the seam, forming a triangle, to make a Flying Geese unit. Press well and, if desired, baste bottom edges. The unit should be 3-1/2×2″ including seam allowances.


Perfect Your Skills: Prep Quilt Layers

Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn how to prep your quilt layers for taking them to the long-armer (or quilting them yourself!).


1. Both the batting and the backing should be 6″–8″ wider and longer than the quilt top. Confirm this measurement with your quilter if you’re sending a quilt out for finishing.


2. Make sure the quilt top lays flat by using consistent ¼” seams, pressing seams to one side, and watching for seams that twist and cause a bump. Give a finished quilt top a final press to ensure it is ready to be quilted.


3. Clip all loose threads and fabric, and trim dog-ears. Any of these can cause a shadow behind lighter fabrics if not removed. Loose fabric can bulk up in a quilt sandwich and make it look bumpy.


4. Repair raveling seams and stay-stitch quilt top edges. Especially if you have a pieced border, it’s a good idea to stay-stitch a scant ¼” from quilt top edges to secure unintersected seams. It prevents them from popping open when the quilt layers are loaded onto the machine.

Perfect Your Skills: Hexagons

Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn the secret to machine-piecing hexagon rows.


When joining hexagon rows, set-in seams are required. Though the positioning of the pieces is unusual, sewing hexagons together by machine doesn’t have to be difficult; just take it one seam at a time, pinning and sewing carefully from dot to dot. (Be sure to transfer dots from patterns to templates, then to fabric pieces before you start joining pieces.) Follow our step-by-step photos, below, to guide you through the process.

1. To join hexagons in vertical rows, adjacent rows need to be offset. (Example that follows shows top hexagon in Row 2 already trimmed to make a half hexagon.)

2. With right sides together, place first Row 2 hexagon atop first Row 1 hexagon. (In this example, Row 2 begins with a half hexagon.)

3. Push a pin through each pair of dots to align pieces, then pin pieces together.

4. Sew from dot to dot, locking seam ends with backstitches or tiny (0.5-millimeter-long) machine stitches.

5. Open up pieces and reposition Row 2 over Row 1. Align and pin next seam.

6. Without catching seam allowance in stitching, sew next seam from dot to dot.

7. Open up pieces and reposition Row 2 over Row 1. Align and pin third seam.

8. Sew third seam from dot to dot. Do not sew through seam allowances. Continue in same manner until all seams are sewn.

9. Press first seam intersection counterclockwise, forming a tiny hexagon on the fabric wrong side. Press next seam intersection clockwise. Continue alternating the direction you press as you continue down the row.

Perfect Your Skills: Rickrack

Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn how to join rickrack ends when you’re using them in a quilt!


When adding rickrack to the pieced block, the goal is to make the scallop pattern of the rickrack appear continuous so the join is nearly invisible.


To achieve this look, ease in the loose rickrack tails at the beginning and end of stitching so they finish with perfectly overlapping scallops. Fold one rickrack tail back on itself in the middle of a outer-facing scallop.


Pull excess rickrack into seam allowance and pin.


Repeat with remaining rickrack tail. Stitch rickrack in place, then trim excess.

Perfect Your Skills: String Piecing

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

String Fling from American Patchwork & Quilting August 2012 (buy it here)


The rules for string piecing are simple–there are no rules! So give this technique a try. It’s the perfect way to use up your scraps while enjoying the freedom of piecing without perfection.


1. Position a strip diagonally across center of a muslin foundation square. (Note: foundation square should be 1/4″ larger on all sides than finished block.) Pin in place.


2. From an assorted print scrap, cut a strip that is at least as long as first strip.


3. Place print strip right side down on first strip; align a pair of long edges. Sew through all layers with a 1⁄4″ seam allowance.



4. Press print strip open.


5. Roughly trim print strip about 1/2″ beyond muslin foundation (Photo D).


6.  Cut a third print strip that is at least as long as the long raw edge of the first print strip. Repeat steps 3–5 to add third print strip to foundation.


7. Continue in same manner, covering each half of foundation square with print strips; skew strips in opposite directions so interesting angles are created.


8. Trim foundation to desired square including seam allowances to complete a string block.