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Machine Minute - Bulky Intersections: Fanning Seam Allowances

To achieve a smooth and even quilt top, it's important to consider how the seam allowances come together. Watch this video to learn a great way to evenly distribute seams.

Mon, 10 Sep 2012|

Hi I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to you by Baby Lock and the Symphony machine. Bulky intersections in your quilt top can be a problem when you have multiple pieces converging at one central point. Learning to fan your seam allowances so that you can reduce some of that bulk is an easy way to make sure that your quilt top turns out smooth on top, and it will also make it easier when it comes time to machine quilt because you won't be going over multiple thicknesses of fabric in some areas and having just one layer of fabric in others. I've made a little sample here to demonstrate how to do this and I've use larger than a quarter inch seam allowances so it is exaggerated for the camera. But normally you would use just a standard quarter inch seam allowance in the same principles are going to apply. So where your intersections come together, when you join pieces you press them in one direction so here I pressed to the darker side. On the opposite pair, again I pressed to the darker side, and the problem comes when you join those two pieces together with the seam . Because what you end up with here is just one thickness of fabric. But where this seam allowance is pressed over the top of this seam allowance, I really have five layers of fabric because I have the two for this seam allowance, two more for this seam allowance and then the piece itself. So I've got five thicknesses on this side and just a single thickness on this side. So how to I distribute that fabric more evenly. Well by trimming or fanning my seam allowance and making sure that my seam allowances are pressed in a counter clockwise or clockwise fashion, it doesn't matter which on your piece. But when you look at your seam allowances, I want them all to go counter clockwise in this case, and I'll show you how I did that. So going back to this piece I got my two pairs sewn together and then I sewed them together on this seam. I'm then going to take my scissors on this joining seam and I'm going to make a snip just alongside that seam allowance. I'm only going through the top layer. I'm not going through both of them, and I don't wanna snip through my seam allowance, just to it. So I've got one that I could open up like that. But I'm going to fold that back down. Then I'm going to turn the piece around. I'm gonna flip over that seam allowance and meet the same cut just through the top later. Right alongside that seam but not going through it. And then I'll set the piece down here and you'll see what happens. When I open up that seam by snipping like that, and I'll just finger press it here, you can see that once I go back to press this, this seam allowance now goes this direction, this one heads here and I've got that telltale little checker board in the center. Now with my seam allowance was a true quarter inch it would be a tiny tiny checker board in the very center, but it would allow me to distribute it so there's no place now that I have those five layers of fabric. And what it means for the front side my piece is that when I go along and do my stitching, I don't have big bumps in my quilt top as I'm trying to stitch in the ditch or edge stitch along things or even for echo quilting. It makes things much smoother. So try fanning your seam allowances to reduce some of the bulk in those intersections, and see you're not happier with how smooth your quilt top office.