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Simple tips to instantly improve your quilts

Quilting is an excellent pastime, loved by many people across the world. Despite having a reputation as being a difficult hobby, there a few simple ideas below which will transform your quilt and keep you having fun.

1. The scant seam
Quilt seams are stitched to ¼” but even specific sewing machine feet designed to this measurement might not make the perfect seam. The easiest way to check this is to mark and stitch a seam on scrap material and then measure it with a clear ruler. In most cases, the line of stitching will ultimately be just outside the line of the ruler. What is best is to make sure the drawn guideline for the seam is just hidden by the foot itself, making the stitches slightly to one side and bringing the seam width under that perfect ¼” measurement. Other quilters swear by adjusting their needle to just off-centre using the changeable settings, so perhaps this is another method that would work well. Experiment with the scant seam and you will see a noticeable difference in your pattern blocks. The “scant” ¼” just gives a couple of threads allowance for the fabric to turn over.

2. Pressing with starch
Everyone recommends pressing your pattern blocks flat when they are each finished. What fewer people know is that starch will keep your shapes true and make a noticeable difference to the overall accuracy. Using a spray starch when pressing the seams back will stiffen them, preventing distortion and stopping the fabric moving when it is pinned together, helping your blocks end up the way you’d envisaged them.

3. Use the right tools
It’s an obvious one perhaps, but don’t forget to ensure that your rotary cutter blade is sharp and change your sewing machine needle before each project. Use a quality blade, they last far longer and work out better in the long run, Olfa is a good choice. You’ll be relying on measurements so a good set of clear rulers is essential, alongside a cutting mat. Many people have never used rotary cutters before but once they have been mastered they are incredibly useful for cutting block pieces, providing additional freedom from templates.

4. Do the maths
Not everybody is a fan of numbers but there are so many of them involved in the quilt making process that it is useless to try and avoid them. A few calculations (with the help of your calculator) can easily tell you how the pieces add up to a total width or length measurement or how to prepare the binding. Once you’ve understood the few central equations you’ll find the whole process much easier.

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