Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Your Mileage May Vary...

WARNING:  If you are a member of the "quilt police", you will probably want to stop reading right now!

Today I'm going to tell you about two "Quilting Commandments" that I decided to try not doing to see if it made a difference with a couple of issues I've been struggling with for quite some time.

1)  Three years ago I took a quilting class/retreat from a renowned, nationally-known quilt instructor.  I took my trusty Singer 221 Featherweight to the class and I had a non-original 1/4" foot on it.  It was one of those 1/4" flanged feet except that the flange had been removed.  (I had found that the width of the foot was a perfect scant 1/4", but if I followed the flange, my seam was 1/4", not a "scant 1/4" like patterns call for.  Also, I found the flange awkward to use when making HST's [half-square triangles] as the flange pulled the fabric out of shape when the flange traveled over it, so I had Andy remove the flange.  If I ran the fabric right down the edge of the foot, I had a nice scant 1/4" seam.)

flanged 1/4" foot
When the instructor saw this she told me that I really shouldn't use non-original feet on a featherweight because of the way the feed dogs are...the right feed dog is shorter than the left one...and the original foot was made to work specifically with those feed dogs.

Original foot

So I put the original foot back on and tried my best to sew a straight 1/4" seam.  The problem, though, is that with the original foot on the machine, the feed dogs pull the fabric to the left slightly after it leaves the needle area.  I'm trying to feed the fabric in straight but I'm fighting those feed dogs all the way, struggling to sew a straight seam even while using a piece of plastic as a seam guide. 

Because of this, I had put away my Featherweight for the last couple years and didn't even use it because it frustrated me so.  Since pulling out the Featherweight and using it for the past several days, once again my frustration level was rising.  

Today I thought I'd pull out that 1/4" foot and see if I could do a better job with it.  If I couldn't, then I was putting the machine away...possibly for good this time.  

Well....lo and behold...with using the modern 1/4" foot and keeping the piece of plastic on the machine as a seam guide, it WORKS!  The fabric does not get fed wonky by the feed dogs!  It goes straight out behind the needle like it should!!!  

YAY for me!!!  First "rule" debunked!!!

Now for the second "rule/commandment":  "Always 'set' your seam with the iron before pressing the fabric open."  The thinking behind this is that when you touch your iron to the closed seam, you are causing the sewing thread to "shrink" and tighten into the fabric.  

The problem I have, though, is that when I then go to press the pieces open the seam doesn't want to lay flat.  I especially find that irritating when pressing HST's...there is always that one side that sticks up and flaps in the breeze even after pressing...and I mean PRESSING with lots of heat and pressure!!!

So today I tried just pressing the pieces open (with the seam going towards the dark fabric) without first pressing it closed.  GUESS WHAT???  The block lays soooooooooo much flatter now!!!

BOOM!!! from now on I won't be "setting my seams" before pressing them.  I'm such a rebel!!! If you find blocks that don't lay flat are a nuisance to you, too, you may want to try this for yourself!  (I promise I won't report you to the Quilt Police!!  



  1. wow a rebel in our midst... me too. it is my quilt, fabric and machine and i will do what i want. reminds me of my 7th grade home ec teacher who went our of her way to make sewing unfun. without her help or criticism i made all my prom dresses, a wedding gown and lots of quilts too. all of this gave me great joy which is the purpose of a hobby

  2. Wow, who knew?! I'll have to try that since I always set my seams...Thank you.

  3. You know, I've never pressed my seams before opening to press them. It never made any sense to me and it seemed like double the work. Thanks for letting me know that I don't need to after all!
    Nancy. (ndmessier @,