Some of you are still waiting for their fabrics for the Zen Chic Block of the Month sew along project to arrive, so we will have a little “pause” here. Instead we talk this week about some bonus tips in order to let the waiting people catch up with the project. We will follow up with Block 3 next Friday, 30th of November.
I often hear quilters saying, that their blocks end up slightly smaller than the desired measurements. Instead of getting a 12 1/2” x 12 1/2” block, they have more something like a 12 1/4” x 12 1/4” block. Don’t worry - the blocks for the quilt would work anyway, you would just adjust the measurements of the sashing and background.
So in this blog post I will talk a bit about the secret how to achieve the perfect block size each time. And I will also show you some additional possibilities / settings for the sewn blocks.
How to achieve a perfect block size each time with a scant quarter inch seam
A scant WHAT???
What the heck do you mean with “scant”? A scant 1/4″ seam is just a thread or two short of exactly 1/4″.
And why do I need such a scant 1/4″ seam? Well, the width taken up by the seam itself has to be taken in account too. You might think being just a thread-width off may not seem like a big deal, but if you have a lot of seams within a block, that little something can really add up to a quarter of an inch and it can not only make a difference in the size of your blocks, it makes also a difference in the size of your quilt. So SCANT is the magic word here.
How to achieve that perfect scant 1/4” seam?
First: Use a 1/4″ foot for your machine, it is included in the most machine models. Just line up the outer edge of the foot with the edge of your fabric. In case your machine doesn’t offer a 1/4” foot, you can research for an adaptable foot or for a seam guide for your machine.
Second: Test your seam width. Here’s how to:
Cut 3 strips, the middle strip has a width of 1 1/2", and sew them together using your preferred method for achieving a scant 1/4″ seam. Press seams open. Now measure. The strip in the middle should be exactly 1″ wide.
If everything measures up precisely, congratulations! You’ve got a perfect scant 1/4″ seam. If you find your strip isn’t measuring exactly as it should be, your needle position may need to be adjusted.
Third: Adjust if needed. If you find the result of your test sewing not accurate enough, you can adjust the settings for perfect results. Maybe the needle position has to be moved. Some of the machines allow to manually adjust the needle position on your machine in very small steps, so you can get that “hair off” by just moving one step to the right if the sewn pieces are too small (to the left, if they are too large).
If your machine doesn’t provide this option, you can set up your optimal seam with a helper: Draw a perfect measuring 1/4” seam line on a paper, lay it under your machine’s food and position the needle just a hair off that line.
Now tape on a cardboard against this paper edge as shown. If the cardboard has a certain thickness, it will serve as a guide for your fabrics and ensures the perfect seam every time.
Fourth: Test again to ensure a perfect result.
Now on to my second bonus tip:
What else can you do with the blocks besides the original quilt layout?
Some of you may love the fun of sewing so many different blocks, but are not necessarily in the need of a new bed size quilt. If you are one of them, still on the fence of “should I join or not” - here are a couple of more ideas.
Make a smaller quilt, just lap size. You can easily achieve that by a simple, traditional block setting with a smaller sashing. Can you imagine your sashing in a graphite grey? Gives you a totally different look.
Or… sew the blocks just for the sake of the sew along fun and use them as a set of pillows (see above) or as framed wall art.
I hope this gives you some hints on optimizing your seams and some inspiration what you can do besides our bed quilt.
Please share your experiences and pictures of your blocks using our hashtag #SPOTTEDMOREPAPER on instagram and our facebookgroup.
You still need the BOM quilt pattern to join our Zen Chic Sew Along? Follow the links below for all related blog posts and download the instructions right here:
Get the Block of the Month Quilt Pattern
This is a PDF-pattern and not a brochure! Store the file to your desktop computer. I can’t recommend mobile devices for saving the file. (Keep in mind: The download expires after 1 week or 3 attempts)