Pieced Borders & That 1 /4″ stitch

Pieced Borders & That 1 /4″ stitch

I’d love to tell you that my head did not explode [yet] while doing the pieced border on my exploding Block Quilt.

and I could tell you that I’m a genius, who mathamagically  calculated the length of the quilt sides, divided it by the number of blocks, added 1/4″ to each,  cut all those tiny pieces precisely, and sewed them to end exactly on the corners, but that would be a lie.

I used EQ7 to do my math, and a Dritz Quilters Gauge for my almost perfect 1/4 stitch.

Many ask how to get that perfect quarter inch stitch, so here is how I do it.
I use a quilters gauge by Dritz, but there are probably other brands. I tried using a ruler, and measuring from the needle to the edge of the foot, and moving the needle over, but that wasn’t as quick or effective, and some machines don’t let you adjust your needle, so for about $6, this tool make life easier.

needle_space_guage

This works best without the needle threaded, but I was in a hurry to take the pictures, and I was resetting my guide to 1/2 inch to piece the backing, so acuracy didn’t matter in my case. I will remove the thread when I reset it to a 1/4 stitch, or that thread could cause me to be off.
Step 1 Turn hand wheel until feed dogs are down, and the needle is still up.

feeddogs_down

Step 2 Place the quilters gauge under the foot and slowly lower the needle into the hole at 1/4 inch mark. [reading glasses may be helpful]

lower_needle_through_hole01

Step 3 lower your presser foot to hold it in place, then slide your stitch guide over to meet the edge.

slide_guide_plate

  • You can use an expired gift card if you do not have a guide that attatches to your bed. Do not use other kinds of tape or they may damage the finish on your machine. Besides painters tape is also handy to use for straight line quilting when you don’t want to risk other types of markings on your quilt.

Finally, tighten down the guide screws, or tape the expired gift card down, raise needle, and presser foot, then remove the dritz quilters gauge.
Then go ahead and test it. Sew 2 pieces of 2 1/2 wide fabric together, and the result should be 4″ wide after pressing.
If your sewn pieces are not 4″ wide after pressing, scoot your guide over a teensy bit. I got it on the first try, I don’t always get stuff on the first try, so some practice may be in order.

exploding_block_pieced_border

Now one thing I learned about oddly shaped pieced borders is 1 you must press each piece before sewing on the next piece, and 2 it does matter how you press it. The image with the scissors shows a gap, which will disappear when pressed correctly. This is when “Press to the dark side” won’t work. You have to let the fabric tell you where it wants to go.

Pressed correctly will result in a quarter inch of leftover so you can sew your next piece on and not cut off your points.

exploding_block_borders02

Also if your last border is pieced, you may want to add a small border the same color as your outside edge so you have something to trim after quilting. That quarter inch left over leaves you with nothing to trim. If your quilting is perfect and you don’t have to trim, adding the binding to that tiny 1/4″ will be tricky. but hey if you quilted it perfectly, maybe you’ll get lucky with the binding too.

The second reason to add a trimmable border is, if your pieced border has bias pieces, you want to stablise those for quilting. That, or if you want to remain in good standing with your long arm quilter.

I am quilting it myself, and not wanting to waste any prefectly good luck on this, I added a  white border that I can trim later.

The hardest part of making this quilt has been chosing the backing! With only 3 main colors, and everything I liked clashing with one of those colors, it has taken me longer to find the fabric than it did to sew all those pieces together. I know if you can’t match, you contrast, but any contrasting fabric I found included a shade that was just ‘off’ for the rest of the quilt. I lost count of how many fabrics I auditioned, and by that I mean bought. I now have enough backings to do a dozen more quilts!

I finally found fabric that actually matched. Of course it came in 2 pieces, so I had to get creative on the back. Fortunately it’s busy enough to hide both the number of pieces, and any imperfect quilting.

I thought I’d take a “ready to quilt” picture.

exploding_block_readyforquilting

It’s only halfway quilted now, so that’s all you get.

#QuarterInchStitch  #ExplodingBlock #FancyBorders