Quilt Technique – Prevent “Tipping” Points on a Blind Seam
I’m doing a quilt along with #PatSloan using Lori Holt’s Vintage Christmas book. This quilt is called “Bringing Home the Christmas Tree”. It’s made up of two blocks: a set of three trees and a station wagon with a tree on top.
I cut all the fabric for both blocks first, and then started sewing the trees block. It was very easy with the blocks under the pointed tree top having blunt tops so there was no need to match the seam point on a standard flying geese unit.
However, once the tree units were sewn, sewing the strips together is a bit more tricky. As we all know, the 1/4″ seam allowance can go flying right out the window (pardon the pun!) on the side points of multiple flying geese units. Starting with a proper cut is essential, but even then, pressing and machine goblins can do their best to cause a 1/4″ seam allowance to be a thread or two off on the sides.
I’ve used this method successfully for years. The trick is to make sure your target is visible. That means that when pressing the back of the strip, make sure you can actually see the intersection (or join) of the backs of the geese units. If it has been pressed with the bottom of the geese folded up over the join, you can’t see what you’re doing. I know…I know…”But what about press to the dark side?” In this case, not cutting off or tipping the tree points is more important than pressing to the dark side. This is a judgement call all quilters face.
The trick here is to sew your seam just outside the join at the bottom of the “V” seam. First, I decide which piece is going to be the one on top – that I can see from my angle. Usually that is the one with the MOST tree points. Then I pin on each end first to make the strip lengths match, then the center to even out the two strips, and then at the 1/4 and 3/4 marks. This ensures the strips are evenly balanced to start with to prevent puckers due to a mismatched length.
Then I flip the strip set over so I can see the points on the bottom that I need to hit just outside of the V in the seam allowance. I take a pin and place it EXACTLY where I want to stitch. The image below shows the backside of the unit and I’ve pinned where I want my seam stitch to be.
Once all of those points are pinned, I flip the unit back to the “front” and begin sewing. I make sure to keep as close to a 1/4″ seam allowance as possible and sew outside of the V on the front tips and then sew EXACTLY where the pin entered from the back side. I marked the one below with a purple dot so you can see what I’m aiming for. I stop one stitch before I get there and remove the pin.
It’s also very important to make sure you keep to that 1/4″ seam allowance at the end of your strip set for joining to the rest of the quilt blocks. I leave the pin in until the very last and use a stiletto to hold it straight in case of any wiggles. The use of washi 1/4″ diagonal seam tape on the bed of my machine has helped tremendously in my piecing accuracy. If you have a face plate for your machine with a single needle hole, be sure to use it.
The end result may not have the exact straightest 1/4″ seam, however a good pressing with steam will alleviate any appearance of puckers or wobbles. Again, not tipping the tree points is more important than a perfect 1/4″ seam in this case. Also, any appearance of wobbles will go away in the all-over quilting but a chopped off tree point won’t. It’s the lesser of two evils. 🙂
Here are my finished tree blocks! Now on to the cars!
Do you have any techniques for this quilting issue? I’d love to hear about them. Happy quilting!