When I first started to quilt I got frustrated really quick with my seams not matching up! It felt like I was being so careful with the cutting and the sewing, but somehow things were still not turning out quite right!
After lots of trial and error and many YouTube videos… I learned that the secret to perfect points and intersections in quilting is all about NESTING YOUR SEAMS. The technique is simple, but the results are AMAZING!
The basic principle is this… if you iron your seams in opposite ways, the seams fit together like a puzzle. This fit creates crisp intersections and makes the fabric lay smoothly on the underside.
Sounds easy enough right!
To nest your seams, first decide which direction you are going to press This is going to be based off of the colors of your fabrics. Quilters generally press seams to the dark side. This way the seams do not show as much through your fabric once the quilt is all together. In this picture from my fall table runner, the fabric colors don’t make too much of a difference. No matter how I press things… the three seams shown below will always fold onto a light side.
This makes things a little easier… when you are pressing, simply press all the seams of your odd rows going one direction and all the seams of your even rows going the opposite direction. Easy peasy.
These next pictures are from my gingham quilt pattern where I used white, light green and dark green fabric. I didn’t want any seams to show through the white, so I needed to press the seams away from the white squares.
Because these light green and white rows were pressed with the seams pointing away from the white squares, my darker rows were pressed with the seams going the opposite way, or towards to the light green squares.
When viewed side by side, you can see that when the rows are sewed together, the seams that will touch will always point OPPOSITE from each other.
As you bring these rows to the sewing machine, the magic will begin to happen! When you start sewing your rows, match up the first intersection of your quilt. DO NOT match up the very edge of your row, as it is okay to have some wiggle room here.
When your seam gets close to the needle, makes sure the folds of the fabric are butted right up against each other. If you pinch the fabric together and rub your fingers back and forth a little, those puzzle pieces find each other!
The beauty of this system is that every seam becomes a place for you to check your work and get back on track. If your fabrics are a little off, you can push and pull things a little to get realigned. I prefer a little pucker from forcing the extra fabric through in the middle of the block instead of the intersections of the blocks being off. Once things are quilted and washed, it all blends in!
Another wonderful tool to help in your quilt piecing is using a quarter inch presser foot like this one.
When you butt your fabric up against this little metal guide, it has really helped me to be consistent and to sew all my seams perfectly at 1/4″. The only thing to watch is that with this style of foot, I always have to check and make sure my machine is set to sew on the middle straight stitch instead of the left of center stitch. As you can see there is a small hole where the needle goes down and I have broken MANY needles before I learned to pay attention to this.
Perfect 1/4″ seams every time. This will really help you along your way to getting all your seams to nest well.
Nesting your seams also makes a big difference on the back of your quilt. After you piece your rows together, you can iron everything and the back of the quilt will be nice and flat. This makes quilting the whole thing together much easier.
Now go forth, iron, and get some perfect points going on!