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THE 2 must-have sewing tools for smooth and accurate piecing

In yesterday’s post, I gave you the fabric requirements and cutting instructions to make the beautiful and easy quilt pattern, Deep Waters using the wonderful Banyan Batiks Color Blocking fabrics. Here are two sewing tools I couldn’t work without in my studio to accomplish it.

How to make this block for the Deep Waters quilt pattern size 75" x 75" made using Banyan Batiks Color Blocking collection
How to make this block for the Deep Waters quilt pattern size 75″ x 75″ made using Banyan Batiks Color Blocking collection

#1 must have: starch

I like to starch my fabrics before cutting into strips to ensure that they stay nice and straight. I love to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press as there’s no flaking, clogging, or white residue. Which is really important especially on this project as I’m working with the beautiful Banyan Batiks Color Blocking collection in dark colors!

A special stain shield also protects fabrics which kind of helps to keep the quilt clean as long as possible. I got the small bottle but I also got a gallon to refill as I quilt along, be sure to ask your local quilt shop to order the gallon for you. I truly find that it makes a difference in keeping my cutting and stitching aligned.

My two must-have tools in my studio for accurate piecing
My two must-have tools in my studio for accurate piecing

#2 must have: Omnigrip rulers

I also couldn’t work without my Omnigrip rulers. Their patented non-slip backing literally “grips” your fabric while you cut, preventing frustrating cutting mistakes and fabric waste. There are many more features I like about them.

For one thing, they’re laser cut, which means they’re super consistent and you will have the same measurement even when going from one ruler to the other. I commonly use my 8½” x 24” with the 4” x 14” and 6½” square.  I also always use the 1” x 12” to check my seams and in this project, because the squares were so big, I also used my 20½” square ruler. I also like the little “windows” that allow me to check that my fabric is perfectly aligned under the ruler. As I always say, precision is key to quilting.

I like the little “windows” that allow me to check that my fabrics is perfectly aligned under the ruler
I like the little “windows” that allow me to check that my fabrics is perfectly aligned under the ruler

On with the Deep Waters quilt, there’s a special trick to help you keep that center strip in the block straight. When sewing the strips together, use the 1” x 12” ruler and slide it along the seam. If you’ve accidentally stitch incorrectly, you’ll see excess fabric along the ruler and you’ll be able to trim it before sewing the next strip. This will ensure that you’re straight! Using starch will also help in this step as your strip will remain crisp.

Use the 1” x 12” ruler and slide it along the seam and cut off any excess fabric for accurate piecing.
Use the 1” x 12” ruler and slide it along the seam and cut off any excess fabric for accurate piecing.

I also “cheated” when giving you the cutting instructions. I’ve made some strips ⅛” larger than what they need to be. I find that it’s better to do it this way and adjust as I go along. This is why you’ll see some * with a note to cut to adjust sizing. Sometimes you’ll be shaving off a bit of fabric and sometimes you won’t. It all depends on the precision in your piecing. So you don’t need to sweat it too much.

Steps to make 12 units of Block A

Step 1

  • Stitch (2) L strips along a D strip.
  • Strip should now measure 3¾”.
  • Repeat to make three strips.
  • Cut to make 24 rectangles size 3½” x 3¾”.

Stitch two L strips along a D strip.
Stitch two L strips along a D strip.

Step 2

  • Stitch (2) Step 1 rectangles along a G square.

* The rectangles are slightly larger than your square, so you need to align the centers on all. Simply fold in half and press all units and align on the crease when stitching together. This will ensure proper alignment.

  • Cut to resize to a 9½” x 3½” rectangle.
  • Repeat to make 12.

Block A Step 2 i: Simply fold in half and press all units and align on the crease when stitching together
Block A Step 2 i: Simply fold in half and press all units and align on the crease when stitching together

Block A Step 2 ii: aligning to ensure strip remains centered
Block A Step 2 ii: aligning to ensure strip remains centered

Once again, my Omnigrid ruler comes in handy to check the alignment!
Once again, my Omnigrid ruler comes in handy to check the alignment!

Step 3

  • Stitch (2) M strips along a D strip.
  • Strip should measure 9¾”.
  • Repeat to make 3 strips.
  • Cut to make 3 strips.
  • Cut to make 24 rectangles size 3½” x 9¾”.

Stitch two M strips along a D strip.
Stitch two M strips along a D strip.

Step 4

  • Stitch (2) H strips along a K strip.
  • Strip should measure 9¾”.
  • Repeat to make 3 strips.
  • Cut to make 3 strips.
  • Cut to make 24 rectangles size 3½” x 9¾”.

Stitch two H strips along a K strip.
Stitch two H strips along a K strip.

Step 5

  • Stitch a step 3 rectangle to a step 4 rectangle.
  • Unit should measure 6½” x 9¾”.

* Ensure that center strip is aligned.

  • Repeat to make 24.

Stitch a step 3 rectangle to a step 4 rectangle.
Stitch a step 3 rectangle to a step 4 rectangle.

Step 6

  • Stitch (2) rectangles beside a step 2 rectangle.

* The step 5 rectangles are slightly larger than the Step 2 rectangle. Align with center strip again by finding the center of the step two units and align that center the center of the step 5 units.

  • Cut to resize to a 15½” x 9½” rectangle.
  • Repeat to make 12.

Stitch two rectangles beside a step 2 rectangle.Notice how there is excess fabric on the top and bottom?Don't sweat it, we'll trim that before the next step.
Stitch two rectangles beside a step 2 rectangle. Notice how there is excess fabric on the top and bottom? Don’t sweat it, we’ll trim that before the next step.

Step 7

  • Stitch (2) I strips to a K strip.
  • Strip should measure 15¾”.
  • Repeat to make 3 strips.
  • Cut to make 24 rectangles size 3½” x 15¾”.

Stitch two I strips to a K strip.
Stitch two I strips to a K strip.

Step 8

  • Stitch 2 units of step 7 on each side of Step 6.

* The Step 7 rectangles are slightly larger than the Step 6 unit. Align the center strips.

  • Resize to a 15½” square.
  • Repeat to make 12 units.

Stitch 2 units of step 7 on each side of Step 6.
Stitch 2 units of step 7 on each side of Step 6.

If you’re unsure about aligning the center strips simply by aligning the creases you’ve made, simply “tack” you center strips together using a basting stitch. When you’re sure you have the correct alignment, then stitch the piece completely.

Align the seams and baste together. When you are sure the alignment is correct, stitch the piece.
Align the seams and baste together. When you are sure the alignment is correct, stitch the piece.

What my "tacking" looks like from behind. You can pull that thread out once it's stitched in place.
What my “tacking” looks like from behind. You can pull that thread out once it’s stitched in place.

My two must-have sewing tools help me achieve the precision I need. Don’t resize your blocks just yet, wait till you read my next post as I’ll give you more tips to make the second block of the Deep Waters quilt pattern using Banyan Batiks Color Blocking fabrics.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: 2 tips to make fast and easy quilts that only look complicated

Go to part 3: The best tip for squaring off your quilt blocks!

Married with three young boys, Claire Haillot shares her passion for quilting among her neighbors in the United States and Canada as well as her cousins in France. Claire has been active in the quilting industry since 2004. At first, she opened a quilt shop and started to teach, write how-to guides and translate patterns and product information into French for American companies. In 2006, she started her own line of patterns and later began publishing patterns and articles in Canadian, European and American magazines. You might have seen some of her work in Quilter’s World, Pratique du Patchwork or Canadian Quilter. She decided to close her brick & mortar quilt shop in 2016 to be able to concentrate more on teaching, writing and creating. She collaborated with PlumEasy patterns to launch the Dancing Diamonds and Gem bag patterns. Claire has also won a few awards for her work: • Juror’s choice at the Salon 2012 for her quilt Thomas goes fishing • Second Place in Vermont Quilt Festival of 2014 for her quilt Bienvenue • Second Place in Salon 2016 for her Lone Star quilt, and • Second Place in Vermont Quilt Festival 2016 for her quilt Remembering Sotchi. Her quilt Remembering Sotchi will be part of the Special Exhibit "A Celebration of Color" at the Quilt Festival in Chicago and Houston in 2018.

4 Comments

  1. Cindy Ball

    I am SeW HaPpY to of found your site. I am a new owner to a Dream Machine 2.

  2. Lori

    Great article. Love best press

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