Monday, September 19, 2016

When Points are Really Points.

Last week I dealt with fabric "spaghetti" caused by a design flaw (my bad), where I had too many points coming together in the same place.  It was a mess, but was solved relatively easily.  Spiral quilts have many points and it takes some experience to be able to think ahead about the difficulty, or lack thereof, in sewing them together perfectly.   This week I will show you some lesser pitfalls of quilty points that come together in seams.  When paper piecing it is relatively easy to get sharp points, but it is not so easy to maintain control when they come to a point in a seam.

Don't bother with lots of tiny points coming close into the center (see here) unless you want fabric spaghetti.  Likewise it doesn't work well to have tight points coming together at a corner where you plan to attach a mitered border corner.  In the situation below I could see trouble coming as soon as I sewed the seam.

Tiny point at the corner.
I could tell that this was going to be a nightmare if I wanted to achieve perfection.  I am sure it can be done, but I chose not to hassle it.  So here's what I did:

Corner redo.
I took some border fabric and created an arrow effect in each corner.  I will quilt along the original seam lines to give the effect of a ghost point and to carry through the idea.  No problem getting that perfect.  It also looks nice on the quilt as a whole.

Wide angle points should also be sharp, and they are easier to manage.  There are two of these in the above photo.  The light blue corner (top of photo) and the dark blue of the added piece where it meets at the seam.  You glue the raw edges of the seam allowance together, but add extra glue on the seam allowance of the point fabric all the way to the seam line.  Make sure the folds of the two pieces come together perfectly AT THE SEAM LINE.  Press.  Carefully check the right side.  Sew and it should be perfect.  If it isn't you can easily un-stitch, pull the glued edges apart and try again.  If that doesn't do it, try sewing the seam in the other direction.  You could also baste across the meeting of the points.

TIP:  Again:  Use only Elmer's School Glue.  It is completely washable and will not harm the fabric.

The tiny, points at a seam line are a lot harder.  From a distance they may be fine, but look closely to make sure.  They much prefer to nest than line up.

TIP:  If you are designing a quilt try to avoid having to match teeny, tiny points in a seam.  Think ahead about how you will stitch every single seam and whether you are willing to accept the consequences (ripping and re-doing) if it doesn't go together the way it did in your dreams.

Unacceptable mis-match.
I restitched this twice by the above method, but was still unable to achieve perfection.  So, on to another solution.  I unstitched about 3/4 inch across the point.  From the back I took a tiny stitch or two at the point of the light-colored fabric to make sure the folded edges came together perfectly where I wanted them.  Then from the right side I used tiny ladder stitches to close the opening.  By doing it from the front I could manipulate needle and fabric to make sure all was in line.  It is well secured, and quilting will later reinforce the hand stitching.

Perfect point.  (Sorry, color variation and poor focus spoils the effect, but it is perfect!)
TIP:  Try, try again, but be careful not to destroy your fabric.  Sometimes hand stitching works best.

Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you perfect points always.


  1. Brilliant idea but I must admit I doubt I would have fixed it. Love the blues in this piece.

  2. Oh-so-sneaky with that arrow! Fabulous idea to deal with the issue though. Thanks for sharing this on Midweek Makers - I love seeing your progress.

  3. Thank you for the tips. It does seem to be hard to match up more than two points.