"Piecing Quilt Blocks"
·       Accuracy is most important.
·       Follow grainlines.  Exception:  when using a printed plaid or check, follow the printed lines.
· Always press a seam before joining it to another seam.
· Press the seam flat, as you stitched it, to set the stitches and eliminate puckers
· Then, press the entire seam allowance to the darkest colored side.
· When pressing, if you do your first press with the dark side up, then you only have to lift the top layer back to do the second pressing, and it will automatically put the seam allowance the correct direction.
· Use steam in your iron.  You want your pieces to lay flat.   
1/4 inch Seam Allowance:
· Use your needle position lever to move the needle to a scant 1/4 “ seam allowance.    
· Using a hem gauge, place the end on the needle, and move it right until the edge of the presser foot is at 1/4”.  Use the edge of the presser foot to guide your fabric.· If your machine doesn’t move the needle position, you will have to measure and mark your machine somehow.  I suggest masking tape, or a rubber band around the free arm to use as a guide.
· Check it out:  Cut 3 pieces of fabric 1 1/2” by 3”.  Sew them together lengthwise.  Measure the width of the center piece.  It should be exactly 1 inch wide.  If it is less, your seam allowance is too wide.  If it is over 1 inch, your seam allowances are to wide.  Make adjustments, and repeat this procedure until you have established an exact 1/4” seam allowance.
· Record the changes made so you don’t have to repeat this over next time!
· No Backstitching.  It leaves lumps and makes it difficult to stitch the next piece on.
· Reduce your stitch length to 2.0.  Since you do not backstitch, a smaller stitch length ensures it wont pull out as easily.
· Pin only the seams that meet.  Too many pins pucker the fabric.  Always place your pins from the body of the piece pointing toward the seam allowance.  Pins can be placed in your pieces close to but not into your seam allowance.  This saves the time of removing them, as well as continues to hold the fabric, while removing them allows the fabric to slip.
· You will find that if all your seams have been turned to the darker fabric side, when you line your seams up, the seam allowances will usually go in opposite directions.  Thus, the bulk is eliminated, perfect matching is much easier, and pressing is easier.
· If you have seam allowance ends sticking out, trim them off so you will be able to line up the next seam correctly.
· Chaining your blocks saves time and thread.  Sew your first pieces together, when you reach the end of the seam, slip the next seam under the presser foot and continue sewing.  Continue sewing all you can.  Now go back and simply clip the threads between the pieces you have sewn.  Go to the ironing board, and press.
· Correctly cut pieces, and correct seam allowances mean that all the pieces will fit
together and your final product will be the correct size.  However, no one sews
perfectly!  A quilters square can be used trim your block into a perfect square.
Putting blocks together:
· Read through all the directions before beginning.  Most patterns will have a diagram of how the pieces fit together.  I like to lay my block out before sewing.  I can then visually see what to sew.  Breakdown certain sections of the block.  Look for pieces that will make small squares first.  Then many of these small squares can then be sewn into strips.  These strips then sew together to make your block.
· Stitch all of a like kind at the same time.

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JoAnn Gagnon, 1-800-337-8845