Friday, November 13, 2020

Kansas Troubles Block: Improving Accuracy

Kansas Troubles Block 

Do you want to be a better quilter, and improve your accuracy? It's not as hard as it seems. Think while you sew. Keep your brain engaged, and focus.

  • Don't depend on a pattern or directions to tell you everything because most often they don't. 
  • Use logic and geometry to figure measurements out. It's a few formulas, and pretty standard stuff.
  • Watch for bias edges.
  • Square for accuracy as often as necessary.

The cutting directions for this 8" block were basic. The small background patch in each quadrant was 1.5". So it sounds redundant, but I know that to be true, and I also know this block is based on an equal grid. You can see below that each of the 4 sections of this block can be divided into 4 sections using imaginary lines. So EACH of the feathers or HSTs in those quadrants should also be 1.5" before sewing the row together.

When given cutting directions for the feather points, they are for the two pieces to sew together for the HSTs. What do we know about HSTs? They are usually not very accurate after sewing those bias edges together! So we trim them to be accurate.

My Process

I sewed the feather points together after making my HST units, and those strips units were too long. Why? My HST units were about 1/16" too big in both directions. It might have been the cutting directions, my cutting, or the seam. But either way, I had to have more accurate pieces. I knew the background corners were 1.5" so the HST feather points should also be 1.5". I trimmed them after pressing. Perfect! Once I engaged my brain my blocks were far more accurate. 

Accuracy In the Rest of the Block

After the pieced portion of each HST quadrant was sewn, I checked for accuracy against the background HST. They were close, but even then my pieced portion was a little off. I sewed them together, pressed the seam while closed, pressed the seam to one side, cooled, and then squared each quadrant. When the 4 quadrants were sewn together, I again pressed the seams while closed, pressed to one side, starched the block, cooled, and squared again. Whew! But it gets easier all the time, and makes me happy to not chop off those points. So, as they say, its worth it!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.



Linda Swanekamp said...

I long to accurately piece. Close enough is not good enough for me. I try glue and fork pins, and thin thread, but I am not perfect, right on.

Rebecca Grace said...

This is why I love foundation paper piecing! Sewing the seams first and THEN trimming seam allowances and outside edges makes perfection that much more within reach. I do try to measure units as I go along when traditionally piecing, especially a complex block like this one. Love your fabric choices.

Tammy Hutchinson said...

I enjoy the trimming and squaring up because I love the pointy parts best. And I agree, blocks like this are not the best time to watch Netflix while sewing. Nice points and tips!:)

KaHolly said...

Not to mention...take your time! Your efforts are obvious. Nice block!