The Magic Trick to Sewing Seams That Line Up Perfectly – Everytime!

 

Is it fair to call it magic when you take a few fabric scraps…

 

 

 

And add quilter’s grid interfacing

 

 

To create a fabric panel where every seam and every corner of every square is perfectly matched?

I guess the answer depends on your definition of magic and the number of seams you’ve ripped out and re-sewn trying to get those seams to nest and perfectly line up.

As for myself, I’ve ripped out way too many stitches and usually for a simple project made up of nothing but squares! So when I discovered quilter’s grid I felt like I had won the lottery! The first time I tried this product I had only one word for it – magic.

The “Magic” is in the interfacing – specifically, Pellon 820 Quilters Grid. It not only transforms scraps of fabric into nice and neat pattern but it can do so with greater seam accuracy, less time and fewer headaches than sewing row by row using the traditional piecing methods.

 

 

 

For me, the time-consuming aspect of piecing (40) 2″ squares lies in the mistakes made, seams ripped out and stitches having to be re-sewn. Using Quilters Grid Interfacing to piece the fabric squares above was done WITHOUT RIPPING OUT ONE SEAM! Ever.

Remember in a previous post where I described the necessity of cutting accurately so seams would nest and line up perfectly? And no matter how perfect the cut and alignment, if a consistent 1/4″ seam isn’t sewn then the whole block will look a mess?

Now is the time to stop stressing and put those old rules on a shelf and save for later. Time for new rules, a new technique and a whole new product to make it happen. So first…

 

New Rules:

  • The 2″ square (or whatever dimension you desire) does not have to be exactly perfect but it does need to fit within the grid lines.
  • What is most important is the fold along the grid line – not the sewing – that ensures accuracy
  • Basting is replaced with fusing. A couple of seconds with a hot iron and the interfacing is semi – permanently fused to the back of the fabric. This allows you to move the entire piece from ironing board to sewing table and then move the piece around the machine as you sew without the worry of it shifting or moving out of place.

The Product:

Pellon 820 Quilters Grid

This is a thin fabric made from 100% polyester. It has a rough side where the adhesive is infused and a perfect 1″ grid printed over the entire surface that is visible from both sides.

A Closer Look:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen what is often referred to as a “Postage Stamp” quilt?

 

 

Typically, it consists of a series of many, if not hundreds, of tiny 1″ or 1.5 “(“postage stamp” size) squares of fabric sewn together in neat rows. I can’t say for sure if quilter’s grid was used here but if it were me making a postage stamp quilt top like the one shown above (from RedPepper Quilts), quilter’s grid interfacing would be the only way I would be able to get every square to line up so straight and perfect.

 

Up to this point I’ve discussed the positives of this product however, there is a downside that it worth a mention – using an interfacing such as this does alter the drape of the fabric. The nature of this product is to reinforce or strengthen fabric and as a result will cause the fabric to stiffen up. If a quilt’s drape or, ability to bend and fold easily (say, for snuggling) is most important then piecing small squares using this grid may not be the best option.

For many of us who quilt, and especially those starting out, we may not be at point where this level of perfection is necessary and would rather take the philosophy: “Better Finished Than Perfect”!

If you still want to use the quilter’s grid interfacing and more drape is desired, then I would suggest using larger fabric squares (6″ or so) or even rectangles! This will allow more space between the stitch lines and the end result isn’t a fabric panel that is too firm and stiff to work with.

 

The Technique:

Place a 2″ square of fabric within (4) grid squares on the back (rough, adhesive side) of the interfacing. Place a non-stick pressing cloth on top and using a hot iron, press, holding the iron n place 3-4 seconds. Raise the iron and move to the next section pressing (hold down only – do not “iron” or slide the iron from one section to the next). This process will adhere the rough side of the interfacing to back of the fabric.

 

 

More Magic!

In my example, I have fused (40) 2″ squares into a rectangle measuring (8) squares wide x (5) squares deep. I find it easier to start with the short rows.

Step 1

– Fold ON the grid line. Keeping the fabric WITHIN the grid lines allows for the fabric to fold almost automatically and exactly on this line. Once the entire row is folded, stitch a 1/4″ seam from the folded grid line. (It’s not visible in this picture but I’m using a 1/4″ presser foot with a “fence” along the right side to ensure a consistent 1/4″ seam.

– Continue stitching each of the short rows.

 

 

Step 2

– Iron the seams so they lay flat.

* Note* I’m not sure if anyone else does this but when I’m using smaller 2″ squares, after stitching, I will trim 1/8″ from the fold line. It significantly reduces the amount of excessive bulk and makes it so much easier to iron flat when finished. If larger squares of fabric are used, this step could be eliminated.

 

 

You can see in the image above the squares have been stitched along the shorter rows and the corners don’t perfectly line up but there is nothing to worry about! Once the perpendicular lines are stitched every corner will magically match up!

Step 3

– Fold again along the lines perpendicular to the ones you just stitched.

The image below illustrates the fabric’s appearance after the short vertical rows are stitched. I used clips to keep the rows straight while stitching the longer horizontal rows.

 

 

Should this be your first time using this technique, don’t worry if things look a bit weird.  A quick glance at the panel before ironing it flat will make you think you’ve done something wrong! However, don’t let the appearance discourage you – iron it all out and the result is…magical!

And This is Just the Beginning!

Once you’ve completed all the steps above the result is a fabric panel that you can do most anything with. Depending on the size needed and the specific project, this could be just one of five panels that you could sew together to make a tote bag.

In my example below I quilted a solid gray fabric to the back. In the interest of time I took a couple of short cuts by rounding the corners and sewing a remnant of store bought piping around the entire perimeter to give it a proper finished look.

The result – a nice sized mug rug!

 

 

Had I  more time to spend, I could have finished the edge by attaching binding. Another option – sandwich with a backing fabric and batting, turn inside out, top stitch and the result could be used as a hot pad on your counter top or as an over sized pot holder.

Looking at this I am able to envision a multitude of possibilities! I can also see this as a front panel for a pillow. Simply add a contrasting border, backing fabric, piping around the edges then fill with poly- fill or a pillow form!

What ideas do you envision with this technique and this product?

If you have used Pellon 820 Quilters Grid and this or a similar technique before please leave your comments and / or pictures below!

I’m continually inspired by the creativity shown by readers like you!

 

 

8 thoughts on “The Magic Trick to Sewing Seams That Line Up Perfectly – Everytime!

  1. Matt's Mom says:

    This is magic!  I have made many a quilt, and all are far from perfect.  You’d think with cutting the same exact size square that everything would end up nice and even.  I love this quilters grid!  I have not quilted in a while…guess I went thru a spurt where I make about 20 of them one right after the other, and kind of got burned out on making quilts.  This quilters grid seems like a marvelous idea!  Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Susan says:

      Thank you so much for your comments!  The quote “Better finished than perfect” certainly describes my quilts!

      Another secret I’ve discovered is in the machine itself.  It can be frustrating to spend time to cut and stitch accurately only to have a machine with poorly designed feed dogs that causes the fabric to be unevenly fed under the presser foot.  My machine doesn’t always grab the top and bottom fabrics at the same time resulting in unmatched corners…many unmatched corners.

      This grid eliminates that! 

      Maybe a yard or two of quilter’s grid will get you back into quilting again!

  2. Chris says:

    Thank you for this great post and for the tips on how to sew up seams to be perfectly lined up everytime. It is clear your grid method is a great way to ensure thatyou get itright everytime and you have expained it all so well. I will give it a try, fingers crossed…

  3. Dany says:

    Your article remains about my grandmother. She used to do all kind of magic things by swing pieces of materials. During the winter days she used to produce lots of new pieces, and she was giving them away like Christmas presents. Unfortunately, as a kid, I didn’t appreciate them, but now I really missed her items. It’s a pity that I didn’t learn myself.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you for your comment!

      Like your grandmother I had an aunt who made quilts – hundreds of quilts and as a kid I didn’t appreciate them either. 🙂  I too wish I had held onto at least one of them!

      As far as learning to quilt – you’re never too old to learn!  Just grab some fabric, cut it up and sew it back together!

  4. Linda says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’ve not yet used a Pellon 820 Quilters Grid but you’ve inspired me to give it a try. Lining up those seams is indeed challenging when you’re just starting out and can be a little discouraging. I love the adorable “mug rug” you’ve created and I think that might be an excellent project to try this product out on. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Susan says:

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for your comment! 

      The main reason I bought this quilter’s grid was to make a checker board patterned panel for a tote bag.  Instead I’ve made a lap quilt, a wall hanging, a shopping bag with larger 7″ squares and now this mug rug.  So much out there in the world inspires me and I’m glad I was able to provide you with a bit of inspiration as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.