Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tip Tuesday! To Pin or Not to Pin?

Welcome to

"Tip Tuesday!" - To Pin or Not to Pin?

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give due credit whenever possible.

These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired! 

To paraphrase Shakespeare... 

To Pin or Not to Pin?
That is the question...often asked by quilters.

There are many ways in which to answer this question. 

First of all, have you ever had any blocks that have intersecting points that look like this? There is no mistaking it. The center just isn't right.

What about this? This isn't as bad as the first picture, but it is still noticeable and it would bother me.

If you do not have intersections that look like this, then keep doing whatever it is that allows you to be "spot on" with your piecing. Congratulations! Please share your secrets with us.  :-)

But, if you are like many of us, intersections like those pictured above happen. And sometimes they happen much more frequently than we'd like to admit. 

So, how can you avoid these mismatched seams? 

Accurate and strategically placed pins may be just the thing you need. I will note here that I do not advocate sewing over pins! 

Never, never, never do I suggest sewing over pins! Not only can it bend or break your pins, but it can potentially break them and cause injury from a flying piece of metal. 

You can also do damage to your sewing machine needle and machine in general. Just think about this a minute. If you sew over pins and hit them, little shards of metal can be chipped off and make their way into your sewing machine. This could cause a real problem down the road, especially if you have a computerized machine. 

So, just to reiterate, I do NOT sew over my pins, no matter how many I've used and have to stop to remove them from the fabric.

Ok, the public service announcement is over and we'll head back to our regularly scheduled program. 

Below are a few pictures of my favorite ways to pin to avoid problem intersections like those pictured above.

First of all, it is important to stabilize the seam allowances so they don't get caught and flipped over, causing potentially weakened seams and bumpy or bulky intersections. Can you see that issue in this picture? What a pain! I almost always rip this out and resew if this happens to me. (My seam ripper and I are on very friendly terms.)  :-)

So, as I was saying, the way you pin is important. Notice in the picture below that the seam allowances are going in opposite directions. That is good! That will allow them to nest against each other and result in less bulky seams and more accuracy. The pin in this picture is on the left side, holding down the seam allowance that is facing to the left (on the bottom). 

I generally try to arrange it so that my seam allowance on the top is the one that would be facing left in this picture, so that it is easier to control the bottom seam allowance. Unfortunately, sometimes that is just not possible as was the case when I was sewing this block. In other words, I want to try to have the top seam allowance pointing toward the needle and the one that the presser foot/needle will hit first, thus "pushing" the seams together nicely.

If that is not possible, I pin the intersection like this. This will hold the bottom seam allowance in place and stop it from being flipped over or separated from the nesting spot.

Here is another way to achieve the same result. Pin at an angle to stabilize the bottom seam allowance and to hold the nesting points secure.

Pinning either of these two ways usually solves any issues I have with mismatched intersections. But there could be other problems that pinning may help resolve.

If you have the issue, as I sometimes do, that by the time I get to the end of a large block or a row, the top fabric has shifted and the ends do not match up properly. I've tried making sure there is a pin very close to the end of the fabrics, along the sewing line, but that didn't always take care of the problem. 

So now I add an additional pin along the bottom or end of the block/row. Notice in the picture that I've weaved the pin in order to allow it to stabilize and secure a larger section of the fabrics. 

This has been very helpful and I don't have the problem any more!

And look. A beautifully sewn intersection!

Do you have any special pinning tricks you like to use? I'd love to hear about them.


Michele T said...

Thanks for the tips!!! I always use pins but I can see where and how I can place them, based on your tips, that will give me more accuracy. I am still trying to wrap my head around how to sew the intersecting pieces so that they snuggle up closer as opposed to pull apart.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Wonderful tip today. I think what pins you use make a difference too. I am a fan of the long, fine glass head pins - they make every thing lay flat where as some of the heavier pins create a 'lump'. And I hate to sew over pins.

knittingbrow said...

Do I recognize that top photo illustrating poorly lined up points?

What I hear is "I'm glad you did that." :)

Good tips today.