Professional Longarm Machine Quilters

Keep Me in Stitches by Julie Pettyjohn

Quilters' Journey and Tips

Measure Twice - and Use Quality Products

Measurements Matter



I joined a private Facebook group that quilts projects together, and we recently started a mystery quilt along. One evening while I was feeling especially comfortable and friendly with these women who are "friends" with the quotation marks (friends who make you feel warm, cozy, and accepted because you share one thing in common, even though you rarely or possibly have never met in person), I posted a confession. Da da dummmm. 

I confessed that I was not good at measuring.

In truth, this has bothered me. I want to be perfectly accurate when I piece fabric. I dream of loading a perfectly square quilt instsiead of one with irregular border sizes. But no matter how many times I measured, and how closely I watched my quarter-inch presser foot, my own quilts were a little wonky. I have felt like, "I'm just not good at this." There was no other explanation. If I lay out everything as well as I could, and I measured and measured again, and held everything tight while I cut, and the cut was still not perfect - then I am just not gifted at measuring and on this post I was confessing it. I figured I would get a few laugh emojis and that's all. No way. I started getting great feedback. These women really wanted to help me correct my measuring disability. I learned so much from these helpful and knowledgable women.

1. First, I need to listen - actually listen to my internal audio. When I thought to myself about my ruler, "These lines seem fat and difficult to see the fabric," I should not have accepted that it had to be that way. I should have stopped and thought, "This isn't right." It turns out, there are a lot of rulers out there, and we should be using one where we can see our fabric.

2. Use quality products. Creative Grids is a brand I can trust to be able to see the measurement, and they use nonslip grips so the rulers won't move as one cuts. I chucked my difficult-to-read ones and ordered several new ones. Expensive? Yes, a little, but better than not getting great results from expensive fabric and all my time wasted.

3) Measure your presser foot according to needle placement. Don't only rely on the tiny foot; get some stickers or painter's tape or stick-on ruler to add to your extension table to help guide the fabric as it advances toward the foot. This little extra attention started me sewing straight lines.

The old adage - measure twice, cut once - is a good one; however, you can measure till the cows come home, but if you have to guess where the fabric is because you can't see it, if your products are not quality, and if you are sewing crooked lines or inaccurately measured lines, you will get wonky squares and rectangles that compound when added to other wonky pieces.

These things are so very simple; yet, I wasn't doing them. I am now, and I am so happy that I no longer have to keep making excuses by saying I am a better quilter than a piecer - I can be both and be proud of the quilts I make. I also learned: Pay attention to the small things. And: Sometimes "friends" with the quotation marks really are exceptional, helpful people.

Julie PettyjohnComment