Monday, July 30, 2012

BCQ Tutorial - Dealing with Long Seams

One of my readers emailed me and asked how to handle long seams in crazy quilting...how to avoid having them, and how to handle them if you do get some. So, I'm sharing my response just in case someone else might wonder that too...so here goes.
Beginner Crazy Quilting (CQ) Tutorial
Dealing with Long Seams and
Problem Piecing Areas
There are at least a dozen ways to piece a block, but certainly one of the most common is the "flip-n-sew" method. Usually, it begins with a five sided piece of fabric...but that is not a "must". 
 The method gets it's name because other fabrics are added to the center piece...one piece at a time by attaching the next fabric then "flipping it up". Then the next piece, etc. until all sides of the center have fabric attached.
This can create some long seam lines as fabrics are added, especially on larger size blocks.
So, is not a favorite method of all. It is however one of mine, because it is super fast!
Here is a typical block. I'm sure you've experience the tiny sliver of fabric for #2 and the long seam on the opposite side for #5. 
The First Help is...make sure the middle piece is not too tiny...as it will be even smaller once you've attached other fabric to it, and the less rounds you have...the less likely you'll have many long seams. If the center here had been a little larger, it would have helped reduce the #4 and #5 pieces, and given more space to the #2 piece. But, this is what a "standard" flip-n-sew often has. So, what to do about that huge #5 seam?
 
The Second Help...even if the block is "done" because the sides have fabrics attached (as in the first diagram) and the background base fabric is "full"...you don't have to stop piecing. Go back and piece across the corners (see 7, 8, 9, 10).
This shortens up any long seams somewhat by "chopping off" some distance from their ends.
One thing I don't do...although I know a lot of folks like to...is piece fabrics before attaching them. This increases the number of patches...but does not do a thing about long seams. And, I like open spaces and not so many fabrics. Also, long seams don't bother me.
Why you might ask? Well, they are simply design opportunities.
After the block is pieced, I study it first for long seams and for areas where seams meet in a "weird" place or there are just a lot of them.
These are my first areas to consider for lace motifs, button clusters, or ribbon flowers...to hide these weird intersections...or to break up a long seam...(see the circle and oval shown here...these ares are what I would consider trouble areas of this block...and they are now covered up...and the #5 seam just got much shorter!)
 Hope, this little lesson will help you not be so concerned with long seams when they can not be avoided...and helps you keep them to a minimum.  Use larger centers, Seam across all corners, Cover up problem areas first before you start any seam work (or at least know what you'll be doing there so you can skip over that area when doing your seams).
 
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