Strip-quilt tutorial: sew straighter strip sets with this one trick

Quilting 101: sewing straighter strip sets

If you’ve made a quilt that relies on strip piecing, you know the technique is a wonderful time-saver.

But have you ever noticed that, as you add strip upon strip, your seams—which started  straight as Cupid’s arrow—begin to bend like an archer’s bow?

Fabulously Fast QuiltsBowing, bending strip sets can often lead to trouble down the road in the form of wavy seams, curvy edges, and wonky measurements. So quilter Amy Smart—famed blogger at Diary of a Quilter and author of one of Martingale’s TOP FIVE best sellers of 2014, Fabulously Fast Quilts—came up with four good habits to practice that will help your strip sets stay stick straight.

Tip #3 is such a simple but smart trick; try it the next time you’re strip piecing!

Easy trick for straighter strip sets

from Fabulously Fast Quilts
by Amy Smart

Strip piecing is a great technique for saving time. Here are four important tips to help you make the most accurate strip sets:

How to sew straight strip setsCut the strips accurately.

Use consistent scant ¼" seam allowances.

Where possible when piecing strips together, sew successive seams in alternating directions. For example, sew the first two strips together top to bottom, but stitch the third strip from bottom to top (see right). Alternating your stitching direction decreases bowing (curving into an arc) and stretching out of shape within the strip set.

Carefully press the seam allowances to one side. I prefer pressing to one side, rather than pressing seam allowances open, because opposing seams will nest nicely at intersections. And those nested intersections will make it easier to keep seams aligned in your patchwork. After you’ve pressed to one side, press (don’t iron) the seams again from the right side, to make sure the pieced strips are fully open and flat.

Check out the quilts you can create using all of Amy’s smart sewing tips in Fabulously Fast Quilts. Projects are categorized by four—you guessed it!—fabulously fast techniques.

Moroccan Tile quilt Technique #1: strip piecing
“Moroccan Tile”

Using lots of negative space and turning blocks on point gives this variation on a Four Patch block a new look. It’s perfect for precut 2½" strips (aka Jelly Rolls).

Make “Moroccan Tile” plus 2 more strip-pieced quilts in Fabulously Fast Quilts >
Roundabout quilt Technique #2: quick corners

This pretty-in-pink quilt is easier to make than it looks! Create this design with classic Snowball and Nine Patch blocks.

Sew “Roundabout” plus 2 more quick-corner quilts in Fabulously Fast Quilts >
Crossing Guard quilt Technique #3: slick slicing
“Crossing Guard”

Construct just two repeating blocks in this fresh quilt; let your fabric placement create various design illusions.

Create “Crossing Guard” plus 2 more slick-slicing quilts in Fabulously Fast Quilts >
Modern Buzz Saw quilt Technique #4: stack, slice, and shuffle
“Modern Buzz Saw”

This version of a traditional Buzz Saw block works great with precut 10″ squares (Layer Cakes) and produces no waste.

Make “Modern Buzz Saw” plus 2 more stack, slice, and shuffle quilts in Fabulously Fast Quilts >

Get a dozen of Amy’s fresh quilt patterns for just $16.99 (or $11.99 for the eBook).

Want more strip-friendly quilts?

We’ve got more. Lots more!

Strip Savvy All About Strips Remarkable Rectangles
Scrap-Basket Beauties Scrap-Basket Sensations Scrap-Basket Surprises
Scrap Quilting Strip by Strip Strip-Smart Quilts Strip-Smart Quilts II

How often do you use strip piecing in your quilts: always, often, sometimes, or haven’t had the chance yet? Tell us in the comments!

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