We officially get sewing this week!
First, get your favorite beverage and snacks set up. This week, my chocolate of choice is Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Caramels.*
Grab your pattern and fabrics, and cut out the pieces for Rey’s Staff (section 1). There are a lot of small pieces in this section, and I recommend that you lay them out on a design surface in their correct place (refer to p4) as you cut, rather than try to mark small things.
Just so you know, this section and Rey’s head (next week) are the most persnickety in terms of small pieces, so know that once you’ve made these, the fussiest stuff is out of the way!
Before you sew, make sure that you’re sewing an accurate 1/4” seam. Here’s a quick tutorial for testing your seam allowance. FYI, it’s not about the distance between the fabric edge and the needle, its about how much fabric the seam takes up once it’s been pressed – a subtle distinction that makes a huge difference! Take a few minutes to do the seam test at the end (don’t worry about the foot I use) – you’ll be grateful later when everything has to fit together. Scant seams leave you with a larger block, which isn’t a tragedy here as most of the sections can withstand being trimmed back if needed. A fat seam, however, will leave the seam-heavy blocks coming out smaller in proportion to the simpler sections, and there’s not really a good fix for that!
Another tip that will help you with accurate seam allowances is to use a fine weight thread for piecing. A finer thread will take up less room in the seam as you press the fabric around it (yes, it does make a difference!). You will also wind far more of a fine thread onto your bobbin, which means fewer bobbin changes! My thread of choice is Aurifil 50wt in a middle value gray (#2606).
If you happen to be moving between machines while you make this project, check out this tutorial from Mandy Leins on maintaining a consistent seam allowance across different machines.
If you feel like you might wiggle the small pieces while sewing them, I recommend glue basting them. A smidge of washable glue will hold everything accurately together while you sew. Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies has a great tutorial on glue basting, and she sells microfine tips to make it easy. These pieces are small enough that I would use liquid glue over a glue stick, mainly because dragging the glue stick over small pieces can distort them.
So let’s get sewing!
I start by making rows from the pieces. I take the pieces for just ONE row off the design wall, sew and press them, then put them back onto the wall. It might seem like a lot of taking and putting, but I find it keeps things straight and I get less mixed up, especially if there are distractions afoot! Bonus: if you wear a fitness monitor, you’ll find you’re getting some extra steps in!
I usually recommend pressing towards the darkest fabric, but I feel strongly that if the fabric won’t show through, then press in the direction that is easiest to make lay flat, or that fights back at you the least. In my quilt I’m working with Kona Cotton, which is quite meaty, so if I need to press towards the light to make a seam lay flat, I won’t fret about it.
Finish making the rows.
When putting the rows together, I sew one seam and press it before moving to the next, rather that sew the whole thing together before pressing. With small pieces like these, it makes for more accurate pressing, and less stretching and distortion.
And the section 1 is done! Put it aside safely (we wont touch this again until the final assembly).
See you next week!
* This week’s chocolate! Yum! (and I’ll be showing you different chocolate every week, too!) I love chewy caramel, and this one is great. It’s a struggle not to binge it!