Matching Quilting Lines
Thank you all for the congratulations on Waiting For Spring! Many of you have been so encouraging while I was making it, so I owe you all a big thank you!
Many people ask me how I get my quilting to match perfectly at seam lines. Today, I'll show you how. It is important to realize before you begin that not every seam in every garment will match. You can match up most of them, but there comes a time when it's not going to happen. Be open to that idea and match up as many as possible and let the rest go. (This same principle applies to stripes and plaids, which you know I'm very fond of.) For instance, you might be able to match side seams, but not shoulder seams. Princess seams are another story. You'll probably be able to match the bottom portion below the shaping curve, but that's it. This garment happens to have princess seams, so it's a good example.
Just so you know, I had to take apart the jacket center back/side backs unit that I had posted a picture of a few days ago. This is a good example of a project in which constructing the entire back (or front) unit doesn't work. I should have known better, but tried it anyway. I didn't like the result, so I went back and used my tried and true method, which you'll see below. If pieces do not have a lot of shaping, then constructing whole units will work. If they do have a lot of shaping, such as princess seams, it definitely pays in the look of the final piece to use the following method.
While we're talking about major goofs, this post almost didn't happen today. I went to attach the other side back to the back and noticed that the neck darts on the center back were misaligned with the quilting diamonds. The right dart was off by 1/4". The darts were stitched in before the quilting and were slashed so that they'd open up flat on the wrong side. So, you know what that means. I had to start the back over from scratch. Ugh. Next time I'll pay better attention to the quilting lines and placement of previous stitched seams. I hope to be able to use some of that already quilted fabric for the hat or purse.
Here's what I do to get those seams matched up:
First, I quilt the largest piece, usually this is the back or center back piece, lining up the diamonds or lines with the center back:
I then place the pattern piece back onto the quilted piece and trace around the edges. This is to make sure the piece hasn't shrunk from the quilting. The entire line is then stay stitched and all the extra beyond the stay stitching is trimmed off. This locks down all the quilting lines and gets rid of all the threads ends, etc. that look messy. The piece above has already been stay stitched and trimmed.
[Editor's Note: I had no idea how hard this color would be to photograph! I apologize for the varying quality of the photos. Please bear with me while I find the best lighting for photographing this fabric!]
Next, I trim only the joining seam of the adjacent piece to the exact pattern cutting line. Notice that the adjacent piece is not quilted yet. I then stitch the two pieces together and press.
I then mark all of the lines on the new piece, matching them up with the previous piece in mirror image fashion. This is where the law of reflection comes in for those science geeks among you. Simply put, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, or the incoming angle (60 degrees) must equal the outgoing angle (60 degrees). You can see this in the close up photo below; the red pencil indicates the incoming or previously stitched line and the white pencil marks indicate the new line to be stitched.
Because this is a princess seam, I know that I'll only be able to match the quilting lines from about the waist down. I mark all the lines that must line up at the seam line first, then I measure and add in all the remaining lines in the portion of the piece that's not going to match. I also have to be mindful of the grainline of the fabric on the new piece. It is sort of a mess, but I do know which lines are the ones to stitch!
Lastly all the loose ends at the seam line will need to be pulled to the wrong side and tied off in preparation for the stay stitching/trimming process. This can be tedious, but is well worth the effort. This is the kind of stuff I do on the bus or on the rare occasion that I watch TV. This is what I probably do tonight while catching up on Dr. Who episodes and thinking of ways to protect my vintage Burda from whoever is planning on stealing it! BTW, that's not a stain in the first picture below, it's water to remove the quilting lines I penciled in.
Regarding that vintage Burda, Anne Frances mentioned that the advertisement with the woman ironing the petticoat might be for a starch or a stiffener of some sort. After taking a second look at it, it seems like is - there's a picture of a bottle of the product, and since the little girl obviously has a petticoat on under that dress, it makes perfect sense. She also said that UHU mostly manufactures adhesives and it's not too far of a stretch that they might have once made a product for stiffening petticoats.
Parting Shot: My design wall is coming in handy, even if not for the original purpose. I made it back when I made flat quilts (haven't made a bed style quilt in years!). It's just a wooden frame with a queen-sized batting stapled to it and then attached to the wall with L-brackets. It makes a good back drop for photo shoots, and more recently has become a bulletin board of sorts for Midnight Garden. I can pin large flat artwork or pattern pieces to it and not have to find a space to store them elsewhere.