Behind the Seams: Improve Your Pressing Techniques with Jewel Mine

Quilt smarter, not harder! Jewel Mine, by Kymberley Pease, is a gorgeous pattern, and we decided to go “behind the seams” to show you some smart quilting techniques—and specifically some pressing techniques—that you’ll find useful for this quilt pattern, and plenty of others.

Quilting Technique #1: Laminate That Template!

Acrylic templates are handy, but laminating your paper templates is a great quilting technique, too!

Rather than tracing the template shape onto paper or using template plastic, Anissa Arnold, associate editor at the Quilting Company, likes to photocopy her pieces and then laminate them. It makes them sturdier for tracing and isn’t too expensive. “A pack of 200 laminating sheets was maybe $13, and the laminator itself was, like, $20 at most,” she says. “If I went into a copy shop to have one template laminated, it cost $4, so this works for me.”

Due to the size of the template piece, Template A needed to be mirrored. Anissa did that and then made sure to transfer important marks, such as the seam line, on her laminated template.

Not all magazines have pull-out patterns, like Quiltmaker, so you often need to mirror your templates. When you do, make sure you transfer important marks. Anissa used purple ink to mark her seam line across the entire template.

One more thing! If you’re laminating your templates, use them to draw your cut line. Don’t cut along the template, or you’ll shave off bits of plastic until it is no longer accurate.

Quilting Technique #2: Positioning and Making First Cuts

Anissa matches up her seam line, and flips the template. She needs both types of triangles—with pink on bottom and pink on top—so this is the most efficient way to work.

When positioning your template, place it on top of your strip set so that you can accurately match it to the seam line.

Mark your first triangle. For your next triangle, flip your template, and align the edge of the template along the already-marked line. That way, one cut does double duty!

Take a moment to think about how to cut your shapes. Anissa began to cut her shapes, and then decided it would be far more efficient to cut the long line.

Think about your cuts! Anissa realized it would be a lot more efficient to make the long cuts first.

Quilting Technique #3: Use Layers for Mirrored Shapes

Cut two shapes at once—B unit and B Reverse unit–by folding your strip wrong sides together.

The pattern calls for setting shapes at the top and bottom edges of the quilt, the B unit and the B Reversed unit. Instead of flipping the template, Anissa folded a strip wrong sides together, marked her template, and cut. This produced a B and a B Reversed unit each time.

Extra tip! Give the wrong side of the strip a quick spray of starch, fold, and press. The starch not only helps remove wrinkles and stabilize the fabrics, it also acts as a light glue to keep the layers from shifting apart as you draw and cut!

Quilting Technique #4: Use Your Fingers!

Instead of marking match points, Anissa folded the Strip Set units and Setting units in half to find the center on each, and creased them. She matched those creased points, and carefully pinned.

Triangles rarely match perfectly corner to corner. Instead, find the center by measuring and marking, or use the age-old quilting technique of folding and creasing!

Quilting Technique #5: Press to Nest or Clip to Fit?

Even with angled seams, it’s useful to have the seams going in the opposite direction in order to nest. It will help your units match nicely where the seams meet, giving you perfect joins. But should you press the seams in opposite directions, or clip them?

That’s quite a few seams coming together! With that many seams stacked, Anissa would be sewing through six layers of fabric—not great for the machine, and it leaves a lump and increases the chances of points not matching up.

For the Setting units (B and B Reversed), Anissa decided to press the B Reversed units toward the Strip Set unit.

Here’s where pressing techniques come into play! Press one row up and one row down! Anissa decided to press all of her B reversed units (the Setting Triangles) toward the Strip Set unit.

Where do your pressing techniques land? Would you press again, or clip? Because the Strip Sets were already pressed—and it would take way too much time to determine which seam need to land where when re-pressing—Anissa chose to clip her Strip Set units’ seams. A little more than a ¼” in from the edge, Anissa clipped, right to the stitching. This allows the seam to lay flat where it needs to, without twisted seams or excessive re-pressing.

Re-press all those seams? Nope! Anissa determined that clipping seams as needed was a more efficient quilting technique.

Pressing your seams open is another option, one that can be very effective, but time-consuming.

Quilting Technique #6: Pin Strategically

Use fine pins to hold those seams where you want them, and also secure the end tip, which is where ¼” seams like to wander off track…

If you want your points to match, pin. Using fine tip pins, Anissa makes sure her seams meet where the ¼” seam will run, and then pins that in place. She used three pins: One at both seams and one about a ¼” from the end.

Quilting Technique #7: Ease That Bias

Pin the end point and then ease the biased edges under the presser foot so that the it comes together nicely at the end.

That pin at the end tip? That’s important. Both the pink and green patches are cut at an angle, so those edges are bias, prone to stretching. Pinning establishes where the ends need to meet; as you sew, ease the layers under the presser foot to ensure an even feed at the end.

The finished unit comes together so nicely, especially when you have efficient quilting techniques to bring into play!

In addition to Anissa’s pin-and-ease method, lots of spray starch and handling biased edge pieces minimize stretching.

Happy Quilting!


Like the pattern? Check out Quick Quilts magazine for more like it!

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