I will be doing 12 blocks, using 6 different blacks to make two blocks each. The tan will all be the same throughout, and the gold/oranges will be scrappy.
Each block will finish at 3 3/4". Aren't they cute?
Foundation paper piecing yields very accurate results, but I won't be addressing that method here. I still don't like removing the papers, but I use this method often for minis, because it is so precise.
When NOT using foundation piecing, here are some of the things I do.
Mini Quilt Tips
1. Make sure you are sewing with an accurate 1/4" seam. Being one or two threads off can make an obvious difference when dealing with such tiny pieces.
2. Pin profusely! I am not one who generally pins things together before sewing when working on large quilts, but I am completely opposite with minis. Keeping pieces perfectly matched up as you sew is critical with little blocks. I use slim, glass-headed pins, and I actually sew over them much of the time.
Which brings me to my next tip...
3. Slow down! If you are a speed demon, this may be difficult for you, but sewing at a slower rate allows you to maintain control and keep the seams straight. This is so much more obvious when going small. It also allows you to sew over slim pins, which keeps seams matched up.
4. Press consistently. With larger quilts I often just finger press my seams until I get a block finished, but with these small pieces, they don't finger press very well. Sometimes it even takes a damp press cloth with the hot iron to get a seam to flatten.
5. Square up each of the units as you go. If you are making HSTs or 4-patches, or 9-patches, etc., to go into blocks, square them up before assembling the blocks. Again, if you are off a thread or two it can make a big difference in little blocks. Where possible, I make the units a little larger and trim them down. This works great for HSTs and 4-patch blocks, but not so much for 9-patch blocks.
6. Trim seams where needed. For many patterns I leave my seams at 1/4", but when working with very tiny pieces (like the 3/4" 9-patch blocks above), the 1/4" seams in the middle of the block have nowhere to go if they stay 1/4". They just pile up in the back and create bulk. In such a case, I trim them to 1/8" as I go. Some people just sew 1/8" seams, but I find that more difficult to keep even.
7. Even if you take all of these precautions, be prepared for a little bit of wonkiness--and embrace it! When working on a small scale, every wobble will show, but it is part of the charm of tiny quilts.
8. Keep your binding small to keep it as close to scale as possible, and don't use the double fold--too much bulk. I cut my binding strips to 1", sew them to the front of my quilt with a hair under a 1/4" seam, and fold it under on the back side and stitch down by hand. It is a very snug fit to get it around to cover the stitching line on the back. I use binding clips on large quilts, but on my minis I pin it down with the slim glass-head pins to keep the binding precisely in place--especially on the corners. This little quilt (the squares are each 1") has the binding sewn on the front and pinned down on the back, ready for hand stitching.
9. One last thing, many miniature quilt makers like to press their seams open to lessen bulk. Before doing so, consider how you want to quilt the pattern. If you want to truly stitch-in-the-ditch, you will not want to press your seams open, or you will just be stitching over your threads--there isn't really a ditch if the seams have been pressed open. If you SITD by stitching just to the side of the seam, it won't be an issue.
If you have any other tips about sewing in miniature, I'd love to have you share them in the comment section.
(ETA--tips below about needle, thread, and stitch length are worth noting. I haven't been one to change needle size, though I should give it a whirl. I know many people do use a smaller than normal needle. I generally use Aurifil 2-ply, 50 wt thread. It is fine and strong and doesn't lay heavily in the seams. I have used the Mettler thread mentioned, too, but I do seem to get more lint with Mettler threads. My stitch length is set at 2 as well. Thanks for sharing your tips, Tina W.)
I've added another page to the tabs at the top. I've had many questions about the way I did my yardstick gallery, so I've made a page showing my method, and linked to Ann Hermes' blog page where the idea was spawned. I don't do mine exactly like hers, so you can see the two methods, if you are interested, and decide what works for you. Have you a favorite method for hanging small quilts?
DH is camping with scouts tonight, so it is a late night blogging and sewing for me.
Until next time,