Tiny piecing is a challenge some fear, but with these tips, you’ll be ready to face any mini quilt or intricate block with confidence!
Prepare the fabric
Pre-starch your fabrics using your preferred starch (starch, sizing, Best Press, ect.) to ensure the fabric stays the same size and is easier to handle.
Set the sewing stage
Use a fresh Microtex (sharp) needle size 70/10. Switch to a straight stitch needle plate if your machine has that option. If your machine has speed control, adjust it to the slowest setting to begin. Set the stitch length small, around 1.8 mm or 14 stitches per inch.
If hand piecing, use a fresh sharp your preferred size and replace as they bend. Take small stitches, approximately 14 stitches per inch.
If rotary cutting, use one ruler, or multiples of the same brand/line for all cutting and to set a quarter inch on the sewing machine to assure accuracy across all steps.
If template cutting, use a hard template material that won’t change shape after repeated tracings, like plastic stencil sheets. If such material is unavailable, make several templates and replace as they warp. Try using scissors with serrated blades like Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect 7 1/2″ Scissors that grip the fabric as they cut, which stops the fabric from shifting while being cut.
Lay out your mini project with a Prop-it Quilt Block Easel. It’s like a design wall you can take with your from cutting table to sewing machine to ironing board.
Make it bigger
When machine piecing, it can be easier and more accurate to make units like Flying Geese, Half Square Triangles, Four-Patches, ect. ect., larger and then trim them to the correct unfinished size. For example, sew a 2″ unfinished Half Square Triangle and then trim it to 1 1/2″ square to make an accurate 1″ finished unit.
Note that this does not work on 9-Patches.
Press like a pro
Hand piecing doesn’t require pressing decisions mid-project, but machine piecing does, so consider your options with every seam. Take into account matching points and dealing with bulk which can push designs out of shape at such small sizes. A project may call for every pressing technique out there, including pressing seams open, locking seams, splitting and or clipping seams.
Match up all the little pieces with a dot of Roxanne Glue Baste-It to hold tiny pieces together. Apply in the seam allowance at a point that must match, give it a moment to dry, and sew with confidence.
When hand piecing, it may be easier to cut out pieces up to an inch larger to give the quilter something to hold onto while sewing and trim the seam after piecing.
Seam allowances create bulk quickly in tiny piecing and there are a few ways to deal with that. Seams can be trimmed down equally or staggered. Some quilters choose to stitch an eighth inch seam allowance to begin with and adjust the pattern sizes accordingly.
Measure, measure, measure
Check the size of each unit, each block, each row as you progress to catch size discrepancies before sewing them into the project. An eighth of an inch size difference adds up when the pieces are only an inch!
Do you have any questions about tiny piecing? Tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments!