19 February, 2007

Take A Good Look At Your Feet...

... your presser feet, that is!

These quilt blocks, Ohio Star Surrounded, are this month's BOM blocks from my LQS. Aren't they pretty? I'm doing both colorways, one to keep and one to give to my daughter. There are 53 pieces in each block this month. That's a LOT of pieces with no room for the piecing being "off", not even one little bit!

(The following tip was given to me by a workshop instructor* and it really works!)

When I need to piece, precisely, I change the foot on my machine. I prefer to piece everything on an older model Bernina, my thirteen-year-old 1630. Normally I use a straight stitch throat plate and a #37, 1/4" patchwork foot. It's my preferred combination for most all piecing tasks. I change things up a bit when I have to fit this many pieces, accurately, into a 12.5" square. I use my zig-zag throat plate and the #34C foot. I move my needle position all the way to the right, and then click one position back toward the center. I line up the right side of this foot with the raw edge of the pieces and proceed. This foot makes more surface contact to the left of the needle between the bottom of the foot and the small pieces coming together. Because I am using a zig-zag throat plate, and there's a larger opening contained there for the beginning of each edge to be "gobbled" by the needle's push, I always sew onto a scrap of fabric when I start and finish each row:This foot provides me with consistent, even results every time. (I know what you're thinking... "why wouldn't she use this foot/throat plate ALL THE TIME... doesn't she concern herself with accurate seam allowances whenever she's piecing?") I am happiest sewing with a straight stitch throat plate and the patchwork foot, the stitch quality (to my eye, at least) is straighter, better. My blocks sew up true and square. But, when I need to sew many triangle units, so many small pieces with bias edges, I make this switch and haven't been disappointed at all; it's more work to set up, initially, but well worth it. Dig around in your accessory box and see if you have other options that might work for you. Sew a line, measure your seam allowance, move the needle accordingly (never assume you're sewing a 1/4"... there are just too many variables). I don't know if this combination of a #34C with the needle moved as I've described above will work for every Bernina, you'd have to make your own adjustments for your individual machine. Go ahead, take a good look at your feet... you may just find a wonderful surprise waiting... I did!
Life is Good!

*Paula Reid, machine quilting instructor, suggested this foot/piecing method... I am deeply grateful!


meggie said...

I love your colour choices- the top one for me!

The bird feeder looks great, & you are lucky to have it where you can admire it all day.
Thank you for your kind wishes on my blog.

CONNIE W said...

Mrs. G: It's great when a system works so well. Sounds like you received great advice. Your piecing looks excellent.

Helen said...

Lovely blocks. I have a 1963 Singer 201 which only sews a straight seam and it is great. The seam quality is much better than my new Elna.

quiltkeemosabe said...

Your blocks look great and I know with you in charge, they'd be accurate. What kind of a foot is a 34 C???? I mean what is it usually used for?

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

I've been sewing on an older model Bernina since January (it was my Nana's machine) and I have noticed that with the zig zag plate the bobbin thread does a tiny zig and zag here and there. I've fiddled and fiddled to no avail so it is good to know that it isn't just me that thinks this - perhaps these Bernina's think zig zag plate means to zig zag! Your blocks are looking great!