Midnight Quilts…and what I learned about 1/4″ seams (and a giveaway too!)

Beyond the Grid

"Beyond the Grid"

I was reviewing a design round of Midnight Quilts by Lerlene Nevaril before it was published, and I had to make one of the quilts in it called Beyond the Grid.

This quilt created an illusion that I kept thinking about, and not only did I want to make it, I wanted to resize it for a queen size bed…making it the most challenging quilt I have sewn to date.  I have never done 1″ pieces, nor has every little piece had to be just so. While working on my project, the blocks came together well, but when it was time to put the sashing (with dreaded cornerstones)  onto the blocks, it didn’t line up. It wasn’t just a bit off, it was WAY off.  I kept adding up the math for the blocks and I kept thinking the instructions were wrong.

Lucky for me we have some great technical editors at C&T, including our Creative Director Gailen Runge. When I showed Gailen the quilt, she pulled out a ruler and started measuring.  To my happiness (about the book) and to my horror (about my sewing skills), Gailen said that the pattern was fine, and that I had not been quite as careful with my 1/4″ seams as I should have been. I was off by anywhere from 1/32″ to 1/8″ and when you add that up over 80 inches across, you get a messy set of cornerstones.

1/4" seams...or not so much

So if you look close, you can see where I’m off. But from far away, if we all squint, it is fine. Anyhow, I finished it, learned a lesson about needing to be a bit more precise (if I want to), and I get to give it to my friend Sherri for her birthday only a month late.

Sherri's Quilt

I find that no matter what I do, I am always learning…and for me, that is the most I can hope for because it keeps me happy. So take a few minutes to check out the book on our website or at your local quilt shop…you’ll love how Lerlene uses black and other dark fabrics. Click here to see a few more of her project quilts from the book.

Cover 10839Now for the giveaway…one lucky person will win a copy of Midnight QuiltsTo enter, leave a comment on this post telling us about your most epic quilting “fail.”

For a second entry, log in to your Amazon account and “like” this book, then come back here to leave a separate comment saying you did so.

Deadline to enter is Sunday, 4/22/12. One comment will be drawn at random to win…the winner will be contacted via email and listed here as an update to this post. Good luck and happy quilting!

4/23/12 UPDATE: Judy Forkner is our winner – congratulations!

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134 Comments

  1. Judy Norstrem
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I also checked like on Amazon.com

  2. Judy Norstrem
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    My failure is when I am free motion quilting and I start to lose it and made a mistake that all I have to do is stop with the foot pedal. I panic and just keep making it worse.

  3. SewLindaAnn
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I Liked the book on Amazon, and added it to my wish list. I looks interesting and I like that.

  4. SewLindaAnn
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    My epic quilting “fails” are always due to excessive steam/ironing. I know I need to just press but sometimes I get carried away because it looks so nice when steamed. I’ve had to “make it fit” many times because of it and finally just bought a no steam iron.

  5. Posted April 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    As long as your seams are consistent, either more or less than 1/4″, then your quilts should be okay. I just finished a top and all the squares are 12 1/4″ instead of 12 1/2″. So it worked out. I just made sure all the blocks are the same size. Carol

  6. MarciaW
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Something is wrong with a pattern when being off 1/16 or 1/32 of an inch is a mess up! LOL My biggest mess was my first quilt. I cut 4 ” squares and tried to sew them in single rows when making a “king sized” quilt. As I laid them out on the living room floor to assemble the rows, my father said that looking at the quilt made him seasick. Indeed, this quilt has lots of wavy rows and columns and unmatched seams. We didn’t have a quarter inch foot and I was sewing by “guess”. Still, the quilt is soft and comfy – and I’m proud that I designed, pieced, and hand quilted it.

  7. Sue Timpson-Mannell
    Posted April 21, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Funny – I have started to notice that when I talk to people, I don’t even realize it but I mentally put them into one of two categories: real quilters, and the rest of us.

    Always like talking with “the rest of us”, they are always so impressed by any little thing I do, lol. Whereas with real quilters, I’m always aware of my mistakes or making apologies for things I have tried.

    Hmmm, maybe I just to need to talk with just plain artists?

  8. Posted April 21, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I went to Amazon and liked the book also.

  9. Posted April 21, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I can never do 1/4″. It’s 1/8″ or over 1/4″. I made a quilt that my local quilt shop owner had hanging in her store. I loved it, so I bought the same fabric and charm pack and went right home and got to work. The middle was a large piece of one pretty fabric and then you sewed the charms together and made a few rows and attached them to each other and then in the end, you attach those to the middle piece of fabric. Wrong! My squares were off so much, 2 1/2″ on each side and 1 1/4″ on the top and bottom. So, I was exasperated and put the whole project in a tub and put it away. I sewed all my seams 1/8″. I usually do bigger than 1/4″ so I went so far the other way trying to make my seams smaller. I still can’t get the 1/4″ seam down let alone a scant 1/4″. I even had tape next to my foot that is 1/4″ and a 1/4″ foot but I am still way off. I have made over 20 quilts and have given most away, but no one I have given them to is a quilter, so no one is the wiser, but me, and I’m not wiser, just know better.

  10. Amy
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Reading what you all have to say has made me laugh out loud, realize I’m so not alone and given me hope to keep trying and some day that 1/4″ perfect seam will be within my reach. Thanks for all the great confessions.

  11. Posted April 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I came to quilting from dressmaking. I hated throwing away offcuts of fabric so I figured I would try patchwork. I should point out that I had never actually seen a quilt but it’s a pretty simple concept right? Just sew bits together in a pattern. I could do that. However I didn’t really want to use my best scraps for my first try. I decided to start with stretch velvet and sateen. I might have got away with that but as an ex-astrophysist I also thought it would be fun to make stars. 8 pointed stars, in 10″ blocks….. yeah not exactly a success. It sure taught me a lot though and 10 years on things work out much better. I think I still have the blocks around somewhere. Maybe I should try to actually finish the quilt now :)

  12. Cheri
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I was putting together a pinwheel quilt with bright patterns and tone on tone white fabric. I sewed all of my blocks and started to sew together my rows when I realized I had sewd 4 of the blocks backwards the seams of the patches were showing on top. Ihad to unsew 4 rows and then unsew the blocks and put it all back togethers. Needless to say what should have been a quilt in a day turned out to be a 3 day project. I will pay attention more closely the next time.

  13. B P
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Years ago, I made quilt-as-you-go- blocks for a log cabin quilt. My husband decided to help me by trimming the blocks. He must have held the scissors (yes, it was that long ago) at an angle because all the backings were smaller than the fronts. I decided it was too daunting a task for me to fix and finish. Perhaps it did get finished by someone who saw it at the thrift shop to which I donated the blocks!

  14. Jane P
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    My biggest oops was cutting only half the fabric from a quilt kit. I thought they were being very generous with the fabric! I immediately had a great idea for the scraps and cut them into smaller pieces for a tablerunner.

    I did end up with a nice tablerunner and a quilt with fabric from another line.

  15. Posted April 20, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    My biggest fail was in one of my first double-sized quilt. I was clueless really, only self-taught. I made my blocks for the quilt and didn’t know that I need to square up each block to the stated size. I sewed the blocks together and have since resewn seams that have come apart because the blocks weren’t the same size. Nothin’ like just git ‘r done!!!

  16. Lynn
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    My worst fail was with a baby quilt that had bouncing balls made of pinwheel blocks of various sizes cut into circles. I struggled getting the points to come together just right and the design looked great. Then I fused them on the background. The fusing medium I used made a VERY stiff group of balls – totally unsuitable for what was to be a cosy and soft baby quilt. So disappointed! Lesson learned: be sure of the fusing medium before applying to quilt.

  17. Jennifer P
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    My most horrible thing to happen is to have a completely finished, quilted and bound wall hanging quilt for my brother’s Christmas present….Then I washed it. The previously washed red Christmas background bled through the quilting stitches and the front had a marbled effect from the bleeding. I washed it several more times and the color finally faded, but I am always so careful about checking for bleeding fabric since then.

  18. Jennifer P
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I just “liked” the book on Amazon

  19. Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    When I first started quilting, my first quilt was a nine patch baby quilt. I tied it because I didn’t yet know how to quilt by hand. I guess I didn’t tie it close enough together or didn’t use the right batting or something. My son had some issues one night and I needed to wash the quilt the next day. You guessed it, it all balled up on the inside of the quilt. What a mess!

  20. Jamai
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Oh, this one is hard to pick THE most epic FAIL. I was attempting a pattern that had many, many triangles within 16″ blocks to make a bigger 9 block quilt. Well, the first (center) block came out just about perfect. So, I rationalized, the rest will be perfest too! NOT. Neglecting to sew, press, measure, trim at EACH step cost me so much time. I resolved to rip out each and every seam – I was so in love with this project – and take the pieces down to the individual components and try again. I have other UFOs, but this one is my personal challenge. Now, 18 months later, our guild has a “Better Done than Perfect” challenge that will help me pull it out and go again.

  21. Diann Cornell
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    My worst was trying to do something much too complicated for my first quilt. The blocks had y-seems and way too many pieces. The result was less than smooth.

  22. JoAnne T.
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I just went to Amazon and “liked” it!

  23. JoAnne T.
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    My epic “fail” happened a short time ago. I had made dozens of 12 1/2″ blocks for our Guild’s workshop. The blocks were a Rail Fence variation, all reds, whites and blues. At the workshop several tops were made from the blocks. The tops were basted and I took some home to quilt. When I finished quilting the first one, I laid it out to check for missed safety pins.

    To my horror I saw that the way I had placed the color strips in two of the blocks made them look a little like swastikas! None of us had noticed. Eventually this quilt will go to a soldier and it won’t remind anyone of Hitler. I’m checking my blocks much more carefully now.

  24. Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    I’m realizing while reading these posts that I’m not such a bad seamstress after all. We all make mistakes but some worse than others for sure! Take those mistakes and cut them into strips for a scrappy quilt.

  25. Jane
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Went to Amazon and “liked” the book.

  26. Jane
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    My biggest fail was on a quilt that needed triangles in the corners of each block to make small blocks on point to connect the larger blocks. I though all I had to do was to match up the triangles and all would be well. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that none of the triangles were lining up. After using my seam ripper, I read a little more and this time I managed to line up all my blocks with perfect (almost) small blocks on point.

  27. Deb
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    One of my first quilts was a butterfly quilt I designed myself. 12 inch alternate butterfly and 4XTulip blocks on point. I figured all I had to do was design a pieced wing and mirror image it. So I made a number of beautiful 6 inch by 12 inch wings. Then realised I needed a body so there was 1 inch in between to add. What I had was six, 12 by 13 inch beautiful butterfly blocks. As the butterflys faced different directions I could not fit it all together. Throw away my beatiful blocks, no way! Solution, forget those quarter inch seams and make it square by pinching in extra here and there, and make it 12 x 12 or close enough. Looks good from long distance but not one I’d want to show off as an example of my work. The cat sleeps on it now and I learned how important those 1/4 inch seams were my design.

  28. Connie Cindle
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I just finished a quilt using the “Yellow Brick Road” pattern and made every mistake that I could make. When the pattern called to cut the 6 1/2 ” strips into 5″ inches, I decided it meant to cut the strip down to 5 inches on all sides. Needless to say, when I put that section together, I had to add 1 1/2″ the extra fabic.

  29. Lorraine Russell
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I finally got a 1/4″ foot for my machine and that has helped bunches. I had problems in cutting with ruler slipage. I got an AccuQuilt Go and use it but when I do need to use a ruler I have now used masking tape to attach small strips of the foam cushion material that you use in campers to keep dishes from sliding around. It really helps keep my ruler where I want it. My latest goof up was not having enough of a certain pattern of yellow that I was using in the binding of my quilt. I had pulled it from my stash and thought I had plenty only to find out, after alreay sewing on 2 sides, that I lacked about 6 inches of fabric. The local shops no longer carry this fabric and I doubt that it is still made. I fixed it by inserting a solid yellow in the middle of all 4 sides. My quilt has embroidered blocks so I also embroidered the solid yellow. Each quilt I make I learn something. This latest lesson is to make sure I have enough fabric before going forward with the quilt.

  30. Sue K
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    as long as you use the same 1/4″ it will all be fine. I have a great 1/4 foot with an edge on it. It helps alot!

  31. Mary Mac
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    C utting before I measure correctly. I still haven’t learned not to do this.

  32. Laura Barnes
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had a few quilt failures, but probably the worst was a baby quilts I was making for my nephew and his wife. The quilt was entirely pieced and layered ready for quilting. I thought I had the perfect motifs for the quilting so dutifully “inked” all the designs thinking that the ink wouldn’t show after I had quilted over it. Long story, short, the motifs didn’t look like I wanted them to, and because I had marked with a permanent pen I couldn’t salvage even with applique and had to scrap the whole quilt. Luckily, I had enough time and fabric left to remake the quilt and learned a hard lesson. Don’t mark your quilting designs with a permanent marker!

  33. Darla
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    yup! I liked it on Amazon too; would be fun to win the book…from the pics on Flicker, the one you’ve featured here is the true star of the book.

  34. Darla
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    my epic failing is when I didn’t like the fabric the shop owner picked out to replace one she didn’t have that was in the kit, but I let her talk me into buying it (she had a lot more experience than I did as I was a new quilter); then, when actually making the quilt I still didn’t like it, but put it in any way; then when I got the top done, I really didn’t like it but quilted it anyway, thinking a dark thread would tone down the bright white background of the fabric in an otherwise ‘muted’-tone quilt; then soaked in a tea bath; then a coffee bath and its the ugliest quilt I’ve ever made; good for a picnic, though, as no grass or food stains will show…lol…lesson learned! If you don’t like it, don’t put the fabric in the quilt; to trust my own gut reaction!!

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