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Matching points and diagonals

Did I mentioned that Im absolutely thrilled to be joining on the Back to School Blog Hop, organized by Sam Hunter? Ive been having such a wonderful time reading everyone elses tips and tricks, and cant wait to see whats in store for the next few weeks.

When Sam asked me what topic Id like to cover, I immediately thought of sharing a little bit about matching points and diagonals.  Im sure there are a million and one ways to go about this, but this is the method I learned from Amy, who teaches at the Cambridge Quilt Shop almost.  I ended up tweaking it a tiny bit.

To start with, I shorten my stitch length from 2.5 to 2.0.  This makes everything much easier later on when you go to stick pins through the seams, but Im getting ahead of myself.  I also recommend using a sharp needle, as opposed to a universal, and changing it out after four to six hours of sewing.

For this method, youll need some sort of marking tool.  Personally, I like disappearing markers (just make sure to read the instructions before using, and not to iron over your markings, as this can set the ink) for most fabrics, and I use chalk for darker hues and busy prints.  Youll also need a measuring tool.  I find my 6 x 24 ruler too cumbersome for this, but a shorter quilting ruler, an Add-A-Quarter ruler, or a quarter inch seam gauge all work well.

I use a scant quarter inch seam when I piece, so for the purposes of this tutorial, Im assuming you do too. Mandy put together a wonderful how-to on getting seams spot on, so for the sake of brevity here, Im going to refer you to her site if you havent already taken a look.

The key to this technique is marking one quarter inch from the edge at your corners, and at seam intersections: essentially, finding the point at which the seam youre about to make will sit.  The marking tool you use will affect how close you can get your mark to that quarter inch point.  A marker with a fine tip can usually get right up on it, while chalk may be a little further out.  Its worth taking a note of the distance between your mark, and the point you were aiming for.

Matching two diagonal pieces

To join two equally sized, diagonally cut pieces, line your ruler or seam gauge up along the edges, and mark a quarter inch from each of the corners.  I tend to do as much marking up front as possible, but if you only want to mark the corners youre joining immediately, thats completely fine.

This is the point where its handy to remember that little fraction over the quarter inch your mark is at.  Even if youve managed to get your mark right up against your ruler, its still slightly outside the seam allowance.  On the edges youre joining, push pins straight through your pieces at your corners at the mark youve made.  Because your markings will always be slightly outside of the seam line, place the pin through just inside the inner corner of the x.  If youve used a thicker marker, or a chalk pencil that didnt get right up to your ruler, you might want to nudge the pin the same distance away from the lines youve drawn.  Next, pin the fabric as usual, making sure youre holding the original pins perpendicular to the fabric, so that everything remains aligned.

Sew your pieces together with a scant quarter inch seam, removing pins as you go.  Seams can either be pressed open or closed, although personally I find it easier to work with open seams.  The method is the same regardless of how you choose to press.

Matching Diagonals in Strips

Simply mark a quarter inch away from the edge of your fabric at each seam line.  As before, insert a pin just inside of the mark youve made, through both pieces, right sides together.  Pin well, particularly around the seam, then sew as usual, taking care that your seams dont get caught up in your feed dogs.

Press as desired.  Here are two pieces I put together.  In the left piece, Ive pressed the seams to the side, and in the right Ive opened them.  The edges of the block are not perfectly straight, because fabric stretches so much along the bias even when its starched.  If the edges are slightly off at this point, its not a problem; youll still be able to create a straight seam when you add the next row on.


When matching point, its not necessary to mark the fabric at all.  Insert a pin at the bottom of the innermost point, and match at the same place on the piece youre attaching.  Its best to be looking at the right side of the fabric when youre setting these pins in, as the point youre aiming for doesnt always line up exactly on the back.

Pin as usual, taking care to make sure you aligned points dont shift, and sew, making sure that the seams stay flat.

Now, you should have diagonals and points that almost perfectly match up.

Dont stress if theyre not perfect.  Once youve put the top together, theyll hardly be noticeable, and even less so once youve added some texture with the quilting.