Tuesday, February 28, 2017


My last post expressed my excitement over how quickly and (ah hum) accurately a whole bag of fabric samples became 6.5" squares cut on an Accuquilt Go! die cutting machine.
I planned to make a lap quilt with disappearing 4-patch blocks at our annual upcoming fiber group retreat.  I'm not a fan of sewing patches....though I have made some really complicated ones when I first began to quilt.

My skills have gotten worse and I've come to blame my patchwork inefficiencies on my poor cutting and inaccurate stitching 1/4" seams.  (a.) blaming the shadowy overhead lights in my studio (b.) allowing the ruler to slip during cutting (c.) disliking the process of sitting at the machine and not taking enough time to do it right!
So now that all the patches were cut, I happily set about making a few test blocks.  WHAT!?!?!  Are you kidding me.....yes there seems to be a patchwork devil on my shoulder.  None of patches match, all off by about 1/8" - 1/4".  

 How on earth does that happen?  I never cut more than 4 layers at a time, and all were pressed so blaming it on wrinkles that affected the cut isn't possible.
 After some stomping of my feet at the mere thought of recutting so many patches, I decided to sew them into 4 patch blocks anyway.  I matched the seam edges as best I could, allowing the outside edges to be uneven.  After pressing, the block was squared by placing my ruler's 6" marks on the seam lines and whacking the offending edges off.
Next I recut the 4-patch and made two disappearing 4-patch sample blocks.  Oh dear, I don't like this......basically, I'm not fond of large blocks.  The blocks measure 11" unfinished and (for the moment) are too big for my liking.  

My plan is to make a few more before I give into the impulse to cut them down to about 9" unfinished.  Good thing I took the time to make some test blocks!

Have any of you ever experienced inaccurate cutting with a die cut machine??  This is so typical of the problems I have with patchwork that it's actually laughable!!


Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

You need to have the lengthwise grain of the fabric leading into the machine to prevent stretching as it gets cranked through. The larger the patch the better chance the patches will be a little smaller in one direction if you run the fabric through on the crosswise grain. With small pieces it isn't a problem. When they get over 4" you have to be careful to set the grain in the right direction.

The Inside Stori said...

Wanda....thank you for your expertise......and I truly know this info is coming from an expert quiltmaker. I doubt any of us read the directions for these machines....my friend who owns them probably didn't either. I had almost talked myself into getting a machine, and after the discovery of the inaccurate cutting, I nixed the idea......but thanks to you.....now my pocket book may be leaner....they sure save time doing a task I dislike! Really, really appreciate your input as I'm sure my followers do too!

Julierose said...

I tell you, I have the exact same problems as you do, Mary. After all, fabric is not stable like wood, for instance, and it does stretch..some more than others-- which makes it very difficult to manage. I ignore exact dimensions and cobble my blocks together as best I can--life is waaay too short to sweat the small stuff--none of my quilts will ever be entered in any contests--just cuddled and loved...hugs, Julierose

margaret said...

so disappointing that the machine pulls the fabric out of shape maybe if you spray starch it first all would be well but with the cost of the machine I would want and expect accuracy. When they sell the accuquilt machine on the craft channel they never tell you how it can distort naughty

The Inside Stori said...

I'm hearing from more folks about the cutting problem I experienced. Seems I'm not alone....but that a lot of errors can be overcome by positioning the fabric to go lengthwise through the machine and NOT allowing excess fabric to hang over the side....which I did at times. Spray starching liek Margaret mentioned might be good a good for lightweight fabrics......