Moda Bake Shop Basics: Matching Points

Our celebration of National Sewing Month continues with another great Moda Bake Shop Basics tutorial today.

Hi Moda Bake Shop readers, it’s Amanda from Material Girl Quilts and I’m back today to share a few tips on what I do to create perfectly matched points in my piecing.  Now we all know that none of us are perfect, so don’t expect your quilts to be either!

Two of the most important things to do when you want matching points is to make sure that you (1) cut accurately and (2) maintain an accurate 1/4″ seam in your piecing.  I cannot stress to you enough how important these steps are and how they will make your sewing life much more enjoyable 🙂  If you struggle in these areas, I suggest you practice here first.

Ways to improve your cutting:

  • Purchase and maintain a quality rotary cutter (this means replacing your blade frequently!)  
  • If you use multiple sized rulers, I suggest you find the ones you like the best and stick with that brand.  Some of the brands can be off just a bit from each other and that will make a difference in your piecing.  My choice in rulers is Omnigrid.  I have all different shapes and sizes.
  • Measure twice and cut once!
Ways to achieve an accurate 1/4″ seam:
  • Use a 1/4″ foot on your sewing machine.  I have one and it makes all the difference in the world for me.
  • If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot, try placing blue painter’s tape along your machine marking the 1/4″ line.  
  • Take it slow!  If you can’t seem to maintain a straight seam, just slow it down a bit.
Now that we’ve covered these two fundamentals, let’s talk about matching up those points.  I almost always press my seams to the side (usually toward the darker fabric).  This helps tremendously in matching points when sewing rows together.  You want to make sure that each row’s seams are pressed in opposite directions as shown below.
This will enable you to “nest” your seams together.  As you place the rows right sides together, you can actually feel where the seams are and they will just fit snugly right next to each other and almost lock into place.
Here is a shot of the two seams nesting together.
Now that they are locked together, place a pin on the front side of the seam (the side that will be going into your sewing machine first.  Some people find it helpful to pin on each side of the seam lines and if that works for you, great!  Once you sew your two rows together, you will end up with beautifully crisp matching points.
Now you may be thinking, okay that’s easy enough, but what about matching up points when you are piecing half square triangles?!  Well, let me help you with that too.  One key step in matching up points when piecing half square triangles is to make sure they are all squared up and trimmed to the appropriate size (here I go with the accurate cutting again).  I know it can be tedious work, but the end result is so very worth it.
When piecing half square triangles together, it is wonderful if your seams are pressed in the opposite direction, but that doesn’t always work out once you start laying out your design.  If you can’t “nest” the seams like above, here is what I do.  First match the seams up perfectly and make sure your blocks are square with each other.  
While keeping a firm hold onto the matched seams in the corner, I start sewing from the opposite end of the block.  This works better for me than starting with the matched points.  My machine is happier when I do it this way because it doesn’t seem to like the bulk of the matched points when I start at that end. 
Keep a firm hold on those matched points all the way until they slide nicely under your 1/4″ foot.  If just holding them doesn’t work for you, pinning is always a good option.

 Now that you have some half square triangles sewn together into rows, you will once again press the rows in opposite directions to nest the seams together while piecing.

I ALWAYS pin the seams when piecing half square triangles.  If I don’t, they just don’t match as well.

There may be two ways that your half square triangles will meet up between rows.  One is when the points are on the same side of the seam as shown below.  Just take care when nesting your seams that those points line up and pin in place.

The result can be seen below.

The other way your half square triangles may meet between the rows is when the points are on opposite sides of the seam.  Once again, take care to match the points when nesting the seams and pin in place.

And you will end up with beautiful points like this…
I hope you found these tips to be helpful.  If you have any questions let me know and if you want to see what I have made with these blocks, head over to my blog to find out.  
Happy piecing!