When 1/8-Inch Really Matters

Plus Quilt so farI’ve admitted here before that maybe, just maybe, I’m not the most careful sewer. There have been times when I’m cutting that my ruler slips a bit, and I just shrug. And I can sometimes be loose with my seam allowance. Consistent, mind you, but loose. I don’t think my quilting projects have suffered from my less-than-precise practices. Until now.

Now I am working on a project that is kicking my butt.

I decided back in October to make a “plus” quilt using my stash of yellow and gold fabrics. I found a tutorial that had much smaller plus signs, so I did the math to enlarge the pieces to the size I wanted. In that tutorial, the crossbar of each plus sign was one piece, rather than three squares, making the cutting and piecing much quicker.

Plus Quilt cut piecesSo I cut my fabric and started piecing. I had to lay the quilt pieces on the floor several times to get the rows right, but after that they sewed up quickly. Next, I went to sew the rows together. And none of the seams matched. I tried easing and got huge puckers. Something was definitely amiss.

It was my seam allowance. I had used a very consistent seam allowance. It was consistently 5/8-inch. I thought the line I was using as a guide was a 1/4-inch. Turns out it wasn’t. And normally, it wouldn’t matter too much. But this time, I took that crossbar shortcut (saving myself from having to piece together three squares), and the length of that crossbar was figured with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. So I really had to use a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Rats.

I decided to sew the new seams first in each row, then go back and unsew the old seams.

Plus Quilt Resewing seamsThere are a lot of seams in each row.

Plus Quilt seams

With the rows, finally set, I went again to sew the rows together. The seams matched up this time (hooray!), and I sewed the rows in sets of two. For more than half of my sets of two, however, I sewed the wrong edges together. Ugh. This I’m blaming on my lack of visual-spatial intelligence.

Plus Quilt strips sewn wrong

Here you can see that the next row should be the row that’s at the bottom, not the row that is sewn to it. And flipping the row around won’t work. More unsewing.

Finally, I’ve decided I need to just sew one row on at a time. It’s taking a lot longer, but at least I’m sewing and not unsewing.

I do like the way it’s coming together, and I’m not going to give up on it. But maybe, just maybe, it’s time I get a bit more serious about seam allowances.

Leave a comment


  1. I like that type of quilt, but haven’t made one because you have to plan so far ahead. I’m still struggling with seam allowances after 60 years of sewing! Hope you catch on sooner.

  2. My daugter and I threw together a fleece quilt of scraps and have a circular quilt that I have no idea how to fix other than to just cut it square and put a back on it and call it a first try. Sewing is like carpentry, measure twice, cut once, and I guess be very careful at the joining part. Loved your step by step photos.

  3. I absolutely love all of the yellows!

  1. Yellow Plus Pink Quilt | Christine Doyle

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