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Bigfork, Montana, USA
Bigfork Bay Cotton Company is a full service, brick and mortar quilt shop, as well as a retail/wholesale pattern business. You can view our pattern line on our website, but on a more personal level, we'd like to invite you into our shop and share with you the joy of quilting in our corner of the world!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am in the process of sewing a ton of strip sets for a Queen sized Nine Patch Pizzazz (love that book....). It brought to mind a few tricks and hints to insure a successful project.

When sewing strips together, start each strip you add at the opposite side from where the last strip was started. It's helpful to actually make a small mark or drop a pin in at the end you start your first pair of strips. Then start at the other end for the next strip you add, and so on. This prevents a "rainbow" effect from happening. This is most evident when sewing four or more strips, but why not do this for every set of strips?

Press after each strip is added. Take care not to move the iron around too much, and make sure whenever you do move the iron that you move parallel to the seam.

It is time consuming to subcut each strip set individually. However, problems can develop when you stack and cut multiple strip sets at the same time. I have found that if I follow each of these steps carefully, without taking shortcuts, my subcuts stay true and square.

After your strip set is pressed well, lay it out on your cutting mat, carefully aligning the edge of the strip set with one of the lines on the mat. (It is amazing how even two strips sewn together can wave and wobble a bit. Following the line on the mat encourages them to "straighten up".)

Lay a strip set on top of the previous strip set, taking care not to move the first strip set off of the line on the mat. Line the edge of the second strip set along a seam line of the first strip set as shown. As you can see in the photo, I have nestled the edge of the newest strip set against the first strip where the seam is pressed away from the newer strip set. When you are cutting, the motion of the cutter will keep that strip set tucked up nicely against the seam line.

Lay subsequent strips down the same way. Be careful not to move the strips that are already lying on the mat, and always line the edge of the newest strip along the seam line of a prior strip.

I usually layer no more than four strip sets. You don't want your stack to have thick "lumps", and you don't want it to get too wide.

Once all your strip sets are in place, doublecheck to make sure that the whole thing hasn't shifted off the line on the mat.

To square up the end, lay your ruler on the strips, aligning a line on the ruler with one of the seam lines on the top strip set. Do not use the edge of the strip sets for this! Trim to make a straight edge to start measuring and cutting.

Begin cutting your strip sets into the desired width, keeping a line of the ruler along a seam line of the top strip set.

After a couple of cuts, you will probably find that if you line your ruler up on a seam line, the edge doesn't line up. At this point it is time to square up the end again as in the previous step. You will also need to square up if you have to slide your strips down the mat to cut length that was hanging off the mat in the beginning.

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