technical tidbits

Hemming Jeans

Jake had a pair of jeans that needed hemming because they were too long. I’ve never hemmed jeans before and, frankly, was a little nervous. I was worried that the seam wouldn’t look “normal” and that my needle wouldn’t get through all the layers with my machine.

SMTD- Hemming JeansHe put the jeans on and I marked them at the desired finished length. I then cut them 1 inch longer than that. I folded the edge under 1/2 inch and again another 1/2 inch. I ironed the rolled hem to make it lie flat before sewing.

SMTD- Hemming JeansI increased the stitch length to 2.6 (I normally sew at a setting of 2.2). I used regular weight thread and a “jeans” needle. I was really happy with how they turned out! And so was Jake!

– erica


Blue Paint Tape

I started quilting parallel lines on my newest quilt. I thought I could just “eyeball” them. After several rows I realized my eyes are crooked. I saw a roll of blue painting tape on the table and realized it was very close to the width of the rows I was sewing (lucky, huh?). So I starting taping rows of the tape on my quilt and sewing next to the tape. It works great!!

If you look closely you can see my semi-straight pre-tape rows. So, please, don’t look closely ūüôā

Now I’ll have to see what other widths the tape comes in (for future quilts).

– erica

Attaching Your Binding To Your Quilt

Secretly, sewing the binding is my favorite part of quilting. I think it’s because it’s hand sewing and I get to enjoy the beauty of my finished quilt. I find myself oohing and ahhing many times during this step.


Laura taught me how to make and sew my binding. Then, since I moved away I had to consult a quilting book once, but now I’ve finally got it down. I thought I’d share my process. It’s very easy and has a nice finished look. I will do a separate post on how to sew together straight grain binding and continuous bias binding. I like a slightly thinner binding so I cut my binding 2 1/4 inches wide and fold it in half.


1. I usually start by attaching the binding towards the middle of a side. You don’t want to start attaching the binding too close to the corner. Pin the bidning to the top side of the quilt, leaving several inches of binding free at the end.


2. Continue to pin the binding down until you get to the corner. Put the last pin in 1/4 inch from the end of your quilt.


3. Sew the binding to the quilt, with a 1/4 inch seam. Stop 1/4 inch from the end (where your last pin was placed).


4. Fold the binding down so the edge of the binding matches up to the edge of your quilt (see picture). Pin.


5. Fold binding back up, being sure to line up the edge with the edge of your quilt. Pin.


6. Pin binding along entire edge of quilt (to 1/4 inch from the next corner). Then sew from the edge all the way to the next corner, again stopping 1/4 inch from the corner.


7. Repeat this same process for each corner. Eventually you will get back to where you started. Stop sewing several inches from the opening.


8. This next step is important to be able to sew the binding together without any bubbles/bumps.  Overlap your pieces by the width of your binding and cut them (I make my binding 2-1/4 inches wide, so I overlap the two pieces of binding by 2-1/4 inches).


9. I think this is the trickiest step. This is the one I most often screw up.  Mark a diagonal line on the left edge of the binding.  Put the two pieces of binding right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew along the diagonal line.


10. Trim to 1/4 inch (check to make sure you’ve sewn them together correctly before trimming, please!)


11. Iron seam open.


12. Now the binding should lay nicely against your quilt. Sew together.


I use binding clips (they look like hair clips!) to fold the binding over to the back side to hand sew. I like them better than pins because they aren’t pokey.


Look how wonderful the corners turn out when you fold the binding to the back? Isn’t it beautiful?


Here is the binding tacked down on the back side. Gorgeous!

If you use my binding tutorial to attach your binding and find any of the steps confusing, please let me know so I can clarify!

– erica

Matching Seams

After talking to my sister about the most useful size for baby quilts I decided to make three more flower blocks to make my quilt 3×4 blocks. Doesn’t sound so bad, but I was amazed at how long it took. Luckily I reread my own tips about sewing curves, and it actually helped!!

Then I decided to be more careful about how I ironed the pieces to make sure all the seams would be going opposite directions— and you have no idea how much easier it made piecing these together. I have found with this pattern that even a millimeter makes a huge difference and makes the whole flower look sloppy.

See how each seam is ironed in the opposite direction so that the pieces will butt up together when you are piecing them together?

It might seem like more work to make sure they are all ironed in opposite directions, but in the end it looks way better and means less seam ripping. A LOT less seam ripping. Yes, there is usually a reason they tell you to do things a certain way….