Orca Bay Mystery–Part 2: Grading Seams in String Blocks

Hi Everyone,

Here are my finished hourglass blocks. I completed them late Friday morning.

I promised myself I’d have them done before I read the next clue. That was tough as I knew the clue HAD to be up already! I love how the blocks turned out. I can’t sing the praises of Inklingo digital templates enough on how easy they made the blocks come together perfectly–no blood, no sweat, no tears. Just perfectly sized blocks with perfectly matched points… sigh…

I wanted to share a technique from garment sewing that I use to  make my string blocks lie flatter, be smoother and be more flexible–grading seams.

Note: If you are unfamiliar with how grading seams is used in garment sewing, you can do a web search and find many tutorials. Basically it involves trimming one fabric in the seam allowance shorter than the other. When pressed, the edge of the fabrics do not lie in the same place so the transition is smoother–t’ain’t no big lump next to the seam! Sounds like too much work to many, but it REALLY makes a big difference in the finished project.

Grading a seam is done after the fact in garment sewing. With string blocks, I do it as I am constructing the block. I stagger the new string I’m sewing about 1/16th of an inch to the left from the edge of the previous string edge, then stitch.

Then press as usual.

Another thing I do differently than many others when string piecing is to use the smallest sewing needle possible for the thread I’m using (with 1.5 stitch length). Think micro perforations. I do use a slightly lighter weight thread too. In my experience, it all holds up the same.

Off to sew more of these small string blocks. I do like the small size of these.

’til later, Jillian


About DakotaEssence

Piecing and quilting in the northern Plains.
This entry was posted in Grading Seams, Inklingo, Quarter Square Triangle (QST), String Blocks. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Orca Bay Mystery–Part 2: Grading Seams in String Blocks

  1. Debra says:

    I love string blocks as well. Very fun to make. These blocks are going to make a gorgeous quilt. Thanks,Bonnie. You are very lucky to live in such a beautiful state! Good luck w/your progress.

  2. Bev in TX says:

    What very nice quarter square triangle blocks!

    I found your automatically graded string block tutorial extremely interesting. I am wondering what kind of thread you are using?

  3. Laurie says:

    Thanks for the tip Jillian. Your hourglass blocks are adorable. I love how InkLingo gets rid of the points on the triangles.

  4. DakotaEssence says:

    Thanks everyone!
    Bev, don’t have a heart attack–this time I’m using a fine polyester thread. I like how it works in string blocks. The modern poly threads are NOT what they used to be years ago, they are engineered to break more easily. Superior Threads has educational videos on the subject if you’re interested. For a cotton thread, 60 wt. works well IMO.

  5. Bev in TX says:

    Thanks Jillian. No heart attack here — I used to use Superior Thread’s So Fine 50wt polyester thread for piecing until I started using Aurifil 50wt Mako cotton (a very fine thread) for applique. It just became easier for me to use one kind of thread for everything — fewer bobbins and not having to remember which bobbin went with spool of thread (no “senior moments”, LOL).

    So are you using their Bottom Line 60wt?

  6. EllyD says:

    Nice work 🙂 Thank you for the great tip on the seams. I hope to put it into practice soon 😉

  7. Val says:

    Jillian, this is brilliant and would be really good on any ‘string’ sort of blocks, like Log Cabin and Court House Steps. Really a terrific idea.

  8. Pingback: Orca Bay Mystery!–Part 3 Completed | Dakota Essence

  9. I use a 60/8 needle and Masterpiece 50wt thread, 1.8 stitch length. Never thought about grading the seams.

  10. Pingback: Orca Bay Mystery Plan B Update: Flavors of Orca Bay | Dakota Essence

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