“Squaring up blocks” really does matter.
This little tidbit of truth actually eluded me for quite a while. As a quilt-maker myself, I had a little too much confidence in my piecing accuracy, and just didn’t feel like it was necessary to spend the time to take that extra step of making sure my blocks were uniform in size, and square. As I worked on quilt after quilt, whose makers varied in precision and accuracy, I began to notice that some quilts just lie flatter than others. Even when the points all match, and the blocks seem to be sewn accurately, it seems like only a few are like patchwork seas of tranquility. It occurred to me that there might be a correlation between a nice smooth quilt top and that pesky step of squaring up that I had skipped so often. I never did take a survey of my “flat-quilt clients,” but upon conducting an experiment on my own projects, I found that it really did make a difference. So if you treasure the smooth look of precisely pieced patchwork, don’t skip the old “square up.”
When squaring up blocks, I use a 15.5″ x 15.5″ Omnigrid Ruler. I like the bright yellow of the lines…which easily contrasts with most of my fabric. One thing to be careful of is that you keep the 1/4″ line on your ruler aligned with any points you have at the edge of your block…this will ensure the 1/4″ seam as well as help you stay true to the size the block was meant to be. I usually cut off the right and top sides of my block, and then turn it around and cut it to size. This is a good way to make sure your blocks are not only square, but uniform in size. You may be able to see that there are ruled lines on my cutting mat. For the most part, I do not use those lines for measuring fabric for cutting as I am piecing.
I generally save the squaring up step for after all my blocks are pieced. This way I can quickly trim all the blocks, and if I do them all at the same time, I am more likely to keep them the same size too!
Do you have a tale to tell about your experiences with “squaring up”…or skipping it?