Or, joining cloth at an angle
When three seams converge you need time, patience, plenty of pins, a ruler and cutting mat with 45 degree markings, a pencil, and an unpicker (seam ripper). Or so I found this week when stitching mitred corners for the next border of the Bernina Round Robin challenge. It also struck me that a mitred corner and a Y-seam are the same thing and that it is easier to stitch these by hand.
Process photographs taken while tackling the mitre at the corner, with the finished result at bottom right. This was the fifth one I stitched — that’s how many tries it took before I manage to get an almost perfect corner.
As mentioned before, I am stitching two versions of the round robin challenge and use one of these for experimentation. This month it came in handy as I could practise sewing the mitres on the experimental piece. I found the trickiest thing was to insert the sewing machine needle at exactly the right pinpoint where the three seams meet. In the end, I found it easier to start sewing slightly away from the corner and then to turn the work around and stitch into the corner from the opposite direction. This was when I nearly resorted to stitching by hand! But, in the spirit of the Bernina challenge, I used my sewing machine. It helped that there was a pencil line to follow. Bernina’s instructions were, once again, clear and easy to follow. This is especially commendable given the complicated procedure for constructing a mitred corner.
The second part of the May challenge was to decorate the 5 inch border with raw edged applique (with umlaut). I decided to repeat the applique I had done on the central square and cut out flowers from the same Kaffee Fassett fabric, called Row Flowers. This time I added a “stalk” of plain fabric and used satin stitch (rather than the more decorative blanket stitch in the central square) to applique the shapes. As before, I used a lighter fusible web (called spider web) which comes without backing paper. This means that the fabric has to be between two teflon sheets when the sticky web is being ironed into place. I managed to avoid getting a sticky mess on the underside of the iron this time. To stablise the main fabric I backed it with iron-on stitch and tear. This makes the applique stitch work smoother and the paper comes unstuck and tears away easily from around the stitched applique sections.
The flowers with their stalks looked a bit like trees to me (ha!), and so I added avenues of them when appliqueing the main piece. Here it is:
To return to the likening of mitred corners and Y-seams — in both cases three seams converge at a point. A quilter, Sue Bax, once noted at a workshop that it is easier to stitch Y-seams by hand and she is right. One has more control over where the needle enters the cloth and, provided you have drawn accurate pencil lines along which to stitch, making a neat Y-seam is very easy to do.
May I take this opportunity to show you the progress on my elongated hexagon piece (pattern and method by Yolande Bowman) to give an example of hand-stitched Y-seams. The photograph of a section of the reverse side of the piece gives an idea of how it is done. (This is a bit like showing one’s Y-fronts in public.)
May I also share with you my delight in the word convergence. As usual I looked it up and found that it has its roots in the Latin for “incline together”. One of the definitions of the verb converge is: “Tend to meet at a point; approach nearer together as if to meet or join (on a point)” (OED). I think it is the perfect description for the process and challenge of constructing mitred corners and Y-seams.
When I complained to The Woodworker that I was having difficulty with my mitred corners, he said that at least I wasn’t working in 3D, as happens when making mitred corners for wooden objects.