Sunday, November 20, 2011

Four tips from piecing the Storm at Sea quilt

The queen-sized Storm at Sea quilt is progressing thanks to some hours I've been able to put in over the weekend. I hit another bump in the road, though, and I want to share my mistakes to hopefully save you from repeating them on your projects.

1. Get a 1/4" sewing machine foot pronto.

I waited to get a 1/4" foot until after I started piecing this quilt. I figured I would just move my needle position to create the 1/4" seam. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my machine was resetting the needle position every time I turned it off. I was too far into this quilt by the time I realized it, so this mammajamma has 3/8" seams. You lose fabric this way, and it adds up fast.

2. Follow the instructions if the pattern tells you to press seam allowances to one side or the other.

I mindlessly started pressing seam allowances to the darker fabric on my sashing blocks. Fail. The blocks didn't come together right. Luckily I made a test block first and realized my mistake. I only had to rip out a few seams, but I still had to repress about 180 seams.

3. Cut extra pieces to allow for big mistakes down the line.

Because of the 3/8" seam allowance and my preference for longer drops on bed quilts, I'm going to have to add extra rows of blocks to this quilt.

4. At first, assemble only the blocks you know you'll need.

I take an assembly line approach to piecing blocks. This can be a problem if you stop paying attention and make the same mistake 70 times. (See point 2.)

With my sashing blocks, there's a long diamond shape and four right right triangles attached to make the block a rectangle. Two of the pieces are attached in the same orientation and the other two pieces are just reversed. I had extra diamond shapes and mindlessly attached two right triangles to all of the diamonds I had. By the time I started attaching the second two triangles to all of the diamonds, I was low on triangles. If I had kept count of blocks I was completing, I would have set the extra diamonds aside. As it is now, I got some more Kona white, and it's back to the cutting table.

I hope your projects are progressing with fewer snafus!


  1. Thanks for the tips Claire..
    I'm about to start a Storm as Sea, I was concerned about those reversed triangles. I'm the queen of Automatic Pilot..consequently i'm also the queen if the Unpick!
    You've reminded me to remember to actually ~Pay Attention~ ;)

  2. They're always worth the snafus, though, lol.

  3. I made a Storm At Sea quilt for my daughter. It was the third quilt that I had ever made, and I didn't realize how challenging it would prove to be. You will have such a feeling of accomplishment when you finish it, and, if you're like me, then you will never ever want to make another one! I've made many quilts since then, but, to this day, I avoid quilt patterns that have squares in squares because they were so challenging with that quilt.

  4. My current interest is patterns that create a secondary design. I want to make a Storm at Sea but just need some more time to decide on color placement, as I don't want to just use two or three colors.

  5. I'm dreaming of a Storm at Sea and Snails Trails Quilt and hoping to make it for my King Size Bed. I'm gathering all the tips I can before I even purchase the fabric. I'm going to paper piece it to insure accuracy.

  6. I’m wanting to make one too but looking at patterns and fabrics is a big deal. Just not sure where to start yet. Thanks for your suggestions.

  7. Thanks for your advice. It's so refreshing – and helpful – when quilters let you know about the mistakes they made. I'm about to tackle a full-size Storm at Sea quilt, just as soon as I can figure out how much of how many fabrics to buy. I'll paper piece it, as it's the only way I have a hope of being accurate with my seams. It will be my fourth quilt. I do like a challenge, but I may be biting off more than I can chew with this one.

  8. I bought templates for a Storm at Sea Quilt about 3 years ago and finally used them this month. It is a very challenging quilt and I am so glad that I waited! I am much more experienced than I was when I bought these and it was still quite frustrating. The diamond with the triangles was OK, but the square in a square in a square was difficult. My seams were maybe a tiny bit smaller than 1/4 inch and the second set of triangles were too small. That often left me with no seam allowance. I was also cutting them with the bias on the outside edge so they were a bit stretchy. I did recut many of them and it all came out OK, but I'm a little afraid to wash it as some of the seam allowances are really really scant. It's a wall hanging so I can probably get away without washing it. I will make a bigger quilt at some point and I am glad I started with the smaller one!

  9. Prefers about 13-inch stitches-per-inch for piking. The stitch length is usually about 2.0 mm longer.

  10. I made a Storm at Sea this summer. I have an Acuquilt cutter and I purchased the Storm at Sea die. All of the pieces were perfectly cut. The only problem was that I had to do my own calculation for fabric requirements. I used 3 batik fabrics in blues and greens. I’ll definitely make another Storm but want to use entirely different fabrics. This is such a versatile pattern you could use it time and again and come out with completely different pieces of art.

    1. I purchased the Go Me so this die isn't an option - Is it worth buying the bigger ACCuCut for this die?

  11. I might suggest using foundation paper piecing for square in square blocks. Every block will come out perfectly. Generations Quilt Patterns has free paper piecing pdf for any with an interest.


  12. Using Jodi Barrows Square in a Square technique, it is much easier for cutting the different shapes.