Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Persnickety: /pərˈsnikətē/
1. Placing too much emphasis on trivial or minor details; fussy.
2. Requiring a particularly precise or careful approach.

The other week, I left a comment for P. on a quilt top she'd finished, using thrifted men's shirts. I admired how all her corners matched, how nice and flat it laid and how all the prints went in the same direction. She did a really beautiful job on it. She replied back and said that she'd been rather persnickety about how it went together, and I thought that I really liked that adjective.

I don't know about you, but there are certain things I'm very particular about when I quilt. Well, I'm particular about everything, really. I like things a certain way, but I won't go into all of that. For sewing or quilting, I wash all fabrics before using. I piece with Gütterman 50-weight cotton thread and I quilt with AURIfil Makò 50-weight thread. When I lay out a quilt, I put a pin in the top left corner block so I know which way is top and which way is bottom, and I'm very careful to sew the pieces together in the right order. I make sure all the stripes go in the same direction {usually vertically} and that any directional fabrics go the same direction.

Lately, I've taken to making sure that the lengthwise grain and the crosswise grain of each block all go in the same direction throughout the quilt. The cross grain has slightly more give than the length of grain and it seems like everything lines up so much nicer if the grains are all going the same way.

Case in point: I'm working on a fun zig-zag quilt for my niece, Miss Butterfly.

I cut the fabric for it sometime late last spring or early last summer, about the time I decided that the grain should all go the same way. I just started assembling it last week. As I've made the half-square triangles, I put the squares together with the cross grain going one direction on one square and the lengthwise grain going the other direction, so that once they were sewn on the diagonal and opened up, the entire block has the same grain. What I didn't plan for when I penciled in the diagonal line on the white fabric, was that the triangles would have to go in alternating directions in the quilt. Even though all the blocks have the grain going in the same direction in both halves of the half-square triangles, all of the half-square triangles on the left side of the chevrons have the lengthwise grain going up and down and the half-square triangles on the right side have the crosswise grain going up and down. It bothers the persnickety quilter in me just a little. I considered re-marking half the blocks, but decided that I didn't want a pencil line dissecting half of my white triangles. I'll pay closer attention next time.

All of this makes me curious, and I wonder what you all are persnickety about, quilting or otherwise.


Paulette said...

Did I tell you on that shirt quilt, I had one block where some stripes were vertical and some horizontal (as did the inspiration quilt)? I thought, "Oh, that's cool how that ended up. I wouldn't have planned it that way, but I'll let it be.) Yeah, right. I got the whole thing laid out and just could not leave it alone, I had to redo the block. There's another block where the stripes are on the bias, but that bothers me less because it's a light colored stripe so it's not so in your face as the black and white stripes were. So, there is apparently a threshold of persnickity-ness with me. And I'm just taking a break from meander quilting a quilt where the stitches are not right, tension wise, not to mention length, etc. But it's good enough and, more importantly, on its way to being DONE. And sometimes DONE trumps persnickity for me.

So, aligning grain lines. Wow, I never thought of such a thing. I do know that with borders, the lengthwise grain line makes for a better vertical border, so it makes sense, in theory. But I dunno, man. That's a lot to keep straight (ha, pun). Let us know how that works out and if you think it's worth the effort.

Lane said...

I am persnickety about everything. Secretly, clean dishes washed in hot water. Publicly, I'm much more persnickety about my quilting than I am about my piecing. A good feather can cover a multitude of piecing sins. Be well. And, enjoy being persnickety. It is both a gift and a curse. Lane

Shay said...

Love the word - persnickety...describes exactly how I am about a number of things in my life - not just quilting.

I tend to be that way about cutting fabric. It all has to be perfect. Im less that way about quilting and I can go wither way on the piecing depending on my level of frustration for the project!

Deb@asimplelifequilts said...

I'm trying to be less persnickety in most things... my Inner Perfectionist is pretty active! I'm probably most picky about my points being good and my seams lining up when piecing. I'm learning to ease up about quilting and realize that no one will notice but me.