“Seams So Simple!” Tutorial + Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts Giveaway

on July 18 | in Contests & Giveaways, Products, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 160 Comments

We’re celebrating the publication of Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms with a great post from Mary Elizabeth and a book giveaway!

This latest book is a follow-up to Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts! and features ten beautiful quilt patterns, with clear and helpful cutting and stitching advice. There are also lots of great construction and organization techniques, just like the one Mary Elizabeth shares below. If you fell in love with the fabulous Postage Stamp quilt craze awhile back you’ll love all of the quilts in this book. There’s something irresistible about the many, many small pieces of beautiful fabrics, all sewn together! We also appreciate the historical information and lovely vintage quilts in the book.

Comment on today’s post for your chance to win a copy of the book!

Learn more about Mary Elizabeth on her website and <v=”http://www.maryelizabethkinch.com/blog/”>blog. Mary Elizabeth has a 10-week long giveaway on her blog during the tour!

Check out the other blogs on the book tour (we’re first so there’s a big line-up still to come!). Each tour stop has something fun, from tutorials and Q+As to special antique quilts and really fun interpretations and blocks from quilts in the book. Each stop also includes a book giveaway! Note: Bemused is up next on July 24. Mary Elizabeth would love your help getting word out about the tour via Twitter, Facebook or your blog.

July 24 ~ Bemused
July 31 ~ Wonky World
August 10 ~ See How We Sew
Aug 13 ~ Quiltsalott
Aug 20 ~ Amy’s Creative Side
Aug 29 ~ Supergoof
Sept 3 ~ Quilts In the Barn
Sept 11 ~ Stitch This/Martingale
Sept 17 ~ Quilting With The Past

Seams So Simple! from Mary Elizabeth Kinch of Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts:

Sewing with small pieces is incredibly addictive and wonderfully fun. Be forewarned! Their adorable diminutive size will capture your creative heart, and the myriad of pieces and possible fabric combinations will have you running to your stash to dive into a project. Using a stiletto and the following tips on seam allowance accuracy, you should be able to avoid what my friend Nancy refers to as “inharmonious moments” and ensure your quilt top goes together smoothly.

Small pieces require just a bit more attention when stitching them together. A deviation of 1/16” on a block can quickly multiply across a quilt top and become a difference of an inch or two. Here are some tips for success with a bonus that you can apply this knowledge to all your quilting projects… It works for big blocks too!

  • Verify your measurements and cuts. Be consistent in using the same place on the line on the ruler… Just on the inside of the line, down the middle of the line or just to the outside of the line.
  • Sew with a scant 1/4” seam allowance-– This is a seam allowance that is about a thread width less than 1/4”.
  • Gently finger press or, if using an iron, use a light up and down motion to avoid stretching the block.
  • If you change threads, test your seam allowance accuracy again. In piecing this size, an extra ply or bit of thickness can affect your accuracy.

Making a sample block is a good way to assess where you need to guide your fabric on your machine to get an accurate seam allowance. On my machine, with my favourite thread, I need to run the fabric just inside the 1/4” guideline on the throat plate. After years of sewing, this “happy seam spot” on my machine just comes naturally to my hands!

Take 4 – 2” x 2” squares. With right sides together, sew together two squares, using a scant 1/4” seam allowance.

Open out the unit and finger press the seam allowance in one direction. Finger pressing is gently rolling the fabric to open the seam and firmly pressing it between your thumb and forefinger.

Measure the width of this new unit. It should measure 3 1/2”. If the unit measures smaller than that, make your seam allowance slightly smaller. If it measures larger than that, make your seam allowance slightly larger. Repeat for second set of squares. Measure. Adjust if necessary.

Take the two units, butt seams with seam allowances in opposite directions. Sew together. Finger press the seam allowance to one side. Measure. It should measure 3 1/2” in both directions. Make any necessary adjustments to achieve the correct measurement.

To help avoid the “end of the seam wobble” (where the seam allowance narrows unintentionally for the last 1/2” of the seam) use a stiletto to guide the final bit under the presser foot.

A stiletto helps ensure accurate seam allowances, allowing you to guide small pieces under the presser foot while keeping your fingers clear of the needle. Use gentle pressure and the tip of the stiletto to steer the final bit of the piece safely to the end of the seam. Usually I have my stiletto positioned at about a 70 degree angle to the seam and my hand gently resting on the bed of the sewing table. The stiletto can also be used to help keep the edges of the pieces together for the last bit, by using the sharp tip to move the top layer edge so it lines up with the bottom one. Be sure to pull the stiletto away before it goes under the presser foot! You will be amazed at how adept you will become at using it to steer, to lift up the top layer to reposition the edges, or to help ease in a little fullness.

My favourite stiletto is one by Clover. It has an oval handle that prevents it from rolling around on my sewing table and its shape is comfortable in my hand.

You can find more tips in the book, Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts.

Thank you for joining me today. And a big thank you to Sew,Mama,Sew! for being the first stop on my blog tour. Happy Stitching!

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160 Responses to “Seams So Simple!” Tutorial + Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts Giveaway

  1. Sue Bennettt says:

    Oh I would love to win this book.

  2. Sheryl says:

    Thank you for the useful tips. I appreciate the opportunity to have a chance to win your book – looks fantastic!

  3. Susan Sampson says:

    Organisation I like but a lot of times don’t know the ‘how’ Mary Elizabeth will help me use all those tiny scraps stash I have been saving – knew there had to be a reason. This book is a necessity.
    Thanks for the giveaway…

  4. Laura G says:

    This book looks great. I love little pieces, who am I kidding, I love them all!

  5. Leena says:

    I do a lot of hand sewing with little pieces—applique , English paper piecing etc but machine pieces look daunting. Would love to win the book and try my hand at this.


  6. Shari Nelson says:

    Sorry, I left out a part of my web address in the first post, so I am leaving another comment with the correct website address. Still love working with scraps, and would love to win the book. Thanks.

  7. Shari Nelson says:

    I love working with scraps, this book would be very helpful. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  8. Anita says:

    Would love to win this book.

  9. Ginny Worden says:

    I love the tips, and will put them to use soon. Thanks.

  10. Miriam says:

    Thank you for the great tips.
    Love the cover photo on the book.

    Thank you for the chance to win. :)

  11. Stella Snyder says:

    I’ve resisted working with a stiletto, & hate the wonky ends I get on seams. I even think I already own a stiletto, better try it, no more excuses. Would love to win the book. Thanks, Stella

  12. Karin says:

    I agree, a stiletto works like a charm!

  13. Anna says:

    Wow…these instructions make these complex quilt patterns seem do-able. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  14. Mary Ellen says:

    This looks like a fun book! Great tips too. Thanks for that. I have so many small pieces of fabric because I just can’t seem to throw them away. What a great way to use them.

  15. grace thorne says:

    very intriguing, i have plenty of small pieces that would love this book!

  16. andrea says:

    the cover looks intriguing…would love to win it! looks like a book i would buy.

  17. Deb says:

    The quilt on the front of her book is really pretty. It really makes me want to make one!

  18. Stephanie O says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am a beginner and I am soaking in all the info I can get.

  19. Pattij says:

    Looks like a sweet book. A good way to use my many scraps.

  20. Martha says:

    I always thought that end of the seam wobble was just something I was doing wrong! Glad to have that cleared up; definitely heading over to clover to buy one.

  21. Wow this book looks amazing. I have so many projects to try.

  22. Melody says:

    Thank you so much for the great tutorial and the chance to win such a fabulous book.

  23. usairdoll says:

    What a great book! I’m learning to sew using small pieces. Would love to learn more.

    Thank you for a great giveaway and a chance to win.


  24. Janet says:

    I would love to win your book. I love making scrap quilts and save even the tiny pieces. Janet

  25. Barb in MI says:

    Oooh, in need of home for scraps – so this book looks like a perfect fit! Thank you!

  26. Ann says:

    What wonderful clear instructions with great pictures.

  27. I love small pieces! Thanks for the wonderful hints for sewing small pieces. I need to purchase a stiletto. I’ll look for this one by Clover. Thanks!

  28. Teena says:

    Would love to win your book!

  29. LeAnne L says:

    I’m going to have to really work on that scant 1/4″ to be able to piece small pieces. I’ve sure got a lot of scraps that I could use up though.

  30. janita says:

    congratulations on your new book. I would love to win it. I love little pieces and scrap quilts. janita

  31. Becky Greene says:

    I just love “tiny” so this is right up my alley!! Thanks so much for the chance to win!

  32. Jen V says:

    I’ve been saving my scraps for something . . . I would love to start using them. Looking forward to more of the tour.

  33. Anne M says:

    Really benefitted from your clear and concise review of the basics. Your book is lovely. I would love to have it! Thanks

  34. Lucy says:

    Small things are so difficult. This book looks helpful.

  35. Mamifleur says:

    I would love to win this book because “Small blocks, stunning quilts” was already an excellent book of quilts; It is in my library! Thanks. Mamifleur

  36. trillium says:

    Thanks for the tip on checking seam measurement! I always have difficulty with my machine. It is marked only in metric so I’m always trying to make allowances.

    Would love to win the book!

  37. Sue Bennettt says:

    Thanks for the chance to win this book. It looks like a really good one. Love the tips on checking your blocks..

  38. Looks like a great book! Small pieces are right up my alley – I would love to win this!

  39. angelina says:

    thank you for the chance!

  40. Kerry BRACK says:

    What a great book. Would certainly come in handy. Kerry

  41. Peggy Grow says:

    Oh, I have so many scraps stashed away, but I have been too nervous about the perfection needed in small pieces to attempt anything. I like your tip about the stiletto. Thanks!

  42. Francisca R. says:

    Thanks for the tip and giving us a chance to win the book!

  43. Tamie says:

    I would love to add this book to my library. Thanks for the tip too.

  44. Kathy K says:

    The wonderful things you can learn from another quilter willing to share her expertise and tips. I would love to win the book. Thanks for the chance.

  45. Jan says:

    I am still looking for my happy seam spot. (: Great tips! jan

  46. audrey says:

    The cover of the book alone makes me want it!

  47. Nichole says:

    I keep reading about quilters using a stiletto but this tip has a great visual about how it is helpful…I didn’t realize they could be so useful !

  48. Carol Sc says:

    I use a short bamboo skewer as a stilletto — it won’t put a burr on the machine needle and I don’t have a heart attack, if I lose it, since it is easily and inexpensively replaced. — never did find the expensive brass one! I’m looking forward to seeing this book and, thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  49. Regan Martin says:

    This book looks so good! Thanks for the chance!

  50. barb says:

    great tips!
    thanks for the chance to win!
    I loved the first book

  51. Mary Kastner says:

    I would love this book! It is right up my alley. Thank you for the chance to win.

    Mary Kastner

  52. Samantha says:

    The book looks wonderful -thansk for the helpful hint!

  53. Lesley says:

    What a beautiful book! Thanks for the chance.

  54. Jill says:

    I have been thinking about ordering this book, just the cover photo has me drooling.
    Thanks for the helpful hints. I love my stiletto!
    Thanks for the chance to win a book. If I don’t win, I will be buying this one!

  55. Nancy Moore says:

    Thank you for the giveaway. I would love to reproduce that quilt on the cover.


  56. Pat Hersl says:

    I adore working on accuracy. If I may, I use a bamboo skewer in place of my metal stiletto. If the needle hits it, it just pierces, and does not break the needle.

  57. karin levy says:

    The book looks wonderful!!! Please add me to the list.
    Karin :)
    in NY

  58. rosa says:

    This looks great and I`d love try her tips for sewing.Thanks for the chance!!

  59. Donna says:

    I’ve been about to start a new project and putting off making a sample block–guess I’d better or be sorry. Thanks for the reminder! Look forward to seeing the book in person!

  60. Anne Marie says:

    Sounds like a super fun book!

  61. Jamie Martin says:

    Thank you for the tips!

  62. Judy says:

    Great information. I definitely need to get myself a stiletto. Sounds like a great book of ideas for using up the tiny pieces that always seem to be leftover from quilts with larger pieces.

  63. Lynette says:

    Recently retired and I am returning to quilting after 14 years of teaching. This is a perfect ” how-to” book to help me started again. I have stacks of fabric that needs to be made into beautiful quilting projects .

    Thanks for the publication….

  64. krystina says:

    I’m also a scrap hoarder. Great book!

  65. Janice Svercek says:

    I have hundreds of scraps from sewing scrub caps for my son over the years. Been wanting to make them into a quilt for him but was stymied as to a good pattern. This book seems like the answer for me. Thanks for the chance to win.

  66. Fran says:

    Thanks for so many great tips ! I have always wondered about cutting on
    what part of the line ? Like you say….inside of the line…outside ? or right
    down the middle ! Thanks for clearing up a mystery that’s always bothered
    me & I couldn’t find the answer ! Sounds like a GREAT book…thanks for the

  67. Kate says:

    This book looks great. So many people want to see only with big pieces. I would love to read the rest of her tips for sewing with small pieces. Thanks for the giveaway!

  68. Chris says:

    I am a new quilter and thankful for any and all tips!

  69. lee says:

    Thanks for the tips! looks like a wonderful book!

  70. Nancy says:

    Looks like a great book.

  71. Celia says:

    This is a great looking book. Perfect for those of us that like to use the smallest scrap.

  72. Debbie says:

    Looks like a great book. A good way to use scraps.

  73. Wendy says:

    Great little tutorial!

  74. Jennie T. says:

    I have a whole mess of small pieces that I can’t seem to throw away. This book would be fabulous!

  75. Amy C says:

    Oh I love books about quilting and sewing and this one looks fab!!! Would be thrilled if I won!!! Thanks for giving me a chance!

  76. Vera says:

    Thanks for the post…I was trying to use a straight pin then a bamboo skewer, I’ll have to check out the stiletto.

  77. Polly Primrose says:

    1/4 inch seams really scare me!! I definitely NEED this book!! Thanks.

  78. carolee c. says:

    I’d love to win this one! I can use the information!

  79. Jennifer says:

    I think I could learn a lot from this book!

  80. Kathy says:

    The importance of an accurate quarter inch seam can not be overstated. I recently learned that when using my quarter inch foot on my Bernina, I can still move the needle one stop to the right, keep the fabric on the edge of the foot, and achieve the perfect scant quarter inch. I always thought the needle had to be in the center of the quarter inch foot, but there is enough room to move it one stop right or left.

  81. alison says:

    I love scrap quilts! I have lots of little pieces of fabric that I just couldn’t throw away and have been saving them for something.

  82. Jess says:

    This is really helpful! I often wind up with my pieces not fully aligning on my quilt tops, and I need to pay more attention to my seam allowances. :)

  83. Marianne says:

    Thanks for sharing the book, love the cover!

  84. Halchyk says:

    The book looks so wonderful! Thanks for giveaway!

  85. Hueisei says:

    Great tips! :)

  86. M says:

    I want the book!:)

  87. Small seams have always intimidated me, it sounds like this book could change that!

  88. Lynette Lusk says:

    I am just a beginner at Patchwark and quilting but would love to own this book. I am taking a class in August so hope to become a better quilter and make lots more.

  89. Susan says:

    I love mini quilts. I can stare at them for hours… This book looks super interesting!

  90. Deborah says:

    I love antique quilts, so this book appeals to me very much!

    homemakerhoney @gmail .com

  91. Judith says:

    I tend to think of the greater number of seams needed to put together so many small pieces as being a bit intimidating. Tips like these may help me overcome this. Thanks for a great giveaway.

  92. Jane S. says:

    I love working with small pieces, and yes they sure do require precise measurements in both cutting and piecing. Well worth it though. This looks like a wonderful book! Thank you for the nice giveaway. :)

  93. Laura says:

    This looks like so much fun to try.

  94. Corrie says:

    What an awesome looking book!

  95. Anke says:

    This looks like a very useful book, if the above bit is anything to go by. Thanks for the giveaway!

  96. Karen A says:

    I enjoy working with small pieces so these tips are very helpful. The book would be a great one to add to my library.

  97. Haley says:

    Looks like a really nifty book.

  98. Nancy C says:

    Thanks for the great opportunity and the great tips.

  99. Brooke says:

    This is helpful information for small seams. I have never heard of a stiletto before and am interested in learning more about it.

  100. Mims says:

    Great tips, I often have issues the last little bit of seam allowance.

  101. Linda says:

    Small projects like these are so fun because I feel so frugal when I’m sewing with such tiny pieces. However, I sure can use these tips to make my work better. Thanks for them, and for this great giveaway.

  102. Darlene says:

    Love the stiletto tip and would love to win a copy of this book…I love small quilts!! Thanks for a chance to win.

  103. Charlotte E says:

    I’m always in need of some inspiration when beginning a new quilt. Thanks for the chance to win.

  104. LJ says:

    Oh my, such small pieces. Wonderful tips. Would love a copy of this book.

  105. Caryn says:

    As a new quilted I really appreciated this detailed instruction because it addressed two of my biggest problems. Thank you.

  106. Patti says:

    I need to check my seams more often I think! Thanks for the tips and the chance to win this fabulous book.

  107. Katy says:

    Great giveaway! I would love to win her book.

  108. Julie says:

    What a great giveaway. Just the thing to keep me on track with quilting. Thank you so much.

  109. Jennyroo says:

    The perfect scant 1/4 inch seam!!!

  110. Jen B says:

    Wonderful, basic, tips. Thank you!

  111. Jo Robertson says:

    well I could certainly do with some quilting tips – would love to win! thanks for the giveaway!

  112. MarciaW says:

    With tips like this one, would love to win a copy of this book. I like sewing small pieces to make dolly quilts for my grandnieces but have those accuracy problems too. Thanks for the chance.

  113. Megan says:

    What a great way to use all those tiny pieces that are too precious to throw away. And great tips about using a stiletto!

  114. Annette says:

    Looks like a great book.

  115. Renae says:

    Just starting to be more scrappy in my quilts and this book likes a good one to find ideas.

  116. Irenoski88 says:

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing!

  117. Diann Cornell says:

    The book looks good.

  118. beth says:

    I have never heard of a stiletto – sounds very helpful! Thanks for all the tips!

  119. MC says:

    Super useful reminder to test my seam width once in a while, and you end up with a collection of cute blocks after awhile as well, thanks!

  120. Sarah says:

    Sounds like a great book! I also need to be more careful with seam allowances, and should check more often. ( most of all, when I find something that works, I really should WRITE IT DOWN)

    Thanks for the chance to win,


  121. Wivi says:

    I’d love to have a copy of that book.

  122. Carmen says:

    Just the tips listed here were awesome! Thanks for the chance to win this book!

  123. Nancy says:

    I’ve been seeing this title around the quilting web, and would love to have a copy! Thanks for the accuracy tips. Every little bit helps when you are using little pieces!

  124. Felice says:

    Checked out the blog…work is amazing! Hope I win the book!

  125. Mina says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. I save every scrap of fabric so its always exciting to learn a new way to use up those small pieces.

  126. Lynnette says:

    I agree – great tips! I’ve heard of a stiletto, but never saw anyone use one. Thanks for the opportunity to win a fabulous book!

  127. Megan Stevenson says:

    This looks like a great book!

  128. Kristin says:

    very cool idea to use up scraps of much loved prints!

  129. VickiT says:

    Awesome info about checking the seam and I wish I’d have seen this before buying my stiletto. I bought my 2nd one a few months ago because the first I bought was a multi-tool with stiletto and I hated it because the cover wouldn’t stay on and was always falling on the floor or in my storage box. The one I just bought I love because it’s a great solid metal but it rolls alot. It sounds like Clover is the one I should have gotten. Oh well.

    Now I know this book has to be a must have in my sewing room. I’d love to win a copy. Thank you.

  130. Suzanne says:

    Those are excellent tips especially how to test the seam allowance with the favorite thread.

  131. Beulah says:

    I shall never toss out small scraps again!
    This posting has inspired me to try my hand at “tiny but terrific” quilting adventures. Thanks! :D

  132. Samina says:

    I’ll have to follow the tour. I’m hoping to get a look at some of the quilts in the book so that I can decide whether to add it to my shelf.

  133. Grandma G says:

    Someday I just might get into quilting. I keep soaking up helpful info like this for if/when the time comes.

  134. Fawn says:

    I love how she stresses the importance of practice blocks and frequent measuring!

  135. carole says:

    This looks like a great book – thanks for the chance to win!

  136. Jenni says:

    Looks like a great book!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  137. Linda says:


  138. The book looks so lovely!

  139. Karen says:

    What great tips! I’ve never heard of a stiletto. Being new to quilting and having recently hit my finer with the needle I think I need; a)get a stiletto b) check out Elizabeths website c)get this book.

  140. joyce mosby says:

    40 + years ago my sister made a postage stamp quilt. I loved it then and I love the methods now that make it seem easier than it did then. Thank you for the tutorial.

  141. Margaret says:

    And I thought I was the only one who had that problem with the ends of my seams! Must find a stiletto today!

  142. Aunt Marti says:

    Years ago I went through a mini-quilt phase. At that time I made few quilts, and I made a mini of each quilt I made. Now I make dozens per year, and don’t stop piecing to make a mini quilt. Maybe this book will get me back into it!

  143. Cathy says:

    Small pieces scare me. But the book looks like it has lots of helpful advice.

  144. DMeredith says:

    I have so many small scraps that I sure could use this book for some inspiration, and the tips would be so helpful!

  145. Lynne Tilley says:

    I’ve been so intimidated by the tiny piecing of quilts, but I now I’m ready to give it a try. Once my 2nd granddaughter arrives and I get that trip done, I intend to start trying this out. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, and I’ll be checking the rest of the tour along the way to see what else I can learn. Love the blogging community! I’ve learned so much.
    [email protected]

  146. Jenny says:

    This book looks wonderful — I have not tried the small, small pieces yet, but I’d like to!

  147. Carmen says:

    Oooh, the quilt on the cover is indeed spectacular! Very curious about the other patterns in this book.

  148. sharmie says:

    i’ve never heard of a stiletto for sewing before! it seems like it would help a lot. thanks for the tutorial!

  149. Mom C says:

    I agree that sewing small pieces of fabric together is addictive. You get in the zone and it’s amazing how quickly it all adds up. Thanks.

  150. mjb says:

    I think the only way I could work with these tiny pieces is by hand!

  151. Dell says:

    Great tip. Thanks for sharing.

  152. Willa says:

    Great tips! I’d love a copy of this book!

  153. Terry Kessinger says:

    I am about to quilt my first ever quilt top, a log cabin. Next up, I hope, is something more modern … I think this book would help tremendously, thank-you-very-much! Thanks for the chance to win!

  154. Gill says:

    A timely reminder that we should make sample blocks! I don’t do it often enough!

  155. Kay says:

    This looks like a great book. The section above shows just how useful it will be. Thank you for a wonderful giveaway.

  156. Beth says:

    This seems like a great book. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  157. maureen prendergast says:

    I just made my first postage stamp quilt (table topper) Wish I had known about using a stiletto! Love the look of the smaller pieces- can’t wait to try some of the patterns in Mary Elizabeth’s book.

  158. Steph says:

    I hold on to even the tiniest scraps–I need this book so I can put those scraps to good use!

  159. Ann says:

    Thanks for the stiletto tip, I will have to get one as I do have trouble with that end of seam wobble!

  160. Sallie says:

    Thanks for the chance to win this Spectacular book! I love my stiletto, too.

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