The beauty of chain piecing while making a quilt is you can sew continuously, joining piece after piece together in a short amount of time. Chain piecing, on its own, does not allow for reinforcing stitches (sewing in reverse at the beginning and/or end of a seam) or you are defeating the time saving benefits of the technique. Most quality fabrics will stay together without this reinforcing stitch until the next seam is sewn across the first; but what about those fabrics that would benefit from reinforcement stitches at the beginning and end of a seam: especially those pieces that will get a lot of handling before the next seam is sewn? How can you keep these pieces from coming apart? My solution has always been to change the stitch length at the beginning and end of a seam, but that eats up a lot of time and becomes very monotonous over the course of a larger project. What to do? How about using your machine’s programming/sequencing ability to create the perfect seam? This is how I did it.
The challenge was to create a sequence (Pfaff terminology) or a program (Husqvarna Viking terminology) that was exactly the length I needed to sew a 5.5” fabric piece.
I started with very small straight stitches for the first 6 stitches.
I then increased the length of the straight stitch for the next 53 stitches.
I finished the stitch by ending back at the length I started the sequence with and inserted a Stop at the end of the sequence.
Now, each time I came to the end of a piece, my machine would stop and let me line up the next piece in the chain.
I could start sewing again just by pressing the foot pedal or by pushing the stop/start button. Here is what I created in my machine to sew an exact 5.5” piece of fabric (all stitches I used were straight stitches).
I then saved that sequence so I can now reload that stitch any time I would like to chain 5.5” fabric pieces. Each machine is a bit different, so you might need to tweak my numbers just a bit, but you might find this is your new favorite way to piece. Your pieces, because they have very small stitches at the beginning and end of the seam, hold up well to a lot of handling, either from pressing or from layout manipulation. If you need to stitch a larger piece size, add more stitches. If you need to stitch a smaller piece, decrease the number of stitches. Once you have the framework, the adjustments are easy. Also, once the sequence/program is complete and is in Sewing Mode, you are able to move the whole thing a bit to the left or a bit to the right to get the perfect 1/4″ or scant 1/4″ seam!