Yesterday when I was working on making samples of Many Moons, my dad stopped by as he often does, without a head's up. As school starts this week, he was stopping by to bring the kids back to school goodie bags - super sweet of him. I'm never quite sure when he sees my projects what he will say as he really doesn't see value in the arts. He's spent the last 4-5 decades working as an engineer. As a kid, he even talked me out of going to a high school to study dance (I still majored in ballet for a while in college). So yesterday when looking at the half of Many Moons that I had finished, he asked "How do you keep it so square?" This was a huge compliment in my book. His engineering brain saw my attention to detail and it made me grin.
After he left, his question was there on my mind and it got me thinking. Fabric is so easily pulled, stretched, and distorted. Using a heavy spray starch before cutting is a good at reducing some of that. Another trick that I utilize is not pressing down while moving my iron. Instead I try to lift the iron, move to the next area then press straight down, easier said than done. Then of course careful cutting - thank you rotary cutter for playing a huge role. Finally creating consistent 1/4" seams is essential. I use lots of pins. I also set the needle on my sewing machine 2 notches to the right and using the right edge my presser foot as the fabric guide. When I'm stitching a seam, I watch the fabric as it goes under the foot, not the needle as by then it's too late!
Sometimes I find despite all of this, not all of my blocks come out exactly the same size. So when I put blocks together that don't quite match, I will pin the corners to match, and distribute any extra length between them with more pins. Then when I stitch it, I put the side with more length face down and let the presser feet ease in the length so in the end they fit perfectly together.