Monday, 30 November 2009

Joining Binding Strip Ends - Tutorial

I used to join the ends of my binding by folding one end back 1/2" and nestling the other end into the fold, then attaching the joint to the quilt and hand-sew around the joined binding ends to hold them together. This was a pain to do and led to a bulky, straight-seam lump instead of the smooth diagonal seams where my binding strips are joined.

So a last week, I tried joining the binding ends with a diagonal seam to make the binding continuous, i.e. when you're done, you can't tell where you started attaching the binding. It's so easy!

Here's how I did it in case you've never given it a try before:

First, when you start attaching the strip, you'll want about 6" of loose strip before you start sewing it to the quilt. Stop attaching the binding strip at least 10" or so from the start of your attachment (I ended up having to take some of the seam out in this example because I sewed too far).

Next, overlap your strips and trim the ends so that you have exactly as much overlap as the width you cut your binding strips (I cut 2" binding, so I had 2" overlap).

I unfold the binding ends that have been folded in half and ironed.

I'm lazy, so I don't mark a diagonal line, I just fold the end and finger press it to get a diagonal crease. I do this to my right binding end, and for my instructions it's important that you fold it the same direction as I do in the picture below.

Now, this is important: Twist the right strip towards yourself, as you see below and place right sides facing on the left strip so that the binding ends are at right angles. If you twist the right end in the wrong direction, you'll get a twist in your binding strip and have to do it again. I always check whether the binding will be a smooth strip if I fold my strip along the yet-to-be-sewn seam line. Pin on either side of the diagonal crease because you don't have a lot of wiggling room with the quilt attached and the binding ends will shift by the time you get to your machine.

Sew along the diagonal crease.

Your binding should now look like this:

Trim the seam down to 1/4".

Finger press the seam and smooth out your quilt and you should get this:

Back to the sewing machine to join the last few inches of the connected binding.

Depending on how stretchy your quilt is and how exactly your measured, you might have a bit more binding than quilt to attach to - that's okay!

I lift my foot and push some extra fabric under the foot along the way, so that I don't end up with a huge crease at the end but instead just little creases that are spread out along the seam.

In my example, I ended up having a little crease, but the beauty is that this is the inside of the binding - you can't even see it from the other side, so once the binding is sewn down on the back, no one but you will ever know :)

Tada, you're done! Wasn't that easy? And I love especially that I don't have to struggle with nestling seams at the end anymore!

I've also started sewing my labels down with the binding, because it saves me from having to applique 4 sides of the label - now I only have two to do, and the label will be more secure.

I just align it on the back of the quilt with the first corner where I attach my binding. Also super easy :)

Some day, I'd like to make more professional labels than hand-writing them with permanent marker. How do you label your quilts? Do you order your labels or make them yourself? I would love to hear about the different ways of labeling a quilt that are being used!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

We have a layout winner!

Thank you all for your input about the layout options!!

Here are the vote results to date:

#1 - 0
#2 - 2
#3 - 1
#4 - 3
#5 - 4

With my own vote for 5, that's the one :) It's interesting to see how different everyone's taste is.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Viewer's Choice!

I finished all my units for the mystery quilt for the quilt guild!

However, I don't like the layout for my colour choices, it actually gives me a headache to look at even if it doesn't quite show in the photo. Anyway, I've played around with the units a bit. The first one is the original layout, I'll number them, and if you could comment on which layout you like best, I'd appreciate some input! I have a personal favourite, but don't want to bias you. A couple of the layout changes are really subtle, just 4 blocks turned around for example, but there are no double photos, I checked! Thanks :)

1. Original
2. White hour glasses3. Corner units turned around
4. Hour glass alternative

5. Green circle with multi-coloured center

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

I'm Hopeless ;)

Yup. Again. I couldn't believe it either.

I once again didn't notice for a whole long quilting session that the backing fabric had folded over and was caught in the quilting...

Can I get away with "At least I haven't made this mistake with the same backing fabric?" Hahaha :)

On the bright side, I'm getting really good at taking out backing fabric without having to tear out quilting :)

Here's my technique: with the tiniest scissors I have (my 20-year-old basic Swiss army knife scissors), I cut really close to the seam, then tug on the fabric from the other side of the seam to pull it loose. It's finicky, but works quite well.

This quilt is now saved! It's the Batik 9-patch, by the way, and this will give you just a tiny sneak preview of the free motion quilting I'm doing. I'm very very excited about it, you'll see why when it's done! :)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Another One Ready To Quilt

Last night, I had the urge to just DO something quilting-related, get something done! So I basted away (and had to cut a few destroyed nails off afterwards ;)

I don't think you've actually seen a photo of the finished Apple Owl Quilt yet, since I had run out of the border fabric in the summer...

Here it is - I love it and am just brain-storming on how to quilt it...

Monday, 23 November 2009

Last Quilting Class Tomorrow

My quilting class is almost over. Tomorrow night is the last class before the closing banquet the following week.

Overall, this course has been a lot of fun. I've agreed to teach again next year and am already thinking of patterns to teach then. I'm thinking that I'd like to give my students more choice in the pattern they'd like to do, which would be a bit more work for me but would accommodate a range of skills from beginner to someone who's taken the course several times before.

I'm thinking about offering a zigzag course, using either the triangle-method for the more advanced students or the rectangle-method for the newer ones.

In addition, I can figure out a triangle pattern just by rearranging the zigzag triangles... that'd be fun :)

So, I'll do some figuring, but if any of you have some fun ideas for beginner to intermediate quilts, shoot them my way!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Partridge Is Done

I finished this wallhanging Wednesday night. Because I didn't want this quilt to get any bigger, I decided against any solid borders and just went straight to binding. I chose the same fabric for binding that I used for the partridge body and the flippy.

By the way, I learnt at this month's quilt guild meeting that the flippy is actually called a welt, but that makes me think of being beaten with a whip while flippy makes me want to smile, so you can guess twice what I'm going to call this border strip :)

I quilted the wall hanging like this:

free-motion veins for the leaves

Stippling on the brown background and stitch-in-the-ditch around the border squares:
The backing (plain muslin) looks kind of fun with the ghost of the pears and the partridge ;)

I might add a bit of quilting around the heart on the partridges wing as it's a big unquilted space right now, but that'll probably be it! This gift is definitely done in time for christmas, yay!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Another UFO Update

So, I currently have 10 quilts "in progress" according to my side bar (you can find all the links there!).

I think it's likely that quite a few of them will be finished before 2010. The following are ready for quilting: Baby-Batik 9-patch, Baby-Rainbow Stacked Coins, Soft Quilt/Imagination 1 (thought it's handquilting, so this one definitely won't be done :)

I have Apple Owl 9-Patch and Baby-Wormy Apple ready for basting (thanks to my batting shopping spree earlier this week!) and I'm trying to make up my mind about borders for the Spring Squares and Oblongs and the Disaster Triple Irish Chain. Those are tricky, I've been struggling for a while now.

The MODA Northern Solitude baby quilt is still being hand-quilted, slow progress and it's on the back burner while the deadline quilts are in the limelight.

I received the final instructions for the mystery quilt on Wednesday, hurray!

Jennifer's Quilt (the modified log cabin) is still in the piecing-the-top stage, but this quilt will be done by December 14th. Yes it will. It has to be ;)

So, with this fresh list in mind, I'm off to quilting - though still sniffling through my day...

And lastly, WHEN will I ever learn not to COOK AND QUILT AT THE SAME TIME????

I thought I was only gone for 5 min, not 12, so how could I help my food burning to the bottom of the pan??? (Imagine innocent face with this statement :)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I Wish I Wasn't

I am sick. Grr. I hate being sick.

And I was doing so well this month, a post a day!

And worst of all, I don't even have THE flu, or any kind of flu, just a rotten cold, which means I can still look forward to a possible flu later in the flu-season. That's just not fair!

Maybe I can come up with a quilty post for tomorrow, my third day off work... not getting that much quilting done either, mostly sleeping, and resting, and well, sleeping...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Big Haul

Last weekend, I went on a combined visit "family/friends-buy fabric" trip. It began with this beautiful sunset (I braced the camera on the car and still it blurred :( but the colours are there!)

and ended with these goodies:
-I'm trying to collect some dark brown prints (not floral, not paisly, more modern) for a quilt I have in mind... the flannelette was a left over piece that's exactly the size of a baby quilt backing, so how could I have passed that up? :)

Different store, different fabric. The ducklings immediately melted my heart :) The red fabric on the bottom is a flannelette with bouncing frogs, fun!

Some batiks and cool prints (I bought the black bubbles before, knowingly ;)

And enough batting for all the quilts that are in progress or in the planning stage (9 in total).

Needless to say, it was an expensive weekend. At least some of the materials are for commissions, so I'll make some of the money back, yay!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

More Star Ornaments

With my new Christmas fabrics (won at the retreat), I had a lot nicer backing choices for my star ornaments. They are so very fast to whip up!

Some will go in a Secret Santa game at the quilt guild, the rest will be Christmas gifts.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Back To The Beast

Once I finished the partridge in a pear tree wall hanging and the log cabin blocks, I could finally switch to black thread again :) Because it's getting high time to finishing this quilt! Everything is done on it, including the binding, except for some quilting.

I pondered what to do for the theme panels and decided against better judgment to outline the black border stitch-in-the-ditch (SITD). I anticipated a nightmare, but at the recent quilt retreat, I saw a lady do free-motion SITD, so I gave it a try. I'm doing pretty well on down and up seams, the sideways once are a bit... wonky, to say the least :)

But hey, it's for a non-quilting guy... he doesn't even have to be on a galloping horse to not notice these little mistakes and half the time it's a black quilting line on black fabric anyway :) Clever me!

After a little midnight session the other day, I'd say I've finished half the blocks.

I also hand-quilted around select motives in each block, and I think I've done more than 3/4 of those, so I'd say I'll get it done this week!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Modified Log Cabin Quilt

All the blocks are done, hurray!

The lady whom the quilt is for came by and laid them out the way she wanted the blocks to face. She ended up doing it differently from the original pattern where all blocks faced the same direction and instead had them to pretty randomly left, right, up and down.

Now I'm busily trimming everything down to 12" and then all the blocks will be turned into a queen-size quilt. One more month to go!

We decided on a pieced backing and on stippling with off-white thread in the muslin strips only so that the blue and green strips pop up, similar to my burgundy floating coins quilt (which I keep wanting to call cathedral quilt because of the see-through effect :) but that name is a bit to grave and pompous for a babyquilt, no?)

We had lunch after our layout session and I served pumpkin ravioli. I found the recipe through Zonnah's blog - she kept having it on her weekly meal plan so I thought it must be good to have it 2-3 times a week ;) - it is!
My guest brought dessert in form of these awesome dessert pizzas:

It's a sugar cookie with cream cheese icing and fresh fruit (my first question was: where did you get the fruit this time of year? You'd think I'd be used to the amenities of global transport these days but I still expect to find only cabbage, potatoes and apples this time of year :)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Partridge In A Pear Tree

I thought it was time to branch out a bit and work on some applique. So far I haven't been a fan of wall hangings and applique, but I saw a wall hanging pattern in the quilting magazine I won at the retreat and it instantly made me think of a family member because she loves singing the 12 Days of Christmas song with the whole family - you know the type where everyone has a line and the person with the "5 golden rings" has to be a man with a deep baritone :)

So I decided to give it a go - I guess I felt reckless after my success with foundation piecing, hahaha!

Here's an account of my progress so far, and I'm pretty darn happy with how it turned out!

Here's a shot of the glossy magazine and the first cut-out shapes (note that my big window in front of my new sewing space is pretty useless since all my quilting happens after 5pm when it's dark here :) (apart from weekends).

I appliqued the heart and wing of the partridge first because they were both big and had the most straight lines (apart from the tree branches). I chose a wider zigzag stitch that I used for my imagination 1 quilt circles (that was more a satin stitch, I guess). I figured this wall hanging won't be handled as much as a quilt, so this stitch should be able to hold it all together.

Big admission: I decided to forgo the fusible interfacing and just laid my pieces on, pinned them and started zigzagging around it.

By now, I have the tree trunk and branches attached and all the pears and leaves pinned in place where I wanted them (I made the whole pattern a bit smaller and cut out the bottom branch of the tree - it meant about 17 fewer leaves and 4 fewer pears to be appliqued, apart from considering how much wall space the recipient has available. The actual pattern is for a wall hanging that's bigger than my baby quilts!)

Here's my appliqueing technique in action :)

Next, it was time for the border. Again, I played with the pattern a bit - it wanted 4.5" squares for the border, but that was too big for me. I ended up using charms and cut them in half (2.5" squares). In fact, it was a charm pack that I blogged about here - I found it too dark when I opened it at home, and too traditional for my taste, but it's perfect for this project!

With a bit of cropping of my applique background fabric, I managed to fit the 2.5" square border - it's tricky with squares - you can't just cut the border to the length you need or you'll end up with rectangles at the end...

The transition from dark center to dark border was a bit to blah for me, so I decided to insert what my quilting teacher Leona refers to as flippy (some of you quilters will never have heard this term, because one lady I asked about how to do this just greeted me with uncomprehending silence... "You want to make a what?"). What it is - and feel free to tell me what you call it - is a thin strip of fabric, e.g. 1" wide, folded in half like binding and sewn on like binding but between the border and the centers. It results in a narrow outline that is ironed down but creates more dimensionality than just a narrow border strip. Here's my first attempt at it.

First, I pinned on the flippy strip, then I pinned the border strip on top. I pinned lots.

And I mean LOTS! I had a bouquet of pins :)

Here, the side borders are attached, including the flippy. The top and bottom flippies were tricky - how to make a nice finish at the corners instead of the raw edges?

I ended up folding the ends in, just like when you get to the end of the binding strip on a quilt. It kind of worked, but if there's a better way of doing this, PLEASE let me know!!!

In the end, I was very happy witih how everything worked out. I think the piece is not perfectly square - the applique kind of crunched up the background fabric a bit, maybe the fusible interfacing is useful after all? Or maybe doing it quilt-as-you-go with batting and backing in one is a good method for this? No idea, but I can try all that in the future and am as always open to suggestions.

(The eye is appliqued, it fit better than the suggested fabric pen dot)

Gosh, it's fun to try new things!!!