Binding Hints #2

Today’s post is another binding tip.  From my experiences with show quilts, I always wanted the finished, bound edge of the quilt to have a full binding.  Quilt judges pay attention to that as a sign of a finely finished quilt.  Many quilters don’t think much about that until they enter quilt contests, and find that the judges scored them lower because the binding was not up to their standards.  I don’t generally live by the standards of the quilt police, but once I started studying my binding results, I also appreciated that a full binding looks better, and wears better too.  And it’s not that hard to achieve!

To begin, don’t trim the edge of the quilt before attaching the binding.  I cut my binding strips at 2 1/4″, and sew the binding on by machine with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  When trimming the seam allowance, I make it a little wider than 1/4″ to make the binding fuller.  Generally I trim about 5/16″, but that will vary depending on the thickness of batting and fabrics.

Binding 4Then, when I turn the binding to the back side and hand-stitch in place, the binding is smooth and full.

But what about the corners?  Since there are extra layers of binding fabric in the corners, it doesn’t need any extra seam allowance width to fill the binding.  I trim the corners to 1/4″, and gradually make the seam allowance wider as it gets away from the corner.

Binding 5

As alternative to this method, I could cut my binding to 2″ and get similar results.  However, I prefer the wider binding for its appearance on the finished quilt, and I think the wider strips are easier to work with in general.  This method also allows for handling the corners differently than the rest of the edges.  I hope you try this method, and let me know if you like it!

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Binding Hints #1

I’ve been doing lots of sewing and machine quilting lately for new pattern designs, but I can’t show you any of them yet.  In a few weeks, I’ll have patterns ready, and then I can show more pictures.

To finish up the new quilts, I’ve been doing a few bindings.  My binding methods have evolved over the years, and I have a couple of hints to share.

First, after preparing the binding to put on a quilt, I used to keep it under control by putting it in a neat circle like this:

Binding 1I was pretty sure that was the correct way to store your binding before putting it on your quilt.  After doing this about 100 times, it occurred to me that I always struggle with the twisted mess that is created during this process:

Binding 2If you use this method, you know that it is a twisted mess to get the binding into this roll, and a twisted mess to get it off the roll and onto the quilt.  So, I tried something different:

Binding 3And I really liked it!  It’s more of an accordion-style gathering method.  It doesn’t stay together quite as well as the roll, but the binding comes off easier and goes on the quilt without twisting.  If you need to store it for a while, just put it in a Ziploc bag.  You could also leave it in the bag, pulling out what you need, as you sew it on the quilt.  Try it, and see if you like it better too.


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Machine Quilting Ideas: Twisted Trellis

My last post on Machine Quilting Ideas introduced the concept of “Divide and Conquer”, where multiple different quilting motifs are used on a quilt.  Each motif is designed to fill an area defined by the pieces of the top: blocks, borders, sashing, etc.  Today I want to show you a variation of that with Twisted Trellis:

Prairie Sky QuiltingThis is a contemporary design where the blocks are not strictly defined.  Instead, this design seems to be made up of “paths”.  As I watched this quilt take shape on my design wall, I knew that I wanted a quilting design that was divided into those paths.  And of course, a zigzag path seemed perfect for a long line of feathers:

TwTr 2I love doing feathers!  They are easy to do without marking, and I wanted some curvy lines to balance out all of these sharp edges in the piecing.  If you haven’t tried feathers yet, jump in and give them a try.  I consider them a must-have for your machine quilting bag of tricks.

For the dark blue and light yellow lines that twist around each other, I thought that straight quilting lines would help to accentuate that feature:

TwTr 1I decided that I would try doing ruler work – using a 1/4″ thick acrylic ruler like the longarmers use.  However, this was done on my HQ16 sit-down machine, so doing ruler work requires moving the ruler along with the quilt as you stitch.  I’ve heard that many quilters do this very well, but I did not have the patience to master that skill.  So I decided to try free-handing some straight lines, watching my presser foot in relation to the edge of the piecing, and I was able to do much better than expected.  It was achievable because they are relatively short lines, and I made multiple lines, giving your eye more to look at so you won’t notice how imperfect they are!  I had to start practicing that skill somewhere, and this project was on a deadline, so the practice piece was my final project!

I filled in the small green square with a simple flower.  If I could do this over again, I would have made more petals, or echoed the existing petals.  I always come up with better ideas after it’s done!  Rather than be dismayed over what I should have done, I try to look at it as a learning opportunity, and I will benefit from that experience for the next project.

So, this “Divide and Conquer” project was not separated by blocks and sashing, but instead was used to support the overall graphic design of the quilt.  I hope that this approach will help you in finishing off some of your quilt projects!

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Machine Quilting Ideas: Easy Street

The first two posts on Machine Quilting Ideas featured quilts that were contemporary, and the quilting that I chose was an all-over repeat of one motif.  For today’s post, we will look at a more traditional approach, one that I will call “Divide & Conquer”.  This is where different motifs are chosen for blocks, sashing, backgrounds, borders, etc.  Let’s look at Easy Street:Prairie Sky QuiltingFor this quilt, I developed different quilting designs for the blocks, background, and borders.  Here is a view of the blocks:

Easy StreetTo stitch this flower motif, first I outlined the block, and then drew a chalk pencil line of a circle in the center of the block.  I stitched the circle, and then free-hand stitched large 8 large petals.  I could aim each petal towards to top, bottom, and sides of the block.  Then I added echoed petals by stitching within each petal.  This makes the design more interesting, and also helps detract from any errors by giving you more lines to look at.

For the background, I made a simple feather design:Easy Street 2You can barely see a circle placed between the two points of the blocks.  From there, I travelled down to make the teardrop at the bottom, and added large feathers as I moved back up to the circle.  That positioned me to move to the other side and do a mirrored motif.  That might seem intimidating, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is if you practice by drawing it several times first.

Finally, here are the borders:Easy Street 3The inner border has two lines of stitching, each done as a zigzag that overlap to make squares on point.  You can see that this is far from perfect!  But there are areas of the quilt where I did much better after more practice.  Some of these points were marked for me by the corner of the blocks and the outer borders, so I just stitched point-to-point.  I may have marked the other points with pins or chalk.  The outer border was easy to stitch by curving from point to point, with an additional echo on the outer edge.

Divide and conquer is another approach to quilting when you don’t want an all-over design.  It helps to accentuate certain shapes, and can provide smaller areas to show off a more elaborate motif, for example a feathered wreath.  Or, as in this case, you can use it to show off simple motifs!

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Machine Quilting Ideas: Waterfalls

The next quilt that I want to show you for Machine Quilting Ideas is Waterfalls:



This is another design that I would consider to be contemporary.  Made out of batiks, using an original block design, there’s not much traditional going on here.  I chose an all-over design for quilting, to add texture but not detract from the graphic design of the blocks.

Here is the design I chose, seen from the back of the quilt.  It is a swirl with a hook on it.  The hook adds some points to the curvy design, and also helps to fill in open spots while quilting, moving from one motif to the next.

Waterfalls 3

I’m doing a version of a motif design that I found in Angela Walters’ book “Free-Motion Quilting“.  It’s a great book with lots of easy to stitch motifs, along with step-by-step instructions.  Although, her execution of this design looks much better than mine!  And I made my motifs large, for two reasons.  First, the larger scale was a good balance to the size of the blocks, and second, it won’t make the quilt too stiff.  Of course, there’s always the reason that it’s much faster!  It would also look great in a smaller scale for filling an open area.

From the front, a medium thread blends in with the colors to provide more focus on the piecing.Waterfalls 2This quilting design offers curves, repetition (the swirl has an echo feature to it), and points/ angles from the hook.  Since it is an all-over design, I can vary the size and direction to fill an open area, and the echos and hooks help me to travel to an adjoining area.  It contributes to the contemporary mood that I wanted for this quilt.  And, it met my requirement of being fast to complete the project.

I hope you like it!

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Moda Blog Hop

Everyone knows Moda fabrics for their beauty and quality.  Moda just started a Blog Hop to feature many of their talented designers.  You will get to know more about their designers, and admire all of their beautiful fabric designs!

The Blog Hop is called “Spell It With Fabric: Designer Blog Hop”, and it offers many free giveaways.

Spell-It-with-Fabric-BLOGAs you can see in the above picture, they have designed an alphabet quilt, and for the Blog Hop, they are giving away the block patterns for the letters.  They have planned a Blog Hop where each day you can visit the sites of a few of their designers.  Collect the patterns for the letters by visiting the blog posts.  And sign up for a chance to win free fabrics!!

Here’s the exciting part for PSQ: Moda is recommending the Folded Corner Clipper as a tool for making these blocks!  You can see it in their post for today:

Spell It With Fabric Feb 18

Here is a link to their Blog Hop schedule.  Follow it every day for a fun quilt design, and lots of free fabric drawings!


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Machine Quilting Ideas: Rock Candy

For so many quilters, free-motion quilting skills are a challenge.  Even for those who have the technical ability, the creative inspiration is still a challenge.  Deciding what to quilt, and where, can reduce us to a heap of indecision.  That can stall a project as we postpone making a decision until we find the perfect choice for the project.  I’ve found myself in that situation many times.  It’s no wonder that so many quilters complain about their piles of unfinished quilt tops!

So I’m going to add a feature to my blog about Machine Quilting Ideas.  I’ll look back at some of the quilts I’ve finished, in the hopes that readers can learn something new, or find inspiration for their next project.

I’ll begin with a very easy design: circles.

Rock Candy 2I consider this quilt, Rock Candy, to be contemporary since it uses all almost-solid fabrics.  The brown backgrounds make it a little masculine, so I didn’t want a frilly design.  The straight lines in the piecing led me to choose contrasting curved lines for the quilting.  Using an all-over design worked well with the contemporary feel of the quilt.

If I had broken up the quilting motifs to be block-based, the quilt would have been more traditional – something that might have been a good choice if I had used more traditional fabrics and/or prints.  Or, this could also be a great design for showing off some elaborate, elegant designs.  The fabrics that you choose, and your ultimate goal of the “mood” of the quilt will help lead you to the right choice for each project.  Of course, how much time you are willing to spend on machine quilting affects your decision too!

Rock CandyYou have probably seen many show quilts that use “pebbles” as a dense background filler.  For Rock Candy, I decided that I would make it more of a “rock wall”, and made the circles larger.  Since it was used as an all-over design, small dense motifs would have made a stiff, time-consuming quilt.

This design meets several of my requirements for easy machine quilting.  First, it is a small and easy motif, making it manageable for a sit-down machine.  Second, it is flexible, so I can easily fill in areas with varying size motifs, travel to other areas, and avoid being cornered with nowhere to go!

Stay tuned for more Machine Quilting Ideas.  Thanks for joining me!

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