Monday, April 13, 2015

The No-Trimmed Quilt, or What Happens When You Do!

I've learned so much from teaching No Tails Binding! Mostly, I've been surprised to know that some quilters:

1) aren't familiar with the concept of squaring-up blocks, squaring up a quilt center, and how to add measured borders that square-up the whole quilt.

2) are accustomed to making binding that leaves less binding showing on the front of the quilt, and more binding showing on the back.

While I don't mean to sound like an authority on binding, I do know that in a judged quilt show, it's binding that quickly separates the "men from the boys."

Quilt bindings are critically examined for these components:
  • Corners that are sewn closed, either by hand or machine.
  • Binding that's straight.
  • Binding that shows equally on the front and back.
  • Binding that is fully stuffed.
I'll explain further with my examples. In all these, I'm demonstrating with 2-1/4" wide binding.

Here's the way many quilters sew binding to a quilt.

The quilt is trimmed to remove backing and batting, so it's all even with the quilt top. Then, placing the raw edge of the binding even with the trimmed quilt, the binding is machine-sewn to the quilt with a quarter-inch seam,

When the binding is wrapped to the back of the quilt, pulling it against the edge of the quilt, less binding shows on the front than the back. Technically, this is incorrect.

Of course, it only matters if you care! Like if your quilt is going to be examined closely, or judged. For demonstration purposes only, I pulled this binding all the way to the back and hand-stitched it down. This is what I don't want.

And, to further make my point, if I hand sew this binding to the back correctly, aligning the binding fold with the machine-stitching line - so the front and back binding widths are the same - this leaves part of the binding unstuffed, as you can see along the edge. Again, this is what I don't want.

So you may ask: "How do I sew binding to a quilt so the front and back bindings are even, and the binding is stuffed?"

The answer is: "Do not trim the backing and batting even with the quilt top."

This means if you're hiring a longarm quilter, be sure to ask that she doesn't trim your quilt! 

Here's the way I sew binding to a quilt.

1) Use a marker to draw a straight line around the untrimmed edges of your quilt. Not only is this used as a guide for sewing binding, it ensures that the sides of your quilt are straight.

2) Align the raw edge of the binding with the line you've drawn. Sew 1/4" from the drawn line. 

2) Then trim just right! This is key. "Just right" is 3/8" from the machine stitching line for binding that is 2-1/4" wide.
For 2-1/4"-wide binding, trim 3/8" from machine stitching line
If you prefer binding that's 2-1/2" wide, trim 1/2" from machine stitching line.

The result is binding that's:

1) fully stuffed with backing and batting that wasn't trimmed away; and
2) the same finished width on the front as on the back!
Aim for binding that's the same width on the front and back.
And if you use my favorite No Tails Binding method, you'll have crisp, machine-sewn mitered corners too.

I could share more about what I've learned while teaching, but admittedly this stuff is difficult to explain in photos. Hopefully though, I've given you some food for thought, and perhaps helped you improve your own binding. After all, binding is the best part of making a quilt because it means you're done! Linda

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Really Random Thursday

This is a very late Thursday post, but I had a full day - a stress test and blood drawn, a grocery store stop, line dancing, and Skype time with an Iowa friend. Still, I want to participate in Really Random Thursday, because this week found me with a hodgepodge of (perhaps) interesting doings. Cindy at LiveaColorfulLife in California does Really Random Thursday every Thursday, in case you'd like to check out her post.

First, a happy Easter to my Christian friends! I am always humbled by Easter, and the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. We worshipped Easter morning - at a Baptist church (yes, a very different religion for this lifelong Lutheran!) - and then came home to watch a live sermon feed of Pastor Mike at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa. I miss this church so much!

I still have two basted quilts that need quilting, with one in progress. I'm not close to being finished. Do you, like me, procrastinate about what most needs doing?

Something that you may not know about me is that I'm a fiend for popcorn. Not the microwave sort, though that's tolerable. About four nights a week, I make stovetop popcorn in my Whirlypopper. I swear, I could live on popcorn. Sprayed with I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter, and sprinkled with white cheddar seasoning from Bed, Bath and Beyond... it's yum, and low-cal. Since moving to Florida, I found that local grocery store whole kernel popcorn is terribly expensive. Now, I stock up on popcorn from Hy-Vee, in Kansas City. For those who don't know, Hy-Vee is a grocery store chain that started in Iowa (my first job in high school was as a checker at a Hy-Vee in Newton, Iowa) and the chain is now in eight Midwest states. My brother and sister-in-law both work for Hy-Vee, and in a point of irony, hubby Dan and I first met in a Hy-Vee grocery store parking lot, in Mason City, Iowa!

The best popcorn, for the best value, comes from the Midwest. It's quite timely that my popcorn container is near empty just as I'm getting ready to visit family in Kansas City.

My last blog post generated a lovely comment from a teen friend in Iowa. Elizabeth and I met when she and her mother participated in Stitchin' Mission, a quiltmaking for missions ministry I led for five years before we moved from Iowa. I had the wonderful opportunity to go into churches of all denominations, in the Des Moines area, to teach beginner quiltmaking to hundreds of women, children, and a few men, who then donated their quilts. I even got to lead one Stitchin' Mission at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in in Sydney, Australia!

Elizabeth is still making quilts. She sent pictures, and here's her blog post about a recently-made quilt she gave away. I'm so proud of her! Isn't this pretty?! The Minky on the quilt back makes it really special.

Last week I taught No Tails Binding three times, and discovered something really interesting about trimming quilts. Before returning a quilt to a customer, some longarm quilters trim the backing and batting even with the quilt top. If a quilt owner receives a quilt trimmed like this, the binding should be placed at least 1/8" (for 2-1/4"-wide binding) from the cut edge, to have enough excess backing and batting (3/8") to fill the binding.
This quilt has been trimmed to the quilt top edge,
so binding should be positioned at least 1/8" from the cut edge.
This isn't a problem if the quilt has a border, or a broad negative space, but it is a problem if the quilt top design has blocks with points along edge of the quilt top. Either the binding has to be sewn only a 1/4" seam from the edge, or the points have to be sewn over when the binding is stitched to the quilt top!

I know pictures would help a lot to explain this. I'm preparing a whole post about it.

Here's a little video to show you what our new golf cart looks like, now that it's tricked-out with lights. Fun for nighttime driving!
Linda

Monday, April 6, 2015

Metro Waves

It hasn't taken me long to learn that if you're going to teach anything related to quilting, you have to plan w-a-y ahead and make the projects. That's what I did when I decided to offer Beyond First Time Quiltmaking classes about curves using the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR). After making Urban Abacus, I made one more quilt for a total of four QCR quilts under my belt. I love every one of them.

However, the last one, Metro Waves challenged me the most. First, as I mentioned in a previous post, the yardages given in the instructions work only if you're using solid fabrics which are wider than prints. If, like me, you want to make Metro Waves with prints, you need more fabric.

Second, I started thinking scrappy would be great, and... oh how wrong I was! It was difficult to select the "right" fabrics to go together.

After cutting out a gazillion convex and concave curves, I finally figured out that Metro Waves looks much better with a controlled color palette.





Batting is a single layer of Quilter's Dream Puff. This is the first time I've quilted with Puff, and while I like it because it's lightweight, and well... puffy. It gives dimension to the quilting. But I found the sandwich didn't stay together well with 505 Basting Spray. Puff is too fluffy to hold together with spray baste. The next time I use Puff, I'll definitely pin-baste.

I quilted the entire quilt without marking. In all the print areas I quilted straight lines, not with a walking foot, but a straight Fine Line Ruler.

In the solid white (Kona) spaces, I free-hand quilted a variety of round and curved shapes. 

For styled photos of Metro Waves, I wanted a water view to mimic the waves in the quilt. While an oceanside picture with crashing waves would have been ideal, I wasn't up for a 90 minute drive to the beach, nor the inevitable spring break crowds I would encounter.

So, a bit closer to home these pictures were taken at Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages.



Metro Waves, 53" X 71"
These colors. This design. This style. The quilting. They are all me expressing my best, happy self.

One more water view... of an alligator. While they're commonplace here - a gator in every body of water - when our city is full of northern visitors, a gator attracts a crowd. About 15 golf carts pulled off the path to stop and admire this big boy. He was eight to nine feet long, by our estimation.

I hope everyone found a blessed way to celebrate Easter and our risen Lord Jesus. He is risen indeed! Linda

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sewing Little Shorts

With summer coming, several novelty prints sitting in the fabric cupboard, and an upcoming visit to grandchildren, it was time to get sewing shorts for four very special little boys. 

Using my DanaMadeIt Kid Short pattern - it's turning out to be a good investment for all the times I've used it - I assembly-lined sewed, mostly using my serger.

Then, instead of adding one of my scratchy FlourishingPalms labels to identify which is the back, for easy dressing, I used a loop of bias tape. In the case of brothers who will have shorts made with the same "Big Hero 6" print, I coded the loop colors. Their mom started color-coding them when they were too little to talk. Tay has always been blue; Aesa has always been green.

Brothers Austin and LJ are getting the pirate (skull and crossbones) print and University of Texas camo print. Theirs are sizes 8 and 18 months.

Tay and Aesa, who are just 13 months apart in age, get sizes 6 and 4. It was a pleasant sewing weekend.

A bit of interesting information... the golf cart we just traded-in didn't have an odometer, so we could only estimate, based on the frequency of needing to fill it with gas, how many miles we drove it each week. The new golf cart has an odometer. In just six days we put 126 miles on it! Linda

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mostly Quilting

Last week I taught FMQ to ten students, and then wrapped up Beyond First Time Quiltmaking on Monday. Now, I've turned my attention to my own projects.

All my safety pins are in two quilts, so to baste Metro Waves, I used 505 Basting Spray. Using an adhesive spray to baste a large quilt isn't my favorite way to ensure the quilt back stays smooth. But in a pinch it works. I still like to safety pin the perimeter of a spray-basted quilt sandwich, and I didn't even have enough extra safety pins to do that! The quilt isn't entirely smooth, however that could also be because batting is Quilter's Dream "Puff." The quilt is puffy, so the quilting shows up well, and the quilt is light weight, but I'm not sure I'll use Puff again. I find it easier to domestic machine quilt a low loft poly or cotton batting.

I intentionally quilted Metro Waves using several of my Fine Line Rulers by Accents in Design. It's been a long time since I used them, and this quilt seemed appropriate for a variety of quilting designs.

I'm able to use these rulers because I have the Pfaff ruler foot - the one with the 1/4"-thick "heel" - to rest the ruler against. 

Mostly, I straight-line quilted the prints, and free motion quilted the white spaces.

Here's how I used the arch ruler along the edge of the quilt.

 

Here's how I just winged-it to quilt bubbles.


I was happy to recently learn from Amy at FreeMotionQuiltingAdventures blog that Bernina has finally come out with a ruler foot too! It's #97 (the one on the right) and is expected to be available in April.

So, Metro Waves is completely quilted, and when the binding is added, I'll post pictures. It's been a long time since I've headed out in the golf cart to scope out a pretty place to photograph a newly-finished quilt.

And speaking of the golf cart... we traded in our old one, a 2009 refurbished Yamaha that we bought in 2012 when we first moved to The Villages.
golf cart purchased in 2012
Though we don't golf, we do use our cart to go most places: grocery store, pharmacy, bank, activities at rec centers, church, and to friends' homes. We decided it was time to invest in a more comfortable ride for the 100-plus miles we put on the golf cart each week!

Our new 2015 Yamaha has better suspension, a sound-deadening wrap around the engine so it's less noisy, a different clearer-view wind shield (See the missing black bar across the middle?), LED headlamps, speedometer/odometer/clock read-out, and seat belts, among other features. Oh! And this one has our names on the front - a sure sign that we're "true Villagers" now, according to our daughter-in-law.

In the next week, we're also tricking out the cart with under mounted liquid lights to turn on at night. They glow in 15 different colors! Why not have some fun with the golf cart too?!

Paducah, 2014
Some of you know I've been planning to go to Paducah in April, to work for American Quilter magazine, interviewing and writing about quilt show winners as I did last year.

Now, I'm not going.

In early February I was heart-broken to learn that my editor friend, Michele, lost her job with the magazine. When the new editor neglected to return my calls or get back to me about my pending plans to fly to Paducah in April, I decided last weekend to change my flight (to Kansas City) and cancel my rental car. On Tuesday I finally received an email from AQS about coming to work at the show. Too late, I told her. I'm sorry to not be going, as in addition to interviewing quilt show winners, I had planned to meet up with several friends from the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild.

Michele was a treat to work for, and recently sent me this t-shirt that I admired at AQS.

Just gotta share a couple more picture from Instagram. After Lora put different binding on "Ad Libbing," she hired a professional photographer to take pictures of it.

Fabulous, huh?

The quilt is in New Hampshire now, for MQX. We have our fingers crossed! Linda

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Design Wall, Lately

Now that most of the excitement and chat about QuiltCon has died down (it was the topic of our March 9 Central Florida MQG meeting), I've been focusing on quilty obligations - teaching, preparing to teach, organizing a Mod Quilt Retreat, and prepping for quilt shows - and time in my sewing room... the latter of which has been very limited due to the aforementioned obligations!

Still, at least two UFOs will be off my "On the Horizon" list (a tab, above) in 2015. I pulled out the the finished quilt center of this Blogger's BOM, begun in 2011, and added the pieced border blocks, most of which were pieced for me by quilters in the Mid-Century Modern Bee. I had to do some fiddly sewing to make the corners work out.
Strawberry Fizz and Lime Pop - 79" X 79" 
And then, for the back, I joined a few trial-and-rejected pieces,

siggy blocks from those previously mentioned bee friends, 

an extra block, and my own homemade label. 

The strip I cobbled together was inserted horizontally in the fat back, about one-third from the bottom.

Now is the inevitable question: How will I quilt it?

On the teaching front, it's hopping! Last week I taught "No Tails Binding" (see my tutorial for this binding method on this blog) to quilters in Quilting Guild of The Villages. As is inevitable when teaching, we all learned a couple things related to this method:

1) it's not a good idea to try, for the first time, sewing with black fabric, either in the little quilt or as binding; and,
2) when machine sewing binding points, it's easier to see with an open-toed sewing machine foot.

I'm so pleased that the quilters caught on. Now, mostly by word-of-mouth, I have four more of these classes of 20 students, scheduled into May!
Quilting Guild of The Villages quilters at Sterling Heights Rec Center
I'm happy to share that "Ad Libbing" has been juried into MQX (Machine Quilter's Expo) in Manchester, New Hampshire, April 8-11. And, it's been entered into two more shows.

After chatting with two certified quilt judges while at QuiltCon (they were not judging QuiltCon), Lora went to the trouble of removing the previously-sewn length-of-grain binding, and replaced it with bias binding. We met last Friday so I could have Ad Libbing to prep and ship. Lint and fuzz has been removed, the label covered (solid orange fabric), paperwork and a check for returning it home, and packaging are all done.

Monday afternoon was the second of three Beyond First Time Quiltmaking classes - everyone's making a Quick Curve Ruler quilt, and it's fun to see the prints and colors.

Tuesday I'm leading an all-day Free Motion quilting workshop.

All this quilty stuff is great, but I need to keep up my strength! How about an energy ball? These are Key Lime Coconut Energy Bites by Spoonful of Flavor.

They're full of healthy stuff - almonds, cashews, dates - though when I didn't have enough dates, I improvised by adding diced raisins. If you're looking for a non-chocolate sort of pick-me-up, they're pretty good.

Also, this week I become eligible for social security. I've gotta look for the silver lining when I get that old. A monthly check suits just fine! Linda 

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