Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tool Tip Tuesday: Joining Quilt Binding

I've been asked a couple times about how I join my binding.  I'm relatively new to specific technique but I wanted to share what I've learned.  This tool tip actually uses two tools you already have in your sewing basket:  A marking tool (I use the Frixion pen from Pilot) and a small ruler (mine is an Omnigrid in the 1" by 6" size).
For this demonstration I'll be finishing the binding by machine, but this post will only cover the joining of binding ends.  This isn't a method I came up with, but it is one that I love using.  I learned this technique from my friend Veronica.  We met through a quilt swap and we also shared some tips.  I love this technique and wanted to share how I changed it just a little.

I usually use 2.5" wide strips for my binding.  This width binding finishes closer to 3/8" binding than 1/4" binding.  Make sure you know the width of your binding for this method to work.

Leaving at least a 12" tail, start in the middle of one long edge and attach your binding.  I back-stitch at the beginning of this stitching and at the end.
This binding was attached to the back of the quilt with a seam allowance just under 3/8".  I like to have room to work.  First, leave at least 12" open between the start of the binding and the end.  This will give you room to work.  You can do it with about 6" of room.  I just don't like to have to squeeze it in.  That way lies the devil (you may know it by a different name:  the seam ripper).
Remmeber when I mentioned you needed to know how wide your binding is?  This is where it figures in.  In the middle of that open space, mark one tail of your binding with two marks at 2.5" apart (adjust this measurement for your binding).  Don't do this marking all the way to one side or the other.  Keep it in the middle of that 12" of unfinished binding.

Note:  I only mark on this half of the binding.  I find it sufficient for my needs and I know the Frixion pen lines will be hidden in the binding.  Not that I have a problem with Frixion pens leaving marks.
Pull the other tail of the binding over the top and copy the marks.  I usually offset the marks just slightly (in this case to the right).  In this picture the offset is just about 1/4".  This makes my binding just a tad bit short and will pull it up a little removing any slack in the binding before it is sewn down.
Contort the quilt a little so you can pull these marked lines on the binding together (I fold the quilt so the fold is in the middle of the open binding.  This gives you room to move the ends of the binding together.).  Line up the bottom edge with the line on the binding tail from the left while matching the lines on the tail to the right with the edges of the left tail, right sides together.  That seems about as clear as mud.  I hope the picture makes it clearer.
Open up the top binding tail and pin the two pieces together.  This is where you would draw a diagonal line if you need one.  I rarely do this but that doesn't mean my binding is always perfect.  It also doesn't mean that drawing that diagonal line is a bad idea.
Then I pin-baste along that line.  I do this so I can do a fit test to make sure I got everything lined up.  Sure this takes time.  About the same amount of time as having to rip out stitches if I do it wrong.
Sew along that line, removing the pins before you get to them.
Before trimming those tails, I test again to make sure everything is right.  I would hate to have to sew on additional binding because I cut it too short.
Trim the tails off leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.
Press open or to one side, whatever is your preference.  Usually I press to one side when making my binding.  A member of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild made this binding and pressed open so I followed suit.
Stitch down the last 12" with at least 1" of overlap at both ends.  This is where I will leave you to press your binding towards the edge or not.  I find that finishing the binding by machine is easier if I do press.  If I was going to finish this binding by hand I would have attached it to the front, joined it in the same manner but I wouldn't press it.  I like the fullness that the binding has when you don't press before pulling it to the back.

You can see how I finish the binding by machine on the front of the quilt in this blog post.

Do you have tips or tricks for finishing binding?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Modern Feathers - the finished quilt.

After Quilts for Kids on Saturday I had some time and a couple spots I thought would be good for taking some pictures of this quilt.
This Modern Feathers quilt was created in a collaborative project by the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.
I was challenged by the quilting on this one but I really like the finish.  Feather Bed Quilt pattern is available from Anna Maria Horner.  The guild did not use this pattern but it is very similar.
This quilt, along with several others will be prizes at the Baltimore MQG's first Quilt Bingo event.  If you are in the Baltimore Area you should really check it out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tool Tip Tuesday: Sharp Waste

I've read how some people keep track of their sharps.  Those sharp tools like rotary blades and hand and machine needles that we throw away.  I had been wrapping them in masking tape and decided I needed a sturdier solution.
Tuesday's Tool Tip:  Use an old plastic container to store your sharps in until it's full.  This plastic container came with lunch meat inside.  I was done with the smoked turkey so here is my repurposed container for sharps.  Just a few quick steps to a safer way to dispose of sharp things.
For medical sharps my county recommends:  "To safely dispose of such sharps, the Department of Health recommends placing them into a widemouthed metal or heavy plastic container with a secure lid such as a coffee can."  I used my old rotary blade to cut a slit in the top of the lid.  Nothing fancy.  Just a slit big enough that I could get the rotary blade into the slot without trouble.
Even though I'll be keeping these in a container, I'm still going to wrap the blade in masking tape.  I don't like handling them very much because I know how dangerous they can be.  
Once I've got it stuck to the tape I just roll it up.  
Easy to slip into the slot.
Sure, I don't need the label, but I wanted to make sure there was no mistake about what was inside.  I taped the lid on to make sure it didn't fall off.  Now I can easily store my used rotary blades and needles.

How do you store your sharp waste?

Monday, September 22, 2014

In The Mail Monday: Fashionary in Red

I'm not sure how I first found out about Fashionary.  They created a wonderful fashion drawing notebook that is great for keeping notes for your next garment without having to draw the figure.
I bought one of these for a friend of mine  She is much more interested in garment sewing than I am.  I thought this would be a good resource for her.  I bought her one of the bright pink candy pops.
After reviewing the front matter of her copy I knew I had to buy one for myself.  Great notes on all sorts of fashion details are included in the front of the book.  If you are serious about keeping your ideas in a notebook but don't want to draw the female figure you should totally check these out (they also sell a version with the male figure).
If you know me you know I'm in love with the color red.  Thankfully, Fashionary makes a notebook in my favorite color!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Modern Feathers

It has been ages since I pieced some feathers for this collaborative quilt for the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.
Last Sunday at the guild meeting, I took possession of the quilt top and binding.  When I got it home I layered it all together and looked at it.  And looked at it.  Then, I just got quilting.  This thing wasn't going to quilt itself. 
There are so many different ways this could have been quilted.  So many ways any quilt can be quilted.  I decided to do simple filler that wasn't too dense for the background and let the feathers speak for themselves.  I did some very limited stitching on the feathers just to give them some texture.  The fabrics do all the talking.

This quilt was a little challenging as I used both simple ruler-work and free-motion to get it all stitched.
I'm really pleased with the overall effect.  All that remains is to trim and attach the binding.
I made sure I attached the label to the backing before I quilted it.  Simple yet effective.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Charity Quilting: Simple Squares

I was tidying up my sewing room and found this unfinished quilt top from Quilts for Kids hiding under some batting.  This what happens when you are creative - you misplace things (translation - I can't be bothered to tidy up so I lose sh.... stuff).
I changed the needle on the long arm, threaded it and set about quilting.  I just wanted to get this quilted and see if I had some inspiration for another quilt I'm working on.  This is the back of the quilt.
This is the simplest kit that the Annapolis Quilts for Kids hands out to quilters.  Really, if you want to practice and do good work at the same time you should check out local charities.  Where else do they give you fabric to practice on?
No borders to keep from waving, no complicated piecing, just straight stitching.  It only needs binding.

Do you volunteer your time and skills to charity?  Share!  I'd  love to learn about it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

In The Mail Monday: Quilt Talk

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book on Saturday but I still posted it under Mail Monday.  I was too busy looking through it, finishing up quilting and going to guild to post about it on a Saturday!

During the August meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild The Bitchy Stitcher mentioned Sam Hunter's new book Quilt Talk.  Even though I'm not a super fan of paper piecing, I decided to check it out.  I ordered the book directly from Hunter's Design Studio.  I could go into a long dissertation on why you should buy quilt books from the writer or I can just let you read about it from Sam's point of view.  My recommendation is going to be to buy directly from the author whenever you can so she can continue to write more quilt books.
I haven't really sat down to read the book but my leafing through it has shown me that I'm going to need to make a quilt with something to say.  I'm not sure that that's going to be, but I'll figure it out.  Promise!
The bonus of buying the book directly from the author is that you get great service and a personalized inscription.  Definitely worth the couple bucks!  My hand was cramping up just thinking of having to sign a stack of books.

Have you bought yourself any new quilting books lately?  Are you making your holiday wish-list?  I know I am.  I just wasn't waiting for this one.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scrap Happens: The binding.

I've been continuing my work on the Scrappy Stars quilt that I talked about in my last post.
This star challenged me a little.  I love how it turned out!  Whatever you do, don't look at the back.  I built up some thread in spots and it isn't half as pretty on the back as it is on the front.
I finished all the quilting on Thursday.  I'm really pleased with how this has finished up.
I decided this diagonal print would be the perfect binding.
I think I fought with this one under the needle for the better part of an hour to get the binding attached and finished.
I usually use a scrappy binding on my scrappy quilts but I really like this print and I'm so glad I decided to go for it.

Sadly, I finished too late on Friday evening to get a picture of the entire quilt.  I'll try to get some pictures over the weekend so I can put this one soundly in the finished pile.  This quilt is destined for our bed in the travel trailer.

What is your favorite fabric for making binding?  Polka dots?  Stripes?  Chevrons?  Share!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scrap Happens. Again.

The first thing I did before writing this post was go find some other posts about my scrappy quilt infatuation.

First, there was Scrap Happens (2009) a quilt made of orphan blocks.  Then there was a jelly roll race quilt by the name of Scrap Happens 2012 and Part 2 of Scrap Happens 2012 (This quilt didn't even make a dent in my 2.5" strips.  We are now up to Scrappy Stars (2014) and I think I missed a scrappy quilt in there somewhere.

My friends think I save the tiniest pieces of fabric just so I have a shoe box full when the zombie apocalypse hits.  This is totally untrue.  I regularly use my scraps.  I don't plan on having any scraps left when we get to the apocalypse.  I will have some colorful quilts, though.
These blocks really pushed me into getting the larger of the Tucker Trimmers.  I love these things.  I even have the Wing Clipper.  I made this quilt with the intention of using up a bunch of my scrappy blocks.   Sometimes when I can't decide on a project, I just sit down and do some (mostly) mindless piecing.  I also slip some scrap sewing in under the pretense of 15 Minutes of Play.
I did make a layout diagram for this quilt based on 6" blocks.  I then moved them around so I could use 6" and 12" squares.  This is the focal point of the quilt.  This star is four feet across.  I love very bit of it.  Even the parts that aren't the same color red because I ran out of the first red and had to go looking for more.
 I made this smaller star in blue, too.  This one is only 24" across.
I was amazed at how this one turned out.  Love it!
I loaded up the long arm and got to quilting on Sunday.  As I write this, it still isn't finished.  This quilt will finish around 84" by 96".  The goal is for it to fit the queen-size mattress in the travel trailer.
I went with a rather dense version of the swirl-hook motif.  I really like how it fills in.  This is what happens when you just start quilting.  That's right, I didn't really start with a plan.
 For the center of the large star I did some wavy lines.  Not really fancy, the fancier bit is in the field of red.  This quilt is quilted with three colors of thread.  Red for the large star and a good portion of the background squares.  I also used gold for the center of the star and some other areas of the quilt as the bobbin changed and my whim took me.  Then, we have blue which I used exclusively in the blue stars.
Okay, maybe the meander isn't fancy.  But I think the effect will be really great once I get the quilt off the frame.  The thread color-play might be more obvious on the backing once I'm finished.  I just couldn't stick with red even though I knew the quilting would show on the back.
Those wavy lines aren't bad.
 The swirl hook saga continues in the wonky log cabin blocks.
I didn't do much playing with the quilting, but I did practice my swirl-hook to the point where I don't think I'll get lost doing it anytime soon.
This quilting motif has been showing up on doodle areas of my notebooks for weeks and months.  It worked great in this block on the side of the quilt.  I will have to try it as an all-over design on another quilt.  This block was left over from my Big Bold quilt.
Leftover block from a Jacob's Ladder quilt I made for a friend years ago.

I've still got some quilting to do on this one.  Then there is the binding.  At least the label is already done!

Do you save your scraps?  Do you have a big bin of them or do you make them up into blocks and then into quilts?