Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mounting Your Quilt On Stretcher Bars

I have found that some wall-hanging quilts will look better when mounted on wooden stretcher bars (just like a painted canvas). By doing so, you avoid any curling, waviness, or other things that often occur with hanging pieces. And it also saves a little work as you don't have to do a binding or put on a hanging sleeve (as they hang just like a regular framed piece of art).

For example:

You may be able to buy the stretcher bars locally, although they are not always the best quality and may not come in the size you want without a special order. I usually get mine on-line from French Canvas.  They are solid and straight and generally cheaper than the store ones (although the cost of shipping cancels that out).

Once you have finished piecing your top, and before you start quilting, you need to do some different planning than for a normal bound quilt.

First: You will be wrapping the edges of the quilt top around the stretcher bars. So make sure there is enough extra background fabric (or in the border) that you will not lose any part of your design.  Determine the depth (thickness) of the stretcher bars you will be using. Add this number (times 2) + 2" to the top/bottom and side dimensions of the quilt. If necessary, add more fabric to the background / border to account for this.

For example: Let's say your design body was 24" x 24". Then you have a 2" border all around. So the total size is 28" x 28". If you want to see the finished quilt as 28" x 28", this is the size of the stretcher bars to buy. However, you will need to add more border fabric. Here's what to do: The bars I use are typically 3/4" deep. You need this plus at least a 2" overhang to be able to mount the quilt. So you would need to add (at least) 2 3/4" more border fabric (or another border) all around. So our quilt top now measures 33 1/2" square. The finished piece will still be 28" x 28".

Next: baste a line of contrasting thread all the way around the quilt at the point where the back side edge of the stretchers will be. In our example, this would be 28 3/4" from the center point (or, you could measure in 2" from the new outer edges). Later, when you are actually mounting the piece, this line will give you an alignment guide. This line also tells you where to stop quilting!  Do not cross it. Make sure you sew this basting BEFORE you make the quilt sandwich. Otherwise you will get a nasty bulge when you quilt.

Then, as with any quilted piece, you would cut your batting and backing fabric a few inches extra all around. So for our 33 1/2" x 33 1/2" quilt they might be 39" x 39". Do what you're comfortable with.

Quilt as you normally would.

After the quilting is done for a regular bound quilt, you would trim the batting and backing even with the top's edges. With this method, any batting or backing fabric should be trimmed even with the basted line. DO NOT CUT THE TOP! You will have to turn the quilt over and hand trim using the basting line as a guide.  It doesn't have to be perfect or exact.

Assemble the stretcher bars per the manufacturer's instructions. Also, put on the hanging hardware at this time, but not the wire (do that last). The hangers should be about 1/3 of the way down from the outer edge of the top stretcher.

Next, you will mount the finished quilt on the bars.  You will need a bunch of push pins and a heavy duty stapler with (preferably) 1/2" staples. Follow the instructions at this link, or look at the steps which I have reproduced here. Note: Having the basting lines means that you don't have to mark the bars as indicated below. Just align and start pinning!

How much to stretch?  You do want the quilt to be "taut", but be careful: unless it is a small piece (say 18" or less), it will not be "tight"; there will always be some "give". Use you judgment. Also, be careful not to pull so tight you break any stitching threads or (heavens!) any pieced seams. And as you work your way around, keep making sure that it is still square and lined up. Before you put that first staple in, stand it up and back away and check for proper alignment. Maybe it is centered left and right, but the top has more border showing than the bottom. If so, unpin and fix.

Now, remove the basting threads. As you rip out the top thread, use your seam ripper point (or a tweezers) to grab the bobbin thread and pull it through to the surface (it is now buried under the pinned top, so you can't get to it from the back).

Then start stapling as per above.

The corners are the most difficult. You will have double thicknesses and, depending on how you trimmed and how much you have pulled, there may be batting and backing fabs. I like to have the folds going along the top and bottom, so here's how I do it:  Finish stapling the top (or bottom) fabric all the way to the edge. Then CAREFULLY cut parallel to the side edge ALMOST to the fold of the top-edge fabric. Then fold the side edge down. It will still be bulky. Note where that extra piece of triangular fabric (the corner) is as you fold it under (trust me, you'll see it). Unfold and CAREFULLY trim a little away. Repeat as often as necessary until the fold-over sits nicely and is not too bulky, then staple it in place. Better to trim a little each time than too much!!! You do not want any raw edges showing. Repeat for the other 3 corners.

Put on the hanging wire, hang, step back and admire your work!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mosaic Quilting

The tips found here are all based on my reading and use of the excellent how-to book: "Mosaic Picture Quilts", by Pat Durbin and what I learned as I made my own mosaic quilt. Before doing yours, you should probably refer to the book and my post Sunflower Mosaic.

1. You can get 3 different sizes (scales) of transparent grids from Pat's web site. Use the appropriate template for the piece you are doing. The original photo or print of art work does not need to be the same (full) size as the template. Tape the transparent grid in place over your original. I also made a small "porthole" by cutting a square (the same size as the squares in the transparent grid) in a piece of paper which was about 3" square. This allowed me to isolate a single square on the original so that I could truly see the colors and shapes contained therein.

2. Draw a grid of 1" squares (or the appropriate scalable size) on a large sheet of paper to the size of the finished quilt top. Make sure that you leave enough extra room all around so that the binding will not cover any important part of the pattern. Then, on each side and top and bottom, mark off all of the rows and columns the same way they are marked on the transparency. This will help you later when you are trying to find what square is "R12C11" on the enlarged grid.

3. Cut light-weight non-fusible interfacing a little bigger than the gridded paper.  Tape it flat around the edges.

4. Cut strips of light-weight (e.g., Steam-a-Seam II Lite) fusible webbing 1/8" bigger than the drawn grid squares. So, for example, if your grid had 1" squares, your strips will be 1 1/8".

5. Cut strips of appropriate fabrics the same size as the fusible strips x width of fusible webbing. Cutting on the bias will minimize raveling and stray threads.

6. Fuse webbing to the backs of the fabric strips. Note: You may prefer to fuse a sheet of webbing to a section of fabric before you cut it into strips. Either way works well.

7. Cut squares of the fabric.

8. Starting from any corner, work in a diagonal to fill the gridded space.

9. Peel backing from the squares (a tweezers really helps) and press into place.  Each square fits in a grid corner and slightly overlaps the 2 adjoining squares.

10. After placing a few pieces in place (or even just one) and ensuring that they look ok, fuse it in place per the instructions. I use a piece of muslin between the iron and the square to avoid getting any melted webbing on the iron. This also helps keep "heat shine" from happening to the fabric. Be careful as you fuse near the edges not to melt the scotch tape that is holding the interfacing down. As you go along, you may also find that some of the fusible web has actually gone through the interfacing and fused to the gridded paper. Not to worry, this is a good thing! It helps keep the interface in the correct place as you build the top, and is easy to peel away once the top is complete.

11. For grid squares that require several pieces of fabric, I recommend this:
    a) Place a piece of the Steam-a-Seam paper from a previously used square in the appropriate spot on the grid.
    b) With a pencil, lightly sketch the lines that make up that piece. For example, the top section might need a green fabric and the bottom a blue fabric (there can be more than 2 in a small square!).
    c) Using that small square as a template, cut the pieces from the indicated fabrics. You can either cut each individual piece (to then fit together to make a square) , or, use one fab as the full square base and just cut the balance from the other fab. Doing this means that there will be no gaps of interfacing showing through if your cutting in not exactly perfect. But, if you do this, BEWARE: The lighter fabric should always be used as the "base" square, even if it is the smaller of the sections in that square. Why? If the darker fab is the base, it will tend to darken the color of the lighter fabric placed on top of it. So then that fabric's color (value, intensity) may not match those around it; it might stick out inappropriately.

12. When the whole top has been created / fused:
    a) Look for any areas where there is an abrupt (and inappropriate) break in the pattern. This usually happens at the edge of a square. Find a piece of the matching fabric and free-hand cut a small "rounded" piece to soften the transition.
    b) Go back over it lightly with the iron once more to ensure that there are no unfused edges.

13. Make the quilt sandwich with batting and backing as usual, but do not pin as you normally would. Once there is a pin hole in a fused square it will not "heal" (like a plain piece of fabric would) when the pin is removed. I basted across the bottom, quite close to the edge, and then a few inches up each side. This basting line was inside the area where the binding would go. I also put a few straight pins along the top edge (and parallel to it).

14. Quilt as you normally would, but use a thin (70/10) needle.

15. Pat uses a tulle overlay on all of her quilts as the fourth part of the sandwich (and quilts it into place). I bought a piece, but did not use it in mine for these reasons:
    a) It was very slippery (as Pat notes in her book) and I did not want to put pins in my top to hold it in place.
    b) Even though I bought a white piece, it covered and dulled the colors in my top.
    c) Though it seemed sturdy, I was very fearful of somehow tearing it while quilting. Worse yet, was what would happen if, for some reason, I had to rip out a section of quilting (as indeed I did due to a tension problem!). Could I actually rip the threads without tearing or making a mess of the tulle?
It seemed like the risk / reward was not in my favor.

16. Bind as you normally would.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Adding a sleeve

Some quilts are designed to be hung on a wall. You can do so using a variety of clips, or you can add a sleeve to the back and hang it using a rod. Here is how to add the sleeve.

Let’s say that this is how your (almost) finished quilt looks:
It has a body and two borders: a thin inner border and a wider outer border.

Before putting on the sleeve you should:

  • Finish all piecing,
  • Finish all quilting except for the “ditch” between the inner and outer border at the top, and
  • Trimmed away all the excess batting and backing fabric flush with the edges.

Make The Sleeve

1. Measure the length of the inner border at the top of the quilt (horizontal arrow). Add 2”. This is
    how long to cut the sleeve fabric.

2. Measure the space from the inner-outer border seam to the top edge of the quilt (vertical arrow).
    (This is also the width of the outer border.) Multiply this by 2 and add 1.5”. This is how wide to
    cut the sleeve fabric.

For example: If the measured width was 36”, cut a piece 38” long. If the outer border is 3” wide, cut the sleeve width to 7.5”.

3. To “finish” the raw ends of the sleeve, fold in ½”, then ½” again. Press and top-stitch. Repeat for
    the other side.

4. Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
5. Measure the width of the inner border. In the picture below, it is 1 ½”.
6. Flip the quilt over and measure up (from the ditch line of the inner border) the amount from Step 5
    plus ¼”.  So in this example, it would be 1 ¾”.  Put several pins across the quilt at this
    dimension. Lay the folded edge (not the raw edge) of the sleeve along this “line”. Pin in place
    (and also put a couple of pins in the raw edge side so that the sleeve does not flip up while you
    are sewing).

7. Turn the quilt back over (right side up) and stitch in the ditch between the inner and outer borders
    at the top of the quilt. This will also sew the sleeve in place at the same time. The picture below
    shows how this will look (from the back side) once you have done this step.

8. Remove all the pins, flip the sleeve up, press, and match the raw edges of the sleeve with those of
    the quilt. Pin in place. Note: If, after flipping and pressing, the sleeve hangs over the quilt edge
    by more than 1/8”, you may want to trim it (to 1/8” or just even with the edge). Be careful not to
    cut the quilt top!

9. The top (raw edge) of the sleeve will be sewn on as you do the binding. There is no need to baste  
    it in place.
Notes: If the quilt is wider than about 4 feet, you should consider “splitting” the sleeve into two sections and leaving a 4” – 6” gap in the middle. That way there can be a center support for the rod.
After flipping and pressing, the sleeve should lay flat. Most borders are 3” or more wide, so there is enough “give” in the quilt top and sleeve fabric to allow for a “cafĂ©” style rod. If the outer border is less than 3” wide, then you should leave the extra 1/8” or even 1/4” on the sleeve.
If there is no inner border, follow the instructions above but use the seam between the body and
(only) border as the reference point.
Also, you may want to add a second sleeve to the bottom of the quilt (following the steps above). With this arrangement, you can use a second rod or weights (coin rolls or a pipe) to keep the quilt hanging taut (i.e., to avoid its curling at the bottom or moving around in a high traffic area).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Paper Piecing Primer

How would you like to make complex shapes (like an elephant or a truck) with lots of little pieces of fabric, without measuring or cutting a pattern, and by sewing only straight seams! Then paper piecing is the technique for you. Here is an example of a quilt made using this technique:
You can see that the animal shapes are quite realistic. Each is made from 6 - 12 tiny pieces! And this technique gives you a chance to use small scraps from your stash.

Here is how it is done. I will use another pattern, Venice Rose, as the model for step-by-step instructions. (Note: I am only describing how to create the "spokes" of the rose.)
The "paper" used in paper piecing is really a lightweight stabilizer. I like "Tear Easy" by Sulky. It is pretty translucent and really does tear easily. Do NOT buy any kind which is "fusible". The pattern is traced onto this paper. A single object (like an elephant) may require several pieced sections, which are then joined to make the final object. After the pattern is traced, small scraps of fabric are cut and sewed on sequentially. Some objects may require you to sew from the middle outwards, others from one side to the other.

The strange thing about paper piecing is that you are working on the back of the pattern! And also upside-down!  WAIT!!! Don't leave. It's not as difficult as it sounds. But one key thing to remember is that your finished object will be the mirror image of the pattern piece. This is irrelevant when making letters such as "o" or "x", where the reversed image is identical. But if, say, you want your elephant facing left, the paper piecing pattern will have it facing right. Trust me, it will all work out in the end.

Let's see how this works:
First you will have some sort of pattern to trace, whether from a book, a specific pattern, or of your own design. Here is the beginning pattern for the Rose:

I had to cut this pattern in half to have a "left" and "right" side for the actual paper piecing.

Then you will trace the pattern onto the stabilizer paper. To do so, I put double stick tape on the pattern (you don't want the stabilizer to move around while you are tracing). When you are done tracing it is easy to peel away the stabilizer (the tape stays stuck to the pattern). I also use a mecahnical pencil. This gives a good, consistent thin line (and no sharpening!). Also, VERY IMPORTANT: some patterns may NOT include the seam allowance. Every traced piece MUST have a 1/4" seam allowance around the outside edges. If your pattern does not include the s.a., you must add it yourself.  And here is a special trick: I always put hash marks on the seam allowance lines. You will see why this is important later.

The first photo above shows the stabilizer on the pattern (note the s.a. hash marks); in the second it has been peeled off.

Most patterns will also have each mini-piece labeled (with a number or letter), so it is easier to identify the order that they are sewed. You will not always sew a piece to the previous piece.  There may also be subsections that are joined to make the final object. Here is an example from "A Quilter's Ark", by Margaret Rolfe that illustrates what I am saying (this is the lion pattern as seen in the quilt at the top of this post):

Notice how piece 6 in section A is added to the 1-2-4 assembly. This page also clearly shows how the final pieced object is reversed. Note that the lion's head in the pattern is on the right, but in the finished piece, it is on the left. Of course, if you were using this pattern and, for some reason, wanted the lion to be facing right, you would have to flip the traced image before you started sewing the pieces on.  

Next, you start cutting and sewing the pieces of fabric. Remember: you are looking at the back of the pattern, but the fabric will be on the front. You should always be looking at the side of the stabilizer with the pencil lines.

OK, so cut out the first piece. How big? Just wing it! That's part of the FUN of paper piecing. No measuring, no templates....just cut each piece big enough to cover the appropriate area without wasting too much. Don't be stingy, but don't be wasteful (bonus: if you do cut a piece too big, when you trim it you may be able to use it for a subsequent smaller piece calling for the same fabric!).  

The first piece of fabric is placed right-side down; all others will be right-side up. This is critical. You don't want to finish sewing 20 tiny pieces and then find that the third one is wrong-side out!

Pin the first piece in place anywhere in the marked area (#1 or A or however it is indicated). Now cut the second piece. Then, this is where it gets a little tricky. The second piece is placed right-side up, and at least 1/4" past the seam line to be sewn. You have to kind of lift the stabilizer and slide the fabric into place. It might be easier to understand from these photos:

From the above photo, you can intuit that the edge of piece 2 (the orange dots) extends 1/4" past the seam line. 

Next trick: I then pin piece 2 in place by putting the pin across the seam line to be sewn. This does two things: holds the fabric in place and gives a visual check on which line to sew next (believe me, it is really easy to sew on the wrong line!). Also, if you were to flip the whole thing over at this point, you would want to be sure that the pin is going through piece 2 (or whichever piece you're doing) in the right place. Huh? Well, you may have placed the piece going the wrong way across the seam line (been there, done that). If this happens, and you sew and trim it, you will be left with a little strip of fabric; not the coverage you wanted. The other reason to check the pin is to make sure that you left anough fabric across the seam line to be sewn. If the pin is right on the edge, then take it out and readjust the fabric piece. 

Now, sew right on the pencilled line. This is not your normal 1/4" seam. Sew on the line! Use small stitches; they make it easier to tear the paper off later. (Downside: smaller stitches are harder to rip out, should that be necessary).

Where to start and end? For seams that go to an edge, sew a few stitches past the end of the s.a. line.  For internal seams, sew 2 or 3 small stitches past the seam line that crosses the one you are doing. 

Now you have to trim the previous pieces. (Hang with me.) You need to fold the stabilizer back toward the lower-numbered piece. Say what? OK, if you just sewed piece 2 to piece 1, then fold back on the seam line toward piece 1. If you just sewed piece 17 to piece 16, fold toward 16. Get it? You should then see the excess of the previous piece(s) you have sewn. The picture below shows this later in the process to be more effective.

Then trim away the excess. Most books say to leave 1/4"; I find 1/8: works just as well (and helps to eliminate some bulk; remember, there may be many pieces of fabric overlapping in a small area). BUT: before you trim, take note: if you are about to trim any part of the stabilizer, STOP! You should NEVER be cutting paper!!!! If you see a large piece of the fabric you just sewed on, STOP: it either flipped over after you sewed it or you sewed it on wrong. Figure out which and adjust as necessary.

Next, working on the fabric side of the stabilizer, flip the piece you just sewed on its seam line and press into place. Make sure it lies flat and is pressed on the seam line. I recommend that you do NOT spray or use steam when pressing. The water may make the pencil line bleed and stain your fabric (especially light-colored ones).

Then of course you will turn the whole thing over in preparation for sewing on the next piece. It should look like this:

IMPORTANT: After you sew each piece, hold the stabilizer up to the light and make sure a) there are no holes / gaps. In other words, did you go from piece 5 to piece 7 and leave out 6? And, b) make sure the last piece you just sewed (and, really, all the pieces) cover the entire area they are supposed to cover. Pieces on the edges should go beyond the s.a. line. 

Continue in this fashion, adding each piece in order. Here is a photo after piece 4 has been added and 5 is ready to be sewn (piece 5 is not visible, but trust me, it is there!):

Here is the spoke with all 18 pieces sewn and pressed (prior to trimming), from the back.....

...and from the front:
The next to last step is to trim away the excess stabilizer and fabric from the edges. Remember the hash marks we added when we traced the s.a. lines? Here is why: the last thing you want to do after you've carefully sewn on 10 - 20 tiny pieces is to trim it on the seam line (where it will be sewn to the next section or whatever). If you do this, you will have to throw this whole assembly away. Yup! Sorry.  Hence the hash marks: when I lay the straight edge down onto the stabilizer (on the back side), and am ready to trim the excess away, I will never make a cut unless I see those hash marks!!!! If you don't see them, STOP: make sure you are cutting the on correct line.

Here is the final spoke after trimming, from the back....
...and from the front:
Now you have to tear off the stabilizer pieces. Start at one edge (or maybe several. Often I pull the paper off in the reverse order of how they were sewed on; the last piece sewn will always be on an edge). Fold the paper back along a seam line, crease it, and then it should tear off fairly easily. Your seam ripper and a tweezers help to get the little bits that may stick where several seams meet.

Finally, here are two finished spokes:

Happy paper piecing!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Making Borders

The border of a quilt often acts as a “frame” around the body. It can coordinate or contrast. There may be multiple borders. It (they) may use the same fabric(s) as the sashing, or different fabric(s). Each border may be a single fabric or it may be pieced (like the body). The border(s) may have a “square” seam or a mitered seam. When they have a square seam, the side borders are usually sewn on before the top and bottom borders.

To create the border pieces: Measure the side you are doing and add 2” or 3”. (Don’t measure the top and bottom length until you’ve added the side borders, because you have to include the width of the body plus the width of those borders!) Lay the border piece on the body piece so that the excess hangs off each end about the same length. Pin in place just as if you were pinning two smaller pieces of the body. No tugging, no stretching, no puckers. Sew and press away from the body. Then do the other side and the top and bottom the same way.

For multiple borders with square ends, do each border separately. DO NOT sew the inner and outer border strips together first. When measuring, add an inch or so on each end, and trim (square up) after sewing.

For multiple mitered borders, you can do each separately or you can sew the multiple strips together first and sew them to the body. When measuring mitered borders, measure the quilt body, then add 2 times the width of the border, then add an extra 4”. This is done for all four sides!

Using directional prints in the border(s): If the quilt body has a definite top and bottom orientation (e.g., animals arranged in rows), then the top border and the bottom border should face the same way. The side borders can face in OR can be cut lengthwise (so top to bottom as well); this may require more fabric! However, if you have designed well (or are lucky), you may have enough left over from the body and / or back to use lengthwise without having to buy more.

Re borders with corner squares: For these I do a hybrid approach: I put on the side borders as I described (cut long, sew, press, square/trim). For the top and bottom ones, I measure the width of the body, add 1/2" (for seam allowance) and cut that border piece. So let's say my border is 3" wide finished. I would cut my 4 corner squares at about 4". Sew each one to the ends of the borders. Then I can pin the borders in place and match up the side border seam with the top (bottom) border-corner seams (pressed in opposite directions of course). Sew and press AND then square and trim the excess off the corner pieces.

Look at various quilts in my quilt blog for examples of each!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Using Templates

You can use a template when you need to cut the same shape(s) many times.

Let me qualify that: if your pattern calls for squares, rectangles, equilateral triangles (60 degree), or right triangles (45 - 90 - 45 degree), then you don't need to use a template.

But if you are cutting odd shapes (say a hexagon or isosceles triangle), then you probably do want to use one.

You can purchase templates in many sizes and shapes (for example, see:
http://frommarti.com/index.shtml ). These templates are thick (like your cutting rulers). If you know that you will be making the same shape in more than one quilt, then these might be a good investment. These also allow you to cut several layers of fabric in one pass.

Also available is thin “cut it yourself” plastic. This may come with grid lines (to make defining the shape you want to cut easier). This product is ok, but if you are going to make your own templates, I prefer to use thin cardboard.

When I say "thin cardboard", I am talking about card stock, not the kind of cardboard you would get from a carton. For example, I use the "envelopes" that I get when I have my photos developed at Walgreen's. You can also "double" it (put two layers together) to make it a little thicker. If you do that, use double-stick tape to put 2 pieces together before you cut out the template shape.

Whether you use thin plastic or cardboard, make the template like this:
1. Draw the shape you want or use the paper template shape provided in your pattern.
2. If possible, make a photocopy!!
3. Cut out the paper template from the photocopy. Compare it to the original to make sure it is exactly the same size and shape.
4. Use double-stick tape to fix the paper template to the cardboard (or thin plastic) sheet.
5. Use your rotary cutter (you may want to use the small 18cm size) to cut out the template material.
6. Put a thin pencil line around all edges of the template to make its outline easier to see.

If you do make your own templates:
a) put double stick tape on the bottom to grip the fabric as you cut it. Add more tape as the
stickiness wears off.
b) Use your straight edge [ruler] on top of the template when you cut fabric! Use your finger to make sure that the edge of the ruler is lined up precisely with the edge of the template (not hanging over - which would make your cut fabric piece too big, and not covering the template completely - which would result in the template being trimmed!).
c) Check every so often that the template is not getting smaller! You do not want to start out making 4" octagons and end up 100 fabric pieces later with 3.5" octagons! Compare it to the original template shape. You can also check to see if the pencil outline has been cut off. If necessary, make a new template by repeating steps 2 - 6 above.

Pros and cons of purchased vs. home-made templates:
Cost $$.......................Yes..........................No
Can be reused...........Yes..................Yes, but why bother? Make a new one.
Disposable..................I doubt it................Yes
Make precise
fabric shapes.............Yes..................Yes, if you work carefully

One last point about using templates:
Often, you will need to cut fabric pieces in a certain shape and then also cut pieces in its reverse. These types of shapes might be labeled (for example) "A" and "A-R", where the "R" stands for reverse. So "A" might be a triangle with its point on the right and "A-R" might be the same shape with its point on the left.

If the pattern on your fabric is the same on both sides (as in most batiks, which are dyed), then you can cut your templates when the fabric is folded. This would give you one "A" shape and one "A-R" shape in one cut. If the pattern is NOT the same on both sides (that is, if the pattern is printed only on the top), then you can NOT double (fold) the fabric. If you do, you will have to throw out the "reversed" piece.

Of course, you can always stack your fabric (folded or unfolded as appropriate) to get multiple pieces from one cut.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Make a large quilt in sections

Rather than struggling to squeeze your queen-size or larger quilt through the small throat space of your machine as you quilt it, make your quilt in smaller sections instead! Then join them together at the end to make the full-sized quilt.

Here's how:

1. Let's say the quilt will be made in 2 sections, a top half (T) and a bottom half (B). So first, create T, including the borders (3 sides only, of course!)

2. Put a basting line of stitches (in a contrasting color) 3/8” from the bottom (raw end) of T.

3. Cut the batting and backing fabric to size (about 4" bigger all around).

4. Quilt as usual, but do not go beyond the basting line.

5. Repeat steps 1 - 4 for section B.

6. Trim extra batting and backing as usual, except on the sides to be joined.

7. Put T and B right sides together, matching the raw ends.

8. Fold back the batting and backing fabric from both T and B.

9. Pin the raw edges of T and B together.

10. Sew with a 1/4" seam, being careful not to catch any batting or backing.

11. While still right-to-right, unfold one side of the batting (NOT THE BACKING FABRIC) and, using a small scissors, trim it even with the seam line.

12. Flip the whole thing over (so the other raw edge - batt - backing side is on top.

13. Unfold the batting AND THE BACKING FABRIC and trim BOTH even with the seam line. Be careful not to cut through the quilt top!

14. Open the quilt (back side up).

15. Remove the basting thread.

16. Press the seam to the side where both the batt and backing were trimmed off.

17. Unfold the remaining loose piece of backing fabric, carefully trim to 2” or 3”, fold under the raw edge an inch or two, press, pin in place, and slip stitch to finish.

If you want to split your quilt into more than 2 sections, just expand the steps above.