Saturday, August 2, 2014

Big Finish: Big T!

I have a finished quilt to show you today! And not only the finished quilt, but how I finished it.

Last time I wrote about it, I was working on the quilting. And even though it was straight line quilting, I was having a hard time having it come out right. My walking foot doesn't allow for the quilting guide (What's with that!?) and the spacing was a little too wide to eyeball it.

But I found a way, and after months of being neglected, I pulled out the quilt and starting working on it again, this time with the quilting guide:
Much easier! And how did I manage that when the machine wasn't designed for it? Well, I adapted the old adage "Duct tape fixes everything" and attached it to my walking foot with masking tape:
Not the prettiest fix, and not the most secure attachment, but it worked. I just made sure to remove it any time I was not going to be quilting for a while so that the residue didn't have a chance to stick.

After a few sessions over maybe two weeks, I had all the quilting done. It was a happy day!

Then it was time for binding. Usually I make my own, and I make a continue loop of bias binding from a square of fabric. (Sorry, I can't describe how it's done. Even now, I have to carefully follow the instructions to get it right each time!) But, I just recently saw a new idea that I wanted to try out. It uses straight-grain binding instead of bias binding, which at one point I probably wouldn't have accepted. But I've become more relaxed about it. (Bias binding is good for curves--which rectangle quilts don't have--and is supposed to be longer lasting. But I'm just not convinced I need to make my quilts to last 100 years (or whatever).) Ok, in any case, here is a link to the tutorial, and the result is a binding with a faux piping that is really sharp.

First, you cut stripes of fabric, one a little wider than the other. (See the tutorial for details.) Attach all the pieces with angled seams. (This is important for bias binding because it puts the seam on grain. But here it is used for the other important reason of reducing bulk as all the seam allowances don't end up in the same place when you sew it down.)
Angled seams on the binding strips. The black seam has
been trimmed to 1/4". You press them open.
Side note: you can see that I chose to use the dark fabric from the outer border (details here) and a fabric I earlier rejected for the setting blocks (details here). What I found too old-fashioned and wall-paper like for setting blocks works just great for a small piping detail.

Once you have the strips sewn together you have miles and miles of binding:
328" to be exact. That's over 27 feet, or
almost enough for a first down (since
every measurement apparently needs
to be compared to football fields.)
Or, rather, you have two halves of a binding, since you still have to sew them together...along the long side. Once sewn together, you fold it in half and apply it like regular binding to the back side of the quilt. Since one strip was wider than the other, when you fold it, you get a little bit of the contrast fabric showing to the front:
When you fold the binding to the front, you get a faux piping or flange separating the binding from the quilt borders:
On the left is the front side of the quilt with the flange
showing and on the right side is the back of the quilt.
You sew the piping down by machine using a matching thread to the piping so you barely see it. (You're supposed to "stitch in the ditch" of the seam between the binding and flange, but it's hard to do with the seam allowance all on one side.) In the picture above, you might be able to make out the stitching on the wrong side running along side the binding, but with a bobbin thread that matches the backing, it's blends in pretty well.

Of course, it's a little tricky (for me anyway) to keep everything lined up perfectly all the time, and I had a couple spots like this on the back:
Not what I like to see, but it happens.

Oh yes, and I actually remembered to make and apply a label before the binding so that two sides would be sewn and I would only have to hand sew the remaining two.
I was worried the machine stitching of the binding would look bad on the label, but it ran close enough to the binding that you barely notice it. I think you'll see this binding on a lot of my quilts from now on!

Ok, I haven't shown you any of the quilting yet. It was hard to photograph, but you get some idea from this picture:
I did straight lines across the top third or quarter. Then I went up the middle from the bottom and then turned 90 degrees when I got to the previous stitching. I kept doing that so it made a sort of T in the middle with echo quilting.

Here it is on a bed:
And here is the complete quilt:
Final size = 73" x 86"
I finally discovered a place I could hang a quilt in my house and it worked so well. I am overjoyed about it. I had realized at some point that it would be easy to hang a quilt from binder clips if they had screws to hang from. But I didn't have a big enough clear space on any wall to do it. Then I remember that my side porch has a lot of nails running along the top trim--probably the remainder of the previous owner's holiday decorations--and I hung the binder clips from them. It was perfect!

And here is the back:
You may remember it was sewn with pieces I had purchased, which obviously weren't big enough to do the entire backing, and some remnant fat quarters that weren't used on the front. A little eclectic, but I love the two main fabrics so it's all ok with me. :)

The only bad part about all of this is that I couldn't give it to the recipient personally. I sent the package with my sister to our family camp and she had the pleasure of presenting it. His mom kindly sent me a picture and I think he looks pretty happy with it, don't you?
I can't believe it's done! I really liked designing and working on this quilt. I believe I started it in 2011 so a long journey, but that is normal for my quilts. (I think this may actually be one of my quicker ones, not counting the one I put together this past spring.) Working in browns was a new thing for me as it's not a colour I'm overly fond of. But I think I found some nice ones and I like the overall look of this quilt very much.

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