Sunday, November 16, 2008

Unboxed Valentines quilt

Today I finished binding this quilt, "Unboxed Valentines." I had originally planned on sending it out for quilting and binding, but had a sudden attack of frugality and did it myself on my DSM. With these 31 mitered corners now in my past, done completely by machine, I now proclaim myself princess of mitered corners! See previous post for how I do it. I am always open to suggestions for making any process simpler.

Pinless machine-finished binding

As anyone acquainted with my quilting knows, my motto is, “If it can be sewn by machine, it will be.” I used to love hand sewing, and spent hours doing tiny cross stitch while playing Scrabble with my mother and grandmother, traveling on the plane, or cozied next to my husband as he watched sports on TV, but now my hand is subject to fatigue from more than 30 minutes or so of needle-holding, and sewing with a machine is ever so much faster.

I’ve been doing my bindings completely by machine for almost four years, and let’s see, I’ve been quilting for almost four years, so you see how biased I am about using my machine for binding. Last year I went to a workshop where I learned about binding using fusible thread. The teacher said that she has submitted her quilts to shows and won prizes, so she feels the judges have no bias against bindings finished by machine. Her technique was much like mine, but since I see no need to use fu$ible thread, I haven’t tried it.

Here is what I do for no-pin, machine-finished, double-fold binding:

1. Cut the binding 1/8” wider than the usual recommendation.

2. Cut the binding on the straight of the grain – eliminates stretching the binding that creates waves of fabric ahead of the foot.

3. Sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt.

4. On the back side, press binding toward edge with hot dry iron (don’t want steam or spray since wetness lets the fabric stretch).

5. On the front side, fold the binding so the overlaps the sewn line and press.

6. Press the mitered corners in the direction I will be sewing – second side overlaps first side, etc.

7. Find a stitching pattern and width that pleases me. I have a little stack of experiments I’ve done that I can easily refer to. When I find a combination I like, I write the stitch width and length with ballpoint pen right on the sample fabric. I’ve used the herringbone pattern the most.

8. Stitch away, a scant 1/8” from the edge of the fold so that any little wanderings I do will not run off the binding and into the border in back.

9. The foot tends to push the binding fabric slightly to my right, so I use the tip of my seam ripper (not sharp) to keep the binding where it is supposed to be. I think Eleanor Burns has a little pointy thing she uses for such tasks.

10. The biggest hurdle, and it’s not that much of one, is turning the mitered corner. As I approach the corner, I try to make sure the fabric for the next side is overlapping and ready to be sewn. But if I don’t do it soon enough, no biggie. In that case, I stop the machine, lift the foot, and fold in the overlapping corner, lower the needle into the overlapped fabric and turn the corner.

11. Most of the time the next side is not lined up exactly where I want it, so I adjust the needle so that it’s barely into the binding fabric, and (foot still up) move the fabric so that the needle pulls the binding into place. Lower the needle and take one manual stitch. Then I continue on peacefully in the zone until the next corner.

Do you finish your bindings by machine? Do you do anything differently? Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

If you are new to this technique, I recommend trying it on smaller projects first – potholders and placemats, for example. My earlier pieces didn’t look very good on the back because some of my stitches wandered into the border, but with practice and experimentation, the bindings look just as good on the back as on the front.

Here are some bindings that I have done by machine:

1. Blind hem stitch done on the edge of the binding with monofilament. I didn’t like the puckery look on the front or the way most of the stitching on the back was into the border instead of on the binding. All this is caused by sewing on the very edge of the binding.

2. Herringbone stitch pattern done on plain fabric. The stitching is very obvious, which means if (if, what do I mean, IF?) I make a mistake, the mistake will be obvious.

3. Herringbone stitch on patterned fabric. Mistakes are disguised.

4. 3-step zigzag.

5. Triple zigzag showing a mitered corner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nascar quilt in the works

After delivering my donated quilt yesterday, I went through the donated fabric box and found four different Nascar fabrics and fussy cut pieces to make four-patch blocks. I am not particularly a Nascar fan, finding most any spectator sport a general yawner. However, watching those races is a good opportunity to get some ironing done - hey, if I am going to suffer, might as well be completely miserable while I'm at it.

The hospital gets plenty of quilts for babies, and lots of cute ones for girls, but not so many for older boys -- so that'll be my contribution, quilts for teen boys.

Tried using sizing to iron quilt fabric. It does make ironing easier, as claimed, and brings body to limp fabrics. I don't know the difference between sizing and starch; they have the same effect. Faultless brand sizing smells like B.O. while being ironed, to me anyway. They should do something about that. I will not use it on anything I am going to wear, that's for sure.


My interpretation, on thinking about it, of yesterday's quote: "We should be eternally vigilant against [our own] attempts to check the expression of [other's] opinions that we loathe." Do you think I have it right? I'm afraid I've done that - check the expression of other's opinions - but it's part of my job. What else does a teacher do when a student says, "Hey you, shithead, you're stupid." I'll bet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wasn't considering those kinds of loathesome opinions when he made his statement.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Persimmons and a quilt

If you read today's tweet (right column), you may have noticed that my dial-up was acting up. Again. It does this after a rain. I went out to the phone box, unplugged it, blew kisses on the connection, replugged it, and now it's working fine. Don't you wish all repairs could be accomplished with a kiss?

Persimmons picked Sunday ^. I left a dozen on the two trees for the birds. Most of these are looking for a good home.

---> This should be the last you will see of this, my "Friendship Garden" quilt, as it is finally finished. It looks like it is slightly bulging in the middle, because it was hung in front of the shelves holding the Christmas decoration stash.

I made the second block in column 1, and the second and third blocks in column 2. My guild friends made all the rest. I think they did a lovely job.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fun fence

Photo: Taken at the top of Green Mountain near Huntsville, AL, earlier this year. I love the quirkiness of these rusty old implements hanging on the fence. The above is three shots "stitched" together - that is why the fence looks curved.