Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Working on Posting What I'm Sewing

I finished my bed quilt - look, Siobhan, no borders!
As usual, Susan Caldwell at Quilting Around the Block did an awesome job with the pantograph. I can't remember what it is called, but here is a shot of the muslim backing show the pantograph: I love it! Here is a shot of the front:

This quilt ended up finishing at 88 inches x 88 inches and I thought this was a perfect time to try Judy's binding video tutorial and sew the binding on completely by machine. The whole purpose of this quilt was to make it simply and get it on the bed because I loved the fabrics so much and they matched perfectly with my bedroom decor (which I can't take credit for - the woman who owned the house before me picked the wall paper, the drapes, and the carpeting and she did a masterful job!).
Judy's tutorial is great, and she makes it look easy. She does stress that the success of this method lies in using really sharp pins. I used the sharpest I had which were silk pins. They were key to making sure the binding did not move while sewing it down from the front. I didn't quite get the nice corners Judy did:

Although my corners look fine from the front:

I sewed one side and one corner at a time, so I had four chances to improve. At first, I folded the binding over a little too much and this resulted in a little "lip" on the back:
But then I improved:

And I admit that her method looks awesome from the front! In most places you would never know from the front that the binding was sewn by machine and not by hand:
Now my stitching isn't perfect, but this is my quilt to go on my bed, so there will be no quilt police entering my house to inspect the quality of my work. I'm so pleased with this because doing it this way probably only took me one-third of the time if I had done it by hand. I'm not a big fan of handwork, and sewing bindings down by hand was really the only handwork I ever did - but all that has changed now. I will probably use this method from now on, unless the quilt is an extra-special one.
Then I did something I have never done to a quilt that I have made (except for my first one) - I washed it. I decided that it would have to be washed at some time in the future, and there was no time like the present. VickiW assured me that she simply puts it in the washer and then in the dryer, no problem. And she was right; it came out soft and crinkly. I immediately put it on the bed and I'm laying under it now as I type!
One thing I did want to mention: when I was initially sewing the binding onto the front of the quilt, I tried Judy's method of moving the needle all the way to the right needle position and using the edge of the walking foot as my guide. The advantage to this was that way more of the quilt was under the walking foot and thus, the quilt was pulled along under the foot with a lot more force, making the whole process much easier. Wish I had been doing this all along.

Parting Shot: Two more blocks of the Double Wedding Ring Quilt got done this weekend. Fourteen done, six more to go!

Friday, June 26, 2009

How To Make Quilt Binding

I am certain that 95% of all readers of this blog know how to make quilt binding, but this post is for those who don't - like my friend Chris B who is making her very first quilt. She has warned me that quilt binding is in her future, so this is particularly for her.

The first, and most difficult, step to making quilt binding is figuring out how much fabric you need. I am spectacularly bad at this. I search the internet for formulas, I read books, and in the end my method consists of "make way more than you need". I figure that it is better to have too much than too little, and any leftovers can be use to bind placemats.

So to make bias double-fold binding, I usually start with one yard of fabric for a queen size quilt, three-quarters of a yard for a double size quilt, and a half a yard for a twin size quilt. This will give you plenty of binding, and then some. Start by squaring off the edges - this will make every step afterwards a lot easier: Then take the lower right hand corner and fold it towards the opposite selvage edge:
Fold it all the way over to the opposite selvage edge, so that the resulting fold is a 45 degree angle, and, hence, the bias:
Use a pair of sissors to cut along the bias fold:
Don't worry about being perfect; you can clean up this edge later on in the process with a rotary cutter. Next, lay out your resulting two pieces of fabric so that you get a parallelogram. (You remember geometry, right?) The two selvage edges will abut each other:

Pin the two selvage edges together:

And then sew them together. Press your resulting seam open:

Next, fold your fabric in half, so the bias edge is vertical on your cutting mat. Your parallelogram will look like this:

(Further clarification on how to fold your binding parallelogram can be found here.)
Clean up the bias edge by using your rotary cutter:

Now start cutting 2 1/2 wide strips:

Repeat until your fabric is all cut into strips. Shot of parallelogram getting smaller as strips are cut:

From a yard of fabric, you will be able to cut 12 strips. This is plenty for a queen size quilt.
Next, join your strips together to make one long piece of binding. I start by laying one strip out on my cutting mat, right side up like this:

Then take a second strip and lay it right side down at a right angle to the first strip like this:

I use the grid on my cutting mat to make sure the strips are at a 90 degree angle. Don't just eyeball it. What your eye thinks is a 90 degree angle just isn't. Measure. Then put a pin in it like this:

Next, draw a sewing line parallel to your pin from corner to corner like this:

It's important to draw the sewing line. Don't just eyeball it, because what your eye thinks is a straight line, ain't. Next, put a second pin parallel to the sewing line like this:

Now sew your two strips together. Sewing your strips this way allows you to sew your seam on the straight grain which is more stable. After sewing, trim the excess so that your seam allowance from your sewing line is a quarter of an inch:

Press your seam allowance open:

Join all your bias strips together the exact same way until they are all joined. I use an assembly line process and it goes faster when you have done it a few times. After you have all your strips sewn together and the seams pressed, fold your binding horizontally wrong sides together and press:

You'll have to cut off the "dog ears":

That's it! There is nothing new or unique about how I make binding; I learned how by reading books and coming up with a method that I use every single time so I can reduce the likehood of mistakes and reduce the frustration factor. (Really important when you are impatient to get a quilt done.) Chris, let me know if something isn't clear or you need help. Miss Eileen, are you reading this???

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quilting ADD

After weeks away, it was good to get back to a whole day of sewing. I hit the Double Wedding Ring Quilt pretty hard; I got two more blocks done, plus I was able to get more arcs made in an assembly-line fashion, so I am hopeful that the second 10 blocks will go more quickly than the first 10. I also made some binding for another quilt needing to go to the machine quilter's:
It had been so long since I had made a block, I actually had to refer back to the instruction book. But all went well; I didn't even have to unsew and resew on these two new blocks. But, I have decided that the Double Wedding Ring pattern was invented by a diabolical mind - someone who was clearly deranged and had servants, so she had a lot of time on her hands. Mrs. Rochester comes to mind. I'm not certain I would make another one, even if I got married. But I should be careful about saying I would never do something. We all know that the minute you say, "I would never do that" or "I would never do that again", twelve months from now you'll be making two of them. So I'll keep my mouth shut.
For whatever reason, 2009 is a year where I am more interested in quilts than clothing. Which is a real change for me. I just keep coming up with more ideas for what I want to make next. But I am holding firm to the notion that I can't start anything new until at least all the blocks for the DWRQ are DONE. I've decided that I can look at new patterns; I can look at new fabric (via internet, catalogue, LQS, or my stash); I can even calculate yardage and buy new fabric. I just can't cut into it until I've got 20 DWR blocks. Here is fabric I pulled from the stash just to daydream:
I'm hoping that limiting any new starts will spur me towards completion soon!
Here is some exciting news: I got an antique sewing machine from my friends, Cliff and Joyce!
They gave me a treadle machine made by the Free Sewing Machine Co.:
Joyce bought this machine in 1977 for $ 36 when she lived in Massachusetts. She even sewed on it. Note the treadle - no electrical power necessary. It is way cool, and I read up on the Free Sewing Machine Co. here. Based upon what I read, this machine was probably made somewhere between 1890 and 1925. I have no idea. Here's a better shot:

Here is the cable that turned the wheel when you worked the treadle - it's broken now - when Joyce used it, it was held together with a staple. I'll probably need a new one.
It has the original manual, and what looks like the original oil. : )

Here are some of the accessories:

Here are things that were in the drawers. The glass jar contains needles. I don't know what the other two things are or what they are for.

A better shot of the manual - I need to photocopy it before it complete disintegrates:
Here are some action shots showing how the machine stores itself in the cabinet when you close it up:

All closed up:
I really want to get this working again; the machine is in some serious need of cleaning and oiling (and I thought getting my Bernina serviced only once every 3 years was pushing it). Fortunately, that is what the internet is for; I'll do some research on restoration or anyone who could do the restoration. I really appreciate this gift from Cliff and Joyce - they are wonderful friends and I am so thrilled they thought of me. They even delivered!
No Parting Shot today, but I wanted to share that VickiW now has an Etsy shop. Now all those wonderful fabrics she creates and dyes can be yours! Stop by her blog and her shop and see what you can order up. For those of you who are stash busting, anything you buy from Vicki doesn't count - because it is handmade!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Some Progress on This Year's Goals

I had a few goals this year, as set forth in this post. One of which was to make a Double Wedding Ring Quilt (still working on this - halfway done with the blocks), but the other was to make a quilt for my bed. I chose a simple pattern of Kaffe Fassett's and quickly had all the blocks made, but I had no room to lay them all out. But after the cruise, Mother helped me move the table and chairs out of the dining room so I could arrange the blocks as I liked: It's the only room in the house that's big enough - this quilt will measure 88 x 88 inches when finished. With all the different fabrics, there really is no way to lay it out wrong, and I was able to finally get it together this weekend. Here's a photo of the top in my bedroom. I chose these fabrics precisely because they so matched the bedroom:
So this is off to the machine quilter's tomorrow or Friday, depending on when she can see me. With such a simple block pattern, this quilt is going to need some interesting quilting. I love me a lot of quilting on a quilt!
And in a real burst of efficiency, I was able to get some binding made for Eileen for her Irish Chain quilt I posted about here. It is currently winding its way via post to Boston, Mass for Eileen even as I write:
I'm certain Miss Eileen is perfectly content with me making her bindings, but I'm thinking of doing a binding tutorial in the future, so she can refer to it at will, thus empowering her to make binding too. But somehow, I don't think that it is part of her master plan of her "learning by doing" philosophy!
Parting Shot: A photo I took in the Dominican Republic on the beach. I don't know what this guy was about, but he sure was a character!