Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mystery Quilt 2007 - Part 11

Part 1.....Part 2.....Part 3.....Part 4

Part 5.....Part 6.....Part 7.....Part 8

Part 9.....Part 10

Hello again, everybody. This week we will cover some of the basics of finishing your quilt.

As we discussed on Week 1, a quilt is 2 layers of fabric with a warm "filling" between, kind of a cloth sandwich, secured to keep the filling from shifting. In order to do this and have it stay flat, you need to do a few preliminary things.

First off, take your backing fabric. If you bought wide fabric, you can just iron it flat and use as-is. If you bought standard 45" wide fabric, cut the 4 1/2 yard piece into 2 pieces that are 2 1/4 yards each. Sew the two pieces together along the long (selvege) edge to make one very large piece. Iron very flat, making the seam go to either one or the other side, don't "open" the seam.


Grab your safety pins, a needle, some hideously mis-matched thread - here we go!

Find the exact center of your backing fabric. Mark it with a pin, or some other means that you can FEEL, not just see. I usually like to do the next bit on an old folding canasta table that my Mom and Dad gave me when they moved. A card table works as well.

Lay the backing fabric on the table, WRONG side up (Put the pretty side down) Make sure the center of the fabric is in the center of the table. Now unroll your batting. Find the center of the hunk of batting and clip it to the center of the backing. Smooth both the backing and batting flat.

Now find the center of your quilt top that we just finished peicing. Yes, you guessed it - attach the center of this to the batting - this time with the pretty side UP. Use a large safety pin and pin all 3 centers together and take out any other clips or pins. Smooth the 3 fabric layers so they all lay nice and flat, hanging over the edges of the table like a tablecloth.

This next bit is important, because you don't want to have puckers on the front or the back of your quilt once it is finished. Carefully pin your 3 layers together approximately every 4 inches or so in every direction. I suggest using more safety pins, because they don't fall out if you wiggle things around. When you reach the ends of the table, carefully reposition the "sandwich" so that the parts that are hanging over the sides can be pinned as well.

If you plan to "tie" your quilt, this is probably enough basting. If you plan to either machine or hand quilt (stitched quilting, as opposed to tying), however, you should probably go one step further.

Using an entirely "WRONG" color of thread (for instance, on my pink, brown and green quilt top, I'll use shocking Turquoise) - take very long stitches from one side to the other of the quilt, approximately 3/4 to a full inch long each, in rows about an inch apart. Once this is done, you can remove the pins.

Now you are ready to "quilt" - putting in the ties or the stitches that will hold your 3 layers steady through all your sleeping with it and washing it.


There are 3 generally accepted methods for "quilting" a blanket.

The first one is tying the quilt. Tying a quilt consists of making a lot of small knots of either quilting thread or yarn to connect all 3 layers. I have never done this method myself, and rather than steer you wrong, please check out the instructions here - she provides step-by-step drawings and very clear directions.

The second method is machine quilting. Your sewing machine sews layers of fabric together - that is all quilting really is. While I have done machine quilting in my time, it's not my forte, and rather than steer you wrong, check out this site, which gives excellent directions, including videos!

The third method is hand quilting. I am tempted to say I've left the best for last, but that is only because this is MY favored method of quilting. Hand quilting can be done either on a frame or using a large "embroidery" hoop. My preference is the frame, but not every home has the room to use one. Leandra uses a "lap hoop" - a hoop attached to a pedestal that sits in her lap and allows her to quilt almost anywhere.

Decide which method you are going to use - next week I'll discuss hand-quilting in more detail, and we will also discuss binding your quilt once it has been "quilted" or tied.

One thing. This part takes a lot of time. Don't skimp. Take the time to do this part carefully, because this is what will "make" or "break" your quilt. A top with piecing flaws (decapitated triangles, mismatched seams and points) has "character". A quilt with lots of puckers and pleats on the front or back is going to be uncomfortable to use and unsightly. Take the time. A quilt the size of the one we just pieced would take me about 8 weeks to hand-quilt, assuming I allow myself time to do housework and eat and sleep and stuff.

Until next week, happy stitching!



I thought basting was some'at to do with cooking.

It's all a mystery to me.

Leandra said...

Let me add something to this. It's really important. When quilting, you always work from the center toward the edges because no matter how carefully you pin, there will be excess material that can make a pucker. My preference is to find the center of the quilt, then quilt to one side, go back to the middle, and quilt out to the other side.

Once this master row is established you simply move your hoop above or below, and repeat. If you're using one of those huge frames like Sewmouse does, it works the same way, only when you've completed the surface in the frame, you roll the quilt one way or the other to get the room to repeat. Center to edge, then center to other edge.

If you take the time to smooth the fabric carefully before starting each row, re-pinning if necessary to ensure it's totally flat, you will almost never have a pucker this way.

Also, I use 5 stitches to the inch in my quilting. It's up to you what length you want, but make sure they are even. It's one of those quilting things.