Friday, May 29, 2009

Wonderland Quilt

First of all, I'm speechless. I can't believe the response to the SewMamaSew giveaway day!
(But really, who can resist that Arcadia fabric? I just wish I had many more Charm Packs to giveaway!)

Well, I'm listing the Wonderland quilt in the etsy shop.
This little piece of Diary of a Quilter/Design Mom history can be yours!
I had originally planned to do this quilt in the reds, but pink is what I had available and it works! It makes it a girl quilt, but not your typical pink-girl-baby quilt. I'm also really pleased with the pieced back. Subtle but different.
Mmmm.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giveaway Day!

Were you aware that today is Giveaway Day, thanks to Sew, Mama Sew ? Woo-hoo! This is my first time participating and I am SO excited.

So I have a little something I'd like to giveaway:
A charm pack of Arcadia by Sanae for Moda. Yummy stuff.
I have a left-over Charm Pack from making this quilt for some lucky, randomly-drawn commenter.
Just leave a comment, and if you want, leave a link to your favorite sewing/quilting project. I'd love to see them! This giveaway is open until Monday May 31 at Midnight MDST.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quilt Binding Tutorial

Binding a quilt is the final step in finishing. Before you bind, you need to somehow "quilt" your quilt. This means to attach the front and back, with batting in between. I usually machine quilt (or have someone else do it) my quilts these days. There are good tutorials for that here, here, and here. If you are going to machine-quilt you should use batting like Warm & Natural or Hobb's Heirloom. I usually use a poly-cotton blend.

If you are going to hand quilt you need to use a lighter batting or your wrists will hate you.

Once your quilting is finished you are ready to bind the quilt.
First step is to trim your excess batting. I personally like to trim right to the quilt's edge. Using a long quilter's ruler and your rotary blade will give you the best results.

To finish this 42" x 42" baby quilt you will need 168" of continuous binding. (In this post I'm going to show you the easiest way to accomplish that first - using straight-cut binding. We'll discuss bias-cut binding in a little bit. )

If you need more binding fabric for a bigger quilt, find the perimeter measurement (outside measurement in linear inches) for your quilt and divide that number by 42. (42" being the width of the fabric you are cutting from.) That is the number of strips you will need. If the answer is 7.6833 - you will need 8 strips. So you need 8 strips at 2.5" wide, so you need a total of 20" (just over half a yard.) Does that make sense?

Fabric requirements for this baby quilt is 10" (just over a 1/4 of a yard.) If your quilt store is nice, you could ask if they'll cut you 10". If not, ask for 3/8 yard.
You need to cut FOUR 2 1/2" strips along the width of the fabric. (To cut strips from the end of a piece of yardage, make sure that you line up the fold of the fabric along a straight line or edge of the mat. This way when you cut your 2 1/2" strips, they will be straight- not v-shaped.)

Trim the selvage ends off the strips, match right sides together.
and sew them together end to end to make one long strip. Use a 1/4" seam allowance.
This time you want to press your seams open.Then fold the entire strip in half lengthwise and press.
Then take your strip and starting in the middle of one side of the FRONT of the quilt, leaving about 4 inches unpinned, pin your strip to the edge - with raw edges of the binding strip next to the raw edge of the quilt. (Pinning the binding before hand will make your sewing much faster and keep your quilt edge from getting wavy.)
When you get to a corner, put a pin in at the corner at a 45 degree angle.
Fold strip up at that same 45 degree angle
and fold back down again matching the folded edge with the edge of the quilt. Continue to pin.
You should have a little triangle flap between two 45 degree-angled pins. This is called "mitering your corners." Pretty nifty, huh? This is going to be a snap to sew and will look so fancy when you're done!
When the strip gets back around to the beginning fold the ends down so that the strips meet-up. Press with your iron to make a crease at both folds.
Trim both ends to about 1/4".
Bring the quilt back to the machine, pin ends and sew together on the pressed crease.
Press that final seam open, fold in half like the rest of the binding and pin raw edges to the raw edge of the quilt. Now you're ready to sew the binding to the quilt.
Starting in the middle of one of the sides, sew the binding to the quilt using the edge of your presser foot (1/4" seam allowance) as your guide.

I would highly recommend a walking foot at this point as it will make your edge a little nicer, but if this is your first quilt or you don't plan on making a lot of them, a walking foot can be a pricey investment. Your regular foot will work well-enough.
When you get to the corner sew right up to the first corner pin. This should be about 1/4" away from the edge of the quilt. Lift the foot and needle and turn the quilt. You don't need to break the thread. *Important* Now, flip the little triangle flap so it lies the other direction. (See photo)
Begin sewing the next side at the very edge and continue with the 1/4" seam allowance. (I know, some of you are panicking that I left my pins in. I just do that and seem to not break too many needles.)
When you have finished sewing all four sides, fold the folded edge of the binding over to the back of the quilt and pin it down, using those same pins. (You could also use those metal clips that look like hair clips if you don't like the idea of hauling something around that could potentially impale you.)

Now you can begin to see what a pretty, crisp edge a double binding makes.
The corners on the back should automatically miter - looking like this.
Now it is hand sewing time. Please don't get scared by this. It is so much easier and faster than you think - just put in a good movie, do some mindless sewing, and you're done in no time - especially on this little baby quilt. This is another reason I pin (or clip) all at once before I start sewing. Makes the work so much faster.

(For this part of the demonstration I used white thread so you could see what's happening. When I bound the quilt for real, I used brown thread to hide my stitches.)

Tie a knot at one end of your thread and pull through the backing fabric, under your folded-down binding, then bring the needle through the very bottom edge of the bias strip and tack it down on the backing fabric, right underneath where the needle came through. Then slide the needle through the backing fabric, behind the binding strip bringing the needle out the bottom edge again. This creates a blind stitch. Repeat!
Continue the blind stitch catching down the mitered corner as well.
This is how it will look using matching thread.

Now lets talk about bias binding.
Bias binding is made from 2 1/2" strips cut on a 45 degree angle. There are lots of tutorials for cutting bias binding like here and here.

Technically, bias binding is a more durable binding because the grain of the fabric is running diagonally in stead of parallel to the edge of the quilt. (Don't worry if it doesn't make sense, just trust me on this one.) It also has more stretch - good for scalloped or rounded borders. (But for this reason, a bias binding does much better with a walking foot.)
It also looks nice with strips and checks.
Bias cut strips will have edges with a 45 degree angle.
To sew right sides together, pin ends like this, leaving little 1/4" tips hanging off the ends.
Sew with a good old 1/4" seam allowance.
Press seam open.
And fold in half, creating the long binding strip.
Once the bias strip is pieced, use the same method as above to sew the binding to the quilt.
And there you go.

Once my binding is completed I love to wash my quilt to give it that puckery, antiqued look. (Plus, machine quilting can make your quilt kind of stiff, until it is washed. And what person wants to wrap a baby in a stiff quilt?) I tend to not pre-wash my fabric (and if you are using a charm pack, definitely don't pre-wash that or you will get a bunch of shriveled, unraveled squares.) With most higher-end quilting fabric the quality is good enough that you don't need to pre-wash ahead of time. I do throw in a Shout Color-catcher sheet when I wash the finished quilt, just in case. (you can get those in your grocery store laundry aisle.)

If you are using fabric from the bigger chain stores, you probably should pre-wash.

And voila! Here is the finished Charm-square baby quilt!

Hopefully it was not too painful, and more hopefully it was a lot of fun and you can feel really proud of yourself!

Please don't hesitate to leave feedback - especially if you have more questions or there are parts of this tutorial that need clarification.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekend update

I am happy to report the fact that it was a very productive weekend at our house. I didn't get everything I dreamed of accomplishing (or starting) done, but I made significant progress.

The Amy Butler top is almost done - just need to add the borders, then it's off to be quilted! So pleased with this one! You never quite know if the idea you have in your head is actually going to look good in real life.

Also ready for the quilters, the airplane quilt top for my daughter's teacher. I'll post finished pictures of that one this week.

The binding tutorial is almost ready. Planning to go live with it tomorrow evening.

I am also happy to report that major weed control was accomplished (cheerfully even) not to mention garage swept, annuals purchased and planted with my little side kicks, and green, snow-capped mountains visited. Today we hiked in to a lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon with our cousins. What a perfect day!
And fortunately my 5-year-old brought his foam sword with him, just in case.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weekend List

I have a long list of things I need to get done this weekend. And today has already been a crazy one: gymnastics, post office, Target (and some much needed groceries), pre-school graduation, elementary school dance festival. I'm already pooped. It's just that time of year again - life is so busy at the end of the school year. All fun stuff, but makes life crazy. The good news is my husband is back after being gone 4 days earlier this week, so here's to hoping for some productivity! :)

1. Finish sewing the Amy Butler top (above). I really loving how it's coming together. I started piecing the blocks together last night during SYTYCD.

2. Finish the long-awaited binding tutorial for the Wonderland quilt. Hopefully it will be up by Monday, if not Tuesday at the latest.

3. Make a quilt for my other daughter's teacher who's wife is having a baby also. This is who the American Jane quilt was originally for, but since I decided to keep that one (thanks again to all of you for confirming that decision) I'm going to have to whip up another one really quick. Fortunately I got this quick little kit from American Quilting, where I work. My girls have had the most fabulous teachers this year. I couldn't be MORE grateful to them for all that they have done for my kids.

4. If there is time, I would love to start sewing these strips together too. Last night I sat and unwound those Snippets Jelly Roll and Sweet Roll. SO FUN to just play with the fabric. (And I need to get a new iron. That one is borrowed.)

5. What I would also like to do is read this book. I'm 1/3 of the way through and I already love it. Too bad you can't read and sew at the same time. I really should look into more books on tape.

6. Take care of my yard.

I love the weather this time of year. I love sending my kids outside to play. I love not having to sort socks because everyone can just wear sandals. I love all the beautiful flowers everywhere. During May in Utah the foothills of the mountains are green and the peaks are still white with snow. It's so pretty - looks like Switzerland. (By August the foothills are dried-up and brown and not as pretty.)

But I'm also reminded this time of year how much of my time is sucked-up by yard work. Some yard work I don't mind - like watering the flowers, smelling the honeysuckle, picking the home-grown tomatoes and zucchini. Love all that stuff. It's just the time it takes to get to that point doesn't leave as much time for sewing.

Hope you all have a Happy Memorial Day weekend. (that is if you are in the States. But if not I hope you have a happy weekend anyway.)