How to finish a quilt


I just completed a quilt honoring a Viet Nam veteran. It was a privilege to make this quilt and I had some research to do to get it right.

 

He received the quilt this week and this is what he said: ” Just received it. I am blown away, far better than I ever expected. Thanks for the card, I know you put a lot of Love into it, believe me it shows. We have got to get together sometime for sure. Take care ”

That veteran is my uncle. He was in Viet Nam when I was a kid. Every night I would watch the news to make sure he was ok and then pray he would be okay the next night. Somehow I thought Walter Cronkite would tell is if something happened to him. Childhood innocence, I guess.

Anyway it makes me smile to know I could honor him and give a piece of my heart to him in this way.

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The statue of liberty was made from a photo I took. It was appliqued.

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The boots, rifle and helmet were drawn on fabric, and the soldiers and helos were painted and embroidered.

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A quilt label was embroidered for the back commemorating the quilt and the date of construction.

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This section is a panel I quilted with an additional layer of batting to emphasize the eagle and the waves in the flag. There is an embroidered label on this portion that commemorates the years and locations off service.

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Overall views of the left and right sides of the quilt. I arranged this layout so that the quilt can be displayed across the foot of a bed or across the back of a couch. When you commission a custom quilt, you can request a vertical or horizontal set-up depending on how you want to display it in your home.

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I was asked to take a Dr. Seuss fabric and make an all-over quilting design, then bind for a baby shower gift.

First I had to prepare the back because the front and back are really the same fabric. They are the same width.

First I removed the selvedges. This is easiest done by cutting a notch parallel to the selvedge and right next to it. Then rip the fabric. It should tear in a straight line right along the selvedge (that thicker woven part that on one side often has the fabric maker’s name, copyright information and color dots on it). There is a selvedge on both sides.


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The next thing I did was create 4″ strips to sew on the sides. I cut the back 8″ longer than the front and stitched the sides on.

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In this photo you can see the 4″ strip against the roll bar of the longarm. I am able to put the batting up against that seam and can get the machine head right to the edge to quilt.

When I got home (my apartment is smoke free and pet free, by the way) I attatched binding to the edges. See quilted fabric below.


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 The blue swatch above is actually NOT quilt binding. It is bias tape. This can be used as a binding, but the polyester batting in this quilt is thicker than the available width of the bias tape. This narrowness makes it more difficult to work with. Quilt binding is double folded and wider. It will be labeled “Quilt Binding” on the package. I can also create binding for either hand or machine application.

The customer had a brilliant idea! She asked me to cut 8″ off the quilt, cut the strip in half and bind the pieces to make burp rags. They worked out beautifully as you can see.

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I stopped in at The Country Quilt Shop in Llano, Texas a few weeks ago.

It was almost closing time, but the ladies were very friendly and happy to show off their lovely store. I bought a few things and entered their raffle for a beautiful Texas quilt to raise funds for their guild’s quilt show in March. As I was leaving I  noticed a machine finished quilt binding that is just perfect. I asked them about it and they gave me printed instructions and showed me a sample depicting the process.

First you cut your binding, but instead of one strip, cut two binding strips 1/4″ different in width. The narrower strip will be the outer binding strip that will show on the edge of the quilt.

After you have your two strips cut and long enough to go around the quilt, stitch them right sides together using your quilter’s 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the two strips open and then fold and press the raw edges together right sides out. When the raw edges are pressed together, you will have a piece of binding with a solid strip on the back and a two-color strip on the front. The front will have 1/4″ of the back fabric at the top and the rest will be the second fabric you used in your strips.

After your quilt has been squared and trimmed, you can pin the binding to the back side of the quilt, all raw edges even. Have the two-fabric portion of the binding facing the quilt back. Miter corners as you go.

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When you have the binding in place all around the quilt you can pull it forward and it will look like this.

Press the binding in this position all the way around.

Turn the quilt over and press the binding forward to the front of the quilt.

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Pin the binding in place on the front of the quilt, miter corners on the front and pin in place. Then you can stitch in the ditch between the binding and the narrow flange and have a perfectly finished binding without the hours spent hand-stitching.

Happy quilting and let me know if you have any questions. A big Texas thank you to the ladies at The Country Quilter for passing on this technique. If you are ever in Llano, I highly recommend stopping by – a lovely quilt shop with friendly ladies to help you find unique fabrics and patterns too.

 

Do you have quilt blocks or a quilt top in your closet? It might look like this…

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This mysterious package was found in an elderly lady’s closet. It was passed down to her nephew, and he didn’t really know what to do with it. That is how I ended up with it.

I took the package to a quilt shop and had them look at the pieces. I knew it was a set of Dresden Plate quilt blocks, but not much more than that. It turns out that the pieces are fabrics from the 1930s and they are quite lovely.

I will be placing each block on a muslin background like this:

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The muslin is actually a square, but it is mounted in a hoop while I hand stitch it in place.

 

Once the Dresden Plate piece is firmly secured all the way around, the block will have borders placed on two sides. The borders are called sashing. When I have a row of four blocks all attached, I will create a second row. Each row will have sashing across the entire row. I will then join the rows to form a quilt top that is 4 blocks wide and 5 blocks long.

I will keep you posted as the project grows. When the top is complete I will layer the batting and backing and quilt three layers together.

Keep your eyes open – you may find such a treasure in your closet or the closet of a relative one of these days. You can learn to convert pieces like this into a quilt or you can have someone make a quilt for you. Either way, don’t lose out on the chance to preserve someone’s hard work and enjoy a “new” heirloom of your very own.

Don’t forget – If you’re in Fort Worth – I teach quilting. I also have smooth-sewing vintage sewing machines available at very reasonable prices. Prices start at $40. If you aren’t into sewing yourself, I can take your closet find and turn it into a quilt for you. You just can’t have too many family heirloom quilts!