I don't know about you, but I've loved quilting this project along with all of you, seeing loads of photos on facebook and flickr, and watching your progress through this project.
So now it's time to finish off this little quilt by soaking, blocking, and binding it. Let's see a demonstration of each step in this video:
Now even though I covered almost everything in the video, I had to leave out loads of minor details that are very important so make sure to read through this article as well!
Important tip: Before you soak your quilt, remember back to the way you marked it. If you marked your quilt with a pencil or chalk, make sure to erase all the marks first.
Next measure from the edges of the feather motifs to the edges on the opposite side (right through the middle of the quilt) and record both the horizontal and vertical measurement on a piece of paper.
Throw the quilt in the dryer and let it tumble for a bit on low. Take the quilt out when it's still damp, but not dripping wet.
Now it's entirely up to you if you want to bother with blocking your quilt or not. I prefer to block all wholecloth quilts and wall hangings simply because they finish perfectly flat and hang beautifully after this process.
In the video I demonstrated blocking using 1 inch elastic strips to stretch the quilt over a small folding table. With larger quilts, I use my design wall, which is 2 inch thick styrofoam insulation boards. You can watch this blocking process in the video on the duchess right here.
Once the quilt is secured, measure the horizontal and vertical distance between the motifs that you recorded before soaking. If the quilt still isn't quite to size, try stretching and pulling on one side at a time until the quilt is returned to the correct size.
Now it's time to cut the edges down for binding and to square up this quilt. Of course, if you filled a wide area around your quilt, you can square this quilt to whatever size you'd like.
In the video, I first trimmed the edges with the 1 inch mark on my ruler lined up with the edges of the corner heart motifs. After trimming this down, I noticed the quilt wasn't truly square and I trimmed another 1/4 inch off all sides.
It's better to cut in smaller amounts than whack the quilt down massively. Had I cut the quilt immediately down to 3/4" away from the motifs, I would have ended up having to trim down even more, and it's very easy to start trimming and get closer and closer to those motifs, which doesn't look good once the binding is applied.
Take your time with cutting and make sure to measure twice, cut once!
Now for the binding. This is a small quilt so the binding process won't take a ton of time, but it's definitely a step that can make or break this quilt so let's work through this step by step.
First off, this is a densely quilted quilt so the edges will be quite compacted. I prefer to cut narrower 2 inch straight grain binding for this type of quilt.
If you prefer to work with a wider binding, you can easily cut your strips 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 inches wide. Go with whatever measurement you're most used to.
You may need to seam multiple strips together in order to create a strip long enough to bind the entire quilt. Personally I prefer to seam binding pieces together with a diagonal seam like you can see in this photo:
To bind this quilt entirely by machine, make sure to flip the quilt over and stitch the binding on with the BACK of the quilt facing up. This will allow you to secure the folded edge of the binding from the front later, which will create a nicer finish.
Now find the place where two binding strips were connected together. This thicker seam can be tricky to deal with if it falls in a corner, so place this seam area in the middle of the edge of the quilt. Gently smooth out the rest of the binding over the quilt, turning the corners, until you find the edge the binding will start and end.
For this quilt, I started stitching about 3 inches from a corner. Place a pin here to mark where the binding starts. It's really not a good idea to pin all your binding in place as it can shift as you quilt.
Take the quilt to your machine and start stitching. It's always a good idea to secure every start and stop when binding so take a few stitches forward, then a few stitches back, then stitch forward as usual with an accurate 1/4" seam allowance.
When you get close to a corner, fold the binding up and make a crease to mark the exact edge of the quilt. Next, measure up from this crease (or the edge of the quilt) exactly 1/4 inch and place a pin on this spot to mark it.
Backstitch to lock your stitches in place, then break your thread and remove the quilt from the machine.
Now comes the fun part of this process: the folding! Hold the quilt up in front of you with the binding extending to the right as it was stitched onto the quilt:
Repeat these steps with each corner. When you turn the last corner, only stitch into the quilt 3 inches or so, then backstitch and break your thread.
Remove the quilt from your machine and spread it out on a table. Try to match up how your quilt looks with this photo:
Place a pin in the middle of this area, inserting the pin in the fold of the binding. You're not actually pinning the binding TO anything, you're just marking a point on the binding.
Pin this, and if you like, mark a line from left to right which will guide your stitching line through this binding strip.
Sew this seam, making sure everything stays nice and even through your machine. Unfold the quilt and the binding and double check it against your quilt.
Trim the extra binding tails and finger press the seam open. Refold the binding to match with the other binding and smooth everything flat on the edge of the quilt.
The two ends of binding should fit together perfectly against the edge of the quilt. Place the quilt back into the machine and stitch this last bit of binding down, stitching from where you stopped stitching to where you originally started.
With this seam finished, this first part of binding is complete!
Now it's time to finish the folded edge of the binding. You can do this part either by hand or by machine.
Personally, if a quilt is destined for a show or a special gift, I will always hand bind it. I just haven't found a way to machine stitch binding so it's 100% perfect on the front AND the back. It usually looks great on the front, but the back side will wiggle on and off the edge of the binding, which doesn't look great.
The first step to binding (either hand or machine) is to fold your corners and press the binding over and around to the edges of the quilt.
To fold the corners, carefully tuck the extra little bit of fabric in this area to one side, then push the quilt into the little pocket created by this fold.
Flip the quilt to the front side, and starting in the middle of one edge, start folding the binding over to hit the original stitching line, and pin it in place
Work from the middle to the corners on all sides of the quilt. If you choose to hand bind, you don't need to do this step. For machine binding, it's far better to secure the binding with tons of pins so it doesn't get all wobbly and out of control on the machine.
And when I say "tons" I mean TONS!
pinmoors to lock the ends of all these pins, which really reduced the number of times I got poked and scratched while binding this little quilt!
For the corners, pin up to this area on one side, allowing the fabric to fold over through the corner area. It will naturally form a triangular shape up through the other side of binding. Carefully fold the opposite side down, tucking that little bit of fabric up into the corner to make a miter on the front.
Once your binding is folded over and the corners are sorted, it's time to stitch this side of the binding down by machine!
To do this, you really don't need a fancy machine with a million decorative stitches. A simple zigzag stitch looks just fine and can easily do the job.
This ensures the binding is securely attached to the edge of the quilt and will look the best from the front.
You'll need to make sure the decorative stitch you use is simple enough that it will evenly feed through your machine and not get garbled. Always remember you're sewing through many layers when the machine stitches through the binding side, but only the layers of the quilt when it swings into the quilt side, and this can wreck havoc with complex designs.
Here's a few good choices for binding designs:
Zigzag stitch - length 1.5, width 2.2
Blanket stitch - Janome Horizon #45 - length 2.2, width 2.2
Jagged satin stitch - Horizon #53 - standard settings
2nd jagged satin stitch - Horizon #54 - standard settings
Wiggle stitch - Horizon #100 - length 1.5, width 5.0
Star - Horizon #103 - length 1.5, width 5.0
It's a good idea to stitch out your decorative stitches on a small scrap sandwich first so you can get a good idea of what the design will look like when it's on your quilt. If you need to resize the design, narrow it, etc, make sure to record these settings on a piece of paper so if you turn off your machine and go back to binding later, you'll be able to create the same stitch easily.
When it comes to corners, this area can get tricky. The best way to deal with them is to try to turn the corner with a design. Many machines have an "end of design" button that you can hit so the machine knows to stitch to the end of that motif and then stop.
If you do end up breaking thread in a corner, just double and triple check that your miters are staying folded and the binding isn't wiggling off the line where it's supposed to be. It's really easy for the binding to do funky things in the corners:
Once all the stitching is finished, hide your threads inside the binding. If you want, you can also hand stitch the miters in each corner just to ensure they're 100% secure.
So that's it! This little Heart and Feather Wholecloth has been soaked, blocked, and bound!
Now it's time to link up your progress and ask any questions that you have about Microstippling or free motion quilting in general!
Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog:
1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com), but the link to the specific post: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2012/01/quilt-along-2-quilting-in-rows.html
3. Click the blue link up button above and paste your link into the box.
Keep in mind that you're posting your progress from LAST week on THIS week's post. This way you have time to watch the lesson, play with the ideas, then post your progress to the next quilt along. I hope that makes sense!
As always, any questions you have, please post them in the comments below or on your blog and I'll answer 5 tomorrow on Question Thursday.
Time for me to shut up and quilt,