Saturday, July 30, 2011

Binding (Totally!) by Machine

Oh, my aching hands!  I hand stitched the binding to my last quilt, and I hope it's the last quilt I hand stitch the binding to.  

Remember the "Charm" fabric line by Amy Butler?  I fell hard, let me tell you!  That's when I started my love affair with the new "modern" fabrics (at least they were new to me).  I bought a bunch and made a top, then put it away to percolate in my UFO stash.  I loved the fabrics and colors and wanted to make a bed quilt, so when I dragged it back out, I added borders to make it big enough.  But I was still dragging my feet about quilting it, and then --- argh! --- binding it. But I've learned to cheat -- heehee. 

Ricky Tims has a DVD called "Grand Finale" which is one I recommend to everyone, no matter how experienced you are, or what style quilts you make, you'll learn something valuable.  The DVD focuses on not just quilting your quilt, but prepping it, trapunto, bobbin quilting, marking it, quilting it and then binding it by machine.  It's also entertaining.  Where was I?  Oh yes, binding by machine!  His quilts are award-winning and internationally acclaimed, and he puts his bindings on by machine.  He is very specific about his method of binding, and it turns out beautifully.  That said, I've adapted my own method of cheating technique that works for me, and that's fast, fast, fast!  

You start by sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.  I use a seam that's about 3/8".  Then, press the binding flat, away from the quilt.  Flip it over.  Turn on the iron.  Now you begin the magic trick.  Apply a line of Elmer's WASHABLE School Glue along the seam for about 18".  
Fold the binding over the glue and press it till the glue is dry, just a few seconds.  Continue all around the quilt.  
When you get to the corner, apply glue, press down one edge, then add a dab of glue under the corner, and continue down the other side.  The corners will be mitered, the binding will be glued down, and all you'll have to do is sew it down.  With thread matching the binding on top, and bobbin thread matching the backing, I use my Janome foot "S" that has a alignment foot down the center, and move my needle several clicks to the right to ensure the stitching goes into the binding.  You don't need a special foot, but this makes it easy for me.  I use a straight stitch, you could use a decorative stitch or zigzag.  
When I get to a corner, I continue stitching up the mitered edge, back down, and go around the corner.  No need to go back to stitch those corners!  And voila'!  The glue washes out completely, so you don't even have to be careful about applying it neatly.  Unless it will be a piece that will not be washed -- in that case, be more careful with applying the glue, and use a wet washcloth if it globs outside the binding line.  

The picture I took of the quilt on the bed didn't turn out well, the colors don't look good for some reason.  So I'll add it later.  But it didn't take long, I promise!, from start to finish.  Try it on a small project, or just a practice quilting piece and see what you think.  

Anything to make it easier while still getting good results is a good thing, right?

Here's a comfort quilt I offered to quilt for our guild, it's a cute 3-D bowtie pattern.  You can't see it, but I did loops in the printed part of the blocks and outlined the bowties to make them stand out.  It was fun to do, and some little girl will enjoy sticking her fingers into the 3-D bowties :-)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Out @A%&# Spot! Whoop!

Do you see those blue spots in the white sashing?  

I know they're pretty hard to see, but there they are.  Sprtz!  Gone!  They're back :-(  Sprtz!!  Sprtz!!  Gone :-)  Oh no, they're back!  And they've migrated to the back.  Sprtz!!!  Sprtz!!!  OK, they're gone.  But wait...

Somewhere in my bits and pieces of scraps and notes I have written two handy hints that I've kept in a safe spot for years.  One is how to get rid of pencil lines in a quilt top.  The other is how to get rid of blue lines.  Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I've sprtzed with cold water, several times, and with gusto.  I haven't ironed the areas or done anything else.  Does anyone out there know what I should do?  Guess I'll go immerse it in the washer in cold water.  I'm not going to run it through the dryer, for sure!

But it's also a Whoop Whoop! for me this week!  I had the top finished before, but put it ahead of the line to be quilted.  Line Tamer, I love you!!!  I quilted in the ditch around the blocks and criss-crossed on the diagonal, as well as along the sashing strips, too.  I used a stencil for the "waves" in the sashing, and that's where the blue is coming back.  I'm very happy with the way it turned out, although I'm debating about adding a little more quilting, just don't know what.  Any ideas?  

Lately I've been binding completely by machine, both for the quick results, and because my right hand and back are grateful that I don't sit and hand-sew the binding.  This time, though, I stitched the binding very carefully to the front since I didn't add a border and I needed to watch those points on the pinwheels.  Then, while I watched my recorded "So You Think You Can Dance" episodes, I sewed the binding to the back.  And thank goodness for the Beam and Read light I won at Patsy Thompson Designs website, and thanks to Kelly at I Have a Notion!  I was able to see so well, and the stitches were really nice as a result :-)

So I'm calling for a Whoop Whoop!  And sending you over to Sarah's place to see other projects in progress -- here:

Try to stay cool, all y'all!!!   Stay indoors and work on those quilts :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Whoop! 7/15/11

Some days are diamonds, some days, not so much!  Diamonds, this week, for sure.  Or at least zirconias.  A friend had made three comfort quilts to be donated by our guild, and asked if I wanted to practice my quilting.  Sure!  I learned from Mindy Casperson in her DVD, "Longarmed & Fabulous!" to stabilize by stitching in the ditch before quilting.  Maybe I've heard that somewhere before.  And chose to ignore it.  But Mindy was adamant, so I did.  

Ever hear of a "Line Tamer" ruler?  (Here's info:  I love this ruler!!  It didn't take long for me to get the hang of using it, and since it holds your hopping foot on both sides, I felt like I had much more control on the stitching in the ditch!  That was a good beginning!

Then I brought out my circles: and I went to town making curves around the sides of squares.  I've done this free-motion on my Janome, but using templates is so much more precise!!  

That looked pretty good, if I say so myself.  But then, as I was unloading the quilt, I decided to take it up a notch, and did some stippling in every other area where the circles make orange peels. I love, love the way it turned out!!  Yay, me!!!  I'm feeling more confident every day that I can make a quilt even better with quilting!  And I'm learning so much every time: loading the quilt, deciding on threads, selecting the tools of the trade, stitching in the ditch, and doing something to make basic designs just a little better.  

Go to Sarah's blog: to see other projects!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Design Wall 7/11/11

After making a bazillion geese, I decided the flock is as done as it's going to be. So I finished the blocks.  Laying them out wasn't making the top as big as I'd hoped. I've made enough geese to last a lifetime, and the blocks aren't big enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What is the deal here?????  So I added sashing and corner posts.  There!  That should do it.  Argh!  

My right brain said I've made enough blocks, adding more stuff around the sides would make it bigger, and they would fit together perfectly.  Just sash every other block, and they will fit together just right.  NOT!!!  I think the left side of my brain had a seizure or something, because although it made perfect sense to me, it just didn't work out that way.  Oh, I know! says the right brain.  I'll just add sashing on two sides of the plain blocks, and alternate them with the others -- that will make them fit. Hahahahaaaaahaaaaaaa!  Anyone know how to do partial seams when putting blocks together? 
You can't really tell from the photo, I guess, but I have a mess on my hands.  You know the expression, "Back to the drawing board?"  Maybe I'll have some answers tomorrow.  Sigh.

I guess Judy's not blogging about her design floor today.  Otherwise, I'd send you to to see quilts that people are making that are coming together at the seams!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Adventures in Learning! Whoop Whoop!

Learning curve?  How about learning circles and sharp right corners, a few zigzags, and mountains, and cliffs?  I have been playing with my Avante, determined to learn all that I can about different longarm quilting techniques.  

After loading my first real quilt (not the "what was I thinking when I bought this fabric" practice runs), getting it all pinned on the frame, rolled and and clamped and ready to go, I realized I had it loaded wrong.  Of course!  If there's a wrong way and a right way, I prefer the wrong way.  I learn so much doing things at least twice :-D  After much consultation with the manual (!!!) and the DVD that came with the machine and YouTube, I decided backing-and-forthing among directions was the long way down that road.  So I now have a "Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, etc." list hanging on the wall beside the machine!

So, anywayz, finally I was on the correct path, and fooled around with free motion quilting, and had a wonderful time!  After doing FMQ on my Janome, this was easy in a way, but also harder.  When you write with a pencil on paper, you leave the paper stationary (no pun intended) while you move the pencil around over it.  That's longarm quilting, right?  Well, I had spent the last few years unlearning that, and learning to use the pencil fixed while moving the paper around method.  They say it's hard learning new stuff as we get older.  Not only did I have to learn new stuff, but I had to unlearn the technique I learned while unlearning how to write on paper!  Trust me, you'll know what I'm talking about if you go from one technique to the other!!

But wait!  There's more!  While doing research and learning all I could from books and YouTube before I got my Avante, it sounded like pantographs are the easiest way to quilt, fast and done-done in no time at all.  YAY!!  I'm ready for that.  
You talk about unlearning!?!?!  Honey, you ain't seen nothing like unlearning while learning to use a panto.  Picture this: you're walking back and forth at the back of the machine tracing a piece of paper with a laser light, all the while trusting that it's coming out like it's supposed to on the quilt, because you're not even looking at the quilt.  What???!!!  The process also caused some more steep learning curves -- remember the wrong way that I like to do?  Those flowing lines of quilting designs, smooth and nesting together, row after row, that you get when you do pantos?  Um, well, not exactly.  Although the quilt is quilted, it's not quite as advertised.  I think I'm going to have to go back to the directions -- the books, DVDs, YouTube -- how's that done again?  I can do this.

Meanwhile, I have a tablerunner on the machine right now.  (It's loaded correctly!)  I have the ruler base on, and at hand I have those neat-o rulers I had to get right away because I can do ruler work with no problem, easy-peasy.  Ooooo-kay.  Easy-peasy?  Not so much.  But I am getting the hang of it, and while it looks pretty darn good on top where I used invisible thread, the bottom.. well, let's just say I've added "Step 7: use only busy backing fabrics with same color threads."  It's still dark-thirty this morning, so I don't have a picture of that process.  (What?  Plan ahead?  Take pictures in daylight the day before?  Well, yes, but I forgot it was going to be Friday.)

So my plan for the continuing studies of longarm quilting will include marking tops, with stencils and my own designs.  That will be the easiest technique of all, right?

A big Whoop Whoop! for me -- I'm persistent, anyway!  Go to Sarah's blog here: for more Whoop Whoop! progress reports!