Quilts for Sale

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where in the World?

Recent visitor maps from my stat counter.

I have a stat counter on my blog which tracks the number of "hits" and from whence they came. As one who predates the peppermint twist, I'm always amazed at this type of technology. Readers from these countries have visited Occasional Threads recently: US, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Argentina, Hong Kong, Turkey, Spain, South Africa, Canada, Israel, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Latvia, Germany, Belgium, Kenya, New Zealand, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Hello, World!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Double Bias Binding Tutorial - Part Two

Part One of this tutorial ( posted January 25) illustrated making the binding itself. Outlined below is the method I use for applying the binding to the quilt.

Part Two:

1. Preventing ripples:

Using an even-feed or walking foot when sewing the binding to the quilt is very important. The foot feeds all layers of fabric by putting equal pressure on the top and the bottom, thus preventing slipping and puckering when stitching. It is an expensive but vital tool for ensuring good results. Note: Some machines now come with a walking foot built into the machine. Pfaff is one; there may be others.

Bernina walking foot, also called an evenfeed foot.

The foot attached to my Bernina 1530.

The box photo shows the foot more clearly. Note the guide on the right, which I don't use when applying binding.

2. Basting.

I first used this technique when working with a slippery fabric. It is the best method for preventing the border from pulling, rippling or stretching. Be sure to smooth your quilt carefully, pinning every few inches before stitching.

I basted the edge of the blue border prior to removing the original, frayed binding.

Baste all four sides of the quilt. Since I was replacing the binding on an older piece, I basted before trimming the original binding off. Make sure you stitch less than 1/4" from the raw edge of the quilt so that they will not show after the binding has been added.

3. Stitch binding to quilt:

Place binding on quilt, aligning edges. Secure binding with pins if desired. Since I am right handed, I place pins so that I can easily remove them (heads on the right side). Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch binding, stopping 1/4" from the first corner.

Stitching binding to the quilt. Note: The 1/4" mark on this walking foot is NOT on its edge. Check the foot for your machine before stitching.

4. Mitering corners - step one:

Stitch to 6" from the corner of your quilt, stop and measure exactly 1/4" from the bottom edge. Make a light (but still visible) pencil mark.

A pencil mark (use chalk on dark fabrics) is drawn 1/4" from the bottom edge of the quilt. Stitch only to this line. See next photo.

Stitching stops exactly at the pencil line. Remove quilt from machine, trimming thread ends.

5. Mitering - step 2:

At the corner where you've just stopped stitching, fold binding back, placing raw edge of binding in line with the raw bottom edge of quilt. The corner fold of the binding will form a 45 degree angle. This is just like doing a "hospital corner" when making your bed.

6. Mitering- step 3:

Fold binding over on itself (left side) laying its raw edge along the edge of the quilt. This is the next section you will stitch. Using my fingers, I "feel" the 45 degree fold underneath the corner and run my thumbnail along it, making a slightly visible crease. I then measure 1/4" from the bottom and right side of the quilt. A pencil dot marks the intersection, which should fall exactly on the 45 degree fold line. Begin stitching at the pencil dot, not at the edge of the quilt. Click on the photo for a closer view.

Option: Mark the spot with a pin if desired.

7. Mitering - part four:
After corner has been sewn, the binding will have a perfect miter on the front when folded away from the quilt.

The corner on the back of the quilt should look like this at this point.

The binding will form a miter on the back of the quilt as well. This works because you do not stitch all the way to the end of the quilt, but stop 1/4" from the edge as discussed in step 4.

8. Ensuring a snug fitting binding:

Before bringing the binding to the back, it is very helpful to lightly press the binding away from the quilt along the stitched line. It makes for a smoother line where the binding begins and also ensures a binding without gaps or wrinkles. (This step is comparable to pressing the facing away from the garment {in clothing construction} prior to top stitching it.)

Pressing the stitched line.

The back of the quilt will now look like this.
You will see the basting stitches as well as the regular stitching line.

Bring the binding snugly to the back of the quilt. Pin. Sew binding to quilt,
using small hand stitches.

This binding is folded to the back much too loosely and will have a "baggy" look. When quilt show judges write "binding should be full" on a critique sheet, this is what they're talking about.

9. Joining the binding together, or "What do I do with the ends?"

When you've sewn the binding completely around the quilt, take the extra time to join the two ends together well. Instead of tucking one edge under the other, causing an unattractive bump, try this. My thanks to Georgia Bonesteel who shared this on her tv show many years ago.

Leave loose tails of binding (about 7") at the beginning and end so that you can manipulate the fabric in this step. Lay the quilt flat, smoothing out wrinkles. Open the binding and pin each end to the quilt until the strips meet. Fold the end of each strip back at a 45 degree angle, add seam allowance and trim. Double check to make sure the fit is good.

Unpin strips from quilt , place right sides together as shown below.
Stitch, using a 1/4" seam.

Iron (press) the stitched line to "set" the stitches.

Press seam open. Trim "bunny ears."

Once again, fold the bias binding. Pin edges to quilt and complete stitching the last few inches.
Click on the photo to see the seam line.

Last thoughts:

Do two things at once by adding a hanging sleeve when binding. Baste the top edge of the sleeve to the top of the quilt. It is machine stitched securely when the binding is added. Hand stitch the bottom of the sleeve to the quilt, making sure your stitches don't come through to the front.

Sign and date your quilt! I recently saw a gorgeous antique quilt which had been in the same family since 1855. How did I know? It was signed and dated by its maker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Laddie Says Goodbye

I spent two and a half amazing hours this afternoon at the funeral of a friend, the Fighting Irishman. Brian Quinlivan was the first to welcome me when I began cardiac rehab. We were on adjoining recumbant bikes when he said, "Don't worry - you'll be an old pro at this in no time." He went on to tell the story of traveling to Ireland to ask his future father-in-law for his daughter's hand in marriage. Five weeks later we learned that the class cut-up had been diagnosed with inoperable kidney cancer.

Always irreverently joking with the guys (I was often the only woman there), the boy from the Bronx was the one who was always talking, always urging us on. The announcement that he was very, very ill brought stunned silence.

Also in the 7:20 class is David Perlmutt, a writer with the Charlotte Observer. His long article about Brian in this morning's paper was enlightening but not surprising. I liked Brian instantly and knew when I met him that he was a very special guy. I did not know so many others felt the very same way.

A fund raiser at Connolly's Irish Pub two weeks ago brought out 600 people. Today's service was attended by at least that many if not more. It was standing room only for dozens. The most heart-wrenching moment in the testamonials to Brian came from Sandra Connick, his children's Irish step-dance instructor - a woman from the Emerald Isle. In her Irish brogue she told of her visit with Brian four days ago. His last words to her were: "Tell the boys the laddie says goodbye."

Although my time with Brian was short, his impact on me was huge. I will never forget him.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Year of the Ox

Red Envelopes
(from an internet image)

Happy Lunar New Year
everyone. Today, January 26, is the first day of the year of the Ox. My DH was invited to a New Year celebration by the owner of his favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Hoa. Here is some of what we saw yesterday:

Lettuce, a symbol of prosperity and good fortune, hung over the door of each Asian restaurant in the area.**

I don't know the symbolism of this mask so am calling it "Clown Man."**

This jolly character is a decoratiion inside Pho Hoa.

A lion dancer is visible through the smoke from hundreds of very loud firecrackers.**

Another lion dancer outside the restaurant.**

Having performed in front of Dim Sum restaurant, the dragon dancers take to the street.**

Be sure to click on this image to see the pom poms and coiled wire used as embellishments.**

This little girl was SO excited! Her brother - not so much.**

A very proud papa.**
Pho Hoa is a family owned and operated restaurant. My DH, who spent 13 months in Vietnam, arriving in the middle of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, has had many long conversations with the father. Following the fall of Saigon, the gentleman was held in a POW camp and tortured for five years before escaping by boat to Malaysia. He came to the United States in 1981.

We watched the Lunar New Year celebration for over an hour that cold day. I've never spent time in the Far East and was fascinated, wanting to learn more about Asian cultures. The internet sources were so interesting.

Lunar New Year is celebrated mostly by Chinese, especially Buddhists and Taoists. Mythology tells the legend of a man-eating dragon, Nian, who terrorized villages once a year, even going after children. The dragon dancing aggressively, loud noises of the firecrackers, drums and cymbals along with the fierce face of the lion (dance) are all to rid the villages of Nian and evil spirits. Tokens and play money are given as gifts in special red envelopes (see image at beginning of this entry) for the New Year. Red is believed to ward off evil spirits, so much so that many Asians paint their window frames and doors red for the New Year.

My DH took lots of photographs that day, many of which will be given to the family at Pho Hoa as a momento. At the end of the day, the mother at the restaurant presented my DH with a red envelope containing a lottery ticket, as well as a beautiful ceremonial tea set. She also would not let us pay for our lunch! Such gracious, gentle people.

My DH holds the ceremonial tea set given to him by the owners of Pho Hoa.

This detail of the tea pot, sitting in its own little saucer, shows an image of a dragon.

Having eaten a delicious Vietnamese meal and consuming copious amounts of hot Jasmine tea, we left feeling the warmth of having shared this amazing day with very special people, now our friends.

Assorted red envelopes in Taipei.

**Photo credit: Bill Guerrant, Copyright 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Double Bias Binding Tutorial - Part One

Throughout my 25 years of teaching quiltmaking, I've heard the same question over and over again. How do I make a perfect bias binding?

This is an important part of the process that is too often rushed or done carelessly. Take the time to finish your quilt well, as it can make or break your piece. Most judges (this formerly inlcuded me) are sticklers on this point.

I'm putting a new binding on a quilt, so now's the perfect time to do a step-by-step tutorial.

Part One:

1. Rent a good movie - this will take a while.

2. To make enough double bias binding for a full-size quilt, begin with 1 to 1 1/4 yards of 45" fabric. Using 1 1/4 yards will give you a 45" square and will be a gracious plenty (as they say in the south). Fold the fabric diagonally, bringing raw edges together corner to corner as you would a scarf. Then fold it in half again, laying the bias folds together. The fabric is now four layers thick and looks like a big half-square triangle.

Click on
these drawings and then look at the photos of fabric examples.

Fabric square folded into a triangle and then folded again.

Close-up of bias edges aligned. The fabric is now four layers thick.

3. Check to make sure the folded corners (seen above) form a 90 degree angle. This is a very important step. If you don't begin with straight edges, your cut strips will not be straight.

Check to make sure the fabric is straight by lining it up perfectly with the horizontal and vertical lines on the template.

4. Using a straight edge, cut the bias folds from the fabric.

Cut off just enough of the fabric folds to give a clean edge.

5. If your cutting surface isn't wide enough, you may make one more fold, as I did below, again aligning the cut bias edges. Using a sharp rotary cutter lined up with the bias edge, cut strips 2 1/4" wide. I recommend using a fresh blade, as you'll be cutting through four to eight layers of fabric at once. As with knives, a sharp blade is much safer than a dull one. Remember to ALWAYS close your blade safely when your cutter is not in use.

Remember to keep your strips straight when cutting. Check to make sure you retain the 90 degree angle at the corners throughout.

Continue cutting strips until you have the needed length. Fourteen strips gave me close to 18 yards of binding - more than enough for my project.

6. Sew cut ends of strips together as follows:

Mark the right side of the fabric with a pin. This ensures the diagonal ends will fit together properly. Make sure to clean up any fuzzy diagonal ends before proceeding.

With right sides together, align strips as above with an equal "bunny ear" at each end. Make sure to begin stitching exactly at each "valley" - see drawn arrows/line above. Note: The pin is securing the two layers for stitching, not marking the right side. Thanks, Fulvia.

The stitched line should look like this. It will be a little bumpy at this point.

"Set" the stitches by pressing the stitched line. This is an old tailoring trick which will make the seam lie much flatter. Get into the habit of always doing this step, especially when piecing, as it makes a huge difference.

Then press the seam open to eliminate bulk. Notice the difference "setting" the stitches made.

Trim the little "bunny ears."

You will have yards and yards of binding at this point.

7. Remember, the fabric is true bias and stretches easily. Carefully fold the long strip in half, wrong sides together, and press. Use care to align the raw edges well.

8. Brew a cup of hot tea (or hit the hard stuff) and relax for a bit. You've earned it!

Coming next, part two: Stitching the binding to the quilt, making mitered corners and finishing.