Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve, Sewing Borders On

Well, it's Christmas Eve and all through the house, it's quiet.  My hubby has gone to bed and the house is quiet.  We stayed home this evening rather than making the traditional trip to the lake house of my sister-in-law.  After years of driving up, we were just ready to stay home.  I've never been fond of being out on secondary roads on Christmas Eve, too many drivers have had some holiday 'cheer'.  They had a big snow last weekend and more snow is in the forcast tonight so it was a good choice to stay home and take it easy.  Netflix is crashed tonight so we dug through our dvds. I settled for one of Agatha Christie's Poirot.

I've been wrapping up a project that I've been working on for the past 9 months or so.  It's an applique quilt that was featured last Christmas in Quiltmania.  I got the blocks pieced last week and the borders ready so with time on my hands tonight, I sewed the borders on and hung it up on the wall to get a picture.

A picture of the quilt hanging on my make-shift design wall.  The clutter is normal but not desirable.  I usually do a sewing room purge and clean in January.  My way of starting a new year.

Now it's time to plan the quilting.  I've considered my options and find myself leaning toward having a long-arm quilter friend quilt it.  It'll be a first for me, I've always quilted my own either by hand or machine but I'm really wanting to just get this one finished.  I have a small wall quilt project ready 'on paper' that is waiting for me.

Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mock Binding: Part 2

In reviewing Part 1, I was reminded that it usually isn't best to write a blog late at night, especially when a small computer issue is making it interesting.  So... after going back and making some corrections, I hope it'll make sense. 

As I noted before, the limiting factor on judging how big of a quilt can be bound with this technique, depends on your ability to lay it out after the binding is done and smooth and pin it for machine quilting because the layers must be smoothed out.  I've done 60" square throws a couple times but haven't tried anything bigger. 

This is largest quilt I've bound with mock binding.  The back is pieced and the binding strips are also pieced.  This photo shows how the stitching in the ditch along the binding strips gives the impression of a binding seam (on the green corner in the bottom left of the photo).

This wall quilt features curved piecing and the red strips around the outside were  sewn on with curved piecing.  The strips were then treated like any other mock binding in the finishing of the binding.
I used different fabrics for the binding and the backing on the sample in the Mock Bind Part 1 to better show the process.  The downside of this is that the mock technique may be obvious along the seam around the outside edge of the binding.  If you wish to disguise the fact that it's a mock binding then it's best to use the same fabric for both backing and binding strips. 

When figuring how much fabric you'll need, this is what I would need to take into consideration.

The backing needs to be a little larger than the top on all sides with the strips sewn on.

Add 1" to allow for a 1/2" seam in the backing.

Figure 4 strips, cut 1" by the length of the sides PLUS at least 2-3".

I always figure extra fabric and cut the backing a little larger than the minimal size and usually cut the binding strips 3" longer than the sides of the quilt.  The binding strips can be pieced.

Be sure to use starch on the strips BEFORE cutting them out and then use steam in your iron when pressing them.

For best results, do a practice mock binding project to get the process down before attempting to bind a quilt top.  Start small before going on to larger projects.


A 'Mock' Binding Tutorial: Part 1

This binding technique is used for smaller projects and is basically all done by machine.  It's great for table runners, place mats and other smaller machine quilted projects.  My way of doing it was inspired by Ricky Timm's process which he used on his CAVEMAN QUILTING video and as far as I know, he is the one who came up with the term 'mock binding' which describes the binding very well. I'm not as free-wheeling, I'm more inclined to use rulers to do my cutting (I can't help it) but it works great.  Thanks for the inspiration!!
To make a sample, start with a square about 10" or so which represents a quilt top.  Choose a fabric for the backing and binding strips.  You'll need a 1" strip for each side of the quilt top.  To prepare the strips, cut enough fabic for the four strips with a little extra for trimmimg (I cut strip fabric 5" wide to allow for four 1" strips and cut the length about 3" longer than the longest side of the quilt top).  BEFORE cutting the strips, starch the fabric well.  I use 'heavy' starch in a can and  spray the fabric several times lightly and press each spray.  Be sure to cover your press surface with a towel. 
Now cut the starched fabric into 1" strips.  Sew strips on opposite sides of the fabric square (which would be the pieced top) and press the seam allowances TOWARD the strips, this is important!  Trim to square the ends and sew on the last two strips and press and trim them in the same way.

This shows the strips and the order in which they are sewn to the 'top'.
This shows the top basted to the batting and trimmed. 

Now position the 'top' on a slightly larger piece of batting.  Pin it in place as needed and with a walking foot on your machine, baste all around the outer edge about 1/8" from the outer edge of the strips.  Now trim the batting to the edges of the strips.  A walking foot is needed for best results for the entire process.

This shows the seam and the portion of the seam in the middle that is basted. 

To prepare the back, you need backing fabric slightly larger than the top and batting combo plus enough to allow for the 1/2" seam.   Fold the backing in half, right-sides-together and sew a 1/2" seam along the fold.  You'll need an opening to turn the piece through (like making a pillow).

this picture shows the opening in the backing that was used to turn the piece through
I usually sew part of the seam at a regular stitch length, backstitch and switch to a long basting stitch to sew the portion that will be open to turn and then backstitch and finish the seam at the regular stitch length.  The basting will be taken out before turning the piece inside out.

Now position the top/batting sandwich  right-sides-together with the backing, don't trim the backing fabric, leave it over-sized. Now pin the layers together and sew all around the edges with a 1/4" seam.  Turn the corners with the needle down.  The batting will be facing up during the sewing. 

This shows the sandwich going together right-sides-together.

Trim the excess backing fabric to the edge of the batting and trim the corners.  Take out the basting stitches in the backing and turn the whole thing like a pillow.  Carefully pull out the corners, press  the binding, pin as needed and then using a walking foot, stitch in the ditch along the binding strips. 

Shows stitching in the ditch.  I used different fabric for the backing and binding to help show the technique.  It's best to use the same fabric, it disguises the seam.

Now the bound quilt is ready to machine quilt but before you do, hand stitch the opening on the back closed or just baste it in place and quilt it.

Pin the layers together to make sure everything will quilt out smoothly and go for it.  This is the stage that will limit how large a quilt you'll be able to manage with this technique because you must be able to lay the whole quilt out flat and pin baste for quilting to make sure you don't get puckers on the back.  If the binding doesn't lay flat, you can lightly press it with a lot of steam, smooth it out and let it sit while it dries out from the steam.

I'll do a part Two blog to show some samples and throw in a few tips.
Good Luck!!  If you have questions, email me or use the comment box.