Saturday, March 22, 2014

Finishing a baby quilt

Many years ago my mother made a baby quilt for my son and started one for my daughter. It got packed away and only a couple of years ago when my sister was moving did she unearth this second quilt - I have no idea how she came to have it as mom passed away in 1988! But what a treasure to pass on to a new generation!

The quilt as I received it
She was certainly ahead of her time some might think with her choice or a strong yellow broadcloth but in truth, I am sure she was trying to avoid gender stereotypes and had a very limited choice in fabrics considering they lived in the country. The puppies are hand appliqued and embroidered. At first I thought I was going to have to do all the assembly and quilting so you can imagine my surprise to find that it was finished all but the binding.

Now I am the first to admit that I am no quilter! Years ago I took a quilting course that covered many types of quilting so I have a pretty good idea of how to do it but like all things, techniques change and it seems that binding are done differently today. I learned quite a little bit when I went searching for fabric for the binding at the local quilt store and chatting with the sales girl.

I often make submissions to A Needle Pulling Thread magazine and Carla, the chief editor and owner, insisted that young moms don't want pastels any longer and so I went searching for something to 'tone in' with the colours of the embroidery and help to calm the bright yellow that was too much for me. I found a delightful print with just the right bright colours, gender neutral and not too much like a nursery print. And since a binding (the way the sales lady described the modern style to me) is fairly narrow, not a whole lot will show anyway.                 

I decided to make the binding half the width of the outer sashing (a bit wider than what I saw in the quilt store) and made use of the grid in my cutting mat to cut the correct with - 6" - rather than drawing lines on the fabric as a guide. This was against all my training to use proper straight grain by pulling a thread or tearing!

The final width of the binding was only 1.5" and I will show you why and how I got these measurements. First I had to join the strips which I cut on the 'straight' grain not the bias. I was amazed at how well this worked - no stretching like I would have gotten with a bias binding! Next I had to cut the ends on the bias or at 45 degrees. Doing this reduced any bulk I might have had by keeping the joins on the straight grain. Again the cutting mat saved a lot of time and bother.
Follow the grid and use the ruler to keep the blade cutting straight.
Next step was to join these strips with 1/4" seam allowances and press the length of fabric in half.
Next I pressed the raw edges so they met at the centre fold. Finally I folded the piece in half again on the original fold and gave it one more press. Now I was ready to start attaching the binding.
Fold in half & press
Press raw edges to centre

Press in half on the original fold again
To attach the binding to the quilt, open it out so the raw edge, single thickness, lines up to the edge of the quilt.

Here you can see how the binding, when folded to the back side of the quilt is half the width of the yellow sashing. The fold you see on the right is the centre fold of the binding.

It all went together so well! I chose to mitre the corners but I see that many of the modern quilts don't do it this way and have 'square' corners much, much easier. But I am still a bit of a traditionalist and fiddled with these corners to get the perfect mitres. And they are perfect thanks to measuring.

Here you see the binding being pinned to the back of the quilt. The stitching done on the top to hold the binding in place now acts as a perfect guide to get the binding hand stitched in place.

Everything is ready now to sit in the evening and enjoy some handwork while I watch tv! I can hardly wait....

Hope you like this print as much as I do now - it kind of grows on one!

Till next time, keep stitching.......

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