Monday, July 24, 2017

Bear Paw Progress: Mitered Borders

Hello, cyberworld -- did you miss me?  I left my teenagers home with my husband and snuck off to the mountains for Music Week sleepaway camp with other grownups.  After a week of worship, unplugging from technology and singing my heart out, I feel so refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way!  And that includes mitered quilt borders:  

Bear Paw Progress: Mitered Borders
I used my main sewbaby 'Nina (my Bernina 750QEE) to sew the white inner borders to my quilt top, but then I dropped that machine off at at my Bernina dealer for her annual Well Baby visit while I was out of town.  When I got back, I had to enlist Bette (my 1934 Singer Featherweight 221) to sew the mitered borders onto my bear paw quilt. 

Attaching Second Border
The Featherweight is ideal for mitered corners anyway, since she reverses direction immediately and reliably when I flick that switch.  My experience with computerized machine models has been that they sometimes -- but not always -- will take an addition forward stitch before reversing, which is extremely annoying when mitering or sewing Y-seams or inset seams that need to be stitched right up to -- but not THROUGH -- the adjacent seam line.

Back Stitching Just to the Line Marking 1/4" from the Edge of the Quilt Top
One of my main purposes in writing this blog is to create a permanent, searchable record of my project notes.  I don't trust myself to remember what worked and what didn't the next time I want to do a mitered border, and I can never find the handwritten notes I used to scribble on whatever scrap of paper was handy at the time.  So, next time I want to put a mitered border on a quilt and can't remember how to do it, I'll be referring back to this post.

My border strips are precut to their exact length, the length of the quilt top edge (measured through the CENTER of the quilt top) + the finished width of the border.  I've seen a lot of instructions for mitered borders where they have you cut the border strips extra long and trim the excess after stitching the miters, but I think that's a recipe for a wavy border disaster.  I've marked the border strips and the quilt top corners 1/4" in, where the miter seam begins.

End of First Border Strip Pinned Out of the Way; Pinning Second Border Strip for Stitching
All four border strips are sewn to the quilt top before any pressing is done, simply folding the previously stitched border strip out of the way as I pin the next strip in place.  I have carefully matched the center of each strip to the center of the quilt top, as well as the marks indicating where the side seams end and the miters begin at every corner.

Stitching Begins at Chalk Line and Pin Marking 1/4" from Edge of Quilt Top
Once all four borders were sewn to the quilt top, I folded each corner diagonally with the quilt top WST (Wrong Sides Together) and used the 45 degree angle line on my ruler to draw the miter seamline.  I'm using a Frixxion pen for this, so the marks will disappear when I press the seam after stitching. 

Note that these markings are all on the WRONG SIDE of my quilt -- I do not use Frixxion pens to mark anything on the right side because sometimes the mark is still visible as a white "ghost" line after ironing.  I have also heard of the lines reappearing when the finished quilt is exposed to cold temperatures, and the manufacturer of these pens has told us that chemicals remain in the fabric even after the marks disappear.  All of my quilts get washed upon completion so I'm not terribly worried about Frixxion pen chemicals eating through my mitered corner seams in 50 years, but that is a possibility.  

45 Degree Angle Line from Side Stitching to Corner of Border Strips

Perfect 45 Degree Angle Line Should Go from End of Side Stitching Right to Strip Corner

Pinned In Place and Ready to Stitch

Don't cut off those triangles yet!  Stitch the seam first, open it up and finger press it to check that the miter is perfect.  Trim away 1/4" from the seam line only after you're happy with the corner miter.

Stitching the Miter Along the Drawn Seam Line
I had my 'Nina 750 back by the time I was sewing the miters.

View from the Back
Once I trimmed the excess fabric from the miter seam allowances, I pressed the corner seams open from the back side of the quilt top.  Finally, once all of the corners were done, I pressed all of the border seams away from the center of the quilt top.  I'm really pleased with the way this border turned out.

I Love This Corner!
Yes, I know I stretched that corner a little when I pressed it open.  I'll fix that before I add the next border, but don't the stripes look NIFTY coming together in that mitered corner?!  Happy, happy, joy JOY!!  The butted white inner border was much faster to sew and not worth mitering, in my opinion, and mine is the only opinion that matters since this is my quilt.  ;-)  There is probably a rule somewhere that says that if one border is mitered on a quilt, ALL the borders should be mitered, but I make my own rules...

This Border Makes Me HAPPY!!!!!
So now I want to add a final wide outer border in solid white, but unfortunately I goofed AGAIN when I ordered more Kona Snow border fabric.  I forgot that the quilt top gets bigger after each successive border is attached (duh!) so I do not have a long enough piece of continuous yardage to cut those outer border strips without having to piece them.  Grrr...  When will I learn that I always, ALWAYS need more fabric than I think I do?!  It's not like I'll never find a use for any leftover solid white fabric or anything...  

Another 3 yards of Kona Snow are on order and will show up in my mailbox by the end of the week.  In the meanwhile, now that I've got my 'Nina back from the shop, it's time to finish up that class sample with some walking foot quilting.

Happy Monday and Happy Stitching, everyone!

I'm linking up with:
·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Why I Should Have STARTED With a Pressing Plan

Good morning and Happy Saturday!  Check out this lovely HOLE in the center of my bear paw block.  Nice, right?

There's A Hole In My Quilt Top, Dear Liza a Hole!
Up until yesterday, I had four of these holes at the center of every single one of my bear paw blocks, as well as holes at the four corners of most of my sashing star blocks.  When I started making this quilt several years ago, I just started sewing and "pressing to the dark side" rather than making a pressing plan. 

The goals of a pressing plan are:
  • to reduce bulk
  • keep points crisp and sharp, and
  • create the flattest possible quilt top sans thick, knobby bumps where too many seam allowances stacked up, and
  • most importantly, to create nesting seam allowances wherever possible for perfectly matching seam intersections.  
(If you're following a pattern that includes pressing instructions, the pattern designer has already done this for you).  I realized the error of my haphazard ways after sewing this quilt top together, and came up with a delusional plan to fix it (late one night when bad decisions are made and it's best to leave the studio!).  I just popped the seams at all of the offending intersections so I could press the seam allowances in different directions.  Now my quilt top was nice and flat, but there were a bazillion HOLES in it!

See?  I ripped out the stitching to free the seam allowance.
I couldn't leave it that way (although I was tempted to!), because those holes were hazards waiting to trip up my presser foot during the quilting process, and then RRIPPP!!  It was piddly, fiddly, annoying work, but I did restitch all of those blocks closed and repressed the quilt top yesterday and it's so much better now.

The Final pressing Solution
See how I ended up pressing those intersections where my sawtooth star, sashing and bear paw block comes together?  I split the difference and pressed them into little squares.  Who knows whether the mythical Quilt Police would approve, but it's nice and flat and looks good (to me, anyway) from the right side:

Same Sawtooth Star, from the Right Side
One More, 'Cause They're So Cute
After that, I added my inner white borders:

Pinning Borders, Easing Top Slightly to fit Border
Ever since I started thinking about teaching new quilters, I've had a different mindfulness to my quilting.  I typically would be thinking ahead to the next steps, or even to the next project, but now I'm more focused on what I'm doing in this step, this moment, thinking about how I'm going to teach it to someone else. 

A lot of quilters struggle with keeping their quilt edges flat and square, especially if they have multiple borders.  I deliberately included the sashing strips and border in my class project so I can teach them how to do those steps successfully. 

I did talk with my dealer and she agreed that I could teach this as a two-day class, which I feel much better about.  I'm going to continue to think about ways to streamline the process and divide things up, and will probably put together a couple more sample tops as I do that.  I'm also going to corral some family members as guinea pigs and attempt to teach them the project in the allotted class time. 

My stitching has lagged behind a bit this week due to an unfortunate illness afflicting my 2nd floor air conditioning, turning my studio into a sauna.  It's fixed now, but I'm headed out of town after church tomorrow and that's the perfect opportunity for my 'Nina 750QE sewbaby to go in for her annual wellbaby visit.  I think there's an update that I haven't downloaded, too.  Then, when I get back, she'll be in tip-top shape and ready to sew up a storm! 

Enjoy your summer, and happy stitching, everyone!
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