Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Miscellaneous Musings On Borders, Backings and Bindings (Oh My!)

First off, I'm glad to report that my Pineapple Log Cabin quilt top is finally, FINALLY finished, a mere FIVE years after I started making it in June of 2014.  Unfortunately, I have no glorious "ta-da" photos to share because the quilt top is a massive 120" x 120" and, with all of those pieces (3,492 pieces not including border strips, but who's counting, right?) and three layers of fabric at every seam allowance, it weighs a ton.  I was concerned about the border fabric tearing from the weight of the quilt if I dragged my menfolk out to do a fancy photo shoot somewhere before the top gets layered and quilted.  So this is all you get today:

Pineapple Log Cabin Top is Finished!  120 x 120 with Borders
I am so, SO HAPPY with the my border choices.  That Kaffe Fassett floral print ties all of my scrappy strips together, just like I'd planned it all along.  

Here you can see the quilt top draped across my 12' APQS quilting frame:

This is What a 120 inch Quilt Looks Like On a 12 Foot Frame
This quilt was my catalyst for buying a longarm machine in the first place, the reason I ordered my APQS Millennium longarm machine with a 12' frame, and why I nearly went with a 14' frame instead.  My pineapple quilt top will fit, but just barely!  I got my binding strips all cut for this quilt and have purchased and prewashed the backing fabric.  

Backing and Binding for Pineapple Quilt
I just need to press my backing yardage, cut it into three widths, and seam it together...  But then it all gets folded and neatly hung in the guest closet.  I can't even think about quilting this until after Lars's graduation quilt is 100% finished, and that's not happening until I get back from my marathon of longarm quilting workshops with Lisa Calle and Judi Madsen at Spring Quilt Week in Paducah.

Speaking of Lars's Geese In Circles graduation quilt, it's coming along nicely, too.  I have 26 of the 48 flying geese arcs pieced, and I lucked out with the discovery of the PERFECT batik binding fabric in, of all places, my very own STASH!

Binding Fabric Discovered In My Fabric Stash!
Very excited about that discovery, because usually when I find the perfect fabric for a project in my stash, I don't have enough of it.  The half yard cut of this fabric was just enough to cut binding strips for Lars's XL Twin graduation quilt (72" x 96", sized for a college dorm mattress).    

While I was in Binding Mode, I also located an orangey-gold metallic fabric that I'd chosen to bind my Jingle quilt and cut that into strips.  This green swirly fabric is the intended backing fabric for that quilt, it's already been prewashed, so it just needs to be cut into lengths and seamed together before I can pack it away with the quilt top (Jingle needs custom quilting, so don't expect to see that one quilted right away, either).
Binding and Backing for Jingle Quilt

I made the jaunt to my not-quite-local quilt shop yesterday to select backing and binding fabric for the vintage quilt that I'm repairing and requilting for a friend, and I am really, really happy with what I came up with.  The challenges and objectives for this shopping trip were as follows:
  • This quilt was originally backed and bound with a cheerful and hyper-bright, Day Glo MOD orange solid fabric that gave me a strong 1960s vibe, and tied with matching orange yarn
    Vintage 1960s Leather Jacket in Exact Same Shade as Original Backing and Binding Fabric
  • The quilt's current owner is ready to part ways with the orange, but since the quilt's value is sentimental, I didn't want to introduce anything for the backing or binding that would substantially alter the color palette and make it seem less like the quilt that Grandma made
  • Since the current owner likes to use this quilt as a picnic blanket for concerts in the park, I wanted a print backing fabric that wasn't too light in color so that minor grass stains or soiling wouldn't stand out as much.  The goal here is to prolong the life of the quilt by minimizing the frequency of laundering.
  • I preferred a print backing fabric in case my quilting stitches and tension are not 100% perfect under magnification...  Print backings hide a multitude of sins, and if there's one thing I'm sure of during the season of Lent it's that I'm a wretched sinner!  ;-)
  • The fabrics in the quilt top are severely faded from their original vibrant hues.  This is challenging because I want any new prints to complement the originals, but although '60s and '70s inspired prints about in today's quilt shops, those fabrics all have bright, saturated colors that would draw way too much attention to themselves.

Backing and Binding Fabrics for Vintage Quilt Project
Since the quilt top fabrics have been subjected to many washings over the years, I prewashed my new backing and binding fabrics in HOT water with regular laundry detergent.  I don't think any bleaching is necessary, though -- these fabrics already blend right in with the quilt top.  The purple fabric with the swirls is the backing fabric and the soft coral orange will be the binding, so there's some continuity with the original orange but now it's in a much smaller dose and more subdued.

Purple Backing Print, Coral Binding Print
Best of all, I found both of these fabrics at the back of the store in the sale section for 30% off.  When does THAT happen?!

So, it being Tuesday, let's set some goals.  Here's what I hope to accomplish in the next week:

  • Finish piecing another 12 of the arced flying geese for Lars's graduation quilt (goal is 36 by week's end)
  • Press, seam, and store backing fabric for the Pineapple and Jingle quilts
  • Press and seam the vintage quilt backing and load it on the longarm frame
  • Press and cut coral binding strips for the vintage quilt
I'd really like to get the quilt top off the wall, patched, and loaded onto the frame for quilting this week, too, but that would be an awful lot to bite off in one week and the graduation quilt is still my primary focus.

I'm linking today's post up with:


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at http://www.cleverchameleon.com.au
·       To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: http://stitchallthethings.com


·      Midweek Makers at www.quiltfabrication.com/
·      WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at http://www.myquiltinfatuation.blogspot.com/  


·      Finish It Up Friday at http://www.sillymamaquilts.com
·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com
·      Finished Or Not Friday at http://busyhandsquilts.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Pineapple Borders (Finally!) and More Flying Geese

I'll bet you thought you hadn't heard from me because I was sewing up a storm over Lars's graduation quilt, didn't you?  Well, progress has been made on that front, but we'll get to that in a minute.  For today, we're taking a little detour and revisiting the long-overdue borders for my pineapple log cabin quilt.

Look Who's Getting Borders Today!
First, I'm adding a 3/4" finished border (same size as the pineapple strips) in Kona Solids 196 Blue Jay, and after that I'm adding a wider border in a floral Kaffe Fassett print.

Why has it taken me so long to add these borders?  Well, first of all, I had to prewash the uncut border yardage, and I loathe the washing and the ironing and the folding and the cutting of the borders.  Then, I was trying to figure out where I could lay this gigantic quilt top flat to measure for the borders and pin them on.  I finally decided to use the rails of my longarm frame for this.

Using the Longarm Frame to Measure for Border Length
As you can see, I've draped the quilt top over the quilt top roller of my frame with the center seamline centered on the rail and smoothed it out nice and flat, but not stretched.  Then I smoothed one of my 1 1/2" (cut width) blue border strips all the way down that center seam, keeping one cut edge right on the seamline down the whole width of the quilt.  I marked the border strip with tailor's chalk on both ends right at the raw edge of the quilt top and then took the border strip to my cutting table to make clean perpendicular cuts with my rotary cutter and ruler.  (For those of you who are not quilters, the reason I'm measuring through the center of the quilt for the border length rather than measuring at the outer edges is to prevent Wavy Border Syndrome in the event that any of those raw bias edges misbehave and stretch on me.  We want a flat, square quilt when we're finished!)

Pinning Border at the Longarm Frame
Then I hung the quilt top off the longarm frame with the edge of the quilt along the quilt top roller and the bulk of the quilt top hanging off the back.  (The canvas wrapped around the roller bar grips the back of the quilt top to hold it in place the same way that a napped design wall will hold up quilting cottons without pinning).

Pinning for the 97D Seam Guide: Perpendicular Pins With Pin Heads to the Left
I'm inserting my pins perpendicular to the raw fabric edges with the pin heads facing to the left, so nothing will stick out and get in the way of my beloved seam guide at the sewing machine.  I thought about sewing with the borders on the bottom so I could "babysit" all the seam allowances and ensure none got flipped in the wrong direction as I was sewing, but decided against it.  As I mentioned earlier, although the neutral strips of fabric have straight grain at the outside of each pineapple block, the diagonal blue and green strips of fabric have stretchy bias edges at the outer edges of the blocks.  I've pressed and starched those seam allowances as flat as can be, so I'm just being really careful as I'm pinning them and checking frequently as I'm sewing.  I just felt like it was important to have the seam allowances and naughty bias edges in direct contact with my feed dogs and the stable, lengthwise grain of my border strips on top.  I've got two of the four blue border strips sewn on so far without having to reach for my seam ripper, so that's how I'll do the other two sides as well.

Oh How I Love Me Some 97D Foot!
It's been over a month since I proclaimed my love for the Bernina #97D Patchwork foot and Seam Guide all over the Internet, y'all, so it's time.  And no, Bernina doesn't pay me to say these things (unfortunately).  Why am I so smitten with this patchwork foot when there are so many other options to choose from?  For one thing, the wider left toe on this foot gives better contact with the widely spaced feed dogs on my 9 mm B 750QE, plus it has a cutout at the back of the foot so I can engage the Dual Feed Footsie for even smoother, more consistent fabric feeding as I sew these borders.  And the seam guide -- Ah, how I love thee! -- It screws right down to the bed of the machine in an instant, no measuring required, just slide it right up to the edge of the presser foot.  The seam guide remains FIRMLY in place until I remove it.  Zero wiggle, zero "play," impervious to vibration.  Unlike the patchwork feet that have a little barrier guide attached directly to the edge of the presser foot, the Seam Guide extends significantly in FRONT of the presser foot.  This is what makes it so awesome.  I'm not looking at the needle or at the edge of my presser foot when I'm piecing.  Instead, I'm watching in front of the foot to make sure that my raw fabric edges are right up against that seam guide.  I'm guiding the fabric through the machine with my left hand just as you see in the photo: my pointer finger is making sure that the fabric edges touch the seam guide in front of the foot, and the rest of the fingers of my left hand are behind the foot to ensure that the bulk of this ginormous quilt top doesn't drag it sideways as it feeds through the machine.  My right hand was holding the phone to snap the picture, but when I'm actually sewing I'm using my right hand to fluff and position the project in my lap so it feeds smoothly to the machine, check the seam allowances underneath, etc.  But the secret of the 97D foot + seam guide success is that, if the fabric is lined up precisely 1/4" seam allowance in front of the foot and it's feeding straight as you sew, the fabric edge will be precisely 1/4" away when it reaches the needle.  I find that I'm able to sew a bit faster with the 97D + Seam Guide combo, without losing accuracy.  And getting things done faster is a good thing!  That's why, when I bought the B 475QE "Goldilocks" machine for portable piecing, I purchased another Seam Guide separately to use with the #37 Patchwork foot that came with the 475QE.

Speaking of things that need to get done faster...  Yes, I've been working on the graduation quilt!  12 of the 48 curved flying geese arcs have been paper pieced.  That's 25% of them done at the end of the first week in March, so I'm on track to finish all of them by the end of the month, sort of.  I haven't touched them since Saturday and today is Tuesday...   

See Those Green Tag Board Templates On the Purple Fabric?
Meanwhile, I've ordered an 18" x 18" sheet of 1/4" thick acrylic from Amazon and informed my husband that he has been drafted as my Custom Template Maker for this quilt.  See those green tag board templates on top of the folded purple fabric in the photo above?  I need to cut 48 of each of those two shapes out of the purple fabric, and even if I had the time and patience to trace around the tag board and cut each piece individually, I'm concerned that the skinny ends of that one template will bend as I'm tracing around it.  I found an article on the Internet from Bob Vila about how to cut acrylic sheets with a saw and told my husband that if Bob Vila can do it, so can he!  Let's make it a family project, right?  All of my store bought acrylic rulers and templates for rotary cutting are only 1/8" thick, but Bernie says that's too thin for him to cut with a saw; it would shatter.  Hopefully I can still rotary cut around the thicker templates, and an added bonus will be that I can also use the thicker templates for ruler work on the longarm machine when it comes time to quilt this bad boy!  I'll let you know how that works out when the acrylic sheet shows up.  Fingers crossed!


In other grad quilt related news, look what showed up in today's mail:

This is the custom-printed backing fabric from Spoonflower, designed by C. Wren Leyland:

Kona Solid Backing Fabric, Custom Printed with Psalm 28:7
SO EXCITING!!  Now I need to decide whether or not to disregard the Spoonflower instructions to prewash this fabric.  It's printed onto Kona Solid fabric, the same as the (unwashed) quilt top fabrics, so leaving the backing unwashed until after quilting should ensure comparable shrinkage in all of the quilt fabrics.  However, I didn't think to check my sample swatch for colorfastness before I washed it and I have no idea whether there might be residual dye in this Spoonflower fabric.  I'm sure the dyes they use for their digital printing are totally different from what Kona uses to dye their solids at the mill.  Hmmm...  I think I'll snip off a sample to check for dye bleed and if I have to, I'll give it a COLD water wash to rinse loose dye with as little shrinkage as I possibly can.  It will be fine, right?

But first -- Gotta get these borders on the pineapple quilt, though, so I can store the finished quilt top safely out of harm's way (and free up the longarm frame for quilting the vintage quilt top that's mid-repair).

And so, without further ado, here are my To-Dos for Tuesday:

  • Complete solid blue and print borders for the Pineapple Log Cabin quilt
  • Piece 12 more geese arcs for Lars's Geese In Circles graduation quilt
That is PLENTY ambitious for me, since each of those geese arcs is taking roughly an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes to piece!  Time to get back to work!

I'm linking up with:


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at http://www.cleverchameleon.com.au
·       To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: http://stitchallthethings.com


·      Midweek Makers at www.quiltfabrication.com/
·      WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at http://www.myquiltinfatuation.blogspot.com/  

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