Monday, September 25, 2017

Longarm Quilting Practice: Let's Play With Cheater Cloth!

Good morning!  I learned SO much at my APQS New Owner training last week, and I'm anxious to get some time in my studio now to put all that information into practice.  I came home with more thread, gadgets and gizmos, and a little less fear of routine maintenance.  

Rather than loading up a real quilt top just yet, I'm going to do a few more SMALLER practice quilts, to get more familiar and comfortable with the process of loading a quilt.  I have zipper leaders on order for my 12' frame but in the meantime, I'll still be pinning directly to my leaders.

My first practice quilt was a huge king sized monstrosity of different colored solid fabrics.  That was fine for experimenting with matching versus contrasting threads and doodling different fill patterns.  I halfheartedly quilted some straight lines with my ruler on that first practice quilt, but what I really want to do with those rulers is learn to quilt straight lines EXACTLY where I want them on my quilts, like SID (Stitch in the Ditch, along seam lines).  The big learning curve for me with ruler work in quilting is developing the ability to eyeball the distance from my needle to the outside edge of my presser foot, because that's how far away my ruler needs to be from where I'm trying to quilt my straight line.  So I'm going to be loading up a 45" x 45" Dresden plate cheater cloth that I bought on eBay for my next practice piece:


Dresden Plate Cheater Cloth from eBay
Although it resembles a pieced and appliqued quilt top at first glance, the Dresden Plate/Snowball blocks and the 54-40 Or Fight blocks are just printed onto the fabric.  My goal for this piece will be to use my ruler to quilt all the "seamlines" between the fake patches, and around and between the blades of the Dresden plates.  Then I can quilt some fills in the blocks and the plate backgrounds.  By the time I finish quilting this piece, I hope to have better control when quilting with the ruler so I can tackle a real quilt top more confidently.

The quality of this vintage cheater cloth is pretty lame, I must say.  The weave is not as tight as the quality quilting cottons I'm used to working with, and the piecing design is printed onto the fabric crooked so that it's off grain.  I tore opposite ends of the fabric along the grainline to ensure that it would load onto the frame nice and square, and look at how askew the printed design is from the straight grain edge of the fabric:


See How Off-Grain This Print Is?

Close Up
Since this is only for practice, I'm going with the straight grain even though that will make it look crooked.  The great thing about the cheater cloth is that it was super cheap and I have zero blood, sweat, or tears invested in it, so there is no fear or anxiety about "ruining it" like there would be with a pieced quilt top.


108" Wide Paisley Backing Fabric from JoAnn
I used my 50% off coupon at JoAnn's to purchase 9 yards on a bolt of the above 108" wide cotton backing fabric for this and other practice quilts.  I generally only buy fat quarters of fabric for my stash, and only purchase yardage when I specifically need it for borders or a backing for a current project.

I've gotta say, I'm surprised there isn't a greater variety of cheater cloth fabric available today, considering the sheer number of quilters interested in developing machine their machine quilting skills.  If this is something you're interested in, I've found a couple of options that are available as of today:


Available on eBay here
That's a 6-yard length of 34" wide vintage cheater cloth, available on ebay here.  The seller says it feels like a blend rather than 100% cotton.  This would be great for someone who has a real pieced lone star quilt that they aren't sure how to quilt.  You could try out different quilting ideas on each of the lone stars printed onto the cheater cloth to help you envision which one you want to do on your real quilt.


24" x 44" ColorWorks Mariner's Compass Panel, Available on eQuilter here
44" Sweet Tea Barn Star Delft Panel Available from Fabric.com here
The cheater cloth panel pictured above is a digital print from Hoffman, so it's going to be a much better quality than the one I'm about to load onto my frame today.  At 43.5" x 44", it's also a great size for a quick and easy baby quilt, and it's only $12.98 per panel -- and if you buy two or more panels, they are only $10.38 each.  You could slap borders on it if you wanted a larger throw size.  I might have to buy a couple of these panels for myself.


Meadow Dance Quilt Top to Go Panel, by Amanda Murphy for Benartex
Benartex is offering the above 24" x 44" panel, designed by Amanda Murphy, specifically for practicing machine quilting designs.  You can get this one from eQuilter here for $8.25.

By the way, I don't do affiliate links, so I'm NOT compensated from any purchases you make via links in my blog posts.  I have only included the links for the convenience of you AND me, so that I can find these cheater cloth options later, if I feel like I need more practice after quilting the Dresden plates, as well as for the purpose of photo credits.

My quilting goal for today is to straighten up the mess in my studio from the oven mitts project, find the right size batting for my cheater cloth in my box of batting scraps (I bought some fusible batting tape in case I need to piece it -- waste not, want not, especially when it's just for practice!), and just get this piece loaded onto the quilting frame, ready to go.

I have some design work to attend to and a VOX choral rehearsal tonight, so I'll be listening to the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem on my headphones all day while I'm working in my office and studio.  In case you want to listen to it, too:



It's another busy week full of meetings, rehearsals, doctor and dentist appointments for Bernie and the kids, but hopefully I can squeeze in some stitching, too.  Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 22, 2017

In Which My Husband Sets My Oven Mitts On Fire, and I Have to Make New Ones, and Then He LAUGHS at Me! A Tutorial

Okay, I didn't HAVE to make new ones.  Sensible people just go to the store and BUY oven mitts.  I checked Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, though, and neither of them had any cute, kitschy oven mitts that I could get excited about.  And yes, I DO need to feel excited about oven mitts in order to buy them.

Laughing So Hard, His Face is as Red as the Oven Mitts
Apparently my oven mitts are hysterically funny, just because the thumbs are a bit too small for Bernie's giant hands.  This is because I took too wide of a seam allowance, and I COULD easily fix them by ripping out the seams and resewing them, but I don't particularly feel like it now that my efforts have been ridiculed.  They fit Anders' hands perfectly; maybe I should teach HIM to cook for us?

My old oven mitts were from Williams Sonoma, purchased way back when they were featuring the color "saffron" and they were selling pot holders, Le Creuset cookware, aprons, towels, and everything else in that color, which complements my kitchen nicely.  What happened to my oven mitts is that Bernie was cooking something where you brown meat on the stove, then put the pan in the oven to sear the meat, and then it comes back to the stove for the remainder of cooking -- with a searing hot metal handle that one tends to forget is hot.  So he stuck an oven mitt on the handle of the skillet, and then when he turned up the burner flame the oven mitt ignited.  And we've had these oven mitts for a LONG time anways, at least 10 years, so it's time for them to go.

Sad Little Saffron Oven Mitts, Soon to be Retired
I turned the damaged oven mitts inside out to inspect them, and discovered that they were 100% cotton (according to the care label), and consisted of an outer layer of cotton twill, a thin layer of cotton batting, and a layer of terry cloth, all quilted together.  

At the Seam Allowance, I Can See the Layers of the Old Oven Mitt
I decided to use the old pot holders as a pattern for my new ones.  

Inside Out Old Oven Mitt
Looking at the photo above, I can see why my oven mitts ended up too small at the top.  I cut my mitts out to match the raw edges of the old mitt and then sewed my mitt with a consistent seam allowance all the way around, but it looks like the Williams Sonoma elves trimmed the seam allowances at the fingertip and thumb curves to reduce bulk before turning them right side out.  So I COULD just rip out the seam and resew the pot holders with a narrower seam allowance and then they'd be fine, and maybe I will do that...  Later.  Someday.  When I get around to it.  (Not going to happen).  

And now, for the tutorial, in case you feel the urge to make your very own custom oven mitts!

My Fabrics After Prewashing
So I chose a Waverly cotton home dec print remnant from the clearance section at Jo-Ann's, cotton batting scraps, a lime green cotton terry cloth, and I added a layer of Insul-Brite between the cotton batting and the terry cloth, for added insulation.  I needed about 1/2 yard of each.  I also bought a package of extra wide double-fold bias tape and two spools of all-purpose polyester thread, one to match the paisley print and the other to matchin the binding.  Of course the Waverly home dec fabric was labeled Dry Clean Only, but I prewashed it along with the terry cloth anyway, in hot water so they would shrink.  Food gets on oven mitts, oven mitts need to get washed, and they need to shrink BEFORE I wash them.  Now, you can absolutely use quilting weight cotton for your oven mitts and pot holders, and if you do, you'll have a much better assortment of colors and prints to choose from.  I chose the home dec twill because I wanted a beefier, more rugged outer layer that would last longer, like the Williams Sonoma ones I had before.  

Cotton Twill Print, Thin Cotton Batting, Insul-Brite Batting, Terry Cloth
After laundering my fabrics, I layered my terry cloth, the Insul-Brite insulated batting, the thin cotton quilt batting, and the paisley print fabric right side up on top.  Four layers in this quilt sandwich, and there was no way I could get safety pins through all that thickness to secure the layers, so I spray basted them with 505 Spray and Fix temporary adhesive spray.  You do NOT want to skip this step -- even with a walking foot, the layers will scoot around under your presser foot and your terry cloth will end up all bunched and mangled if you don't glue baste all four layers together before quilting!  I know this because I was lazy, and tried it.  Fail!

505 Spray and Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive
I suppose I could have quilted my oven mitt fabric on my longarm machine, but it was such a small quilt sandwich that I decided to just quilt it up on my domestic machine with my walking foot.  I really could have done any quilting design; the purpose is just to hold the layers together so they function as one fabric.  I decided the boring grid quilting would look best with my curvy paisley print, plus it was pretty fast to execute.

Walking Foot with Guide Bar for Evenly Spaced Lines
I quilted this on my Bernina 750 QE sewing machine with Walking Foot #50.  This foot has a little guide bar that I can attach for quilting evenly spaced rows without marking, so I just had to mark the first straight line with chalk and then spaced all of the others off of previous lines of quilting.

I'm using a size 90/14 Jeans needle for every step of this project, and that's important.  You can go up to a 90/14 Jeans needle or even a 100/16 or 110/18 Jeans needle, but please don't try to sew through all these layers with a dull 80/12 Universal needle that has been in your machine for a year.  Even if it's a brand new Universal needle, those are made with a slight ballpoint to the tip so they can be used for either wovens or for knits. For this project, you really need a strong needle with a SHARP point to penetrate this thick quilt sandwich made of home dec twill, terry, and two layers of batting, and still produce nice stitches -- and that's exactly what a Jeans needle is designed to do.

Schmetz 90/14 Jeans Needles
I quilted my potholder fabric with a 40 weight variegated King Tut cotton machine quilting thread that I had in my stash, using a coordinating solid 50/3 weight cotton thread in my bobbin.  

King Tut Variegated Machine Quilting Thread
Another important tip is that you want to reduce your presser foot pressure, if your machine allows you to do so (the Activa and 3 Series Bernina machines do NOT have adjustable presser foot pressure, but the rest of the models in the current lineup do, and so do my vintage Singer Featherweight machines).  I had to reduce the presser foot pressure drastically on my machine to get this ridiculously thick quilt sandwich to feed through the machine properly.  When I started trying to quilt with the presser foot pressure at the default setting of 50, the presser foot was smashing down so hard on the quilt sandwich that the feed dogs couldn't move the quilt sandwich through the machine properly, and I got itty bitty stitches no matter what stitch length I'd set the machine to sew.  I ended up lowering my presser foot pressure all the way down to 20 -- where the presser foot doesn't touch the bed of the machine in the down position without the quilt sandwich in between -- and that setting worked perfectly for this project.  I used a stitch length of 3.0 for quilting as well as for construction.

Quilting In Progress
As you can see, I quilted the first straight line down the lengthwise center of the quilt sandwich first.  Then I quilted all of the lines to the right of that line until I reached the edge, turned the sandwich around, and quilted all the lines from the center out to the opposite edge.

Diamond Cross Hatched Quilting Completed
Because I was working quickly and not aiming for perfection, I decided to quilt the crosshatching lines on a 45 degree angle rather than perpendicular to the vertical quilting lines.  If I had tried to quilt a grid of squares my imperfections would be more obvious, because some of my squares would be more rectangular.  A diamond grid camouflages those inconsistencies better.  After marking the first 45 degree angle line through the center of the quilt sandwich, I quilted out to the edges the same way I did with the vertical lines.

Quilting Completed!
...and voila!  Doesn't the diamond quilting look cool on the terry cloth side of the quilt sandwich?  Now my four disparate layers function as one thick, sturdy fabric, and I'm ready to cut out my oven mitts!

Terry Lining Side Up
Here's a view of the edge of the quilt sandwich, showing how ridiculously thick this is:

Edge View of Quilted Layers
See why I needed to reduce my presser foot pressure?  

Ready to Cut Out My Oven Mitts!
Since I was making two oven mitts, I needed to cut out two pairs of opposite mittens.  I folded my quilt sandwich in half, right sides together, and used my old oven mitts as templates to trace around and then cut out with my heavy duty Gingher tailor's shears.  My regular dressmaker's shears were not strong enough to cut through this easily.  Having gone to the trouble of quilting all of this together, I decided to cut out a small square potholder and a long, skinny pot handle cover from my scraps.  These would also be good for practicing the binding application later.

Mitts Cut Out
Ta da!

New Oven Mitt, Cut Out Right Sides Together
Notice the deep clip at the inside of the thumb.  The original oven mitts were clipped almost to the stitching line there.  Now, studying the old oven mitts again, I see that the bottom edges of the Williams Sonoma mitts were bound prior to stitching the mitt together along the sides, so the binding would not have to be wrapped around the huge log that is the seam allowance:

Binding Sewn First, Prior to Stitching the Side Seam
(The fancy Williams Sonoma elves must have sewn their binding continuously from one half of the mitt to the other, like chain piecing, to have that nice finished edge on the inside, but I didn't feel like exerting myself that degree, so I bound the edge of each half of my oven mitt separately).  So I sewed my binding on next:

Attaching the Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Binding
Packaged bias binding is folded so that one half of the bias tape is slightly narrower than the other.  You want the narrower edge on the TOP of your project.  I opened up that narrower edge of the binding and lined the raw binding edge up with the raw edge of my oven mitt.  I'm using presser foot 1D now, with Dual Feed engaged on my sewing machine.  If you don't have dual feed on your machine, you may want to use your walking foot again.  Presser foot pressure is still reduced to 20, and my stitch length is 3.0.  I'm stitching right along that first fold line on my bias binding.

Binding Wraps Around to the Back
Next, the binding gets wrapped around to the back side of the piece, and because the wider half of the binding is on the back side, the folded edge reaches just past the stitching line from sewing the binding down on the right side.   I used Wonder Clips to secure the binding prior to stitching, easing the curves and coaxing out any wrinkles as I went along.  I would not have been able to get regular sewing pins bent through these thick layers without distortion.  (If you decide to make your own binding rather than using the prepackaged kind, make sure you cut it on the bias.  If you cut it on the straight of grain, it won't be able to bend smoothly around the curved edges of your oven mitt!)

See the Little "Valley" of the Stitches Along the Edge?
As long as your binding covers that previous stitching line when you wrap it around to the back, you can be assured that it will be caught in the stitching when you sew along that same stitching line from the right side.  Like so:

Secure the Binding from the Wrong Side, Making Sure You Cover the Stitching Line

...Then Flip It Over to Stitch In the Ditch
How cute is that?!  Now I stitch in the ditch right next to the fold of my binding, and these stitches secure the back side of the binding pretty invisibly from the right side.  My needle is sewing into the red print fabric, but the needle is rubbing against the edge of the yellow binding.  I forgot to take a picture of this step, but I did switch to an open toed presser foot (#20D) that gave me better visibility of exactly where my needle was landing.  And here is what the finished binding looks like, front and back:

Right Side.  See Those Stitches Right Up Next to the Binding?

Wrong Side Secured
This is why I used yellow thread to sew down the binding instead of red thread that would have camouflaged with the print fabric.  The yellow thread is barely noticeable on the right side, so close to the yellow fabric, but the read thread would have looked really ugly on the backing side of the binding!  It's not perfect, but it's good enough for a utilitarian project like this one.  

Sewing the Seams: Now We Have EIGHT Layers!

...So I've Reduced Presser Foot Pressure All the Way Down to 10!
I sewed my pot handle sleeve together first, to experiment with machine settings.  Now there were EIGHT layers to deal with, and I was stuffing twice as much under my presser foot as I was during the quilting and binding steps.  So I reduced my presser foot pressure all the way down to 10 -- remember that 50 is the default setting for regular sewing!  I'm using Straight Stitch #1 on my Bernina, with the default tension of 5.0 which is perfect for my polyester all purpose thread.  I did increase my stitch length to 3.0 after snapping this picture.  (Oh, and the exclamation mark is outlined in yellow because I have told my machine that I have a straight stitch plate on my machine -- that prevents me from forgetting, selecting a zigzag stitch, and breaking my needle).

With these machine settings, it was really easy to sew around the edges of the pot handle sleeve and oven mitts (although I wish I'd taken a smaller seam allowance so they would have finished a little bigger!).  I clipped the thumb and finger curves (whoops -- I guess I CAN'T resew them with a narrower seam allowance, since I snipped all through there already).  I turned them inside out, and voila!

Finished Potholder, Oven Mitts, and Pot Handle Sleeve in the Morning Sun
They may be a little small for Chef Bernie's liking, but I think they are pretty darned cute.  Much more cheerful than anything Williams Sonoma is selling this season!

Small Potholder is Just the Right Size for the Tea Kettle Handle
The little square potholder that I cut from my scraps is just the right size for grabbing the whistling tea kettle when the water boils.  It will get used a lot, and it will look super cute on my counter top.

Chef Bernie, Cute But Dangerous!
As for my husband, the Arsonist Chef, he's forgiven.  I'm very lucky that he enjoys cooking for us -- that translates into more quilting time for me!

If you end up making your own pot holders or oven mitts from my tutorial, please send me a picture.  I'd love to see them!

I'm linking up with:




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Not for the Faint of Heart: Snip, Snip, Snip!

So last night, my Reality-Romance-Addicted husband was camped out on the sofa to see who got engaged from Bachelor in Paradise, and I was sitting next to him with my applique project.  

Trimming Away my Applique Backing with the Duck Billed Applique Scissors
I decided that I needed to trim the backing away from behind my Whig Roses PRIOR to stitching down those brown center circles that I glue basted in place on each block last week, because I didn't want to risk accidentally stitching through to the backing and not being able to remove it later.  These are large applique shapes with multiple layers of fabric, and I don't want to be quilting through all those layers later.  Yes, I know some people feel like applique is more durable if the backings are not trimmed away, but look at the size of my hand stitches -- anything smaller than that and it would be weaving the two fabrics together instead of stitching them.  My hand applique is more secure than my machine piecing, and it's not going anywhere.

Itsy Bitsy Stitches Aren't Going Anywhere
Of course, after investing months and months into these blocks already, it would be absolutely devastating to accidentally slice through the applique work while trimming away the backing behind it.  My poor husband was a nervous wreck just watching me, and kept saying things like "Don't you think you should SLOW DOWN?!!!"  Hah!  He thinks I'm reckless with my scissors; isn't that cute?  In reality, these special scissors make the task a lot less fraught with danger than it appears, as the wide, curved lower blade pushes the applique work down and out of the way of the slicing action.  Worth. Every. Penny.  I don't remember where I bought them.  They're probably either Gingher or Dovo.  The cutting action was stiff and was making my hand sore at first, but a drop of sewing machine oil on the scissor joint got them working smoothly again.

All Gone!
I got all eight of my blocks trimmed like this one, and one of the brown circles stitched down as well before the big Bachelor Proposal at the end of the finale.  I will have time to stitch a few more circles down during Anders' violin lesson this afternoon.  The prep time is a drag with prepared edge applique, but it sure makes the stitching go more smoothly to have those raw fabric edges already turned under smoothly and ready to go!

Meanwhile, I did NOT get my math quilt loaded onto my longarm frame yet.  I bought an assortment of longarm thread to get started with when I picked up my machine in March, but alas -- none of the sensible neutral thread colors I selected is going to look good on that black, lime green, purple and fuschia quilt top!  Bummer!  I think my Bernina shop probably carries longarm thread now that they sell the Q20 and Q24 machines, but they aren't going to have the size L magnetic prewound bobbins that I like...  And I'm still chicken to wind my own bobbin, since my machine has been stitching out with flawless tension using the prewounds!  Why mess with success?!  I'll probably pick out some more thread at my training class on Monday.

So the new plan is to load up a yard of cheater cloth onto my frame and practice with my rulers, stitching straight lines around the printed "piecing" lines and filling in with free motion fills.  We'll see if that actually happens or not by the end of the week.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Slow Stitching Progress: Frankenwhiggish Rose Applique

Finishing Up the Last of the Layered Petals
Good morning and happy weekend to you!  I've reached a mini milestone in my hand applique project.  One block is completed in its entirety, and I have now stitched down stems and all three layers of petals on my eight remaining blocks.  Those petals took me a LONG time, all needle turned and secured with tiny hand stitches in silk thread.  I have certainly had some practice with inside and outside corners!

Here's a reminder of what the first block looks like, and where I'm headed with the remaining eight 16" blocks:


Block One of Nine, Completed in October of 2014
I finished that block in October of 2014, nearly three years ago.  I began planning the project in March of 2014, so the first block took me 7 months to complete.  Can you believe that?!

Of course, it's not like I've been working on this nonstop.  I take this hand stitching project with me when I know I'll be sitting around waiting somewhere for an extended period of time, and when I get tired of it, I put it away and do something else.

Although the layered petals are all needleturned, I am using a prepared edge, starch and press technique for the circles at the centers of my Whig roses to ensure that they are perfectly round and smooth with no wobbles or pleats at the edges.  I ran a gathering thread through the turning allowance of each circle, pulled it up taut around a heat proof plastic template, wetted the edges with Mary Ellen's Best Press starch alternative, and then set the crease around the edges of the template with a travel iron set on medium.  Once it's completely cooled off, I loosen the gathering thread to remove the template and press it flat again.
Prepared Edge Circle Ready with Drops of Glue
So instead of pinning the center circles in place on each block, the way I pinned all of my petals to the block background, I'm gluing them with tiny drops of Roxanne's Glue Baste-It.  Another nice thing about a preturned fabric edge is that I am able to position the circles more precisely.  I had already marked the petals with a chalk line showing where the circles should overlap.


Chalk Line on Petals Indicating Circle Placement
The biggest challenge was that the stitching of the petals makes the block want to pull in to the center slightly, so I weighted down the block on the horizontal and vertical grains as I was positioning and glue basting my circles in place.


Block Weighted to Keep it Flat and Square
...and then goes the circle:


Circle Positioned and Glued
...ready to stitch!

At some point during the stitching of my first block, I did carefully cut away the layers of fabric behind these stacked petals and flower centers, but I don't remember when i did that.  I started stitching the first flower center down but accidentally caught the background fabric in one of my stitches, so I'm thinking that I might trim all of that away before attempting to stitch the remaining circles down.

Meanwhile, I want to get another quilt up on my longarm frame this weekend so I can get some more quilting practice under my belt in advance of my APQS new owner class a week from Monday.  Can't wait!

Today I'm linking up with:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beginner Quilting Class Sample Finished and Delivered!

Good morning!  I hope you all enjoyed a restful, relaxing holiday weekend (Labor Day weekend here in the United States).  My teenage sons were both away on a Christian retreat all weekend, so my husband and I got a sneak peak at what that empty nest thing feels like.  

I finally finished up my beginner quilting class sample over the weekend:


Beginner Quilting Class Sample, 36" x 36"
Although it's a simple project, it was interesting how my thought process evolved throughout construction as I imagined teaching each step to someone who had never done it before, wanting to set those beginners up for success -- but with the time constraint of two full-day classes.

So we'll learn rotary cutting and piecing in the first class, and if they don't get their tops completely assembled by the end of the first class they can catch up for homework in between classes.  Then in the second class we'll learn to layer, baste, quilt, and bind.  It's a lot, I know.  What I decided to do for basting is to spray baste the quilt layers together with 505 (temporary spray adhesive that I had on hand because I use it to adhere stabilizer for machine embroidery projects) and to supplement that with sparser than usual pin basting, so students will be exposed to both methods, quilt layers will be secure through all the tugging and bunching and twisting under the machine, yet we won't eat up too much class time pinning.


Basted With 505 Adhesive Spray Plus 4 Safety Pins Per Block
The quilting design itself is pretty basic, all done with a walking foot.  

I wanted SO BADLY to add some free motion swirlies in the sashing and something fancy in the border, but free motion quilting is an entire journey of its own.  Way too much too much for beginners, especially since they will all have different sewing machines, they may not know how to lower their feed dogs, and they will not all have stitch regulators.  I don't want to discourage brand new quilters!


Walking Foot Quilting with Guide Bar Attached
Stitch in the ditch plus a few additional lines of quilting in each block (done with the guide bar attached to the walking foot), so no marking required.  Even so, I think I'll teach the binding FIRST on the second day, with a small layer cake sized sample quilt, so everyone's brain is fresh for the corner miters.  Then they can just focus on their quilting, knowing they have their binding samples to take home and remind them how to finish up.  Students can add additional lines of quilting if they feel like it and they have time.

When I bound the class sample with this cheerful cherry red stripe, I couldn't resist the challenge of pattern-matching the stripes at all of the diagonal seams.


Stripes Matched at Diagonal Binding Joins
Nice and invisible!  (I am not going to have beginners try to do that!).  I machine stitched the binding to the front of the quilt, briefly considered finishing it by machine, but ultimately decided to slipstitch the binding to the back of the quilt by hand.  


Binding Invisibly Hand Stitched to the Quilt Backing
Yes, it took several hours to do it that way, but that's the way I always do it, I like how it comes out, and I'm not interested in learning a new technique just so I can teach it.  I was able to stitch the binding down outside on the deck with Bernie, listening to the birds and classical music from the screen porch speakers.   Very relaxing!


Finished and Freshly Washed
I also decided to toss the finished quilt in the wash before handing it over to the shop, for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to remove the glue basting spray and fabric glue stick that I used when I pattern-matched my binding joins, as well as all of the starch I used throughout my construction process and any hand lotion, dust, or pet fur that may have accumulated on it.  Second, since this is a baby-sized quilt, I wanted it to be soft and snuggly, not stiff.  If we were really giving this to a baby, we would want to wash it to remove all the chemicals first.  Also, with very minimal quilting, it needed to go through the wash and shrink up slightly to get some texture and to accentuate the quilting lines.  And for beginners, when they wash their finished projects and they crinkle up like this, any wobbly quilt lines or tiny oopses will be obscured.  To me, a quilt is never REALLY finished until it comes out of the wash all soft and krinkled.

Now that the class sample is finished and delivered to the Bernina shop, I just need to compile my notes into a lesson plan while the details are still fresh in my mind, and write up a class description and supply list.  

Meanwhile, my longarm frame has been sitting empty and looking lonely.  Next time I escape to my studio, I'll be piecing the backing fabric for my Math is Beautiful quilt so I can load it onto my frame and start quilting it.  My APQS new owner class is coming up in two weeks, and I'd like to quilt an actual quilt on my longarm machine before I go.  


The Long-Neglected Math Quilt, Next On My Frame
And of course my sewing time is limited, now that the kids have gone back to school, all their activities are starting up again, church choir rehearsals have resumed.  My design business also tends to ramp up once summer vacations are over, school starts, and clients turn their focus from outdoors back to their interiors, planning projects to refresh their homes for holiday entertaining.

Happy stitching, and happy (almost!) Fall, y'all!  ;-)  Today I'm linking up with:




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