Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Finish That Quilt!

Finishing a stack of UFOs can serve many purposes, the best being that a quilt can finally go out into the world to be used! It's also fun to say, "I've finished 14 quilts since the beginning of July!"
How can that happen? Of course, they were all sewn together tops when I started....and I mostly did Utility Quilting. A new term for that is "quilting with the feed dogs up".

This is for any quilt that is meant to be used. Yes, you could do gobs of fancy free-motion quilting. Do you have to? No. Just decide what you want from your quilt, and then get to it.
Here's how I did mine:

Start in a corner and go all the way!
This quilt is has 4" squares, so it is easy to just "eyeball" from corner to corner all the way across the quilt with no marking. Diagonal stitching also looks pretty, since it goes along the bias of the fabric, creating a soft texture as the thread sinks into the weave .
As you see above, it is easy to drift off to one side as you go. DON'T JERK THE QUILT SIDEWAYS TO CORRECT! That will be your instinctive reaction.

You'll have one hand on each side of the needle, so just rotate the quilt very slightly so the corner ends up back in front of the needle. That means you push one hand slightly forward and pull the other back a bit....just a little shift.

This line is beginning to drift off center. Time to shift!

You can quilt the borders right along with the rest of the top, if you'd like...and I do, because this is not for show, and the borders actually equal about 1/3 of all the quilting needed! Yikes, just when you think you're done, the border can take a looooong time. This way everything is done at the same time. You end up with a nice criss-cross pattern all around.

A quick little chalk mark to set the correct angle.
Use your 6" square ruler (or whatever is at hand) and a chalk marker (it practically disappears by end!). Line up the 45 degree line with the seam, corner of ruler to corner of first square.
All you really need is where to start out at the raw edge. You may think you can eyeball this, but let's just say the lazy part of me agrees it is worth the time taken to make the mark!

Keep stitching across the squares until you get to the next part of the border. Then mark it the same way!
Ruler offset to show the seamline and mark.

The biggest problem in machine quilting is managing the bulk of the quilt.
I start in one corner of the quilt and work each line going towards the right, so the bulk of the quilt moves away from inside the machine. Each line starts at the top, so just pull the quilt back into your lap. If you sort of accordian fold it back and forth, it will feed into the machine a little smoother.

When you get to the corner, mark whatever lines you need to complete the grid you are sewing. These squares are about 4", but their diagonal measure is more...just use your ruler to check how far apart the lines should be .
Then turn the entire quilt around and go back to where you started. The half already quilted will now be to your left (outside the machine) and the part that needs quilting is on the right. Have at it!

When you have finished all that, there will be one diagonal line in each square. Now start at another corner and repeat the whole process. You'll end up with an X in each square, plus the border all done!

Serpentine stitching everywhere!
As you can see, this is a Bug Quilt, which I am assuming will end up with a little boy. Or maybe a tomboy, or whatever gender terms are OK...anyway, somebody who likes insects! I decided to go back over all the seam lines to make this quilt as sturdy as possible.
The seams are fine. But if they stick up a lot, that is the place the quilt will begin to wear out.
And what's with that wavy stitching?
It's the Serpentine Stitch, a favorite of mine for quilting. I have made it longer and less wide by adjusting the setting on my machine. Take a look at yours, and if you have this programmed stitch, tweak it a bit to create a great quilting line that adds soft texture and is much more interesting than a straight line. 
Also, if a wavy line is not 100% straight down the quilt, it is harder to notice!
"Fancy" stitches are OK for quilting, but the simpler ones are better. The ones with lots of detail tend to get distorted, especially as you will be tempted to go fast. Use the speed control to keep going at a steady pace.

Hey...what's on the back of this thing?
Who wants a home dec fabric with 3" bugs?
Beside trying to keep myself busy with all this UFO work, I'm attempting to use up stash fabric. Some of my fabric can now be rated "vintage", it has been waiting so long.
The side fabric is a great ethno-print from Hoffman (vintage by now!). The "panel" is a home dec fabric with 3" bugs on it! Very realistic ones! That came from a remnant bin, but what I wonder is, Who bought that fabric in the first place?!!?!? OK, there is also a frog on there, but I don't think he's going to be able to eat all those bugs.

That's about it for easy utility machine quilting. It gets the job done and still looks fine.
I have a few others to show you, and then I'll also show how I do a binding, all by machine. It's the perfect finish for a quilt-meant-to-be-used!