Friday, 31 December 2010

Quilt Binding with Flange


Well, another year is drawing to a close.  At least the weather here in Ludlow has improved and we are now basking in temperatures a little above freezing. 

Sometimes I bind all my quilts with the same 2.1/2" double binding - it's quick and easy and I know what I am doing - but sometimes I want something a little different.  Recently I challenged myself to make a small quilt with only two colours throughout - yes, I know I ought to get out more!

The construction of the quilt top was no problem, but I ended up with one of the fabrics in the border of the quilt top and the other one in the quilt backing.  Which fabric should I use for the quilt binding to provide a contrasting frame on both the back and the front of the quilt?

The obvious answer was to use both fabrics in the quilt binding, but it took me a while to come to this conclusion.  Then, of course, I had to ponder further because I had the choice of one colour each side, candy stripe quilt binding ..... there are always so many choices in quilting!

In the end I decided to go with quilt binding with a flange as that would use both colour fabrics.

I prefer to use 2.1/2" quilt binding, so I needed to have a total unsewn width of 3" to allow for the seam allowance.  I began with 1.5/8" width of the light fabric and 1.3/8" of the dark.  This gave only a small amount of the light fabric showing, so I opted for 1.3/4" light fabric and 1.1/4" dark fabric.  This gave me exactly the contrast between the two quilt binding fabrics that I wanted, but it's worth bearing in mind that you can vary the widths of the quilt binding strips if you are looking for a different effect.

So, using a 14" seam and with right sides together, sew the light and dark strips together.  Press this double strip first on the wrong side with the seam allowance towards the dark fabric, then on the right side to make sure that your seam is flat.  Then fold the strip in half with wrong sides together and press again.  I know it's a lot of pressing, but it really is worth it.  You should end up with a folded strip that is all light fabric on one side and dark and light fabric on the other side.

You will obviously need to join together lengths of flange quilt binding to get enough to go all round the quilt.  this is done in the same way as for normal quilt binding.

 Place the two ends of quilt binding that you wish to join with the right sides together at right angles to each other.  Check the photo to make sure that you have the stripes the right way against each other.  Sew across the diagonal and trim the excess fabric 1/4" from the seam line.  This will open up to give you a continuous strip of flange quilt binding.

Place the flange quilt binding half way along one edge of the back of the quilt with the fold towards the middle of the quilt and all raw edges together.  Note that the side of the quilt binding that is on top is the light side and the two coloured side is against the quilt backing.

Begin sewing a few inches from the beginning of the flange quilt binding, leaving a trailing end.

When you reach the corner of the quilt, finish sewing 1/4" from the corner, backstitch and remove the quilt from the sewing machine.

Fold the flange quilt binding up away from the quilt backing and then fold down again following the next edge of the quilt backing. 

Continue sewing from the corner of the quilt and continue attaching the quilt binding all round the quilt backing.

When you arrive back where you began, stop sewing several inches away from the start of the quilt binding.  fold under a small hem in one and tuck the other end inside the fold.  Sew across the gap.

Flip the flange quilt binding to the front of the quilt and slipstitch in place.  The light fabric shows up beautifully against the dark fabric to give just the contrast that I had been hoping for.

Meanwhile the quilt backing is framed by the dark fabric.  I'm really pleased with the effect given by the flange quilt binding and now I can't think why I don't use it more often!  You might find it easier to watch how to make flange quilt binding:

Thanks for visiting my blog. 
You'll find more quilting ideas at quilt and sew.
All best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Quilt Binding with Scallops


Do you ever feel that you want to do something different with your quilt binding?  I tend to be very boring and use the same method of binding - 2.1/2" folded double binding - again and again.  Recently I was asked for instructions for binding quilts with scallops and I am so pleased that I tried it out:  it gave something really different to my quilt.  It took longer than my normal quilt binding, but I felt it was well worth it.

The first thing to do is decide on the length of the scallop that your quilt needs.  My quilt was 32" by 40" which was lucky because it meant that I could have 8" scallops across all 4 edges.  If my quilt had been 32" by 45", for example, I would have used 8" scallops along the 32" edges and 9" scallops along the 45" edges. 
To make the template for the binding scallops, I drew an 8" line and then used a plate to mark a curve between the ends of the line.  The resulting shape was cut out to be used as a template.

Beginning in a corner, lay the template on the quilt top with the curved part towards the edge of the quilt.  Mark the curves of the scallop on the fabric.  This will be the cutting line, so it doesn't matter what you use to mark the fabric.  Move the template along and mark round the next scallop and continue until you have marked the scallops all along the quilt edges.  For the corners, blend the lines from the scallops either side of the corner to give a rounded corner.

For quilt binding with scallops the binding has to be cut on the bias so that it can be eased around all the curves.  The easiest way to do this is to cut a square of fabric and fold one corner across to the diagonally opposite corner to create a triangle.  Then any cuts made along the line of the fold will be on the bias.  I've seen 1.1/4" strips recommended for binding with scallops, but I find that a bit too small and I prefer to use 1.1/2" strips.

Lengths of binding can be joined in the same way as normal binding, by putting two strips with right sides together and at right angles to each other and then sewing along the seam as marked by the pin.

Place the binding strip along the edge of the quilt somewhere about half way along one of the scallops.  Leave a few inches trailing to be joined to the other end of the binding.  Using a 1/4" seam, begin sewing the binding to the quilt, following the line marked around the scallop template earlier.
Sewing along the curve of the scallop just means easing the binding strip as you sew, but the V formed between two scallops takes more care.  When you reach the tip of the V, stop sewing and lift the presser foot.  Swivel the quilt so that the line of sewing is now in the direction of the next scallop.  Check that the binding strip will not get puckered up under the presser foot and sew a few stitches.  I find it best then to lift the presser foot again and smooth the binding strip, then continue sewing around the curved edge of the scallop.

Continue sewing around the edge of the quilt and when you get back to the beginning, leave a few inches trailing as you would with any quilt binding.  Fold under a small hem in one end and tuck the other end inside before sewing across the gap to complete the binding.

Now it is safe to trim the excess quilt and wadding outside the binding.  I find that trimming after sewing the quilt binding on gives a better finish.  I've also found that I get a neater finish if I don't clip right up to the stitching in the V between scallops.  My first instinct is always to clip to the stitching wherever I see a V, but this gave a floppier finish when I tried it - sorry, I couldn't think of a better word to describe it!

Flip the binding over to the quilt back and turn under a small hem as you slipstitch the quilt binding in place.

I'm really pleased with the way the quilt binding with scallops turned out.  Do you know, I only used green for the binding so that it would show up well in the photos, but I quite like it on that quilt now.

Sometimes it's easier to see it on video:

Thanks for calling by my blog.  More quilting ideas can be found on my website: click on
ludlow quilt and sew.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Simple Baby Quilt Pattern

If you're new to quilting, baby quilts are a wonderful way to begin quilting. Baby quilts are small enough for you not to get discouraged or overwhelmed by the size of the quilting project and there's usually a time limit on finishing the baby quilt - such as wishing to finish it before the baby grows up!
So far, so good for the post Christmas period .... the snow is starting to disappear, we have paid a short visit to the shops to take a look at the sales - and the turkey is nearly finished.  Freezers are wonderful machines.  I can remember when I was a child having turkey in various forms every day for nearly a week in order to finish it up.  We always over catered in our house!
The children have begun to return to their homes so I think that I can now safely bring out the sewing machine and return to my passion - quilting.  A simple baby quilt seems a good way to begin.

This baby quilt pattern is simple to make and can be made in pink or blue if the baby has already been born or in some yellow/green combination if the baby hasn't arrived yet.  It finishes about 33" square and I used five different fabrics from my stash.  It takes about 1/2 yard of each of four fabrics and a yard of a fifth fabric for backing the baby quilt.

From the butterfly fabric I cut nine 6.1/2" squares.  the easiest way to do this is to cut two 6.1/2" strips across the width of the fabric and then cut these strips into 6.1/2" squares.  From the flowered fabric cut two 4.1/2" strips across the width of the fabric.  There are two different blues to edge the squares, so I cut three 1.1/2" strips from each of these edging fabrics.

In the yellow fabric I cut six 6.7/8" squares and cut down the diagonal to make 2 triangles from each square.  These will form the edging to the baby quilt top.

For the corners of the baby quilt top, one 7.1/2" square cut along both diagonals to make four triangles is needed.

With right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew a dark blue 1.1/2" strips to a flower strip along the length and sew a light blue strip to the other side of the strip.

Cut this strip into 4.1/2" lengths.  You will need 12 of these.  I prefer to fold the blue strips in and cut before pressing, but some quilters prefer to press the strip open first and then cut.  Personal preference.

Your patchwork pieces should now measure 4.1/2" by 6.1/2".  Sew a 6.1/2" blue strip to each side so that you have 6.1/2" squares.  Press the seams flat.

 Sew one of the smaller triangles to the top of a flower square and a larger triangle to each side.  check the photo carefully to make sure that you have the triangles the right way round.  The longest edge of the triangle faces out but that still gives you a choice of two edges to sew! 

This will be the top left corner of your patchwork baby quilt.

The next row of the baby quilt consists of a butterfly square with a flower square each side and a triangle at each end.  when sewing the rows together, it is best to pin at each seam so that you can ease the fabric to make sure that the patchwork squares line up with each other and that the seam allowances face in different directions to reduce bulk.

the third row is made up of five squares (three flower and 2 butterfly alternating) and a triangle at each end.
The fourth row is the halfway row.  It is made up of seven squares (four flower and three butterfly) but the triangles at both ends are the small corner ones.

the fifth row is where you start reducing in size to go down the right hand side of the baby quilt top.  It is made of five squares (three flower and two butterfly) but the triangles are now facing in the other direction.  Check the photo carefully to make sure that you have the triangle positioned correctly.

The sixth row is three squares and two triangles and the seventh row is one square and two triangles with a corner triangle sewn across the remaining edge of the square.
That's the patchwork quilt top complete for your baby quilt.

Layer the backing fabric, wadding (natural not synthetic as this is for a baby quilt) and the patchwork quilt top.  Quilt and bind.  Full details of binding a quilt can be found on baby quilt binding.

In the interests of speed, I just quilted around the squares (known as stitch in the ditch) to hold the baby quilt layers together.  Naturally this quilt could be made in a variety of pinks for a baby quilt or in totally different colours to make a lap quilt.  It's a great pattern to introduce you to quilts and quilting - just remember that quilting very quickly becomes addictive!

Thanks for calling by my blog.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Quilting Thoughts

I know it's the morning after Christmas, but my quilting compliments of the season to all.  After a long absence I am determined to keep up to date on my blog from now on.

Christmas was a wonderful mad progression of eating, giving and receiving presents, eating, contacting loved ones with festive greeting.  Oh, and did I mention a certain amount of eating took place?

My sewing machine was necessarily banished for the duration of the holiday - I didn't want to risk it being knocked over or having wine spilled on it, and there wasn't room for it anyway.  I have left myself loads of hand quilting and hand sewing to be finished off so when I need to relax there will be plenty for me to do.

The first priority (Christmas morning before the children woke up) was to finish some quilted place mats that I had made for my daughter Samantha.  She is on an exchange year at the University of Arizona, so when she asked for some quilted place mats for her apartment in Tucson I was thrilled to find that there is a quilt block called Arizona.  It's not a difficult quilt block, just a bitt fiddly with all those triangles but I thought it made into an eyecatching quilted place mat.  Full details of how to sew the quilt block on Arizona block.

Now that they are finished I think my next task is to return to the scalloped edge quilt that I have been making.  I had a request through my website for instructions for scalloped edge quilt binding and I am thrilled with what a distinctive look it gives to the quilt.  Naturally, it takes a lot longer to do than normal quilt binding, but it's very well worth it if you want your quilt to look that bit different.
You can see the general outline of how it's going to look and I'll post some photos of the finished quilt as soon as it is a finished quilt.

Do you know, one thing that strikes me every Christmas is the difference in the timing of the day as the children have grown older.  They are all in their twenties now and would be horrified to know that I am still calling them 'children', but there was a time when they would wake me up at some time in the middle of the night with their yells of excitement.  Nowadays they struggle to get up in time for Christmas lunch, so I have plenty of time for quilting in the quiet of the morning.

Thanks for calling by my blog.  I'll be back soon with some quilting ideas.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Fabric dying workshop

Last week I went on a workshop to learn how to dye fabric using the microwave.  Who would have thought it could be so easy!

We began, surprise, surprise, with all the Health and Safety stuff, but I suppose that's unavoidable these days.

The truly amazing thing was how many colours we managed to make just using the 3 basic colours:  red, blue and yellow.

My primary school memories of colour were that all colours come from these 3 primary colours, but somehow it doesn't mean the same as when you add a little more blue to the red dye and see the transition from red to purple or add yellow and see the colour heading towards orange.
So, anyway, to the procedure:  we started with plain prewashed muslin.  The prewashing bit is important because the dye doesn't take if your fabric hasn't been washed.  You can get blotchy bits like the yellow in the photo - although those particular blotches are caused by using a fabric that doesn't hold dye well.  That was another part of what we did - trying out different fabrics to see which ones held the dye properly.
We made up a salt solution with hot water, a dye solution using the microwave dye powder and added the 2 together in a microwavable container.  Put in the fabric (precut into fat quarters), stir well and microwave.
After we had played around with different proportions of colours to produce a range of colours, we experimented with folding and tying the fabric and using 2 different dyes on the same piece of fabric.  The workshop leader even brought some salt shakers that we used to sprinkle black dye on for extra effect.  A really informative and fun workshop!

Then after all that time spent working with colour, I went home and made some clutch bags using just one colour for each - and fairly plain colours at that!  I think I'm waiting for inspiration to strike on how best to use all the dyed fabric.
Later in the week I had a phone call from someone who described herself as 'your dying friend'.  You can imagine my panic - I didn't even know any of my friends were ill.  Turned out it was someone who had been on the fabric dying workshop with me.  Phew!  That was a relief.

Thanks for calling by my blog.  See you again I hope.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Baby Crib Quilt, Having Babies

Well, another week has flown by.  I've been working on a new baby crib quilt for a friend - well, for her soon to be born baby, not for her.

I decided to make the numbers in patchwork rather than applique them on and it was easier than I had expected, although the number 4 took a couple of attempts to get it right.

I'll post full details on my website once I've completed it.

I love doing baby quilts because the quilting is so much easier and quicker with a small quilt.

I've also managed to make a few shopping bags to keep for unexpected present giving - thank you's and such like.  I picked up a Happy Days remnant for not very much and hope that I'll get about 6 bags out of it in total.

I didn't begin very well because I thought that I would save time by using a rectangle and folding it over for the outside of the bag.  Only when it was sewn together did I realise that the girls on the back of the bag were upside down.

Out came the stitch unpicker and the bags are now coming together nicely made from 2 squares with the girls the right way up on front and back!

I seem to have concentrated on sewing for babies quite a lot over the last few weeks and it made me remember my three when they were born.  Given that the youngest, daughter Samantha, will turn 20 in a few weeks' time, it shows that I'm talking about a long time ago!

When Ben, my eldest, was born, I was working full time and I was huge from quite early on in the pregnancy.  By the time I was 6 months pregnant I looked like a beached whale and people were starting to ask me when he was due.  I breezily assured all and sundry that there was ages to go yet, so it was a bit of a shock to the system when he arrived 9 weeks early.

He weighed the same as a couple of bags of sugar and I could hold him in one hand.  Naturally he had to spend some time in special care and it was a worrying time.  I was given some doll's clothes for him and they fitted a treat, but now he's a great strapping rugby player, so his early start in life hasn't held him back.

By the time my second son, Tom, was born, we had moved into the country about 7 miles from Ludlow.  One day I was driving to the shops when I realised that the steering on the car was really heavy.  When I investigated, I found a flat wheel.  I was in the middle of nowhere with no-one around to ask for help - this was in the days before mobile phones - so I changed the wheel myself.

Not the brightest of things to do, because I felt something give as I pulled on the wheel brace.  Later that day I went into labour and Tom was born that night, 2 weeks early.

So when I became pregnant for the third time, I naturally assumed that I would not go full term.  It was quite a surprise when Samantha lasted the full 40 weeks.  The days leading up to her birth were quite stressful because we had no water:  the mains water pipe had burst somewhere under the fields. 

The water company provided us with a water bowser because of my pregnancy but it meant I had to carry buckets of water into the house regularly.  Any water for drinking had to be well boiled to rid it of the excessive amounts of chlorine it contained.

After that, we decided that pregnancies were becoming too eventful, so we stopped at 3.

Thanks for calling by my blog - talk to you again next week.


What's In A Name

Hi Everyone,
This is the first blog that I have ever written so I'm feeling a little nervous.

As I come from Ludlow and I am a quilter, a good place to start seemed to be the Ludlow's Favourite quilt block.  Pause for blank looks.  You probably know it as Churn Dash, Broken Plate, Old Mill Design, Picture Frame or Puss in the Corner to name but a few.

All quilt blocks seem to go under many, many different names:  sometimes they are exactly the same as each other, sometimes they vary only in colour.

Change some of the pieces round a little or use different colours and you have Sherman's March.

All of which made me think about names in general.  When the children were small, we lived in a house in the middle of nowhere (as we described it), although it was actually in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  And it truly was beautiful there.  We decided to keep some animals to make use of the land - and to keep the weeds down.  If possible, we allowed the children to name the animals and it actually tells the tale of their growing up.

Our first 2 sheep were named Annie and Clarabel after the carriages in Thomas the Tank Engine.  They were named by the boys.  My daughter Samanths named the next year's lambs so they were Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail after the Beatrix Potter stories.

Then as time passed by they began to be named things like Clemons, after Mike Clemons the rugby player.  My children were growing up!

On the subject of sheep, I can remember reading an article about Dolly the cloned sheep where the reporter said she was unusually human-friendly.  Any sheep that has regular contact with humans becomes human-friendly.  Mine would shriek with delight if they saw me come out the house and dash over to the fence so that I could rub their chests or tickle behind their ears.

Truffle the dog was actually named something like Toffee, but his name became warped by children trying to talk while their milk teeth were falling out, causing a certain amount of lisping. He comes running to the sound of food or 'walkies', so it doesn't actually matter what his name is.

But that's taken me off the subject of quilting - my obsession.  I'm just starting a shoofly quilt which is yet another variation of the Ludlow's Favourite quilt block.

I'll add posts to this blog along the way as I get more of the quilt completed.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Sew for baby, my schooling in Africa

Well, another week has gone by and another layer of snow blankets Ludlow.  This winter we seem to have had more snow than we have had for years.

I managed to finish the newsletter for my website and get that distributed.  This month it was all about things for babies, including the fabric book shown.  It was easiest to use numbers to show the page layout, but I think I'll have to do one a little more interesting than that as well!

I also put in some ideas for clutch toys and a baby sleeping bag.  It's the first time that I have worked with fleece so that was interesting.

Our Quilter's Guild met this week and we had an amazing demonstration of Japanese folded patchwork.

We started with a circle of fabric, a square of fabric and a square of wadding, and ended up with a beautiful patchwork square.

My curved edges left a little to be desired - no, actually they left a lot to be desired - but it's given me some great ideas.

Demonstrations and workshops often remind me of being back in school - which was a very, very long time ago.  I was born and brought up in Zambia and after independence in 1964 there was a mass education programme so the schools had to run shifts:  a long morning session for one lot of children and then a long afternoon session for a different set of children.  I can't imagine how the teachers coped and I can't even remember if the same teacher had to do the morning and the afternoon shift.  I suppose that to a 10 year old girl it didn't matter!

Oh well, back to it - I'm just finishing the instructions for a Valentine heart quilt which I'll try and get posted on the website this weekend.  Along with everything else I have planned for this weekend!

Thanks for dropping by my blog.


PS  I've also begun using the Twitter account that I opened ages ago but was too unsure of myself to use.