Friday, July 10, 2015

Golden Birches and Faced Bindings

Golden Birches

 All DONE. Yippee! Now I can go on to making the quilt I've been thinking about for 3 months (since Paducah and the Quilt Museum's announcement regarding their New Quilts From Old Favorites contest for 2016. I have an idea... and no, I'm not talking about it yet. Don't you hate it when bloggers do that!?) 

I still have to write up the Golden Birches pattern and then I'll kit it and sell it from my store. Maybe by next week that will be ready.

In the meantime I'll show you some closeup shots of the quilting and show you how I've been facing my quilt edges to finish them off. 

I used a new batting and REALLY like it. It is "Warm and Plush". The extra thickness helps to add a bit more to the texture of the quilt top and it helps quilts which are meant for the walls to hang straight and true.

I don't like ripply wall hangings, I don't want 'drapiness' in my landscape quilts. This batting was easy to quilt - easier than a wool batting for me - and as I said, the extra loft adds more quilty texture.  I will definitely use it again. 

Here are some closeup shots of the quilting. I used monofilament thread to stitch down most of the appliques. I used a thicker cotton variegated thread in the foreground and 'mimicked' the maple leaf pattern a bit that is in some of the shrubbery. 

Foreground quilting
 Most of this quilt is stippled, but I wanted to do something a little different in the foreground.

Foreground quilting
 I outline stitched some of the drawn in saplings/shrubbery. (I used crayon to draw them in before the quilt top was basted.) 

Branches and quilting at the top of the quilt
 I used monofilament to stitch around the drawn in branches at the top, then I stippled around them using a light variegated thread (40 wt) from Sulky.
 I used Bottom Line in the bobbin.

Here is how I face a quilt. I use 2 inch strips, press them in half and sew them to the outside edges. I usually sew the longest sides first. I stitch them on using a generous 1/4 inch or so. I start at the top and stitch all the way to the bottom. 

Yes, you can sew them on using an exact 1/4 inch. This would be important to do if you needed to maintain a uniform block or patchwork size like in my watercolor quilts. I would want those squares on the outside of my quilt top to be the same size as the ones on the inside.

For this quilt, I stitched the facing on the tall sides first and it didn't matter how big a seam allowance I took.

I sometimes I use a 1/4 inch foot and sometimes I just use my needle position feature
 Once the facing is stitched on 2 opposing sides of the quilt top, press it to the outside - use steam.
Pressing the facing to the outside
 The next step is to sew a scant 1/4 inch along the outside of the folded/pressed facing seam - if I stitched the facing on with a 1/4 inch seam, then this stitching would be closer to 1/8 inch in from that folded and pressed edge. 
2nd line of stitching to hold the facing in place - I just moved my needle over to the far left
 This second line of stitching really helps to cement the facing in place when you turn it around and stitch it down. 

This is what the sides look like before you press them all the way to the back of the quilt
 Turn the facing and pull it to the back. Press using steam and pin in place. 
The view from the back. You can see nice even edge between the facing and the quilt top.
 Trim off the extra facing on the corners. 
Sewing the facing down.

Use a similar color thread and small stitches - perhaps 1/8- 1/4 inches. I use the old kind of hand quilting thread that is stiff with a bit of wax. I have no idea if you can even buy the stuff anymore, but I have lots of it from my hand quilting days 15 years ago.

Nice edges, yes?! 
 Now sew on the last 2 facing strips and also sew that extra line of stay stitching on the folded/pressed edge.

Do NOT trim off the excess! Make sure these last 2 strips are at least an inch or so longer than the quilt top.
Corner of the quilt top from the front side. 
Flip the quilt top over and press/fold back the facing. It looks and feels so good right?! Except those corners - what a LUMP! 
The corner lump
  In the photo below, you can see the corner of the quilt top. You can also see the 2 lines of stitching going up to it. We are going to trim off that corner of the quilt top. 
The corner
 You can work your scissors under the stitching and only cut the quilt top. Be careful! 

ONLY cut the quilt top, NOT the facing strip! 
 You can't tell from the above photograph, but my scissors are only around the quilt top corner. When you go to try this, you might find that the stay stitching is in the way. Just work your scissors through and the snip those stitches as needed.

Only snip off the very edge of the corner - the bit between those two lines of stitching. (See the corner below.) 

Quilt top corner is snipped off. 
 Once the quilt top corner is snipped off, press the rest of the facing strip only press it so that the seam allowance gets bigger. A picture is worth a thousand words right? See below. 

Pressed facing
 The reason why I do this is because when I fold the whole strip to the back, I don't want 2 layers of facings to show. This way the underneath layer is better hidden. 

What it will look like when done right
 Once you've double checked that all is well, snip off the excess facing - you only need an inch at most.

(I like an inch or so because it is easier to manipulate that much, if my fingers were younger and thinner, lol, I could probably easily tuck a 1/2 inch under.)
Snip off extra
 Fold the whole thing to the back, double check everything and pin it in place. 
Facing looks good on the corners. 
 Pin facing in place, press using steam and make sure it all is fine. You don't want any facing to show on the front side of your quilt. 
This is the bit of  a mess on the sides

 The next step is to stitch the facing in place. In the photo below I show you where I start my stitching. I go down to the corner using 1/8 inch stitches - or less, angling the stitches toward corner. 

Then when I'm at the corner, I sew back the way I came from, angling the stitches back up to the starting point. I pull things fairly tight. When I'm done, the little X's I've made hardly show and the stitching stays tight and neat. 

I'm also 'pointed' in the right direction so I just continue sewing down the facing.  

The little red arrow marks the spot where I start stitching. 
 You can see how 'loose the stitches are before I get to the corner. Once I head back, tightening the thread as I go, the stitches all sink into the fabric. 
Neat and finished corner 
 There are a couple of other ways to add a facing; you can sew on strips and miter them in the back.  You can also finish the quilt like a pillow and turn the whole thing inside out when you are done.  (Google the other ways if you are interested.) 

The major reason I choose this way to add a facing - even though it is much more time consuming - is that the finished quilt corners are not as rounded. This method gives me the sharper corners.

It is personal preference I suppose, but in some of my quilts a rounded corner just wouldn't work. I'm thinking of both my strip pieced and my watercolor quilts. There are no curves in the patchwork and I don't think a curved corner would be appropriate. Most of my art quilts have this kind of faced binding nowadays. 

~On to something really important~
Or as Monty Python would say

"And now for something completely different." 

Ellie Cat!
Ellie likes my quilt. She baptized it in her own special way... she uses fur and nothing wet if you know what I mean!

I hope you've all had a great week. Next week I'll be in Virginia so it will be a quiet Friday for you. 

A busy busy one for me. We are helping my daughter move back to Wisconsin and doing it in 3 days. One day driving there, one day to pack and one day to drive back. It will be a LONG weekend. (18 hours one way - driving straight through). Heavy sigh.

Comments and questions welcome!
(Doesn't Ellie have a pretty tummy? She likes me to pet it too.) 


  1. What a great post! I can see where sewing that extra line of stay stitching would really help keep things in garment sewing. Thanks for the tutorial....and of course the final shot of Ellie Cat!

    1. Oh good, someone likes Ellie Cat! (Didn't I do good picking a backing that matches her eyes? Lol.)

  2. I'm anxous to see your idea of "New York Beauty." I've got mine in my head and on paper ready to start!

    1. I have my pattern on graph paper and as soon as I'm back from Virginia I hope to dive in! (I hope we can sit next to each other again.) :)

  3. I loved your tutorial...the photos are so helpful. I'm going to give facings a try on my next art quilt. Your newest one is amazing. Do you do your quilting on a domestic or Longarm? Just gorgeous! I'm on the same page with those waxed threads from back in the day...still have some too.

    1. Hi Mulberry, I have a domestic machine - it's a Bernina. Eventually I'm going to get a new one, but I don't know where to start in terms of picking one. My Bernina is persnickety and tension is always an issue with the thing unless I have both the bobbin and the top thread tension adjusted to the tightest levels. It is an older 140 and I don't like it all that much. Grrr.

      Thanks for the compliments and I'm glad you like Birches. I'll be putting a sleeve on it to hang it on a wall when the season turns because I like how it turned out... I never thought I'd like those muddy leaves, lol.

      I've tried doing hand work with regular hand quilting thread and had trouble with the stuff getting twisted around. Give me the waxy stuff for sewing up bindings any day!

  4. I bought your book "Lovely Landscape Quilts" and I'm having a hard time finding material to do the projects so I'm hoping you have kits for those too!

    1. I'm sorry you are having trouble finding the right fabrics Anna. I don't have kits at this time, but maybe it is something I should work towards. I do have a lot of landscape fabrics and fabrics with the right texture for strip pieced landscapes though. Have you been to my store?

      I'll think about getting kits together for sale though. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

  5. Fabulous tutorial Cathy. Thank you so much for sharing. - cheers - Penne

    1. You are welcome Penne, I hope all is well with you and yours :)

  6. Great pictures, thanks for the explanation. On smaller pieces, my current Journal series are 6" x 12", I put a whole piece on like a pillow, but stitch all round and cut out a hole in the back then hand stitch down to the back of the quilt. But I've been wondering how to do bigger pieces, so thank you.

    1. You're welcome. I'd like to get back to smaller less stressful quilts... I've been thinking about this lately. Maybe even today I can pull some fabrics together and just play. I've done the facing using the miter method, maybe I'll give that a try again too.

      Thanks for the idea this morning!