Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bias Binding Tutorial

I've received several inquiries on how to make bias binding and although there are several ways to make bias binding, some easier than others, I thought I'd develop a tutorial on my favorite method.

I always use binding made on the bias because it provides a stronger finish than binding cut on the crosswise or lengthwise grain. In addition, it easily follows curved edges while giving a professional looking finish and it isn’t any more difficult to make once you have found a technique that works for you.

I purchase fabric specifically for binding in one yard pieces. After I have several prints, I spend the day making binding for use on future projects. By making my binding ahead of time, it allows me to keep my momentum instead of having to stop working on my project to make binding. I probably have at least 20 different prints of binding at any given time in my resources.

After ironing and starching the fabric, lay your fabric on a flat surface with the selvage edges on the side. Take one upper corner and bring it even with the lower edge of your fabric. The folded edge is your bias. To double-check you have a true bias, gently pull on the folded edge. A bias edge will stretch.
Cut off the excess fabric.

The next steps involve folding your bias fold. To do this correctly, you will need to ensure your bias edge remains perpendicular with itself. This will maintain the 45 degree angle of your fabric piece.

Taking the upper point of your folded bias edge and bring it down to match with the lower point.

Taking those two points of the folded bias edge, bring them perpendicular to the fold to the opposite side.

Your piece will look like this, with the original bias edge fold perpendicular to itself, giving you four layers.

Turn your fabric, with the bias fold to your left.

Using a Shape Cut ruler, I line-up the lower edge with the bottom fold and the left edge about 1/8" from the fold so I can trim the fold off and straighten my fabric edge before cutting my strips. If you don't have the Shape Cut ruler, you can use an acrylic ruler to cut your strips. I like the Shape Cut ruler because it allows me to straighten my fabric edge and to cut several strips without having to reposition my ruler.

Cut your strips at 2 1/2" widths.

I reposition my strips as shown in the above photo before repositioning my Shape Cut ruler to straighten the edge of my strips.

After I've straightened my edges.

Lay one strip on top of the other, as shown. By overlapping the edges instead of lining the edges up, you ensure you will achieve a true 45 degree seam.

Placing a pin in the inside corner, line the edge of your ruler from corner to corner. (Corner to corner is actually the edge where the strips meet.) Using your favorite marking tool, draw a seam line at the 45 degree angle.

Stitch your seam line.

Open your seam to verify it has been stitched correctly.

Trim to a 1/4" seam line.

Press your seam open and trim the 'ears'.

Matching the long edges together, press your bias binding being careful not to stretch it. For this demonstration, I cut four 2 1/2" strips which made approximately 280" of binding, enough for a couple of projects.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust...

Thank you to everyone who has left a comment and words of encouragement. I've finished quilting my second quilt. This one was a little more challenging because it is considerably larger than my first one.

I pieced the Nursery Rhyme quilt about ten years ago and its been sitting in my sewing studio waiting to be quilted. It was my first attempt at the Attic Window block and although I struggled with it at first, I think I did pretty good with it. Sorry I wasn't able to get a picture of the entire quilt... I'm going to square it up and sew the binding on before giving it to one of my grandkids.

Here is a close-up of my quilting stitches. I'm finding the more I quilt, the better my technique is. My next challenge is my Musical Angels Quilt. I've purchased a couple different quilting threads to audition before I actually start quilting it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Quilting I Will Go...

I fear I've been neglectful on my blog posts. I'm sorry. I've been quite busy and haven't had the time to sit down and write my posts. In fact, I haven't had time to visit blogs either. But, I have been sewing/quilting...

Last Saturday I spent the day at a sew-in. We had so much fun and it was a full-house with approximately fourteen women sewing, talking, laughing, and snacking. I always look forward to these events.

One of the comfort quilts assembled by one of the groups I participate on was presented during our sew-in. My friend Sheila did a spectacular job on the quilting. To see the beautiful quilting just click on the picture to enlargen it.

The other project I've been working on is my machine quilting skills. I'm proud to say I have successfully machine quilted an entire project. I decided this was the only way I am going to build up my skills and confidence. It's just a whole cloth quilt for my granddaughter to use as a lap quilt or for her baby dolls.

Initially I was going to do some sort of oversized spiral designs, but as you can see from this picture I wasn't very good at it so I changed to an overall meandering/stippling design.

By the time I was finishing the quilt my technique had improved tremendously and most of the meandering/stippling design was well shaped and evenly distributed.

I even achieved pretty even stitches... How great is that? I'm almost finished with my second free motion machine quilt too. I'm on a roll! LOL

Friday, October 16, 2009

Receiving Blanket Tutorial

These receiving blankets go together very quickly and make excellent baby gifts. Although I'm using flannel in this tutorial, you can use also use a cotton batiste or knit. To get started you'll need two coordinating prints, each 1 1/4 yards each. I always prewash my fabrics before I begin cutting them to size.

The finished blanket will be approximately 43" x 43", depending on the amount of shrinkage you experienced with your fabrics. After washing and ironing my fabric, I then need to straighten my fabric pieces. With right-sides-together, I layer my fabric pieces and to keep them from shifting, I place pins around all four sides. Be sure to give yourself enough allowance so you can trim your sides without hitting your pins with the rotary cutter.

After folding my fabric in half, matching my selvege edges, I place my ruler using the fold to ensure I have a straight edge. I always verify all four edges of the fabric pieces will be trimmed.

Cut with your rotary cutter.

To round my corners I use this ruler manufactured by Katie Lane Quilts.

The ruler is called Corners Radial Rule and is very easy to use. You simply line the two straight sides with the sides of the piece and trim along the curved edge.

See how nicely it trims the corner? These rulers come in two sizes and each size has two sizes of corner.

Before stitching the seamline, I always mark my beginning and ending with two pins perpindicular to the seam. If I had to guess, I'd say I allow about a 3 1/2" to 4" opening to turn the fabric to the right side.

I prefer to move my needle position to 6.5 and line the edge of my fabric to the edge of my regular foot. This give me about a 3/8" seam. Instead of backstitching, I prefer to shorten my stitch to .5 at the beginning and ending of the seam line. I think it gives a stronger seam preventing the stitches from coming out as I'm turning the fabrics to the right side.

A word of caution, flannel produces a lot of lint in the bobbin case so be sure to clean your bobbin case out after stitching your seams together. I also add a drop of sewing machine oil on the race of the bobbin case. I do not recommend using canned air because it can add moisture onto your machine parts causing damage. Also, you don't want to risk forcing small pieces of lint or thread into areas you can't see or reach resulting in stitching problems.

After I've stitched my seams, I clip each corner so the seam will lie flat after I've turned it to the right side.

I then press my seam. Where my opening is, I press the seam allowance on both sides before I turn the piece to the right side.

After turning to the right side, I press all sides of the blanket and using glass head pins, I pin the opening, matching the edges.

Moving my needle position to 8.5 and my stitch length to 3.0, I edgestitched the blanket being careful not to stitch over the pins.
As an alternative finish, you could apply a bias binding or serge your edges. I've even used a cotton batting and quilted the layers before attaching a binding. Any method would work nicely.

Here's a completed receiving blanket with a burp cloth. They make a great set. If you want a pdf file of this tutorial just make a request in your comment. Make sure you leave me your email address so I can email it to you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Creative Space

I don't have a design wall in my sewing studio. Mostly because two of the walls are lined with large windows and the other two consist of a lateral file cabinet, a floor to ceiling bookcase, and a couple of oversized units used for storage. So, in absence of a design wall I refer to my Creative Space to describe my current projects.

Lately, most of my sewing time has been making baby gifts. Seems everyone is having a baby… In the last couple of weeks I’ve made twelve burp cloth and receiving blanket sets and I have a couple more sets to complete before I’m finished.

Another project I’ve been working on is a tutorial for the receiving blankets. I need to finalize the written instructions before I post it and I hope to have it posted by the end of this week.

A third project I’m working on is a group challenge. As many of you know, a group of us get together once a month for an all day sew-in in Anacortes. One of our members, Susannah, is working on a group challenge with another group she participates in and we’ve been admiring her progress. At our last sew-in Susannah offered to host a challenge for our group and several of us took her up on it.

Each month, Susannah will announce a challenge as we add rows/layers to our quilt. She gave each participant a piece of fabric in a peppermint print and each project must contain a 3” x 3” square in the completed project. It doesn’t have to be a one piece, but the total used of this print must equal at least this amount.

For this month’s challenge, each participant must create a 22.5” block in a Christmas Carol as their theme. The possibilities are endless and I’ve been designing my block based on the song I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Although I have tons of ideas racing through my mind and since it’s a challenge, I’m not able to show anything to you… At least not yet. I have until our December sew-in to complete my block. I sure hope I can meet this challenge in time. LOL

And then, I was browsing through a quilt shop and picked up these deliciously looking charm packets. Where is it written that quilters have to have the characteristic of an overachiever? I’ve been quilting for about thirteen years and I don’t think I’ve met one yet who works on one project at a time. In fact, most have several going at the same time.

Its mind boggling the torture I put myself through sometimes. I’m my own worst enemy. But as my closest friends tell me, I’d be bored otherwise. What’s your theory? I'd love to hear it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Letter Carrier Was Good To Me...

Not only did she deliver my friendship bag, but she also delivered my winning prize from Jocelyn, the Happy Cottage Quilter. I just love these fabrics, especially the red print. I've been looking for the perfect project to use it in and I know it will look great. Thanks Jocelyn! Don't forget to visit her blog, Happy Cottage Quilter. She always has sometime great to write about.

I've Received My Friendship Bag!

I received my friendship bag from my swap partner Cynthia. I love all the bright colors and I know the fat quarters she included will work nicely in one of my projects. Cynthia lives in North Caroline and is the grandmother of two. She's new to quilting but I think she did an awesome job on her first friendship bag. Thank you Cynthia!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How To Make A Burp Cloth Tutorial

I drafted this pattern when I was pregnant with my first child and it has gotten a lot of use. These are so much nicer than what you can purchase in the store because they are larger and will stay on your shoulder better, plus they are absorbent. Since you're sewing them, you can use fabrics to coordinate with outfits for special occasions like church or weddings. Of course, a real bonus is that they're quick and easy to make but look as though you spent hours.

The first step is to make the pattern. By measuring the main points, you can easily create the shape as shown above. The length of the burp cloth is 17-inches with the mid-width measuring 7 1/4-inches. On each end of the burp cloth measures 9 1/2-inches across. Because I frequently use this pattern, I ironed a fusible interfacing to one side of the pattern paper before cutting out the pattern to give it stability. Just remember to use a dry iron when you adhere the stabilizer to the paper. I also use a dry press cloth to prevent any of the adhesive from getting on my iron.

Each burp cloth requires two pieces of fabric; one for the front and one for the backing. I traditionally make my burp cloths using a terry toweling with a cotton or knit backing. I purchase towels on sale to use for the front of the burp cloth. Usually I can find them on sale for around $2 to $3 and since I’m able to cut six burp cloths out of one towel, that’s quite a savings. Another version is to use cotton batting (Warm & Natural) sandwiched by two pieces of batiste fabric for an heirloom effect. I have tried flannel in the past, but I don't like using flannel for the front side because it is not absorbent like cotton or terry. It works great for the backing though.

Whether you add embellishments using applique or machine embroidery, you'll need to identify the design placement. To do this, fold the burp cloth in half lengthwise.

Placing pins on each end to mark the center.

Next, fold the burp cloth in half to mark the center of the width with pins on each end.

Open the burp cloth up and fold the lower end up to the center pins marking the center width. This will allow you to mark the center of the burp cloth half where the design will be placed. Mark with pins.

Lightly spray a temporary adhesive to a water soluable stabilizer and place onto the burp cloth were the design will be sewn, adhesive side down. Using a ruler, line the ends of the ruler with the two pins marking the lengthwise center.

Using your favorite marking tool, mark the lengthwise center in the general area of the lower width marks.

Repeat this step with the lower width markings.

Your marking should look like this. By using the water soluable stabilizer, you ensure the markings will not damage your fabric.

If you are doing machine embroidery, hoop an adhesive stabilizer in the appropriate sized hoop for your design. In this demonstration, I used HydroStick Tearaway.

The markings you've made for your design are great tools for placing the burp cloth in the proper placement in the hoop. Simply line up your lower pins with your center markings on the hoop. I prefer to line this up prior to activating the adhesive on the stabilizer. Once I have it aligned, I fold up the burp cloth and moisten my adhesive before I fold it back down and press it onto the stabilizer.

Place the hoop onto your machine and align your needle with the center of your marking.

Here is the finished design after I have removed the excess water soluable stabilizer.

For the version using cotton batting and two pieces of cotton batiste/fabric, I embroider the design using a water solubable stabilizer, hooped with the batiste. I then layer the three layers: backing, cotton batting, top.

Pin the three layers together.

For the backing of the version using the terry toweling, I have folded 1/2 yard of coordinating cotton fabric in half, selvage to selvage edge, and in half again giving you four layers. Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut.

Pin the backing piece to the terry towel, wrong-sides-together.

I prefer to overcast the edges of the burp cloths before finishing the edges. This will hold all the layers together to prevent shifting while attaching the binding. I used a simple zig zag stitch with a 2.5mm width and 2.0mm length.

There are several methods I use for finishing these, including piping, decorative serging, envelope method with a simple edgestitch, or bias binding. For these, I attached bias binding. If you are attaching binding, it must be bias binding because of the curves of the burp cloth. I make my own binding cut in 2 1/2-inches width. It takes approximately 66-inches for the burp cloths.

Using the French bias binding method, line the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the burp cloth leaving a 3-inch tail on the front side of the burp cloth. I move my needle over to 6.5 when applying the binding.

I stop sewing at approximately 4-inches away from the beginning of the binding stitching. Remove the burp cloth from your machine and lay the binding to the end and fold back as shown in the picture above.

Fold the end back approximately 1/4" and press.

Set the beginning of the bias binding tail inside the end as shown in the picture above.

Fold the end over.

Finish stitching the binding to the burp cloth. Fold the binding to the back side of the burp cloth making sure to cover the first stitching and attach. I prefer to hand stitch but you can certainly stitch it down by machine.

Here is the finished binding. The hand stitches are invisible from both the front and back sides of the burp cloth, giving it a professional appearance.

Here are the two versions opened up.

Cute teddy bear design as stitched-out on the terry toweling. This is a design set by Nancy Zieman.

This is an heirloom design stitched on the cotton batiste. The design is from a design set by Hatched In Africa.

I hope you're able to understand my instructions. If you're interested in a pdf file of this tutorial, please let me know. Be sure I have your email address, otherwise I won't be able to send the file to you. Lastly, please let me know if you have any questions.