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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finishing a Quilt

Right now we're on hiatus from our Lucky Stars QAL as those of you who are working on it have time to catch up or finish!   As part of the QAL we've decided to give a step-by-step on how to finish a quilt. Whether you're a first timer, beginner or seasoned pro hopefully you can find some new ideas today!

I do not have a quilt to show you step by step tutorial with photos how we do it.  What I am going to do is go through each step, let you know how Heather and I finish our quilts, what we think works or not and include a lot of links to great tutorials from other quilters.  Note: I have not reviewed thoroughly every link.  Several I have used and some I have just glanced over.

Let's get started!

Quilt Tops
Every pattern you see for sale in our shop or others will show you how to make a quilt top.  There are a variety of designs out there free tutorials and for sale alike.  Choosing fabrics for your quilt is important.  I recommend 100% quilter's cotton.  I rarely prewash my fabrics because I usually use designer quilting prints and they are a great quality and don't shrink.  If you are using something other than designer cottons you may want to prewash in case of shrinking (or if using a different weight of fabric).  I won't go into too much detail on creating your quilt top as it depends on which quilt you're making.  Here are some links to our patterns and tutorials that are popular:

Quilt Story Pattern Shop
Lucky Stars Quilt
Disappearing Nine Patch
Lola's Coin Quilt
Dutch Pinwheel Quilt

Choosing Batting/Backing/Binding

Choosing your binding.  Again you will want to prewash your fabrics (especially if they aren't quality quilting cottons).  Consider your binding design.  Generally a smaller print works best or a solid.  You will only see about 1/2 inch of the print on either side of the quilt.  It's a good idea to bring your quilt top with you as you shop so you can hold it up together. Polka dots and stripes are great...just consider the direction you will cut the print (if you're doing it on the bias, more on that later).  For example you probably do not want the stripes to run the same direction as your quilt.

Backings need to be about 3" larger all around than the size of your quilt. If you are making larger than a baby size quilt you will likely need to piece your backing.  You can use a quilter's cotton or for something warmer (and thicker) minky and flannel are a great option.  Heather and I have done many quilts using both cottons and minky.  If you do back with minky it will prove to be slightly more challenging when quilting.  It is thicker and more slippery.  That said it is definitely doable and generally my preference.

Batting.  There are a lot of options and varieties, I won't pretend to know it all!  Here is what I (think) I know.  First option is the thickness of the batting (or the loft) thinner batting is generally used for machine and hand quilting.  Thicker batting is the type used in comforters that you may have seen tied.  Next is the fiber or what material it is made of.  Commonly is cotton, polyester and a cotton/poly blend.  If it has cotton it will shrink.  Usually quilters (like H and I) like the look of a crinkled quilt.  Because of that we recommend a cotton/poly blend.
a pieced backing where I carried the front design to the backing

Diary of a Quilter's Batting 101
Day Style Designs Choosing the Best Batting for Your Quilts
Happything's Batting Guide

To baste a quilt you'll need a large flat surface.  Use masking tape and place the quilt backing right side down.  Tape to the ground so it is taut but not stretched. Next your batting (which should be slightly smaller than the backing but larger than your quilt top).  Then your quilt top on the top with the right side facing up.  You've made a quilt sandwich. Mmmm...a sandwhich.  You need all these layers to stay together without folding or creasing.  There are two ways to achieve this. Pin basting and spray basting.  Heather and I have done both and we both prefer spray baste. We use Dritz Spray Baste from Joann.  If you can find a brand you like at Joann or somewhere similar I recommend it. It can be pricey and at least you can use coupons.

Quilting in the Rain How to Baste a Quilt - pins
Crazy Mom Quilts One Way to Baste a Quilt - pins
Craftsy Spray Basting Your Quilts - spray
Stitched in Color How to Finish a Quilt (and Spray Basting) - spray

You have two choices, quilt it yourself or have someone else quilt it.  If you choose the latter I'd get referrals from your local quilt shop (LQS).  Also as a great reader pointed out, you should check with the quilter their preferences before purchasing your backing and/or batting.  They may want different sizes for backing and most quilters have their own batting.  As we've said before we have an aunt who has an amazing machine, when we have something special or just don't have the time we send the quilt to her.  We also both quilt our own quilts.  Heather has a Babylock and has been playing around with different quilting techniques lately. She is getting pretty great at free motion quilting (FMQ)!  I have a very basic machine (I'm saving my pennies!) which has a walking foot that I purchased separately.  With my walking foot I can do straight line quilting.  A good place to start for beginners would be to stitch in the ditch.  Meaning stitch in the seams of the quilt top.  You may have noticed I did not say anything about hand quilting.  This is an option of course, however I have never done it and therefore don't have much expertise :)

Machine Quilting for Dummies
Connecting Thread's How to Pick the Right Design for your Quilt
Sew4Home Quilting the Quilt
Quilt Smart Completing Your Quilt
Quilting BIG Quilts on a Small Machine - video
Make a Baby Quilt-Preparing and Quilting Your Baby Quilt - video

Measure all four sides of your quilt, add several healthy inches (say 10"+) and that is how much binding you will need.  I ALWAYS make more than I need and I have several leftover bindings for smaller quilts and projects.  You can cut your binding with the grain or on the bias.  When you cut on the bias that gives your binding stretch.  We always cut ours this way.  This means you won't have puckering and is a must if you have scallops or similar turns on your quilt.  We cut our binding 2.5" wide.  Fold and press binding wrong sides together. Pin and sew to the FRONT of the quilt, matching the raw edges together.  Fold over and machine or hand stitch to the backing.  I always hand stitch mine, Heather does it by hand and machine.  It is my favorite part of the quilting process.  I've tried several methods of machine stitching and to get it perfect it takes too long I'd rather be on the couch watching a show :)

Diary of a Quilter Bias Binding
Connecting Threads Binding Basics
Bee in My Bonnet How to Bind a Quilt and Other Quilty Projects... - by hand
Crazy Mom Quilts Binding Tutorial - by hand
Moda Bake Shop Basics: Binding - by hand
Red Pepper Quilts Binding Tutorial - by machine
Cluck Cluck Sew Machine Binding Tutorial - by machine

Quilt labels and/or tags.  You can add a label after by whip-stitching it to the back or you can add it before the quilting process.  I've also pieced my tags into the backing.  You can use a fabric pen to write a note, you can use your computer and print one or you could machine/hand embroider.  Some quilters label every quilt they make.  Personally I wish I did it more but generally I do it on quilts that are gifts.  Here are some thoughts and ideas when it comes to labels:

from Jennifer's Jewels, see our 10 Memory Quilts below

Quilt Story Quilt Label Embroidery Tutorial
Quilt Story Our 10 Memory Quilts (Tags)
My Quilt Infatuation's Cute and Easy Labels
Freckled Whimsy Quilt Label Tutorial
Craftsy How To Create Quilt Labels - they have more links to ideas/styles

There you have it!  Hopefully you do not feel overwhelmed but informed.  The only true way to learn all of this is through experience.  Choose a method and go with it.  You'll learn as you practice and try different techniques.

If I've missed any great resources or gaps in the process please let me know in the comments.

Hope this helps!



Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation said...

Great little tutorial! I add my quilt labels after basting, but before quilting so that I don't have any hand stitching, and so the quilting stitches go through the label, making it a permanent part of the quilt. I have a step by step tutorial on my blog that shows how to do this (since everyone always asks about my labels). Let me know if you want the link!

:) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

Sarah Craig said...

So much info here - and extra links too! Very useful. The only thing I would add is that you should decide if someone else is going to quilt your quilt before you make your back or baste your quilt - that way you can find out from them how they prefer it be done. Longarm quilters particularly vary on how large they want the back to be - better to find out before than after!

Amy DeCesare said...

Thanks for this post...sometimes finishing the quilt is the hardest part for me. I pinned the quilt showing the lovely backing, with the pieced row. So so pretty!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Great tips!! :)

Catherine said...

Fantastic roundup. I need to get some spray (and then some nerves) and it's on. :)

Thanks so much!

Oliver Maurice said...
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