Mom's door banners

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My parents moved into assisted living a few years ago in Kansas City.  When we were out visiting them in February of 2016, my mom still had a few Christmas decorations outside her door in the main hallway.  When I asked my sister what was up with that, she indicated that she lent mom a few items and now she wouldn't return them ... she liked having decorations outside her door.

So I decided to make her some banners for her door that she could change out based on season, time of year, etc.

I started by gifting her one for Mother's Day that had a patriotic theme ... thinking that could get her through Memorial Day, 4th of July and even Labor Day!  I purchased the pattern for this one.

Next, I gifted her one in early October for her birthday, with a fall theme.  For this one, I was inspired by this picture on Pinterest ... but the link didn't take me anywhere I could buy a kit or pattern ... so I winged it by tracing a maple leaf from the internet (google maple leaf silhouette), applied that to some patchwork in the chosen colors and then appliquéd them onto the squares.

Finally, one of her Christmas presents is a holiday themed banner.  She thinks that Santa gets a bit too much attention at this time of year, so I tried to go a little more traditional with meaning with the last one.  For this one, I found an online tutorial.  I actually like the one in the tutorial much better ... but think my mom with like the one that I made better ... I know that will make sense to many of you ...

These aren't exactly my style ... but my mom is tickled pink and really enjoys telling her neighbors that her daughter made them one-of-a-kind for her and anxiously awaits the next one ... since the Christmas one definitely has a limited life ... I need to get to work on one for January quickly ...

We should all be as appreciative over the little things as mom is with these ... makes me smile.

All the best,


Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2016

From a reluctant Santa

Happy Holidays !!!

Quilt Machine Binding for New Quilters

Sunday, December 18, 2016

I just finished 44 placemats and 12 potholders for Christmas presents ...

As I was in the midst of the binding ... I realized that I would NEVER have attempted this effort just a few short years ago ... these placemats and potholders require 3,512 lineal inches of binding, 224 corners and 56 mitered finishes in tight spaces.

As a self-taught quilter, I have learned a LOT from blogs and tutorials that people were kind enough to share ... including a number of different blog posts that taught me about binding.  So I decided to take some pictures as I went along with the intent of creating a tutorial that marries much of what I have learned together to help some of the other new quilters out there.  It's a chance to learn some tips and gain some confidence as they tackle binding ...

NOTE:  I am a machine binding person ... I have never learned how to bind by hand.  If you are new, know that you have both options and if you want to enter quilts for judging, you will need to learn the hand binding method.

Before I start, here are two of the tutorials that have been most impactful in getting me to how I bind quilts now.  I use a lot of their technique and have added a few tips in of my own.  You may find perusing them helpful as well as you seek to perfect your binding technique.

ZigZag Binding Tutorial - by Stitched in Color
Mitered & Flanged Binding Tutorial - by Karen's Quilts, Crows and Cardinals (note this one has additional information in it about how to build a flanged binding)

I will use the term "Placemat" though out this tutorial ... as that is what I am binding.  However, you can substitute the word "quilt" in anywhere for placemat as well.


Making the binding

I cut my binding at 2.375" (3/8).  I find that when using a 1/4" allowance when attaching the binding to the placemat, the 2.375" dimension creates a perfect fit.

Each placemat requires ~70" of binding, so I need to connect a few of the cut pieces together. Creating a mitered seam is easy.  Lay one piece right-side up and then lay the next piece perpendicular on top, with right sides together.  As you can see, you don't even need to trim the selvages when doing it this way.

Using the selvage for overlap is an important element here ... by doing so, you are leaving a nice overlap, which allows you to easily match the sides on the strips ... if you don't leave this overlap, you will find that the edges of your strip can be off by up to 1/4".

I use scissors to trim the sewn pieces down to 1/4" and cut off the corners that are left from the overlap.

Press the seam open, this is particularly important for a placemat, where you don't want to create a bump that could accidentally tip a wine glass.  Hmmm ... doesn't look perfectly straight here ... but it's close enough for binding ...

I trim over a small container on my cutting table and even though each placemat only takes ~70" of binding, I know I am about to do a whole bunch of placemats, so I cut about 10 pieces at one time and chain them together so that I don't have to stop and do this each time I finish a placemat.

Attaching the binding to the placemat:

Next, take the end that you are going to start with, fold the fabric down to the left to create a triangle and press in place.


Now, lay your placemat down with the back facing up.  This is important, you are going to be stitching the binding to the back of the placemat.

Note:  for placemats, I always start on one of the shorter sides.  Creating a miter seam where you start and stop can introduce a slight bump and it is less likely to impact a fragile wine glass if that bump is on the side, rather than on the top.  On this placemat, the side is ~13" long.

Take the end you're going to start with and fold it in half lengthwise (there is no need to press the material, you will simply hold it in place as you go around the placemat).  You are going to start stitching about 6" down, leaving the 1st six inches of the binding unstitched before you start stitching. (this will be important for creating the mitered edge at the end).

 Use a 1/4" stitch to attach the binding to the placemat.  Keep stitching towards the corner, stopping 1/4" from the end.

When you get to 1/4" from the end, pivot the placemat by 45°...

Stitch out to corner and then cut threads.

It's easier to see from the front (bottom) how I have pivoted and stitched over the the corner.

Fold the binding back to the right as seen in the picture above to the right.

And then fold the binding back over the top and start it down the next size of the placemat.

Position the placemat at the corner back under the machine and begin stitching from the top edge, retaining a 1/4" allowance as before.  Stitch down to within 1/4" of the next corner and repeat.

When you start your way out of the 4th and last corner ...

Stitch down about 2 to 3", anchor your stitching as you stop.  This leaves about 9 to 10" between the beginning of your stitching on your start piece and the stop of your stitching on your end piece.  You are now going to create the mitered seam between the start and end pieces.

Pull the end piece down the side of the placemat and pin it to the place just before where you started stitching the start.

Lay the end piece over to the right at the pin and place start piece on top of the end piece.

Mark the end piece just a smidge (about 1/8") above the tip of the start piece.  You can see I have used a blue dot to mark it in the picture above.

Now, lay the end piece flat ... you can see my blue dot on the top of the strip about 1/3 of the way across from the left in the picture above.

Place the opened start piece (with the crease) on top of the end piece with the opened tip sitting just on top of the blue dot marked on the end piece.

Another view of the same thing.

Use a pin to hold the top piece the bottom here.  This is a little tight and you will likely need to fold the placemat in half to get good purchase to stitch the two ends together.  Now, stitch down the crease that is in the top piece.  You may find it easier to mark down the crease to make it easier to see when you are stitching.  Before you trim the material off of what you just stitched, lay the placemat flat and see if you are happy with how it lies.  If not, this is super simple to fix by just removing the few stitches you just put it ... once you trim the material, it is very hard to fix ... so I always check it prior to trimming off the ends.

It is important for the mark that you place on the end piece is about 1/8" beyond the point.  It is better for this last side to fit a little snug (it will stretch) rather than to be too long where it will bunch when you stitch it.

You can press the seam open where you have connected the start and end pieces.  Then lay it smooth over the last side and stitch it into place.

Finishing the binding

Now flip your placemat over as you will finish the binding from the front.

I like using a zig zag stitch (instructions further below for a straight stitch).  I set the machine to a fairly small zig zag stitch.

As I top stitch, I pull the edge of the binding so that it lines up exactly on top of the 1/4" stitching from attaching the binding to the batch.  This ensures that I am sitting on top of the edge of the binding on the back and the zig zag covers the stitching on the front ... it basically gives great alignment.  I have a great notch on my presser foot right in the middle that tells me when I am right on top of the edge.

The top-stitching from the front ...

The stitching from the back.

If you prefer  not to use a zig zag stitch (or if your only machine with zig zag on it breaks like mine just did ;-(, you can use a straight stitch.

For the straight top-stitching, I pull the edge of the binding so it just covers up the stitching from the back attachment of the binding and then I stitch just in from that edge, so that it is basically stitching on top of that 1/4" line.  I like to use the inside edge of my presser foot to keep my line straight on the binding ... take it slow as you get the feel for this so that you can keep your line straight.  If you stray, you alway have a seam ripper available.

Front with the straight-line top stitching ...

Back with the straight-line stitching ...

A few of the finished placemats ... ready to send off in the mail for Christmas.

I hope that this is of assistance to some of the newer quilters out there ... good luck and, as always, let me know if you have any questions or feedback for the tutorial!

Merry Christmas!

All the best,

Our AMAZING National Parks

Thursday, November 3, 2016

OurNational Parks are A B S O L U T E L Y amazing! We spent 3 nights on the road to get down to southern Utah and Archer National Park where we arrived at around 7:00 PM. Since we pulled in after dark ... we were thrilled to wake up this morning and find this view behind us!

And then a hike ... revealed this at the turnaround point ... we are definitely enjoying this trip!

Hope all is well in quilting land!

All the best

Hostess Gift ...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

We are off on a 24-day T@b Trailer camping trip in the southwest US ... can't tell you how excited I am to escape the rain of the Pacific Northwest ... as of today, we have had over 30" of rain in the month of October ... and the month isn't over yet!!

We will be spending 4 of these nights at two different friends homes during the trip.  I wanted to take a small hostess gift that can be hauled around in the trailer while we travel (remember ... a T@b is a very small trailer) and will still be in good shape when we arrive.

Pot holders!

Patricia just bought a new home, painted Polo Navy on her walls and a brown back splash with a white counter ... I think these will fit in well.

Brett has an amazingly beautiful and bright Palm Springs home ... so hopefully this play on color will work well for him.

I use one layer of insul-bright and one layer of 100% cotton batting.  I find this gives good heat protection to the hand, but still allows it to be thin enough to actually stitch effectively.  

I like making potholders ... as you can see here and here and here ... they are quick, they are functional, and lets face it ... no one goes out and spends a lot of money on their pot holders ... they get dirty and burnt and everyone always stuffs them in the drawer where no one can see them ... so home made potholders ... people kinda like that ...

Back to that T@b Trailer ... this ... will be our home for the next 24 days!

Just me ... hubby ... and two 50-pound dogs ... wish us well ;-)

All the best,


Fast & bright quilt

Monday, October 10, 2016

Back in 2008, a colleague of mine called me from California.  Her husband was down there on business and had fallen ill and had to go to the hospital.  She flew down to be with him and they discovered in California that he had Leukemia ...

I was one of the few people that she knew that had gone through cancer ... so she called me.  I don't know how much help I was ... but I do remember trying to support her ... remembering how hard it was on John when I was sick.

Fast forward to 2016 ... her husband, "W", has benefited from the immunology treatments that we have been reading about in Time and NY Times, he has written a book on his experience and has been doing quite well ... until about 3 weeks ago ... when he learned that his leukemia was back.

I wanted to do something ... so I made him a quilt.

This is the 3rd time I have made this pattern (you can see my other ones here and here).  It is very straightforward to make ... so it doesn't take a lot of thinking -- which can be important when you're trying to get a quilt made in a hurry.

This time, I added a few pieces of printed fabric.  The other two versions had only had solids.  His wife informed me that his favorite color is blue.  I added a little brown as well to make it a little more masculine.

The back is super simple ... with a single strip across the back where I pieced the fabric.  (Now you can see why I don't like to fold quilts before I photograph them ... you can see the folds).

I added a label ... which says ... "To:  the premiere member of the courage and perseverance club,  From:  two other members who are rooting for you"

I got it done and in the mail quickly ... and got a great note from his wife this evening that the latest infusion seems to be working !!!  She also sent this pic of him napping with it ... NOTHING warms a heart more than seeing a quilt being put immediately to use ...

Finally, we were up in Victoria this weekend for my husband to participate in his 9th annual running of the Victoria Half Marathon ... as well as our annual attempt to explain American Politics to our Canadian friends ...

Victoria Government House

I had the opportunity to meet Janet from What Comes Next as her husband was running as well!  I love the quilting community!  Sadly, we didn't think to get a pic ;-(.

Hope everyone is doing well.

All the best
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