Finishing Touches


Since I started quilting I’ve been on two brilliant quilting courses, both run at Quilter’s Den in Warwick. The first, last February, was beginner log cabin. I made by log cabin squares, joined them together in a whirligig pattern, added a border… and popped it in the cupboard.

In October I went on the Take One Flower course to learn free motion machine quilting and after a few battles with my sewing machine I put together the mini quilt top and free motion quilted flowers and wavy leaves all over it … and popped it in the cupboard.

Now that I’ve finished my big Star Quilt I thought it might be time to try out a bit more quilting, and learn how to bind a quilt on the mini quilts before I tackled the starry behemoth.

First on the machine – the Gingerbread Cabin. I had a cunning plan for this one because I knew that I wanted to quilt it in a spiral to match the spiralling log cabin blocks. So, I found this:

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A spiral; massively blown up on the photocopier. If you cut out the thick black line it looks like this:

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But once unwrangled gives a great spiral stencil. I matched the centre of the spiral to the centre of the quilt block and drew round the lines in a washable marker.

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If you look carefully you can see the turquoise lines.

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When the stencil ran out I simply carried on freehand using the same spacing to give one continuous swirl.

And then came the moment of truth – the quilting! My freemotion quilting is still very basic beginner level and what I learnt most from this is that it is really hard to quilt a smooth continuous line – wiggly leaves are so much easier.

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It definitely looks like a spiral though – just don’t look too closely! I used a variegated brown-cream machine quilting thread which is why some of the quilting looks darker than other bits. The machine quilting thread is a bit thicker than ordinary thread and you have no idea how long it took to get the bobbin to set correctly – I think it doesn’t like machine quilting thread all that much but it’s worth it in the end.

For Stage 2, applying the binding, I followed Amanda Jean’s excellent tutorial (which can be found here) – it has lots of close up photos and there wasn’t anything that I didn’t understand in her instructions.

I picked a red check out of the stash to bind the Gingerbread Cabin quilt – it isn’t part of the fat quarter bundle but it picks up the red bow-ties on the gingerbread men:

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And it goes really well with the backing fabric.

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I’m so glad that I got to use this fat quarter as backing because it’s just too cute to cut up further because you’d always be cutting off part of a motif – and they’re just wonderfully gingerbread themed:

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Maybe I should make some little gingerbread people to go with it?

The Periwinkle-Daisy mini quilt was much quicker to finish because it had already been quilted, and because I had more of an idea about what I was doing!

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The binding is a gently variegated blue that adds a border without taking anything away from the flowers and looks quite nice next to the Hydrangeas on the back.

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The binding isn’t perfect on either quilt and I’m sure to a trained eye they look wonky and bumpy and have wibbly sides but for a first attempt I’m pretty pleased with them.

As I sat on the sofa handstitching the bindings to the front of the quilt I showed each one to H and he responded that he thought they were very nice little quilty things – whatever they were meant to be. Truth be told, these aren’t meant to be anything other than practice pieces – so I think I’m going to put them on the wall in my sewing room for inspiration and insulation. Because clearly a room that has half a wall of yarn cupboards is in great need of insulating!

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  • quilting forum 26/01/2009 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks for the nice stuff. It is incredible.