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Part 10 here.
“Pau” means “finished” or “done” in Hawaiian and that’s pretty much where we are with our Aloha Pineapple quilts! After tying the three quilt layers together, all that’s left is binding. I’ll post photos of the process below, but there’s already a glut of excellent tutorials on the web, so links may suffice. First though — to the quilts!
Lynn brought her top, but has the backing and batting already laid out at home so I know she’ll be done soon. Her’s is a gift for a friend who loves the soft, country colors. I hope that it too, provides years of enjoyment.
I am so incredibly proud of my students. Deb and Kathleen are still working diligently on their quilts and I can’t wait to see their finished masterpieces. We’re already talking about the next class in September. We are going back to a variation of the last project class. It will probably be a pillow and a tote or table runner. One applique project and one pieced project. Yo-yos will be involved. When I teach these classes, my main goal is to familiarize my students with some basic construction skills so that when they see a pattern in a magazine or store, they can say, “that’s applique and I do/do not like that,” or “I see the half square triangles in that design and am confident I could do that,” or “paper piecing sounds daunting, but I actually like it.” What really excites me is when my students take the skills I’ve taught them and branch out on their own.
So, on to the binding. I usually just cut 2.5″ wide strips from the width of my fabric and sew them end to end (at a 45° angle to reduce bulk), but I hear anecdotally that bias binding wears better in the long run. Marcia Hohn’s Quilter’s Cache (a great resource in and of itself) has a nice tutorial for both methods and two ways to sew the binding on as well.
Starting on one long side, mark the wrong side of your fabric with the desired width of your binding (I like 2.5″). I use pencil on light fabric and chalk liner on dark fabric. If you have a skinny strip left at the top, just cut it off.
Pin the two short ends together, lining up your drawn lines, but offset by one row. Also be sure you are lining up the lines not at the edge of teh fabric, but 1/4″ down, where the seam will be sewn. Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
I like french binding sewn on with mitered corners. It looks good and it pretty much the default method. Heather Bailey has a nice graphic tutorial here. She talks about glamorous corners, and I have to say, I think mine are more glamorous these days, but that’s just years of practice. The more accurate you are at the corners, the more square they will be.
To sew your binding on, first mark or trim your edges nice and straight and make sure your corners are square. I was confident that the edges and corners of my quilt top were where they wanted, so they are my guide. The batting and backing are left rough so that they don’t accidentally pull back and not get sewn into the binding on the back of the quilt. If I do have to trim the top of a quilt, I tend to cut all three layers since, in general, your quilting will hold everything in place. Align the raw edges of your binding strip with the raw edges, or marked line, of your quilt top. Start somewhere in the center of one side. Leave about a 6″ “tail” and sew 1/4″ from the edge. I’d basted my border 1/4″ from the edge, so I moved my needle position a few clicks to the left to make sure I would hide that basting in the seam allowance. Oh, and if you have a walking foot for your machine, now is the time to use it! Stop sewing 1/4″ from the corner (see my pin). The more accurate this stop is, the more glamorous your corner will be.
Pull the quilt out from under your needle, but you don’t necessarily have to cut the thread — just give yourself a little room to work. Fold the binding away from the quilt making a 45° angled fold. The raw edges of the binding will now continue the line of the next edge of the quilt.
Continue around your quilt like this until you approach where you started. Stop about 10,” or even a bit more, from where you started and remove the quilt from your sewing machine — this time cutting the threads. Lay your binding tails smooth on your quilt top and overlap them. Cut the end of one tail square, and cut the other one so that their overlap is the width of your unfolded binding (in this case 2.5″).
Cut off any excess batting and backing, leaving a nice 1/4″-ish of quilt material in the binding seam allowance. Fold the folded edge of the binding over to the back side of your quilt and sew it down by hand near or on the machine stitched seam using a blind stitch. Some people machine stitch this too, and Ricky Tims has a very schamncy way of doing this, but I like the clean, invisible hand sewn method and find it a quiet way to spend and evening or two on the couch.
When you get to the corners, sew your first side down all the way out into the seam allowance of the next side, making that boat-like angle fold as close to 45° as possible. Folding over the next side will bring that angle over what you’ve just sewn down and should make a nice mitered look both on the front and on the back. Tack that fold down and then continue on blind stitching the next side. I think that traditional quilt show competitions want that miter tacked down on the front side too, but I never bother since they seem to hold up just as well for me this way and I like to just power away at sewing the back side down.
Your quilt has been handled a lot at this point and might want to be washed. I use the gentle cycle on my top-load machine, cold water, and a textile friendly soap like Eucalan. A bed quilt I will more often than not put in the dryer too, on a low-ish heat and finish off the drying outside on the rack. An art quilt that has surface design that can’t handle the stress of the machines, I will soak in the tub and dry flat on towels on the floor.
Enjoy your quilt — you are PAU!