Monday, April 5, 2010

Custom Tree Quilt Next Steps

I have diligently been working away on this tree quilt and have several new steps to share with you.  We left off last time with arranging and tacking the leaves to the quilt as well as removing the marking lines from the background.
The next step I do is to press the piece really well.  When you do the thread play like I have done you will get a little bit of mis-shaping no matter how well you stabilize.  The better you stabilize the less mis-shaping, but it is inevitable with the heavy stitching I use. 

After I press really well using a hot iron and steam I fold the piece in half.  Grab the top edges of the quilt with your finger tips and hold up in the air if front of you.  If the fabric doesn't hang straight and has a bit of a curl at the fold slightly shift the two layers to the left or right until it hangs straight.  Once you have done this I lay the piece on my cutting table careful not to shift the layers.  Then I trim the sides and top and bottom.

After I have done that I measure the top and bottom to make sure they are the same width and then measure from corner to corner in both directions.  This will ensure that the piece is square.

Once I have done that it is time to add the borders.  Note: If you do not square up the center before you put your borders on your borders will appear wavy and the corners not square which will then translate to your finished piece.

For the borders I take my fabric and make a straight edge cut, then cut my strips.

To determine how many strips I need I first determine how I want to attach my borders.  You can start at the top and work your way around the sides making a log cabin type look, you can miter the corners or you can do top and bottom the sides or vice versa.  In this case I am going to put my side borders on first and them cap with my top and bottom.  So I measure the length of the piece and multiply by 2.  Then I measure the width and add the border width on both sides, in this case I have a 4 inch finished border so I will add 8.5 inches to the width of the piece.  Then multiply by 2.  Add the width number and the legth number and that is the total number of inches of border that you will need.  I then take that number and divide by 40 (width of fabric) and that gives me the number of strips I need.

For this quilt I used 5 strips at 4.5" wide.  After cutting my strips I line up the selvege edges, layer and cut off the selvege.

Next I sew the border pieces end to end right sides together to make one long strip.

The reason I do this is because I want to waste as little fabric as possible and I want to vary where the seam lines are.  If I had centered the seams on each side I would have needed 8 strips instead of 5 and would have had 8 pieces about 20" long to go in my scrap bin.  In this case I ended up with one piece about 15" long.

After I sew my border strips together I press the seams to one side or the other and begin attaching to my center piece.  Once one side is stitched I press toward the border and trim off the tail.

Continue this method until all four sides have their border on.

For this quilt I have a quote or saying that I am adding to the lower border.  You can do this with many methods, applique, in the quilting or as I am doing embroidery.

First I spray the bottom border with spray starch and iron on both sides to give the fabric itself some stabilization.  Then I iron on my Sulky Iron and Tear stabilizer to the back side of the fabric.  For this quilt I will also use a heavy tear away stabilizer in the hoop since the embroidery will be close to and edge.

Next I used my chalk pencil and drew a line 1" from the bottom of the border to give me a reference line to keep the letters straight.  Then I programmed each word into my embroidery software.  On my machine I feel most comfortable doing each word individually versus all in one file and re-hooping.  Then I determine the length of each word, add in my space between words and get the total length of the phrase.  Working from the center out I determine my starting point for each of the words and mark with chalk.  Then hoop your fabric using your grid insets in the hoop to make sure the fabric is straight and line up your starting point for the embroidery.

Now that the front is put together it is time to prepare your sandwich for quilting and finishing.  On this quilt I decided to use a flannel fabric.  Flannel is my preferred backing, I like quilts to be soft and snuggly.  I also use Warm and White Cotton batting.  I like the weight thicknes and warmth of this particular batting.

Find a hard surface to lay your project on whether it be a table or the floor anything will work as long as you can spread the entire project out.  I use the floor since I don't have a table big enough. 

Place your backing fabric face down smoothing out all the wrinkles, then carefully place the batting over the top again smoothing out the wrinkles.  I like to pre-cut my back and batting so it is just a couple of inches longer and wider than the piece.  This is much easier for me to handle and line everything up when I am not going to quilt on my frame.  Finally lay your top face up on top of the batting layer smoothing all wrinkles and creases.  Then pin with safety pins about a fist apart from each other across the entire top of the quilt.


The next steps to come are securing the leaves to the quilt, finishing the edge of the trunk, quilting the quilt and binding the quilt.  Then it will get shipped off to it's new home for the new owners to enjoy for a lifetime!

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