Make Sure You Have Enough Backing Fabric Before Quilting!
Notice how the ruler shows that my quilt top extends about 1 inch past the gray backing fabric? Originally my backing ended with the gray fabric. I thought I measured correctly, but when I got to the bottom of the quilt during the quilting process, I discovered this sad problem! I had to take the quilt off the longarm, measure and carefully sew on another strip of fabric to the backing. Then put it back on the machine and finish quilting. Don't let this be you! :)
After finishing this block of the month, I had some trouble deciding on fabrics to complete it.
When you're stuck:
As you can see below, I ended up using black for the sashing. You also see a lot of multi color quilts using black an white so I incorporated that idea for the border fabric.
Here's another quilt that I'm working on. It's a jelly roll race quilt and I'm deciding on border fabrics.
Before adding borders measure across the quilt in 3 different areas and take the average of the 3 measurements. This will help keep your quilt square. My 3 measurements differed by 1/2 inch so I definitely need to sew more carefully when making blocks with many pieces. But I'm liking this quilt and it's not like I'm operating on someone's brain so I will press on and finish this quilt!
I mentioned last week that the bear paw block is more of an intermediate level block. Below you can see the puffiness in the star that makes up the cornerstones in the sashing - argh!
This quilt making journey has been frustrating, but I learn something with each quilt. Like take your time when piecing all those half square triangles! Next time maybe I'll square up each paw before combining them into a block. And next time maybe I'll try adding my sashing as pieces of each block like this tutorial rather than making them one long strip.
After adding the 2" gray border, I felt like I needed something else to transition to the border fabric and tie it all together. The blue and brown floral fabric was my starting point for this quilt. My design board is super helpful when I'm testing out fabrics and border widths. I felt like the darker blue meshed the indigos in the quilt top with the blues in the border fabric.
I really like how the star cornerstones in the sashing add a secondary design to the quilt. The tiny blue border was cut at just 1" wide and the outer border will be large - about 5" wide. Once I've added to outer borders, I'll be ready to figure out the backing. See you next week!
Some Piecing Tips
Careful When Chain Piecing: It does make the sewing go faster because you're doing the same thing over and over, but it can be easy to mix things up.
Below you can see where I sewed all the bear claws the same, which worked fine for the top part of the paw. When you flip them to attach to the side of the paw, they go in the wrong direction - boo!
Because I am geometrically challenged I often have a problem with this. By the way, there are several wrong ways to sew the claws together!
Use the presser foot that works the best: I normally use the 1/4 inch presser foot when I'm piecing, but all the angled seams were causing me problems, so I switched to the standard presser foot.
Verify needle position before sewing: I have broken needles when I switched to the 1/4 inch foot and didn't move the needle - a shocking experience!
When using a standard presser foot, your needle should be over to the right at a position that gives you 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Be Flexible with Fabric Choices
I originally wanted all the paws to be like the block on the right, but didn't have enough fabric so had to incorporate some other blues. I'm really happy I didn't, because I like the variety of the different blocks much better.
This block has a lot of seams and little pieces so it can be a pain to get it pieced properly. I'd definitely call this an intermediate skill level. If you're just starting out making quilts, check out the jelly roll race quilt and my tablerunner tutorial.
I haven't decided on a name for this quilt yet. Maybe 'Little Blue Bear' or 'Bonnie Blue'. Naming them helps me remember them. What do you think I should name it? firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Make Another Quilt?
I've been thinking that it's time for a new quilt to hang on my living room wall. Right now, I have the really bright Tulips Tossed quilt hanging there. I wanted something more subdued like Batik Garden, but it's too big to hang and I wanted a more traditional pattern. Since I really like bright colors, I don't have a quilt that will work. I have a few reproduction style fabrics in my stash and came across a quilt pattern that I liked so of course I must make a new quilt! I'm on a mission and thought I'd share the journey with you.
I used Electric Quilt 7 software to design my quilt, then started pulling fabrics to see what would go together and if I had enough yardage. One great thing about the software is it gives estimated yardage for each fabric. Of course, I have enough fabric to do 8 of the 9 blocks - that's not scrappy, that's just weird! So I put some fabric aside and switched things up a little.
For me, having a design wall is a must. Marianne at The Quilting Edge has a great tutorial that I followed to make mine. I referred to Nancy Zieman's book for guidance on making the half square triangles for the bear claws. You can see her book on my messy cutting table below.
Above you can see piles of cut pieces with labels so I know where things go and what I still need to cut. Below is what I've finished piecing so far. E-mail me if you have any questions.
Use a Decorative Curtain Rod to Hang Your Quilt
Several months after I finished Tulips Tossed, I was looking for a way to hang it on my wall. You can use a decorative curtain rod and make some simple rod pockets.
Cut some 12 1/2 inch squares. Tulips Tossed is 63 inches wide and I used 3 squares.
Fold in half so the points match, press. Fold in half again and press again.
Lay the raw edge of each folded square along the top edge of the quilt. Overlap the pockets as needed and sew along the raw edge. If you plan ahead, you can add these before doing the binding and the stitching won't show. Since Tulips Tossed was already bound, I lined up the raw edge just below the binding and used a thread that matched the top.
Hand tack the bottom corner of each pocket.
Thread the pole of a regular curtain rod through each pocket and hang your quilt. Beautiful!
But All the Fabric is Gone - What Now?
After hanging my Tulips Tossed quilt behind the buffet, I knew I wanted something great for the table that went with it; but I didn't have leftovers of any of the fabrics I used. I pinned my quilt back on the design board and started pulling fabrics from my stash.
I auditioned some greens, burgandys and oranges and then found a charm pack that had the same bright, warm tones as the quilt. The garnet Peppered Cotton was a really close match to the burgandy batik that was used for the sashing and I realized I was ready to make my Sedona Sunrise tablerunner.
Fabrics that have a similar feeling and tone can serve you well when you don't have enough yardage to make multiple projects.
Use Clear Plexiglass!
Use a piece of clear plexiglass or acrylic to test out your quilting designs right on your quilt top! You can get it at most hardware and crafting stores. It's not too expensive and lightweight. Use dry erase markers and a piece of batting for erasing. Be sure and tape the edges with a bright color painter's tape or duct tape so you don't go past the edges and mark on your top.
Join me on my Quick Tips page where I'll share a quick tip or technique that I hope will help you in your quilting journey.