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Monday, December 9, 2013

Beating the Monday Blues

Hi everyone,

Monday is upon us again! For me, it is kind of a quiet one, since I had a fabulous weekend participating in Artists in Buffalo Holiday Open House, with my quilts!
It was three days of talking about quilts, art, stitching, how it is done, why I like it and all that and yes - even selling a few of my creations! Can one ask for anything more? :)
Artists in Buffalo is a great organization that I belong to, and Holiday Open House is a large event and growing every year. It has multiple locations and I am among very lucky ones to be in the home of Chatham Pottery Studio , a beautiful stone mansion.
So here is how my display looked like:






 My lovely youngest child, my son Vuk, who was helping me set up also brought this beautiful orchid later to decorate my table - lucky me! :)
Next to me was my friend Janet Ide with her new creative endeavor - all things hand-made for baby, with focus on cloth diapers!  Yes, you read right - cloth diapers! They are coming back for so many reasons but in a new, 21st century edition - these are not your grandma's cloth diapers! They are all-in-one, easy to use, comfortable for the baby and new parent's budget too - not to mention planet! Just look how cute:
 Here is how it works:
 Loved the sock-monkeys!
 These elephants were my favorite:

 Although baby-fashionista set (diaper and changing pad) is just too darn cute:
 So are you intrigued or want to know more? Here is Janet's brand new Etsy site, Artisan Garden where you can see more and even order some!
And here are few more artists - Cathrine Gillespie of Chatham Pottery:



Molly Flynn's jewelry and journals:

Anne Keating scarves and photography:

And beautiful watercolor creations - on paper and fabric! -by Mary Flynn of Back of the Moon Watercolors
 Of course, I had to shop a bit too - this beautiful pillow called my name:
Just love it!
I wish I took more photos but it was quite a busy time too! What I loved the most was how interested people were in quilts, how they are made, how they can be used for many things and not just as bed covers. Many young women interested and intrigued too - yay!
All in all, it was a very inspiring weekend! Hope you enjoyed these few photos of it. :)
Now on to holidays in earnest - planning for presents, more gatherings with friends,  cards and other fun stuff!
wishing you a lovely week ahead,
Marija

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Each One, Teach One tutorial - All-Machine stitched binding

Hi everyone,

yeah, I know - my Tuesday tutorial lost its way and wondered off all the way into Thursday! :)
Not really, it's just that I got a short rendezvous with stomach bug these past two days and haven't scheduled the post in time...
But all is well now (almost!) and I decided it is better late than never, right?

We will still stick to some of the basics in quilting, and today will be BINDING!

Why binding - well, I am currently doing lots of it (many finishes these days, but more about that later), so it is a good opportunity for lots of photos, but even more importantly - in my classes I so very often have students who struggle with that step, don't like it or are frustrated with it...so let's tackle binding!

1. Strips of fabric for binding - I cut my strips for binding to be either 2 1/2" wide or sometimes 2 1/4" wide (if I am tight with fabric or want really tight, skinny binding).
      - Number of strips should be so that you have enough for the entire perimeter of quilt + 10-12" extra (if you divide that perimeter with 40, you will get number of strips to cut! Example: if perimeter is 220", 220/40 is 5 and some extra - so 6 strips to cut!)
Here are my 4 strips for the wall quilt I am binding:

2. Joining all strips into one continuous binding strip:
        - I like to join my strips with an angled seam. So instead of just joining two short ends of the strips with 1/4" seam, I do this:
        - put two strips right sides together but with 90 degree angle (here, existing  selvages were just offset!)
        - draw a line going from corner to corner as shown above, pin it and sew on that line:
As I sew the first seam like this, I just continue to "chain-piece" the rest of them (take the free end of the strip, place the next strip, pin and sew! Yes, most of the time you don't even need that line drawn... :)  ) So here they are, all chain-pieced together:

 After you clip them apart, cut the extra fabric off, leaving just a 1/4" seam allowance. Start with cutting that selvage (if you have any)
 And then cut the approximate 1/4" seam allowance
 And then the last of the selvage:
 To get this:
 Press that seam OPEN:
Once you joined all your strips and pressed all these seams, it is time to press this long, continuous binding strip in half, lengthwise, with WRONG sides together:
 And as a result, you have your pile-o-binding ready to use:
 
Let's sew it on the quilt!
Well, before starting that, you need to make a decision if you are doing this binding by machine ENTIRELY, or will you slip-stitch it on the back by hand. Sewing the binding onto the quilt by machine first and then slip-stitching it on the back is a classic way of doing the binding - and I do love to do that most of the time - but sometimes either time-constraint or the durability of the future quilt call for ALL MACHINE binding, so that is what we will do here.
So what is the difference at this point you may ask?
If I am going to slip-stitch binding by hand, I will stitch my binding strip on the FRONT of the quilt (and then slip-stitch on the back),
  but if it will be ALL machine done, I will first stitch my binding strip on the BACK of the quilt:
So why do it this way? Because if you are doing the second round of stitching by machine, you can control much better how it looks from the FRONT, if you are stitching on the front! You can even use some decorative stitches if you like!
So let's start!
- start stitching your binding somewhere in the middle of one side, leave initial about 6-8" of the binding strip FREE (UN-stitched) - here I am holding the "free" end and will start stitching where the pin is:
 and match raw edges of the binding with raw edges of the quilt:
 Stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance or maybe even a bit larger - here I am just using the edge of my foot (regular one) as  guide:
Once you come to the first corner of your quilt, stop stitching couple of inches before and mark the spot on the binding strip that is 1/4" away from the QUILT edge (yes quilt edge is underneath, so you will have to slide the binding away a bit to see that - bamboo stiletto tip showing the spot in the photo):
 Slide the binding back and put the pin in that spot, so that you will know where to stop stitching
 Stop stitching RIGHT at the pin: (you can back-stitch here if you like, but it is not necessary)
Once you have done that, it is time to turn and stitch the next side of the quilt. Here are the steps to do:
1. Lift the presser-foot and needle, slide the quilt to the left just a little bit (but no need to cut the threads!) and turn the quilt to begin stitching the next side:

2. Grab the loose binding strip and fold it AWAY from you:
 And position it so that raw edge of the binding is aligned with the raw edge of the quilt (or is the "flush" the correct term? anyway, they need to be in line! :)  )
 As you do that, you will notice that the FOLD of the binding strip is on a nice 45 degree angle - pin is pointing that in the photo:
Now hold that fold down (pin or just your finger) and FOLD BACK the binding strip, towards you,
 So that this new fold is aligned with the top edge of the quilt - like this:

Start stitching again, from the very edge:

This folding stuff is what you will have to do at every corner of the quilt and it does get easier as you do it many times! :)
Once you came around to the side of the quilt you started on, fold at the corner, continue stitching and then stop stitching the binding about 10-12" away from where you started:
 Cut the thread and remove the quilt under the presser foot. Here is your binding almost all stitched down, with a 10-12" gap:

Now is the time to join the two ends of the binding strip! 
There are multiple ways to do this, but I find this one that I will show you to be very easy and most importantly - the place where you join the beginning and the end of biding will not be any different than any other seam you have on the binding (seams you did to join all the strips together) - that is what I like!
Basically, you will repeat the SAME step you did when you were joining all binding strips into one long binding, really! The only difference now is that your whole quilt is attached to it, so that is why you need that 10'12" gap, to make it a bit easier.
Here is what to do:
1. Lay down your START part of the binding (one you left loose at the beginning) and if it goes further than about half-way of the gap, cut it so that it is coming to about half-way:
 I cut about 2" away in this case:
Now lay down the END part of the binding strip, right over the START part - strips will be overlapping:
 These two strips need to overlap,  and the overlap should be exactly how much the strip WIDTH is. In other words, if you initially cut 2 1/2" wide strips for this binding, than overlap should be 2 1/2", if your strips were 2 1/4" wide (like mine are here), then overlap should be 2 1/4" - like shown below:
 To measure this, I slide the top strip slightly to the right (to expose the end of the bottom strip), lay down the ruler (as shown above), mark that 2 1/4" line and cut the excess of the strip (below):
 Here are two ends of the binding, overlapping for 2 1/4" :
Now is the time to repeat that step of joining the two strips, just like you did initially (to make the binding.
1. Take both ends of the binding and open up the folded fabric
 2. Join the strips, RIGHT sides together and on a 90 degree angle:

 3. match raw edges nicely, mark the diagonal line, from corner to corner and pin it:
 4. Bring it to the sewing machine (yes, quilt is in tow, but just take it easy and it works!), and sew on the line:

 and voila!:
5. Once sewing is done, fold it back and straighten it up on the quilt, just to check if everything is good (not too long, not too short...etc.):
 and then cut-off the extra fabric, leaving the approximate 1/4" seam allowance:

 Press this one open also:
 Fold the binding back, straighten it up and it will lay nicely on the quilt! Notice how this last seam is not any different than any seam you made while making the long binding - we like that! :)
 Just stitch the gap closed and your round #1 binding stitching is DONE!
Now on to the Round #2!
Before I start stitching Round #2, I go to the four corners of my binding and just "clip-off" corners - only slightly and NOT into the stitching of course! - just to reduce the bulk a bit and make those mitered binding corners come out nicely.
Also, to facilitate this next round of stitching, my friend Martha showed me a great tip - take your binding to the ironing board, fold the binding from the back to the front, use nice hot iron and some good steam and press your binding to the front of the quilt - it makes it come around and lay in place as you stitch! Really cool! Of course you can also use binding clips - I just never got used to them.



Now on to stitch the binding!
1. Start again somewhere in the middle, and LOCK-IN your starting stitch (no back stitching here, since it will not look nice - remember, this is the FRONT of your quilt!). I do the locking just by going to 0 stitch length, take 2-3 stitches in place and that does the job. Switch back to normal stitch length and go:
 Now we come to the corner again! Yes, those pesky corners do require special attention, and here is what to do:
1. Once you are about 2" away from the corner stop with the needle down and straighten the folded binding as shown in the photo below (notice again the nice 45 degree folded end!):
 2. Now fold the binding back on to the quilt and you will see a nice mitered corner formed - hold on to that cornet with a stiletto, seam-ripper or whatever you find easy - and continue stitching
  until your needle just catches that folded side

Now, with the needle down pivot the quilt and continue stitching the next side of the binding
 After you go around the entire quilt and master the remaining 3 corners, come to the starting point of your stitching and again lock-in your last stitch by switching to 0 stitch length
 So that you will have start/end point looking like this:
 Clip those threads and - VOILA!!! Your binding is all done!!!