finishing quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Apply Facing on the Longarm

In this, yet another, installment of the series on finishing the edges of your quilts while still on the frame, I’ll explain how to apply facing on the longarm. You can get up to speed by reading Apply Binding on the Longarm and Extra Tips – Binding.

What is Facing?

There are times when you don’t want any binding to show on the front of the quilt, but you want the durability and security of an actual binding. Facing is the answer. Facing strips are sewn to the front of the quilt and then turned to the back, rolling the seam, so that none of the facing is visible on the front of the quilt. Then the facing is hand stitched in place on the back of the quilt. It makes for a clean, non-stop visual as the eye travels to the edges of the quilt.

faced quilt with sunflowers

 

Making it easy

It really makes a lot of sense to apply facing on the longarm. The large quilt is stretched out in front of you and held smooth and secure by your leaders. What could possibly go wrong? Well, there are a few things you need to be aware of when facing a quilt this way. But no worries! I’ll clue you in.

Prepare your facing

Before you loaded your quilt on the frame for quilting you measured, right? And you wrote down those measurements, right? You’re going to need them now.

You’ll need one facing strip for each edge of your quilt. I use 1 1/2 inch wide strips, with one edge pressed under 1/4 inch. You can decide how wide you would like your strips, but don’t go much more than 2 1/2 inches. If the facing is too wide it doesn’t lay flat on the back and you end up with puckers in the facing. No one likes a floppy facing!

cutting strips

pressing strips

Two strips should be the length of your quilt and 2 strips should be the width of your quilt. These measurements don’t need to be super exact. Just close. Your quilt will likely NOT be the same measurements as the quilt top was before quilting. Remember, quilting draws up fabric, so your finished quilt will be slightly smaller depending on the density of the quilting.

Pro Tip:

The first time you face a quilt, choose a fabric that is close in color to the edge of the quilt top. Rolling the seam to the back of the quilt is a skill that takes a little practice. If your facing fabric shows a bit on the front, it will be less noticeable. Once you get good at applying facing on the longarm you can use any fabric.

If you need to sew lengths of strips together for a larger quilt, sew strips together on an angle. This creates less bulk at the seams. Just like regular binding!

You will also need two 4 inch squares of your facing fabric. Cut these squares from corner to corner, forming 4 triangles. Press the long edge of each triangle under 1/4 inch.

strips and triangles pressed and ready

Ready to Apply Facing on the Longarm

I start at the bottom of the quilt since that’s where I finished the quilting. Place the triangles in the corners, right side down.

Lay a facing strip, right side down, with the raw edge of the strip at the edge of the quilt. Start about 1 inch away from the left corner. This will help cut down on the bulk of fabric layers in the corner, and the triangle will cover the raw ends of the facing strips once they are turned to the back.

Use care to not stretch the strip. You can add a few pins, if you wish, to hold it in place. Remove the pins as you stitch.

Pro Tip:

Don’t trim the right edge of your strip just yet. Leave the end and trim it when you get to the corner as you sew.

Sewing

My favorite foot for this job is the 1/4 inch Square Foot. (The smaller one)

 

square feet image

And I like to use a straight edge ruler with tabs on the ends, like the VersaTool or the HQ Ditch ruler.

The tabs help hold the facing in place so I need fewer (if any) pins.

Machine settings

Set your machine for regulated, cruise, 12 SPI, and needle-stop down.

Stitch

Start stitching on the left edge of the quilt top (stitch over the triangle and onto the facing strip), using the ruler to keep straight and 1/4 inch from the edge. The edge of the ruler and the edge of the square foot are both aligned at the raw edge of the quilt. That results in the perfect 1/4 inch seam.

If you didn’t trim the end of the strip yet, trim it right before you get to the corner, leaving about an inch from the right edge.

Sew all the way to the edge, over the triangle.

Take a side strip and repeat the steps for alignment and start sewing up as far as you can go in your throat space.

Secure threads with a couple of back stitches and break your threads.

With the other side strip and repeat on the other side of the quilt.

Pro Tip:

Before rolling your quilt, go back to each corner, and sew across the corner at an angle to help strengthen the corner for turning. Back stitch a few times back and forth.

Roll your quilt onto the belly bar to expose the next section in your throat space. Start with a few back stitches and stitch up the side within your throat space. Repeat on the other side. Continue in this manner until the top edge of the quilt is in your stitching area.

Place the other two triangles on the top corners, right side down. Finish stitching the side strips, remembering to trim the strip before you get to the top edge. Stitch all the way to the edge to secure the triangle.

Sew the top strip in the same manner that you sewed the bottom strip. Stitch the angle at the top corners for security.

Trim

Remove the quilt from the frame and trim the edges.

trimming the edges

 

 

Trim the corners:

Cut off the corners about 2 threads away from the diagonal stitching.

Press

Press all the facing strips to the outside of the quilt using a hot steam iron.

Turning the edges

Use the facing to pull the quilt edge around to the back. It’s OK to have about 1/16″ of an inch of quilt front showing on the back. Steam as you go. I like to use pins to hold it in place. Pins and steam (lots of steam) are the key here. Work little-by-little and take your time.

Flip the triangle to the back and use a blunt instrument like a chopstick or a point turning tool to help smooth out the corner. Don’t use scissors or anything sharp that could cut or punch a hole in the corner. Steam it in place and pin.

Stitch the facing to the back

of the quilt by hand. Make sure your stitches do NOT go through to the front of the quilt.

Finished!

It takes a lot of words and pictures to explain, but it really does go quickly. And doing it on the frame is way easier for larger quilts.

Hope you give it a try and let us know how you like facing on the longarm.

About the quilt: this was a piece I painted in a virtual class with Helen Godden from Australia,  then quilted on my HQ Infinity. I free motion quilted the sunflowers and the tiny matchstick quilting was done with a ruler. The background was done with Pro-Stitcher. I really prefer facings on art quilts like this.

By Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Tips – Binding

Last week’s post explained how to stitch binding to the front of the quilt while the quilt is still loaded on the frame. You can read it here.  This week, I’d like to add a few extra tips when it comes to binding on the longarm frame.

Finish the last few inches at your domestic machine

Most of the time, I do not overlap the ends of the binding strip, the way I explained last week. I stop stitching about 12 inches before I get to the place where I started. I have tails of binding both at the beginning and at the end. I take the quilt and finish that last 12 inches at my HQ Stitch 510 machine. I prefer to machine stitch the ends of the binding together and then stitch the joined binding to the quilt. This results in less handwork.

HQ Stitch 510 sewing machine

IF you like a wider binding

I find I prefer a slightly winder binding than 1/4 inch. So I use my HQ Echo feet, specifically, the 3/8 inch foot (the one in the middle). It gives me the look I’m going for and keeps my binding size consistent. Win-win! Experiment with the other sizes of Echo Feet and the 1/2 inch size Square Foot.

HQ Echo Feet

Be sure to make the decision about the size of the binding while you are piecing the top! It helps to allow the extra fabric on the quilt top edges to accommodate the extra-wide binding. You can still do a wider binding at the last minute but it is a little more challenging to get it nice and straight.

Faux piped binding

I love the look of piped binding

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

But I don’t like the extra work involved in creating the real thing. That’s why this quilt doesn’t have piped binding. It has yarn couched in the ditch between the quilt and the binding!

I use my HQ Couching Feet set.

HQ couching feet set

The size I choose depends on the yarn I am using for the piping. I mostly use a smaller yarn and the small couching foot for piped bindings.

Once the binding has been stitched to the front of the quilt on the frame, I pull the binding aside (away from the quilt). You can even pin it back if you wish. Then I couch the yarn right in the ditch, working my way all the way around the quilt.

Pro tip:

Take a couple of extra stitches in the corners to make it secure.

Slightly, no more than 1/2 inch, overlap the ends of the yarn. Trim the tails right at the surface of the quilt.

Super fast and easy and looks like the real thing! Don’t tell anyone how easy this is. Let’s keep it our little secret!

quilt with couched binding

Friendship Fanfare by Mary Beth Krapil

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Apply binding on the longarm

I’m willing to bet 9 out of 10 of you bought your longarm machine because you were not happy wrestling that large quilt through your domestic machine to do the quilting. Am I right? We solved one problem. But, then what do we do? We finish the beautiful quilting on our longarm, then take the quilt off the frame and wrestle that large quilt through our domestic machine to apply the binding. Let me ask, does that make any sense? I am going to share a little tutorial on how to apply binding on the longarm. Sewing the binding to the front of the quilt, while the quilt is still on the frame. It is quick and easy! The only tool you will need is a straight longarm ruler. I also use my HQ Square foot which makes the whole process much easier.

Apply binding on the longarm

Along the way I am going to mention some different options you have for doing some of the steps. I suggest you try them all and see what works best for you.

Prepare your binding

Prepare your double fold binding as you normally would, at the width that you prefer, whether you use bias binding or straight grain binding. The binding needs to be at least 12-18 inches longer than the perimeter of the quilt top.
Tip: use a bit of spray starch, applying the starch to the wrong side of the binding as you press it in half, it acts like a glue that keeps the two sides of the binding firmly together and prevents the sides from shifting or separating during the application process.
Now you need to choose whether you will complete the entire binding on the frame or whether you will leave the last 10 or so inches to complete on your domestic machine.
  • complete the entire binding on the frame
    • open one end of the binding and cut on a 45 degree angle
    • press in a quarter inch fold on the end you just cut
    • press the binding back in half
    • Open binding and cut at a 45 degree angle
    • press in 1/4 inch fold
    • re-press in half
    • complete the binding on the domestic
      • no special prep required

    Applying binding after all quilting is complete.

    Quilt as you normally would, but do not remove the quilt from the frame. Be sure to baste the bottom edge of the quilt and remove from the leader if you had it attached.

    You will start on the right side about 10 inches up from the bottom corner (or as much as your throat space allows). Leave a 6-8 inch tail loose. If you are finishing completely on the frame start with the end you cut at an angle. Place the binding so that the raw edge of the binding lines up with the raw edge of the quilt. There are a few methods you can choose from:

    Using a Ruler

    • I like to use a ruler with tabs like the HQ Ditch Ruler or the HQ Mini Scallop ruler. The straight side of the HQ Versa Tool ruler works as well, although it is shorter than the other two. This holds the binding in place as you sew along the ruler edge.
      • Align the ruler at the raw edge of the quilt.  Place HQ Square foot against the ruler.
      • Make a few locking stitches and stitch ¼ inch away from the edge of the quilt along the ruler.
      • When you come to the lower right corner, position the ruler so that the inside of the tab is at the raw edge on the bottom of the quilt. Stop stitching ¼ inch from the bottom edge, or when the foot touches the ruler tab. Do a few locking stitches.
      • Do The Fold
      • – fold the binding to the right at a 90 degree angle to the right side of the quilt, aligning the raw edge of the binding with the bottom edge of the quilt. Finger press the mitered fold. Then fold the binding back on it self to the left, with the fold lined up with the right edge of the quilt. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the bottom of the quilt.
      • Position your needle just off the fold, ¼ inch away from the bottom edge of the quilt. Make a few locking stitches and continue to stitch across the bottom of the quilt. When you come to ¼ inch from the left side of the quilt, tie off with locking stitches and repeat the fold. These photos show “Doing the Fold” at the bottom left corner and the top left corner of the quilt.
      • Ruler in place at the lower left edge. Note the placement of the tab.

         

        First fold at lower left corner

         

        Second fold at lower left corner

         

        Positioning foot

         

        Staring to stitch up left side

         

        First fold at top left corner

         

        Second fold at top left corner

         

      • Proceed in this manor stitching up the left side and across the top and down the right side. As you stitch up (or down) the sides, when you need to roll, leave the needle down in the quilt and very carefully and slowly roll the quilt. That way you can stitch a continuous seam.
      • As you stitch down the right side of the quilt, stop your stitching line approx 10 inches away from where you began, leaving the ends of the binding to be finished.
      • Remove the quilt from the frame and finish the binding on your domestic machine, attaching the ends of the binding with your favorite method.
      • Trim away excess backing and batting and the binding is now ready to be turned to the back side and stitched down either by hand or by machine, whatever is your preference.
    • If you prefer to finish the entire binding on the frame:
      • when you come close to where you started on the right side, smooth the beginning binding strip up in place and cut the ending binding about 1 inch past the miter on the beginning strip.
      • Tuck the raw end inside the mitered beginning strip. Then complete the stitching. The turned under edge on the binding will have to be hand stitched to keep the binding joined.
      • Now you can remove the quilt and trim the excess backing and batting. You are ready to turn the binding to the back and stitch.

    Free Motion

    • Just stitch down the binding keeping the edge of the hopping foot at the edge of the quilt. Be sure the binding stays smooth and be careful not to stretch the binding as you work. Hold the binding in place with one hand as you move your machine with the other hand. This is the best method for not-so-straight-or-square quilts where you will have to make adjustments and follow the edge of the quilt.

    Channel Lock

    • Channel lock really works well if the quilt is straight and square. Use the channel locks in place of the ruler. Once again, use one hand to hold binding in place and other hand to move the machine.

    I love to apply binding on the longarm! Wasn’t it easy?

    by Mary Beth Krapil

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