Turning the quilt to quilt the side borders is a great technique that’s used by most accomplished quilters. It is definitely the best way when you are using robotic quilting like Pro-Stitcher, if you are really into accuracy (like me). It’s also a good technique for free motion quilters. Quilting a border all in one go is just easier. Not to mention all the stops and starts you’d have along the sides if you don’t turn.
What am I talking about you ask?
Imagine this scenario: You decide to quilt the borders of the quilt differently than the rest of the quilt with a continuous design. An example of this might be a quilt with a feather vine along the border.
Or a border that does not turn the corners, like this one.
You quilt the top border all the way across and it turns out beautiful. But only a small portion of the side borders are showing in your throat space. If you quilt the side borders as you work your way through the quilt, you have to figure out a way to divide them up into manageable pieces that fit in your throat space. This is called “chunking the border”.
You will have to have tie-offs at each section. Tie-offs can sometimes be visible unless you knot and bury the tails. Visible tie-offs are not good. Knotting and burying takes lots of time, also not good! So how do you solve this problem? Turning the quilt!
Start by basting the top and sides raw edges within your first throat space. Whenever I quilt a separate design in the border, I will stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between the border and the body of the quilt. It makes a great difference in the look of the finished quilt and is well worth your time and effort. Stitch-in-the-ditch across the top seam and as far down on both side seams as you can go.
Quilt the top border. Don’t quilt the side borders, just the top. Baste the side borders. Either with long basting stitches or with pins placed horizontally.
Then quilt the interior of the the quilt (as much as you can within the throat space).
I usually use pins unless the border is very wide. Be SURE to place the pins horizontally. This allows the pins to roll around the take-up pole without bending.
Advance the quilt, baste the side raw edges and stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between border and body as much as you can in that next throat space. Baste the borders. Quilt the interior.
Continue in this manner til you reach the bottom of the quilt.
In the last throat space, baste the sides and bottom raw edges. SID (Stitch-in-the-ditch). Then quilt the bottom border. Baste the side borders. Quilt the interior of the quilt.
Now everything is quilted except the side borders. They are basted in place.
Tips for turning successfully
Remove the quilt from the frame. Trim all excess batting away from the quilt top. Be careful not to cut the backing.
Handi Batting Scissors are ideal for this job. Trim all four sides.
Measure the excess backing fabric from the edge of the quilt top on both un-quilted sides. Trim if needed so that it is even all the way across.
Attach one of the sides to the take-up leader. I pin to my leaders. Use whatever method you are comfortable with. Do NOT pin the other end to the backing bar. Drape the quilt over the backing bar and clamp in place with HQ Super Clamps.
Notice that I have not removed my basting pins. Wait until you are ready to quilt!
Remove your basting (pins or stitches) and quilt this border.
Then remove the quilt from the frame and turn 180 degrees. Attach the other border to the take-up leader. Secure the quilt to the backing bar. Remove your basting and quilt the final border.
Your side borders are quilted perfectly! With no stops and starts! All in one go!
I hope you give this a try. You’ll find it does not take any more time than chunking the border as-you-go and you will get much better results! If you do, let us know what you think of turning the quilt in the comments.
by Mary Beth Krapil
P.S. The designs you see on the patriotic quilt are available on Quiltable.com!