finishing quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Free Motion Quilting For Beginners – Backtrack Spiral

Last week we got started with the spiral, hook or swirl shape. This week we will talk about another kind of spiral. I call it the backtrack spiral. Instead of spiraling in, and then splitting the path you created to spiral out, you will backtrack spiral back out. Or in other words, you will stitch directly on top of the stitching you just did, only in the opposite direction. They look like this:

You start on the left and spiral in.

Then backtrack to spiral back out.

As you are backtracking, you can leave this spiral and start a new spiral.

The new spiral can swirl in the same direction.

Or it can swirl in the opposite direction.

Here’s an example where I took off from the backtracking in a different place.

I find this backtrack spiral to be easier to quilt than the spiral we did last week.

Wait, what?

woman questioning

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

I know, right?  Backtracking is not easy. But with these backtrack spirals, if you don’t backtrack perfectly, they still look great.

Sometimes, when you change direction at the end of your spiraling in, you’ll get a little loop. I think that looks cute!

And you might not hit your backtracking at all.

As long as you are close, it still looks good. You can use these backtrack spirals as an opportunity to practice your backtracking skills.

All over or edge-to-edge quilting

all over backtrack spiral

 

Notice it’s not perfect but it still looks great quilted! The great thing about these spirals is that it is super easy to fill in any space on the quilt. You can start a new spiral wherever you need and you can make them different sizes. Not only does that make it easy to fill in spaces, it also adds interest to the design.

Borders

All in one direction.

If you look close you see the next spiral starts at about 5 o’clock. (red dots)

Keeping that in mind helps to keep the spirals consistent.

 

Or alternate direction of the swirls

 

alternating spiral border

For alternating spirals I like to try to start the next spiral at 3 o’clock-ish. (red dots)

Remember mantras? This is a good design to use a mantra to help keep the alternation going.

My mantra is: “up and over, down and around.”  I start with stitching up and over the top of the first spiral. Then I backtrack  to 3 o’clock and reverse direction, to go down and around the next spiral. Backtrack to 3 o’clock and go up and over. Rinse and repeat. (don’t rinse, just repeat).

If you have been keeping up with your 15 minutes of practice each day, you deserve a sticker!

free motion fabulous sticker

Happy quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Spirals

Moving on in our series on free motion quilting this week to our next shape, spirals (or hooks). We can really have some fun with this shape. It works for so many quilts. Like a meander, depending on the scale you choose, it can create a fabulous all over edge-to-edge quilting design or a fantastic background fill. Spirals can be used in blocks and borders too. And they are great combined with other shapes to create gorgeous designs.

 

swirl line drawing

Looking good

Let’s think about what makes a spiral look good. That way, we will know what to strive for when we quilt them.

Round

When you look at this shape can you see why it was so important to practice stitching those circles? Spirals really look best when they are round.

Pro tip: If it has been a while since you quilted circles or round shapes, you can always go back to that practice fabric.

fabric with baseballs

Do your 15 minutes today quilting around the circle shapes to refresh your muscle memory. Be like the major league baseball pitcher and warm up in the bull pen.

baseball pitcher

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Consistent gaps

Spirals look really good when the gaps between the stitching lines are consistent.

Don’t get discouraged looking at these images. We are doing free motion quilting, not computerized quilting. What you stitch won’t ever be flawlessly perfect. And that’s perfectly OK.

That’s all you have to remember when stitching spirals. Round and consistent gaps. That’s it.

Getting started with spirals

Lets take it step by step.

Stitch a hook.

line drawing of hook with directional arrows

Continue on spiraling in a little.

Then turn around

Now follow the yellow brick road.

Split the path you created to go back out.

Continue by echoing around what you already quilted.

And you’ve got a spiral!

Using spirals

Fill a space, whether a block or a whole quilt.

When you hit an obstacle, like a seam line or another spiral, do some stitch-in-the-ditch or over-stitching to travel to where you want your next line of stitching. Sometimes you will have to imagine the path of your spiral outside of your boundary so that you will know where to pick up and continue the spiraling.

This may be enough for you to practice in your 15 minutes a day this week. We’ll pick up from here next week to explore more ways to spiral out of control!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Free motion quilting for beginners – Start from the beginning

We have come a long way from the beginning of this series about free motion quilting. I sure hope you have learned a thing or two along the way. Are you keeping up with your everyday quilting play? I hope that it becomes a life-long habit.

Previous Posts

I’ve heard from several folks who have joined us along the way and missed out on the earlier posts. The list of previous blog posts, shown on the right side of the page, only goes back 5 posts. So I’m going to post some links to previous posts in the series in case you’d like to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Bonus points if you are singing the song now. Let me know in the comments.

Here they are. You’ll find the first post at the very bottom.

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Stipple

click here

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – For Real

click here

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Getting Loopy

click here

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Curvy Designs

click here

big flower design

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – the Secret to Curves

click here

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Muscle

click here

photo of tracing a quilting design

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Putting it Together – Straight

https://handiquilter.com/free-motion-putting-it-together/

click here

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners, Theory

click here

curve quilting

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Part 1 (this one is the beginning)

click here

woman making a promise

Check them out! If for nothing else than to see what that picture has to do with quilting.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Advanced Meander

Last time we talked about the ubiquitous stipple. I said if the stipple is larger, we often call it a meander. Meander works for quilting entire quilts, edge-to-edge style. It creates good texture, holds the 3 layers together well and is fast and easy. On some quilts it is the perfect choice because the fabrics or piecing carry the design. Like this adorable license plate quilt made by my good friend, Jean Chapman. Jean quilted it on her HQ Sweet Sixteen, stationary machine with an edge-to-edge meander.

License plate quilt by Jean Chapman of North Carolina

detail of license plate quilt

But it can be boring.

When I first started longarm quilting, I started doing an all-over meander on my quilts. I was self-taught and I thought that was where everyone started. I soon became bored and wanted to branch out and do some other designs I had seen. (the truth is, I showed my friends yet another quilt I had finished and they all said in unison,” You NEED to learn a new design.”) The problem was, I didn’t have the skill I needed yet.

Now that you have some experience with meander, I want to share some ideas about how you can stretch and do some designs that look more special on your quilt. But these don’t take a heap more skill than a simple meander takes. So you will be very successful!

Ribbon

Start with a meander.

As far as size goes, think about how dense you want the quilting to be. If it’s a quilt that will be used on a bed or snuggled with on the couch, choose a loose density. For example a softball sized meander. For Ribbon quilting I start with a meander a little larger than I would normally choose, because I’m going to add more stitching.  Stitch this meander (as  much as you can  within the exposed throat space).

When you get to the end, reverse direction and echo your original stitched line, crossing over every now and then. Like this red line:

When you’re done it looks like a floating ribbon that’s swirling, twisting and turning.

Pro Tip: I find that it looks best when you try to cross over on the “sides” rather than at the top of the hill or bottom of the valley. Crossovers are shown in the yellow circles:

 

Get creative

Now just let your imagination take over and let’s come up with some new designs. What if we quilt a meander, then reverse and quilt a simple shape just next to it on the way back?

 

Here’s one with simple C shapes.

You could also reverse again and put C shapes on the other side of the meander too! Or try stitching the C’s in the opposite orientation.

Change it up and use straight lines that cross over your meander.

What if you just mark the meander with a removable marker and stitch the zig-zag?

Looks complicated doesn’t it? Shhh! Don’t tell anyone how easy it was!

Play time

What can you come up with? A good starting point for ideas are those 5 basic shapes.

Remember L’s and E’s?

Many of the designs in this post were inspired by phenomenal quilter and Handi Quilter educator, Megan Best. For more inspiration check out her book, Spinal Twist.  You can find it in digital format on her website.

Add your photos to the comments on this post to share with our Free Motion community. The more the merrier!

Who knew that simple meander could be so much fun?

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Getting Loopy

Back for more free-motion quilting this week! It’s time to try our hand at loops. I think that loopy designs are the most forgiving and the easiest to quilt. Often times with other shapes we have to try really hard to make the shapes uniform in size and proportion in order to make the quilting look its best. With loops, even if they are different sizes and some are round and some are tall and skinny, they still look good. Unlike a stipple, where you cannot cross lines, with loops you have to cross the lines! The motion to create loops is very smooth and easy-going. So let’s just dive right in and get loopy.

Loopy Meander

This is the easiest free-motion design to quilt in my book. Just start making loops. Make them go in all different directions. Fill up any space with loops.

loopy meander quilting design

Notice how they are pointing in all different directions and some are large and some are smaller and some are round and fat and some are more oval shaped? Easy! Oh, but there is one thing you do need to pay attention to when you quilt a loopy meander. To make your quilts look their best, no matter what design you are quilting, you want an even distribution of texture.

Even distribution of texture

What does that even mean?!!

It means you want the quilting lines in the design to be approximately, evenly spaced apart. In other words, you don’t want a bunch of loops really close together and then a big space and then some more loops.

If I fill the same space as the first example with loops like this, it will not look good on a quilt. The tightly spaced loops in the upper left will make the quilt flatten out. There will be poofy-ness in the big open space where there are no loops. This will cause the quilt to be lumpy. Lumpiness is never attractive. You don’t want lumpy gravy, you don’t want lumpy thighs and you don’t want lumpy quilts.

Achieve even distribution of texture by spacing your loops approximately the same distance apart and don’t leave any large gaps where there are no loops. How do you do that? Use The Secret. Remember the secret? Look ahead. And plan where you will go next. Practice this every day (15 minutes!). Draw a shape (square, rectangle, triangle) on your fabric and fill it with loops. Draw another and fill it with loops. The more you do it, the better you will get at looking ahead, planning your next move and filling the shape without any gaps and getting an even distribution of texture.

Advanced practice: draw a shape and then draw another shape within the first one. Like a heart within a square. Quilt around the inside shape but not over it.

This example is a stipple, but you get the idea. We will get to stipple quilting soon.

Simple loopy border design

You can quilt loops all in a row for a very fast and easy border design.

It works great for smaller borders and for sashings. You see I alternated the direction of the loops, mostly, but every now and then I threw in two loops in the same direction. I’m going to say I did this on purpose, to create interest. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉

Well, just maybe, I got distracted when I was quilting that loopy border and forgot to alternate direction. So I fixed my mistake by doing it again every so often to make it look like it was intentional.

Pro-tip: If you make a mistake, do it 3 more times and then it becomes a design choice.

Mantras

That brings me to the topic of mantras.

Mantra is defined by dictionary.com as a word or phrase chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer; or an often repeated word, formula, or phrase.

In quilting, I use mantras when I am quilting a pattern that repeats regularly to help me keep the pattern going. Like the loopy border design.

One loop goes up

and one goes down

So if I am quilting a loopy border horizontally I will say, out loud, “Up….Down…..Up…..Down…..”

If I’m quilting the side borders vertically I will say, out loud,

“Right…..Left…..Right…..Left”

It keeps me in the pattern. Otherwise, if I don’t say the mantra, my mind starts to wander and I’m thinking about what to have for dinner or how many yards of backing fabric I need to buy for the top I just finished or…., well you get the picture. And when my mind wanders, I end up with 3 or 5 UP loops and no DOWN loops. 🙁

Notice that I say the mantra out loud. If I only think the mantra, saying it in my head, I will still wander off.

Thinking it might work for you. You’ll have to try it and see. That way, your friends and family will not think you are weird when you are shouting, “up..down..up..”

L’s and E’s

Moving on to a little more challenging loopy design know as L’s and E’s. It’s a simple design that is just like writing cursive lower case l’s and e’s. It is a go-to design that you’ll find yourself using over and over.

Simple loops all going in the same direction. One loop is tall (the L) and one loop is shorter (the E). Sounds easy, right? This is a design that I really need to sing a mantra for.

L ….. E ….. L ….. E ….. L ….. E

It’s so easy to get distracted quilting this pattern because it is so easy to quilt. And it doesn’t look that good with 3 L’s in a row.  So use the mantra and you’ll do fine.

Here are a few hints to make the design look more professional.

Pitfall: slanted loopy letters

Because this is so similar to cursive writing, we all have a tendency to slant the letters just like we were taught to do when writing.

But for quilting, the design looks best when the L’s and E’s are straight up and down.

So a trick you can use is to quilt over a grid.

You can mark the grid on your quilt with a ruler and removable marker or use a grid stencil. The vertical grid lines help to keep my letters straight up and down.

Pitfall: different sizes of L’s and E’s

If your L’s are not all close to the same size and your E’s are not shorter than your L’s it blurs the beauty of the design.

The grid helps with this as well.

The horizontal grid lines help to keep my tall L’s all the same height and my short E’s all the same. I just touch the tops of the loops to the appropriate horizontal grid line.

Pitfall: Uneven spacing

I like to stitch my letters on the grid lines. (Another way is to stitch your letters in the grid spaces.) If I put a letter on each line, my letters stay evenly spaced. I achieve an even distribution of texture!  That makes me happy and my quilt beautiful!

When I’m done quilting I remove the grid markings and my design looks great!

Advanced practice: Stitch a line of L’s and E’s and then under it stitch another line that is flipped. Like this:

Isn’t that pretty?

 

That’s plenty for you to practice this week. We will certainly learn more loopy designs in the future.

Have fun quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Curvy Designs

Now that you are very comfortable stitching curves, you’re ready to learn some curvy designs. We will put those curves to good use quilting designs you’ll use over and over.

Block Designs

Let’s start with some simple block designs.

Here’s the block we will quilt:

block

Continuous Curve

And here’s the design:

Notice that it is just 4 simple arcs or C-shapes or curves.  Here is what the design looks like on the block:

This design is known as Continuous Curve.

You will use the skills you gained from last week’s practice. Quilting nice round curves and using The Secret.

Start in the upper left corner of the block. Can you figure out where your goals will be on this block?

That’s right! you will use the intersecting seam lines of the piecing for your goals. If it helps, you can mark those spots with chalk or your favorite removable marker. I like to use the Handi Iron-Off Pencils. The marks easily iron away when you’re done quilting. If I’m quilting on white fabrics my go-to is Dritz Mark-be-Gone water soluble pens. Be sure to test any marking tool you use on your fabrics to be sure they will come out.

So, start in the upper left corner of the block and quilt a nice curve to your goal. The next goal is the upper right corner.

Then quilt the next curve moving clockwise around the block, as shown. You end up back where you started.

If you want to practice this design you will have to draw a block on your plain practice fabric. Simply use a small, square rotary cutting ruler and a pen or marker. Then add dots for your goals.

After quilting a few of these, try simply quilting a curve from corner to corner around the block without the dots as helpers.

Orange Peel

Let’s try another one. It’s called Orange Peel. Notice that the curves all meet in the center of the block.

Start in the upper left corner. Your goal is the center of the block.  Then to the upper right corner

– to the center – to the lower right corner – to the center – to the lower left – to the center – and back to the upper left corner.

 

Both Continuous Curve and Orange Peel can be used in many ways and we will explore those in the future. For now we will stick to blocks.

Big Flower

big flower design

This one  is much more freeing. There are no guidelines or goals to worry about. It fills any block with quilting and can be used anywhere. A good design to have in your stash!

Start with a “kind-of” circle in the center, but don’t close it. Leave it open.

Add some arcs or C-shapes around the center shape. Any size you like, and as many as it takes to go around the center.

Then keep going in a spiral, adding more arcs around your previous arcs until you have filled the space you need to fill.

Have fun with this one! You can make it as big as you like.

Happy (Practice) Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Muscle

I hope you had some fun trying out those straight line designs from last week. They will become some of your favorite go-to’s when you’re deciding how to quilt lots of tops. As you practice you are developing muscle.

photo by Alora Griffiths

No, not that kind of muscle!  Muscle memory.

Is muscle memory a thing?

You bet it is! When you practice a new skill over and over, your brain (not really your muscles) learns to perform the task without really thinking. There is a bit of muscle component too, but it’s mostly brain.

photo by Fakurian Design

How do I get muscle memory?

Some of the best advice I received as a new quilter was to pick a couple of designs and get really good at them. Then you will have a way to quilt any quilt with confidence. By now, I think you know the way to get really good at something. Practice. And practice EVERYDAY. It’s what will develop that all-important muscle memory.

Remember your promise?

But here’s something to think about: you want to develop good muscle memory, not mediocre muscle memory, and certainly not poor muscle memory. By that I mean you want to train your brain and muscles to execute a really excellent version of the design you are learning.

An Olympic track athlete doesn’t train by slowly strolling around the track. They run fast. They train the way they want to perform in the real race.  And they pay attention to every nuance of their body and movements. They discover what makes them faster and what slows them down through experimenting with different techniques.

Training with the good stuff

You want to quilt like an Olympian. So you need to learn the design the way you want it to look on your show-stopping quilt!

All you need is a really good example of the design you want to learn. You might find it in a book of quilting designs.

Books of quilting designs

page from Quilting Dot to Dot by Cheryl Barnes

Or on a quilt you see at a show or a sample in a quilt shop. Take a photo. Get a close-up of the quilting design!

If you take a class, often times the teacher will provide handout notes with drawings of designs. Score!

You might find a design you like in a magazine.

from Quiltmaker Magazine Nov/Dec ’10

You’ll need a plastic page protector or piece of clear plastic that you can write on with a dry erase marker. If you are using a design from a book, place the plastic over the design.

Then trace the design with your dry erase marker.

Pro Tip:

Keep your elbow up off the table to help with the muscle memory development.

Erase and trace again. And again.

Pro Tip

Use a small scrap of batting to erase the marker. Paper towel will cause dry erase ink to “flake” off.  If those flakes get on your clothing or upholstery it will leave a permanent mark. The batting absorbs the ink with no flaking.

Another method is to make a copy of the design and slip that copy inside your plastic page protector.

Once you feel confident with the path of the design, remove the image and try drawing the design on your own. If you’re happy with the results, move on to your machine and practice fabric to try stitching.  If you don’t quite have the hang of it yet, keep tracing.

Notice the details

Just like the Olympian track star, pay attention to the small things. Like how the curves of your design are really very round. Or how the angles come to a sharp point over there. Or how the space between the lines is about 1/2 inch here, but only a 1/4 inch there.

Basic shapes

And pick out those basic shapes to make it easy.

You already know how to quilt all of the shapes. You just need practice in putting them together in different ways.

Next week we will explore designs made with curves.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Putting it Together – Straight

So, you’ve been practicing quilting those five basic shapes in all different orientations. Now it’s time to start putting it together into free motion designs, basic ones that are fun to use on quilts. We will start with straight lines.

Putting it together – Straight lines

Modern quilters love straight line quilting. So do traditional quilters. You really can’t go wrong with straight lines. Here are some super useful straight line design ideas you’ll use over and over again.

Piano Keys

Piano keys is probably the #1 most useful quilting design ever. I use it on almost every quilt somewhere.

Piano keys are most often used in long narrow sections of a quilt such as borders or sashings. There are a gazillion variations of piano key designs. If you don’t believe me, just Google it or search on Pinterest.

When quilting piano keys, the straight line quilting usually goes perpendicular to the edge of the border and the lines are, usually, evenly spaced apart.

Pro tip: An advantage to the piano key design is that it takes up fullness in a border.

The basic piano key looks like this:

and is stitched like this:

 

You can vary the spacing like this:

This design is sometimes referred to as Beadboard.

And you can double or even triple stitch your straight lines. Like this:

Or you can even try slanted straight lines, like this narrow border at the top and on the left:

Keeping straight

You might notice that my straight line quilting is very straight. That’s because I use a longarm quilting ruler to guide my hopping foot as I quilt. It’s kind of like using a ruler and a pencil to draw a straight line on paper. The pencil is my needle. My ruler keeps my lines straight.

Another way of achieving straight lines is to use channel locks for straight horizontal and straight vertical lines. There are two options for channel locks, Electromagnetic Channel locks and wheel-lock type channel locks. Both work great!

We will delve into ruler work quilting in future blog posts. For now, just know that you can accomplish these straight lines with simple free motion. They will be straight-ish. And that’s OK!

Pro Tip: Give yourself guidelines to keep your piano keys spaced the way you want them. A simple way to do that is to use a ruler and chalk to mark the intervals. For example: put a little dot of chalk every 1/2 inch along the edge of the border. Then stitch a straight line at each mark. Travel along the edge of the border, don’t break thread in between. You might even mark the piano keys with chalk. That will help keep you going straight and keep your keys standing up straight like soldiers.

Bricks

Bricks is a fun design that’s easy to quilt. And it quilts fast!

(Note: the green circle is the start and the red circle is the end in all the examples.)

Start at the left side of the first row of bricks. Stitch the bricks in rows. I stitched up – right – down – up -right – down- up -right etc. When you’re ready, start the next row and stitch it right to left. Be sure to alternate the spaces between the bricks in subsequent rows, so it looks like real bricks. Keep going in rows til your space is filled.

You can use Bricks as an all-over design, as a background filler, even as a border. It just depends on the size you make your bricks.

Stars

Stars can be used in blocks or connected by loops or a meander for an all-over design.

Two kinds of stars are pretty easy to stitch.

Teacher’s Stars

Remember back in grade school your teacher would put a big star on your paper if you did a good job? These are the easiest stars to draw and stitch. Here is the path you take:

Remember to pause in the points (go back here and read the Pro tip) to get nice sharp star points.

This star has quilting lines in its center. If you prefer an

Open Star

it’s a little harder to draw and quilt. But I have some tips for you to make it easier.

Start with a Witch’s Hat like this:

That’s not too hard. Then imagine another Witch’s Hat that overlaps the first. Like this:

Then you only have to stitch the V-shape (circled)

Visualizing the witch’s hat helps to get the correct angle on the lines so that your star comes out looking nice. Note that the left and right “brims” are on the same plane. They form a straight line and the “peak” of the hat is an upside down V-shape right in the middle.

Then just add 2 more star points using the witch’s hat visualization trick and you’ve got a beautiful open star!

This open star is a design you might want to practice drawing on paper until it becomes natural for you. Then go to the machine to quilt it.

Here are a couple more straight line designs that you can practice this week. I know you can figure out the path pretty easily.

Pro tip:  When quilting designs like these, they look best when the spacing between the quilting lines is similar. They don’t have to be exact, but similar. It helps to create nice even texture on your quilt. Use the edge of your hopping foot to give 1/4 inch spacing. Ride the edge of the hopping foot along the previously quilted line.

Greek Key

Squared Spiral

Have fun giving these designs a try! How’s that 15 minutes a day working for you? Are you being faithful? I’m watching you!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

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

 

 

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