Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Desperado - Ready for my long-arm quilter!

I am not sure that I am exactly friends with this quilt top right now, but it is finished! Seriously though, I really do love it. It is perfect, perfect, perfect for the person for whom I made it for. It is about 57X75, but I haven't taken a measurement so that isn't set in stone. In anycase, whatever the size, it is finished, finito, fertig and that makes me happy, happy, happy! Or at least, my part is done - now it gets sent on to my long arm quilter.

Problems? Not too bad - I already wrote about putting together the initial blocks and pattern source, so onto the setting... The only changes I made was to add an extra row for additional length and also the orange-y border is 1/2" wider than called for to better showcase the fabric I used.

As a side note: The seams were fairly bulky where all the points met sewing the blocks into rows, so I ironed those seams open - it will help out in the quilting process. The seams joining the actual rows together I pressed to the side, as pressing to the side is my usual preference.

OK, I "squared" up the rectangle blocks by trimming 1/4" from the point edges. This way, almost every single point stayed fully in tact when the blocks were sewn together. So, no, I didn't measure each block to an exact measurement on purpose - can we all say... ease! Not too much easing, but anytime you ease blocks together you better believe your outside edge isn't going to be perfectly flat.

So, of course the orange-y border was a bit wavy (but not too bad and I was expecting that) and then I added a 5.5" border to that. Can we all say... ease, one more time!! Adding a wide border to an already wavy edge only makes matters worse! This is the technique I use for easing -

1. The longer piece goes against the feed dogs of your machine. The feed dog will "help" hold the longer piece while you pull the top piece as you sew along. How much of a "help" is subjective to how much you need to ease! So figure out what side goes against the feed dog before you start pinning!

2. Pin the first part normally. Nice and flat. About 1/4 of the way down start your easing. You want the ease to be from 1/4 of the top to almost the 3/4 point of the top length. So - think - ease through the middle. This will keep your outside corners - well corners! By easing through the middle, if you need to extend it a bit into the last 1/4 of the top, you still have room to do your easing. If you have to do lots of easing, pull the bottom fabric taunt with both your hands before and after the pressure foot to help feed the fabric through. This would be the part where the feed dog needs a bit of help from you!

3. Use a bit bigger of a seam. Using a bigger seam allowance will give the fabric a place to ease into. I learned this from... private tailoring lessons, plus a garmet contruction course at college. It is like setting in a sleeve. I couldn't use a bigger seam with the orange border because I would have chopped points, hence the extra easing needed on the green border. I am not talking a huge seam here, just about a smidge under 1/8" bigger than the 1/4" seam you already use.

OK, so can you tell I had to use all 3 of the above steps - just a bit? But, I am almost positive that the final top is now square and lies flat - which was my goal! I've said it before, but it bears repeating - you want your top be be as flat as possible before quilting - your long arm quilter will thank you and you will be much happier with your finished quilt!


Finn said...

It's a pretty quilt Evelyn...and I do sense that you are glad to be done with it...LOL..I know the feeling well. Can we say "Aunt Gracies" without gagging? LOL..yup!

Great job on the tutorial for your borders also, good information to have

Samantha said...

Hooray for easing!

It looks fantastic (I saw the photo in the next post). Great job, and now, guilt free on to something you'll enjoy more!

JudyL said...

Looks great! Glad you got the borders to work, even if it was a hassle.

Show us a picture after it's quilted, ok?

Judy L.