Friday, January 30, 2015

Prairie Point Part 4–Trimming and finishing the back


This is the fourth installment of the Prairie Point Tutorial series.


Here is my little sample quilt, all quilted and with prairie points sewn on.  I think it could be cute just like this, with the points pointing in, in which case I would just add binding to finish the edges.  However, I want my points to point outwards and be the finished edge so there’s more work to do.


Next I need to trim the backing and batting, but I can’t just wield the rotary cutter and trim everything flush with the edge of the quilt top.  I need the backing 1/4” larger than the top all around, and the batting 1/4” smaller than the top, all around.

1. Trimming the batting and backing


Step 1.  Fold the backing out of the way, well away from the edge of the quilt top so you can trim the batting without cutting the backing. You can pin to keep it out of the way if you wish. Carefully turn the quilt right side up, making sure to keep that backing folded back.


Step 2. With a rotary cutter and ruler, trim the batting even with the top.


Step 3. Still keeping the backing out of the way, fold the top out of the way.  Pin to keep it out of the way if necessary. Trim 1/4” off the batting (photo on left).  (If you fold unfold the top and flip the quilt over now, right side down, you’ll see that the batting is now a tidy 1/4” less than the quilt top (photo on right)).


Step 4.  With the quilt facing up, unfold the backing. Trim it 1/4” larger than the quilt top.  This will give you 1/2” of fabric to work with when you fold the backing edges under later, in section 4.

(Note: If you don’t mind fiddling with turning edges under just 1/4” in section 4, you can trim the backing even with the quilt top at the same time as you trim the batting even in step 2 above.  Just remember to fold the backing out of the way before you trim the batting that extra 1/4”.)


Step 5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for each side of the quilt to trim all sides.


2.  Folding out the prairie points.


Step 1.  Trim the tails of the points (but not the backing!) on the corners, being careful not to snip the stitching (photo on left).  This will let the points tuck up nicely side by side at the corner when you flip the points out (photo on right).


Step 2.  Flip the points so they point away from the quilt.  The seam allowance should tuck over the trimmed edge of the batting, encasing it. 



I like to press the seam allowance to help it stay flat.

3. Fold backing edges


Step 3.  With the quilt facing up, fold the backing down 1/2” along an entire side. Press.  Fold the corner at a 45 degree angle, then fold the next side down 1/2” as well, forming a crisp mitered corner.  Press and pin if you need to.


Above you see what the corner looks like from the back of the quilt.  Continue folding the edge of the backing, mitering the corners, all around the quilt.


Here’s the back of my quilt with the backing all folded in properly.  You can pin it in place if you wish, though the quilting on most of the quilt and the pressing of the folded backing keep things pretty much where they need to be.

4. Stitching the backing to the prairie points


You can see in the picture above that the folded edge of the backing just covers the line of stitching attaching the points to the quilt top.  Hand stitch the backing to the prairie points using whatever stitch you usually use to sew binding to the back of a quilt.  I like to use the ladder stitch.


Step 1. Insert the needle into the fold, right in the crease. Bring the needle back out along the fold, about 1/8” – 1/4” away.  Pull the thread through.


Step 2. Insert the needle into the bottom layer (in this case the prairie points) right below where thread comes out of the fold.  Keeping the needle in line with the folded edge, bring it back out of the fabric 1/8” – 1/4” away.


Step 3. Insert the needle into the top layer again, in the fold, immediately above where the thread was last pulled through the bottom layer.  Bring the needle out along the fold 1/8” – 1/4” away. 

Keep stitching until you have stitched the backing down on all sides.  Take a few close stitches at the corners to keep them tidy.


And here’s the finished product, back and front!

I hope this series has inspired or encouraged you to add prairie points to a quilt!


For more information about planning, making and attaching prairie points, see the rest of the Prairie Point Tutorial series:


  1. Nice and clear instructions. And your photos are very helpful.

  2. Excellent tutorial Joanne! I have always wondered how this stage was done. Thank you for creating this great series of tutorials!

  3. Beautiful! Great instructions. Will have to give this a try.

  4. Gosh Joanne - I had no idea that's how you need to finish a quilt where the points are the outside edge. I've only used the points inside the quilt. I really appreciate you taking the time to prepare and publish these tutorials.

  5. What a great set of tutorials! I've read them all, and plan to keep them in my files too, just in case I decide to make prairie points sometime. My HS math teacher would be very proud of you! You definitely are one special person to share so much about quilting with all of us. Thanks much! ---"Love"

  6. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank You. The directions were clear and easy to understand. The photos were a big helpless as well.


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