Monday, October 28, 2019

Corner trimming tool meets binding

While I was looking through old posts last week I came across this one about how I use a corner trimming tool when I join binding strips on the diagonal.  At the end, I wrote that I would soon share how I use the tool to join the binding tails when attaching the binding to the quilt.  That was over 5 years ago.  Oops!

This weekend, I showed a customer and friend at the shop where I work how to use the tool for her binding.  She wished she had pictures to refer to so she could refresh her memory next time. OK then, it's time to finally write that post!  Mary M., this one's for you!

For completeness, I am going to include the entire process of attaching the binding to the front of the quilt. I use double fold binding made with 2 1/4" strips, and use a 1/4" seam allowance when sewing it on.  See this post for instructions to make double fold binding from individual strips, or this one to make continuous bias binding.

I lay one end of the binding about halfway along one side of the quilt, matching the raw edges of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt,  and spread the binding to the corner, laying it flat and being careful not to stretch it, and pin it in place.

At the corner, I measure and mark the binding 1/4" in from the edge of the quilt.

I start sewing about 8" from the end of the binding strip, leaving a loose tail...

...and stop sewing with the needle down when I reach the mark I made on the binding near the corner.

With the needle down, I raise the presser foot and pivot 45 degrees so I can sew into the corner of the quilt.

To take the binding around the corner, I fold the loose binding back at a right angle to the binding that  has been sewn.  There will be a 45 degree fold in the binding, lined up with that line of stitching into the corner. The stitching helps guide the fold.

I finger press that fold before bringing the loose binding back in line with the next side of the quilt.

After I line the binding up with the side of the quilt, there is a straight fold lined up with the edge of the quilt that already has binding attached. I pin that in place.

I continue laying down binding without stretching, pinning as I go and marking the next corner before stitching this side down as well.  I start stitching at the fold/previous edge, fixing stitches or backstitching a few stitches to secure the seam, and again stop and pivot at the next corner.

I keep going until I come back to the side I started on.  I go around the corner and continue sewing on binding until the stitching is about 12" away from where I initially started stitching the binding.The binding tails on both ends of the binding will overlap.

To determine where to trim each binding tail so their joined length will just fill the gap, I fold the first tail back on itself about 2".  I fold the second tail back on itself so the the fold is flush with the fold in the first tail.

I finger press the folds to mark them well, then unfold the binding and mark the spot on each tail where the fold lines cross.

Next I mark a second point on one tail, 1/2" further out towards the end of the binding strip. This adds enough overlap with the other tail to allow for a 1/4" seam allowance.  This second point is the one that matters.  

This is where the corner trimming tool comes in.

Without twisting the binding strip, I smooth it open and position the trimming tool as shown below, with one short side flush with the bottom edge of the binding strip and the long edge cutting through the marked dot.

I swing this down onto the cutting mat, readjust the tool position as needed, and trim off the binding tail, as well as the point of the angled cut, using the blunt point of the tool as a guide to trim the tip.

To trim the other tail, I smooth it open without twisting...

... rotate the tool 180 degrees and position it so the long side runs through the dot closest to the end of the tail.  (That's the second dot I marked on the tail earlier, not the one that runs through the intersection of the folds.)  Note that the pointy tip of the cut will be on the top edge of the strip, whereas the pointy tip of the other tail was on the bottom.  (These can be reversed, as long as they are opposite each other things will work out)

I can check that I have the tool positioned properly by folding the strip back against the tool.  If things look like this...

...the two tails ends won't meet properly so I know the tool is not positioned properly.

If it looks like this...

...all is well and I can swing the tail and the tool to the cutting mat to trim the angle and the point.

Now both tails should be trimmed at the same angle in the same direction.

Why did I trim the points?  Those trimmed points show me exactly how to line up the tails to keep my binding straight.

When I bring those two angled edges together with right sides facing, each blunt tip will line up with the edge of the other strip.

When I sew with a 1/4" seam, the strips will line up perfectly.

I finger press the seam open, fold the binding in half so that all the raw edges are aligned again, and sew it all to the edge of the quilt, overlapping any previous seam by several stitches

The seam where the binding ends are joined looks just like the seams in the rest of the binding.

This process works like a charm for me.  I haven't twisted my binding a single time since I started joining my ends this way.

Of course, the next step is to turn the folded edge of the binding to the back of the quilt and stitch it down.  In the past I always stitched that part by hand, but recently I have been pressed for time so I have been practicing doing it by machine.  Go here to see the process that I find works best for me for machine binding.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pausing for purples

This summer these pretty strips showed up at the local quilt shop.

These are Crystal sea from Island Batik.  The colors had to come home with me, even though I had no pattern in mind.  That's a rare occurrence.  Usually I can drool over pretty fabric but I don't bring it home unless I have a plan.   That keeps my stash from overflowing its shelves and it keeps my budget balanced (more or less).

I had deadlines to meet and gardening to do so the strip pack sat on the shelf looking pretty for a month or two until one evening, when I couldn't sleep, I fired up EQ to start playing with ideas. By the time I started feeling drowsy, I had the start of an idea sketched out, but it didn't gel until my head hit the pillow.  I jumped back out of bed, found pen and paper and made a note, just in case the idea evaporated while I slept.  Thank goodness I did, because all I could remember in the morning was that I had had an idea, but the details were rather sketchy.

Do you ever have something you want to work on but have to put off because something else really, truly has a higher priority?  I don't know about you, but I find it really motivates me to get that priority dealt with! After a longer wait than I liked, I was finally able to cut into those strips and less than a week later I had a finished quilt top.

This is just a progress shot.  I'm a little surprised to find as I write this post that I don't have a picture of the finished top!  Hmm.  OK, this is where I admit that I hadn't quite finished dealing with that higher priority task.  My guilty conscience probably got in the way of pausing for pictures when I finished the top.  Playing with the purples really did recharge my batteries to finish that deadline project though!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Canuck Quilter patterns at Connecting Threads

My husband came back from the mailbox last weekend with a little spring in his step and a grin on his face.  He found the latest Connecting Threads catalog and remembered to flip through it to find my patterns.  It's a toss up whether he or my mom are my biggest cheerleader.

There it is on page 21:  Connecting Geese by Canuck Quilter Designs, exclusive to Connecting Threads, sewn up by their sample sewers in their new Elemental Nuances fabric line.  They are selling kits as well as pattern downloads.

You may also recognize the placemats and runner on page 23.

I really think the pattern works well with just about any fabric style or color palette.  These are certainly different from mine in bright blue and lime batiks, but no less effective in an all-grown up, elegant way.  I'm tempted to order some of that fabric for a new set for my table.

I colored both patterns in EQ using digital swatches of this fabric line, but this is the first time I have seen them actually sewn up.  Since the fabric was not yet available in April, when I had to test the pattern, I have a different version of the Connecting Geese quilt.  Well, I have a top.  I haven't gotten around to quilting it yet, but with the cool fall weather, this fall top is calling to me and just might become a finished quilt sooner than later.  Unless, of course, a squirrel pops in, which we all know is a very strong possibility...

I'll leave you with the digital image of Connecting Geese and my test version.  What colours and fabrics would you make this in?

Saturday, October 12, 2019

New patterns: Leftovers and Mostly Clear

Rosie wanted to let you know that the Mostly Clear pattern is now available in my Etsy shop.  You may remember I wrote about making the quilt in August.  Since then Kim Williams, Joanne Harris, Mary-Ann Vanner and Tina Fugate generously donated their time, effort and fabric to test the pattern for me.  I am very grateful for their help. It lets me release the pattern with confidence knowing it passed muster with independent quilters!

Mostly Clear by Canuck Quilter Designs

The pattern features strip piecing to speed assembly, and borders that come together in segments as the rows come together to avoid having to sew on long border strips. Last but not least, the part of the pattern that excites me most is the pressing direction guidance that lets you nest every single seam intersection for perfectly matched seams.

Rosie would also like to announce that there is now a pattern for the Leftovers table set, though I declined to let her pose on the placemats.

As I mentioned in September, these were a great cheerful pick-me up project in a grey, dreary spring. There's nothing like digging through a bin of colorful scraps to lift my spirits.  That said, I realize not everyone has scraps to paw through (though I'm sure those people are just beginning their quilting journey and will soon have a respectable scrap stash).  It also occurred to me that not everyone likes to cut and sew many small pieces.

Enter the strip pieced, less scrappy version:

Five prints and a background let you make 6 matching placemats and a runner.  I really love the blue prints I chose for this set.  I really need to finish binding the other 5 placemats!

The pattern includes instructions for both the super scrappy version and the strip-pieced version.  Thank you to Joanne Harris and Carol Andrews for testing and proof reading the pattern.  Thanks to them you'll know you have enough fabric for your binding!

Both  Leftovers and Mostly Clear are now available to purchase as PDF downloads in my Etsy shop at a special introductory price.  Enjoy 50% off the regular retail price through Friday, October 18th, 2019.  If you prefer a print copy, please ask your favorite local quilt shop to order it in for you from Checker Distributors or by emailing me directly.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Starlight Plaid is a top

Here it is, Starlight Plaid in red and grey!  You may remember last month's post about trying to make the blue stars work, but I think the red was the better choice. Maybe I feel that way because it reminds me of my son's black and grey and red plaid flannel shirts.

Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs
Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs

I've been alternating sewing it up and writing the pattern.  I had it all written up before I started sewing, then decided I really should include alternate sizes, which then led me to assemble the star centers in strip sets, and it all required lots more calculating and figuring for the various sizes and in the end I have a much better pattern. All it needs now is testing.  If you'd like first crack at this pattern as a volunteer tester, send me an email (  Pattern includes baby, throw, twin and queen sizes.

Though it really is a straightforward pattern, making the top was a bit of an adventure.  I think because it was such a simple construction I didn't pay as much attention as I should have and I let my mind wander.  Sigh.  Sewing while distracted leads to miscutting, mistaken seams and ripping!

Exhibit A: miscutting
I try to include a little extra fabric in my patterns' fabric requirements for miscuts. Unless it leads to a ridiculous amount of extra fabric, I add one extra width of the widest strip needed then round to the next 1/8th yard.  Unfortunately, I used up the extra in making the blue blocks I decided not to use, so there was no wiggle room when I miscut one square 1/2" too small.  Just one square!  I pieced a couple of scraps together to make it up and the print hides the seam well.  Crisis #1 dealt with!

Things went very well after that until I started assembling rows.  I used the very clear assembly diagrams in my pattern and promptly sewed row 3 to the side of row 4.  The pattern did it right.  I did it wrong!  I clued in when I started pressing the seam.

Exhibit B: That's not right!

That was a really long seam to rip and redo.  Of course after I did so, I read @homeinottawa's comment on Instagram, which kindly pointed out I didn't need to rip the whole seam.  I could have removed the end triangles and reoriented them without ripping the whole long seam.  I took note for next time!

And yes, there was a next time, though I don't have photographic evidence of it.  Solid fabrics are the same on both sides.  The skinny red border is pieced to make it long enough.  It's a red solid.  Can you guess what I did?  Yup.  I sewed the border on wrong side down, so the seam allowance where the two strips meet ended up on the right side of the quilt. There were grumbles, but also a tiny bit of smugness because this time I just ripped the short seam in the binding strips, and resewed that with the seam allowance relocated where it should be, rather than ripping and resewing the whole border.

The borders were not done with me yet.  I sewed the last borders on in the wrong order.  The pattern clearly states to sew top and bottom borders first, then the side borders.  So of course I did the opposite and my top and bottom  strips ended up too short.  My husband, who had just proofread the pattern for me and knew what it said to do, looked at what I did and commiserated about people who just can't seem to follow the directions.  I love him anyway.

Finally, can you explain this to me?

Exhibit C:  Amazing expanding border strip

I measured!  Three times!  The top and middle and bottom of the quilt had the same measurement. I double checked! I even measured by laying the strip on the quilt and marking the strip!  I cut both top and bottom strip together, so they would be the same size.  The top went on perfectly.  The bottom is 1/2" too long. The previous borders were the same length so I don't see how things suddenly became 1/2" off.  Sigh.  At this point I just wanted the top finished so I decided to just smooth it on flat, pin it,  sew it and chop off the excess. That isn't best practice in borders, but at least it's flat and done.

Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs
Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs

I know how I want to quilt it, but it is going to have to join the queue.  I have never had this many unquilted tops before. Counting this one, there are 7 in the queue.  This one might cut in line...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Round Robin Update

In July I received the last quilt I needed to add a border to for my guild's Round Robin challenge.  There are four of us in my group, and we have been passing the quilts around, everyone adding a border to each quilt in turn. I shared my contributions to two quilts in this post last May.

Here is Jen's quilt as it was when it was passed to me.  Center star by Jen, first border by Traci, and second border by Pam.

Jen also included lots of fabrics in case we didn't have anything in our stashes to work with her colours.  I used some of those to repeat the fabric from her star points, and I found a red that echoed the red in the other two borders.  I almost headed to the quilt shop for a creamy solid to match what Pam used, then noticed that Jen had used  scrappy neutral prints in her origimal background, so I dug into my neutral scraps to see what I could use up to pull that element back in.  The prints don't show up very well on my photo.

This was actually plan C. I considered making the whole border out stars, sprinking in a few in accent colors.  However, they were time consuming and I figured Jen would probably appreciate getting her quilt back sometime before next year. I forget what plan B was...  

The points in the gold border were inspired by elements of the border Jen added to my quilt.  

The second to last border and the corners added to the previous border's cornerstone are hers.  Traci added the last border, and Pam made all those flying geese and puss in the corner cornerstones.  It is miles away from what I envisioned when I looked at my center medallion, but it's been great fun to see what direction other quilters' creative flights took it. I hope they enjoyed the process too.

Though I have it back in my possession, I won't have time to work on finishing my round robin quilt for a while.  When I do, I plan to add another border to make it just a little larger.  I may add red to frame it all.  As my partners demonstrated, there are so many possibilities!