Wednesday, February 23, 2011

B-day and other Stuff

I had a birthday last week and took the day off to go hiking in St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge. Beautiful! We had lovely spring weather, sunny and temps in the 60s.

And here is some birthday loot. Two friends brought me fabric and I bought some cotton and merino wool yarns. Pretty!

Almost to the finish line! This one is a gift. It is my variation on the traditional "Rocky Road to Kansas" pattern. Three friends helped stitch it and I finally got the background quilted and the binding sewn to the front of it. The machine quilting pattern turned out well and was smooth sailing. I couldn't believe I put it off for so long, when it was so easy to finish.

I am reading ecology textbooks and researching microscopes and stewing over new quilty projects. I prepared bindings for three small quilts yesterday and have selected and ironed several backing fabrics today. I'd like to get several wallhangings and a quilt or two basted this weekend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Book Club

The February book club pick was "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger:

"A time-traveling romance; I didn't finish it, but maybe in the future I will."

It was alright, and I did finish it a couple of days after book club. The book club discussion wasn't very good this time, though. Sometimes even books that are very enjoyable don't make good blook club books, because they don't spark a lot of discussion. And we've actually had some lively discussion over books that weren't especially well-written and that most of the members didn't like.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Binding Tutorial

I like to bind my quilts with double-fold binding that is cut on the straight grain. In order to distribute the seam allowance (so you don't get lumps in your binding where the seams are) you use diagonal seams when you piece the strips to make the binding. Making those diagonal seams is easy when you piece the binding together, but that last bias seam, where the beginning and end of the binding meet, can be a bit tricky. You have to sew most of the binding to the quilt before you make the final bias seam. I cut the binding at least 20" longer than the circumference of my quilt and leave a tail at least 10-12" long at the beginning and end of the binding (ie, start sewing about 10" from the beginning of the binding). I stop sewing when I have a gap of about 2' between the beginning of my binding seam and the end.

I want the final bias seam to look like this:

I fold the two binding tails back and make a crease, leaving about 1/4" gap between them.

Then I open the binding and mark a line on a 45 degree angle. Mark the same line on both binding tails and make sure that both lines go the same direction.

This is the tricky part: aligning the two binding tails so you sew them together correctly. I drew this picture to help me remember how to do it.

Align the two tails, right side together and at right angles to each other. Pin them so the diagonal lines you drew on each tail line up exactly (ie, a pin through the center of the line on one tail should come out at the center point of the drawn line on the other tail). Here it is in real life, pinned and ready to sew:

And here is the sewing:

After the diagonal seam is sewn, flip it right side out to see if you have done it correctly. It should look like this:

If it doesn't, rip it out and try again. If it does, trim your tails so the seam allowance is 1/4", finger press them open, and finish sewing the binding onto your quilt.

On a much less technical note, this is the Block of the Month pattern for my guild for July. I started it today so I would have a nice handwork project to work on during sit-and-stitch groups (somehow I find that I belong to 3 of them, one meets weekly, one monthly, and one whenever we get around to it). This is an old applique pattern I've seen on antique quilts before. It's called Weeping Willow. I'm using needleturn hand applique to do it.