Sometimes, I finish PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) accidentally. I have so many PIGS. I’m trying to finish one each month and as I finish, I tell you about them in hopes that you’ll find something helpful in my process.
That’s what happened with this little quilt. I was working along without a thought of finishing a PIG and all of the sudden it was so close to finished that I had to complete it. Just by accident, I had it nearly done.
Here’s how it happened.
Last week, a couple of the people in the office had some trouble with the Grace Q’nique 14+ longarm machine we have in our sewing studio. I wanted to see if I could duplicate the problem so I could talk to the people at the Grace Company. Their technical support team is awesome but I have to be able to describe what is going wrong.
I brought a small quilt top from home to experiment on. It’s a bit of a strange size (30” x 42”) so I’m not sure what to call it. Is it a wall quilt? A table topper? A rug? A play quilt for a baby? It’s something I found in my mother-in-law’s sewing room and I’m not sure what her intentions were.
She hand-pieced the bow ties but the rest of the quilt top is machine stitched. The gray fabrics and the pale pink are cotton but the bright pink is polyester.
The good news is that with just a few minor adjustments to the tension I was able to get the Q’nique 14+ to hum through the quilting process. Once I started quilting, I did the whole thing without having to stop except when I ran out of bobbin thread.
And there it was, a completely quilted PIG. The only logical thing to do was go ahead and bind this little quilt so it could be done.
I took photos as I was binding so I could walk you through the process.
The first step was to choose the fabric. I generally use a dark fabric for the binding to frame the quilt. In my stash, I found a great black, gray and pink print. There was just a small piece, about a fat quarter. I decided that because the print is small, all the seams to join the binding wouldn’t be very noticeable.
I cut my binding a little narrower than some people. I cut strips 2 1/8” wide. I nearly always use Warm & Natural or Warm & White batting by The Warm Company and I find the narrow binding strips are a nice fit.
Here’s a trick I do so I don’t have to find the 1/8” marking on my ruler for each strip. I cut the first strip at 2 1/8”. I leave that strip on the mat; I don’t move it at all. I move my ruler over and cut the second strip at 4¼”. I take away the first strip I cut and make the next cut at 4¼” again. I keep removing just one of the strips so I can cut at 4¼” each time. It seems easier to line up at 4¼” and by leaving one strip in place I can do that.
Join the strips with a diagonal seam to reduce bulk. The machine I’m using has a beam of light that shows where my stitching will be so I turn on the beam to stitch straight across the strips on the diagonal without having to mark.
Place the ¼” mark of ruler on the stitching and trim away the excess fabric.
Fold lengthwise with wrong sides together and press for one long binding strip. Cut the beginning of the binding strip at a 45-degree angle.
Using a ¼” foot, stitch the binding to the quilt on the front of the quilt – not the back. Check before you start to be certain that none of the seams in the binding will be at the corners. I don’t pin. I just line things up carefully and make sure all the layers are smooth with no tucks anywhere. Start stitching 15-18” from the corner.
Stop stitching ¼” from the corner, turn the quilt top and stitch off the corner on the diagonal.
Pull the quilt top slightly out of the machine and turn it so you have things lined up to stitch down the second side. Fold the tail of the binding to the back of the machine so the raw edge is straight back from the raw edge of the quilt top.
Now fold the tail toward you and line up the raw edges of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt. Notice the extra fabric in the triangular shape. That’s what you need to make a smooth miter.
Start at the corner and stitch until you are ¼” from the next corner and repeat to make the mitered corner. Repeat twice more.
Stitch until you are 12” or so from the beginning. Smooth the beginning tail over the ending tail. Using the cut edge of the beginning tail as a guide, mark the ending tail at a 45-degree angle. Add ½” to the marked line for seam allowance. (Be sure you are adding to the length of the binding and not subtracting from it.) Cut on the marked line and join the two ends. Stitch the rest of the binding in place.
From the front of the quilt, press the binding away from the quilt top.
Turn the quilt over and, from the back, apply a thin bead of Elmer’s School Glue (it’s washable) to the very edge of the binding.
Fold the binding over until it just covers the stitching line and press with the iron.
Turn the quilt over again and from the front, stitch the binding in place. I generally use a straight stitch, thread to match the binding and an open toe foot. I sew with the left toe of the foot just off the binding and I move the needle position clear to the left.
Don’t you love the bowties? There are two bowtie patterns available at quiltandsewshop.com. Abigail Dolinger made this 49” x 49” beauty.
Until next time, happy quilting.