Saturday, July 12, 2008

Misbehaving Borders

I've had a great lesson in sewing on borders. The Folk Art Finery quilt top requires a narrow inner border, then a wider outer border that has an appliqued swag on it.

I guess I've been lucky so far because always my quilt tops have ended up to be the size they should be - meaning, if the directions ask to cut a border 52 1/2" long, then my centre will be that size. So this time around, I didn't measure the centre, just cut the first borders which were to be on the long sides. When I went to put them on, I could see immediately that they were longer than the quilt - but of course I proceeded anyway, pushing and shoving fabric as necessary to make it fit. Steamed and pressed and sure enough it was wobbly and ripply. I put the quilt on the floor, measured the centre, and it was 52 1/2". Re-measured my border strip and I had cut it at 52 1/2". So I went ahead and put on the other long side, then the top and bottom sides, put it on the floor and what a ripply mess!

I think we all do what might later be considered as a why did I do that? moment. I took off one long border, and cut off 1/2" - just a random idea - sewed it back on and it didn't make any difference to the rippling.

So I un-sewed all four borders. Pressed and starched (well, Best-Pressed), the top. Measured again. Still what it should be, top to bottom and side to side. I was beginning to suspect the border fabric. The experts say - and they're right - to always try to cut border strips from the length of the fabric. Just try it - take a narrow strip from across the 40" width of the fabric, give it a pull between you're two hands and you can feel the stretch. Cut a narrow strip from the length of the fabric, and when you pull it will feel very "solid". So this purple fabric was coming from the cross grain, I had no choice as I didn't have enough to cut it otherwise, and I really wanted that fabric for the inner border. I double checked I was cutting it on the straight of grain, starched the heck out of it, and re-cut the borders. After all that extra cutting, pressing, and starching, the new borders looked somewhat better, but not the results I usually get.

The next day I went to sew on the wide black borders. These were cut from the length of the fabric. I cut these, and when I was attempting to pin them to the purple border, it was as if the first border had grown overnight! I had almost an inch to ease in. But I did do it, and after adding those borders the whole top looks pretty darn good. Now on to all those applique swags!

These were a couple of other thoughts I had about the borders for this project -
  • the sashing were paper pieced, strippy kind of blocks, that also framed the outer edges of the blocks - although I had kept the paper foundation on, perhaps I should have stay stitched these before adding the border (stay stitching is just stitching about and 1/8" from the edge, to keep the shape of the piece prior to adding another piece)
  • as explained in another post, I had difficulty removing the freezer paper from some of the appliques because I had used a blanket stitch rather than a zig zag - because of this I did something I have never done previously and never wil do again - I cut away the the back of the fabric that was appliqued on to - I think this made the quilt unstable
I wish I had taken pictures of the ripply inner border - but at that point I wasn't thinking of my blog, I wash busy scratching my head and trying not to cry!

Here is a picture of how it looks at this point, as well as a picture of the back of one the applique blocks where fabric was cut away (though not as much as I thought).

My Sapphire came home today, so I'm starting to quilt on a quilt called Sudoku. This was done during the winter as a weekend retreat through Canadian Quilters Online. I upgraded the Sapphire from an 850 to an 870, so I need some getting acquainted time. The Sudoku quilt is perfect for this, as it has large empty blocks to play in, and the kids have already requested it for their rec-room. Pics of that quilt I hope tomorrow.

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About Me

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southern Ontario, Canada
I began quilt-making in January 2001, as therapy following diagnosis a chronic autoimmune condition. I enjoy creating and exploring hand and machine applique, machine piecing, english paper piecing, machine quilting, and machine embroidery. I have been working with Electric Quilt for several years and I'm comfortable with just about very aspect of using EQ to design pieced, applique, and embroidery quilts. I'm an early retired Mom with two teenager and a son who'll be married in Fall '09. My husband is my biggest quilting supporter.

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