How To Section

Using Glue to Match Seams

Karen brought over a quilt top with a real "Go Green" theme to it.

She found the fabrics at Timeless Treasures, and I'm sure her daughter will love this one! The backing fabric needed to be pieced together, so I thought I would take pictures along the way so you could see how I used glue to make the process much easier! There were motifs and lettering on the backing fabric that had to match up perfectly, and the glue is the secret to doing this project. Here's the process:

Fold one of your pieces of fabric under 1/2 inch, and press, being careful not to stretch the folded area as you press. Set this piece on top of your other fabric piece, matching the pattern on both sides.

Working in small areas, use a small line of Elmer's School Glue on the folded portion of your fabric. Squeeze a line of glue approx. 10-12 inches long on your folded seam allowance, then set the fabric in place on top of the flat area. Press with a warm iron (no steam). This will set the glue, and keep things from sliding around. When you are sure that the glue is dry, you can turn back the edge of the fabric to check on everything. It should look like this:

If you used a little too much glue, some may have leaked through to other layers.

Don't worry! It's easy to run your finger along the area, and gently pull the glue apart.

If your seam is long, you may want to add a few pins along the area before you carry your fabrics to the sewing machine. The glue is fairly strong, but not enough to support a lot of weight.

After stitching the entire seam line, run your finger along the glued area to open the seam.

As you can see, the glue did a great job of holding the layers together.

Press the seam open.

The selvage edges must be removed from both pieces of the backing fabric before putting the quilt backing on the machine. You can do one side at a time with a rotary cutter, or just use scissors.

Turn the backing over to the right side, and press.

The glue really helps with the process!

Square both ends of the backing, and you're ready to quilt!

Border pucker panic? Use steam!

Border panic? Quilting condition? Surprise hiccup?  Just what can you say when you approach a section of a wonderfully pieced quilt that has a tricky situation that you didn't notice before mounting the quilt top on the machine? This quilt has lots of gorgeous fabrics in it, and the blocks and borders were nice and flat when I looked at the quilt laying flat on a table. After I had done a row or two, something on the left side caught my eye. What's that?!?!?!  Oh my gosh, where did that come from? It was a pucker that appeared overnight when I wasn't looking! Uh-oh

After rolling back and forth a couple of times, I noticed that there were a few of the sneaky little devils in this border. Funny thing, though.... every other border was perfect.

Border excess

I decided to stabilize the entire area, because it was too late to take the quilt off of the machine and remove the borders. This is how it looked with a little stitch in the ditch to hold all of the layers in place:

Border puckers

Time to heat up the steam iron. It never ceases to amaze me how much excess I can remove with just a gentle shot of steam. (Hint ..... this works particularly well when the fabrics have not been steamed during the assembly process. I have been asking all of my customers if they used steam during piecing whenever I see an issue with their quilts.)After just two shots of steam, the fabric was already starting to behave better.

After steaming

Since this border was on the side of the quilt, I decided to wait until the entire quilt was finished before I turned it to deal with this problem. Traveling through the rest of the quilt was easy, and I made sure that everything remained nice and square. After finishing, I turned the quilt and remounted it to work on this border. One more shot of steam now. I kept both hands near the needle as the design stitched, enabling any excess to be evenly distributed. The finished border was perfectly flat in the trouble area:

Finished border

You can see that the problem did not migrate further down the border:

Excess gone

I would recommend this method for borders -- or blocks -- that are giving you trouble with puffiness!

Austin block layout

This quilt was made with blocks chosen from Quilter's Cache. You can see the Austin block here, and the layout for the quilt here.

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Quick idea for setting an autumn table

I needed a quick idea for dressing up the kitchen table for autumn. I quilted two yards of fabric, and then added a binding to it for a quick tablecloth.

Then, I used a pattern from One Song Needle Arts to do these placemats. The pattern has cross-hatching built right into the sides of it. It's easy to decide how large to make your placemats by using the following method:

Open the pattern on your screen in Creative Studio, and use a grid to see the size of the central area. You can use a grid of 1-inch to make the pattern size easy to measure. Decide if you want to adjust the pattern up or down a little bit after studying it on your grid. I cut three strips of fabric 1 1/2 inches wide, and pieced them together for each side. The inner square was cut 14 1/2 inches wide. After piecing the placemat, I basted it to my batting and backing on the machine. Using the head of the machine, I placed a p2p line on the exact edge of my center section of the pieced placemat. I then marked this line as sewn -- this is very important to do so your line doesn't stitch. You can then tweak the design on the screen to line up perfectly with your edges of the center section by sizing with the handles of the design. Click on start, and your design will stitch exactly where you need it to be. Add your binding while you still have the placemat on the machine, and then all you have to do is hand-sew it to the back. Very quick and easy!

Summer at Mom's Quilt

Romantic pinwheels and hand applique The quilt was made possible with a lot of help from my friends on my Candy Apple Quilts Yahoo group. I asked for everyone to send a 6-inch strip of floral fabric to me so I could have lots of variety. The response was overwhelming! Here are just some of the fabrics that I received:

Lots of florals!

Shades of green for the leaves

I was intrigued with finding a faster way to create all of the half-square triangles that would be needed for the center section, and for the border. Using a Gammill machine with a Statler Stitcher enabled me to do most of the work with the computer! I put a solid white fabric on the machine first. Then, I placed a strip of floral fabric right side down on the white fabric with a pin at each end to hold it in place. Using the computer, I set up all of the sewing for the half square triangles.I then cut the strips apart and ironed the pieces open to create all of the pieces I needed for the pinwheels.

When all of the pinwheels were complete, it didn't take long to sew them together into the center portion of the quilt.

Each of the fabric strips right sides together

From the various green fabrics, I cut all of the leaves for the appliqued border. All of the applique was done by hand.

Back to the quilting machine with more white fabric, and a pretty lime green. All of the half square triangles were laid out in advance, and sewn row after row, non-stop.

After cutting the rows and blocks apart, I had all of the half square triangles that I needed for the outer border of the quilt!

The only job left was to measure the applique borders and the outer borders, and apply them. I added the binding, sprinkled a few yo-yos on for fun, and it's done! Click on the images below to see the full-sized pictures.

This pattern for the quilt is available from McCall's Magazine. For the half square triangle Statler pattern, please email Gary and Linda Schmitz at, or check their web site for patterns.

Wavy borders, and how to prevent them

Have you ever seen quilts with wavy borders? The border pieces that you cut according to the charts included with these directions (and other patterns that you have purchased) could be a little bit too longto be attached to the quilt center that you have completed. Everyone uses a slightly different size seam allowance --- and when you multiply the effects of the difference across an entire quilt top, the differences can be significant. If you already have some long border pieces cut and ready to apply to a quilt top, that's OK for now.  We want them to be a little bit too long to make it easier to use the following process.

You're probably thinking "Why can't I just sew a border along one side, and then cut off the excess when I get to the end?" The answer is that you will be stretching your border fabric as you attach it to the quilt top. All of the excess fabric will then end up being a wavy border, which makes it very hard for the person doing the actual quilting to get your borders to lie flat.

Here is a picture of the very bottom of a quilt that is almost finished:


You can see that the majority of this quilt is complete. As the excess fabric has accumulated down the sides of the quilt, it "has to go somewhere". In other words, it all ends up at the bottom. In this case, pleats were needed to remove the excess fabric --- and that's never the best approach.

Please resist the urge to sit down and sew your borders onto your quilt top without taking a few simple measurements first! You will stretch the edges of your quilt top, and you will end up with wavy borders , guaranteed! When you have wavy borders, your quilt is much harder to quilt, it won't lay flat on a bed or table, and it won't look right hanging on a wall. Just a little bit of extra measuring at this stage will save you a lot of frustration later.

We will be following that old advice "Measure twice, and cut once". You don't want to make any mistakes here. First, make sure your quilt center has been neatly pressed, and that all seam allowances are flat on the back. Lay your quilt on a large flat surface (a floor comes in handy here, but a large table is even better!) and use a metal tape measure. Lay the tape measure on the quilt in the center, measuring from top to bottom. Make a note of this measurement. This is the number you will use to cut two of your side strips to the proper length.

Use your tape measure to see how this center measurement differs from the measurement along the edge. You may be surprised to see the amount of difference between the two numbers!

Pin the two side strips to each side of the quilt, making sure the fabric is distributed evenly. Place a pin in the center, and one at each end. Then keep adding pins until you feel that all ease is distributed evenly. Sew the border strips in place. Press flat.

Now lay the tape measure in the opposite direction (going from side to side), but make sure it's in the center of the quilt, not along the edge. Make a note of this measurement. You might want to check again to see how different this center measurement is than one taken at the edge!

Cut your two remaining borders to the proper measurement, and pin as directed above, easing in any fullness.

Repeat this process for the rest of your borders, if your quilt has additional pieces.The more borders you have on your quilt, the more you will love using this method after your project is complete! I've received countless phone calls after teaching this method, and everyone of them is from someone who is now confident when it comes to this final step.  Too often we are in a hurry by the time we get to the end of the piecing process, and just want to get it done. It's worth a few extra minutes when it comes to the long life of your quilt!

No more wavy borders!