X Sew-Along: Week 5, Binding

The binding is a shining feature of the design of Everyone’s Got an X. It adds serifs to the top and bottom of the X, like a serifed typeface such as Garamond or Linotype Didot.  It’s totally optional to do a piecing binding, but if want to give it a go, here are some things to keep in mind.

The method I use is attached the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and then hand-stitching it to the back. You could try machine-binding all the way, but this way, you can see that everything aligns well on the front.

Squaring up

When your X is all quilted, we first need to trim off the excess batting and backing. You’ll notice that the bar or the stripes may have bubbled outward a bit. This is because the edge is on a bias and has some stretch. Don’t worry, we can carefully trim it off, using the seam of your side borders as the reference for “true” right angles. Make sure your cut is perpendicular to those seams and you should be good to go. Don’t trim off much, just a tiny bit to correct the bulge. You should not need to trim off any of your background fabric (Fabric A).

Serifs

From The Brand Collective.

What are serifs anyway? According to Wikipedia: “In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or “font family” making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. We will be adding serifs to our X using the binding. 

Pieced binding

Time to piece the binding. Follow the directions in the pattern to join your binding pieces. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance to keep your measurements true or else you may find that they don’t line up with your X.
  2. Press your seams open. This will prevent extra bulk at each of the joins.
  3. Use a shorter stitch length, like 1.2 or 1.5. This will hide any visible stitching as the binding gets tugged on.
Seams pressed to the side (top) will give you a very bulky bump at the join. When using pieced binding, press your seams open.

You will have two identical strips of pieced binding. After they are pieced, fold and press them in half along the length of it:

Lining up

There are only two places where we need to line up each binding strip with the quilt: In-between the arms of the X. Mark a 1/4″ from the edge of your quilt top.

Align your binding with the quilt, raw edges together; estimate where it should lie. Fold back the binding and check to see if the edges align at the 1/4″ mark. If not, fiddle until it does, then pin in place. Repeat with other point.

Folding back to check if it aligns.

At first, sew only across those points and check to see if you are satisfied with your work. If not, you’ll only have to “unsew” a small section and redo it.

When you’ve got it right enough, sew in either direction and turn the corner as you would normally. One side you will have to do with the quilt back facing up, but you can find out how to do that here! Leave a generous tail for you to join the binding later. Repeat with the other binding strip.

It should look something like this! Join your tails as you would normally. And now sit down the couch, put on a show or a podcast and stitch that binding down on the back.

X Sew-Along: Week 3 + “Good Enough”

It’s time to sew! There are not a lot of seams to sew in this quilt, but many are unconventional. There are three main things to know about: Thread choice, strip sets and offset seams. This week’s big takeaway (also a big takeaway in life) is “good enough.”

50 wt Aurifil 2215 with my cut fabrics

Thread Choice

My default thread for piecing is 50 wt Aurifil 2600 — a light grey or Aurifil 2024 White (affiliate link). Something neutral and on the lighter sides is great as a go-to. But if I want to go a step further, I ask myself a few questions:

  1. What colour is my quilt top?
  2. What is a lightest of the main colours?
  3. What do I have on hand?

My quilt top here is purples, plums and peach. Peach is the lightest of the main colours. I want to choose a light colour of thread in case some thread tails show up under than lightest fabric colour. I had a 50 wt peachy/rose gold on hand (Aurifil 2215) so I used that. Another reason to use a colour that is harmonious with your palette is that if for some reason your fabric pulls at the seams and the thread shows, it will still “go” with your quilt top.

Strip Sets

I am not a fan of pinning if I don’t have to. I don’t pin when I’m putting my strips together because nothing has to really line up. Be sure not to pull any fabrics taut, just let them rest comfortably on top of one another as they run through the machine.

I prefer to press my seams to one side rather than open. For the strip sets, make sure that your seams are all pressed to one direction. This is a matter of preference, but I like the way the quilt feels when the bulk is distributed that way. It’s about the tactile texture.

NOTE: Once you cut this stripe in half (baby size), you’ll want to press one set in the other direction. This will help you “nest” your seams and reduce bulk when you’re assembling.

Cutting: Mark the centre line of your strip set by folding it in half and pressing a temporary line. Mark the centre of this line. Align your 45 degree marking of your ruler with the edge of your strip set, as well as the centre marking with the cutting edge. Be sure to closely follow the direction of the cut on the strip sets vs. the bar.

Cutting illustrated here with the “bar” fabric.
Aligning 45 degree line with top edge or any interior edge) of the strip set to get the right angle.

Offset Seams

We will try our very best to align the stripes at the offset seam! Mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one strip set. I mark at the intersections only and at either end.

Align your strip sets, right sides together. Make sure your stripes’ seams a folding away from each other. Lining the stripes up: When you fold back one layer right on that 1/4″ line, your seams should make a nice diagonal — something like this:

For additional photos on this technique, check out Tip #5 in this post about lone star quilts:

Continue honing your offset seam skills when you assemble Triangles Y and Z to the “bar”.

Getting set to join Z with “bar.
Trim off “dog-ears” as you go.
Offset seams again when making this join. Trim off any “dog-ears” first.

Tip: When making the join above, sew only a little bit before and after the points. Check to see if they align and then finish off the rest of the seam. This means that if you’re unhappy with the way it lines up, you don’t have as much to rip out!

First, only sew a little before and past the matching points. Check how they turned out, then finish the rest of the seam.

The Concept of “Good Enough”

When you have your nose right up against your work, you can only see your flaws. If your points don’t match exactly, don’t fret. Take a step back. Is it noticeable? Or is it “good enough”?

I deemed the rightmost stripe meeting to be “good enough.”

If you’re still unhappy with it once you’ve taken a step back (or even walked away for awhile), you can get your seam ripper out. DO NOT do this more than three times. The seams that join the stripe sets are along a bias edge. The more you fiddle with it, the wonkier it will get and it will start working against you!

Now Leave It Alone

When you’ve added Triangles Y and Z using offset seams and assembled the quilt top, you will have no bias edges exposed. This is the most stable this quilt will be until the binding is put on. So here is where you can take a break and when you’re ready to both trim AND baste, you can move on — which is next week on the sew-along!

X Sew-along: Week 2

Here we are at Week 2 — Cutting for Everyone’s Got An X! I hope you had fun picking your fabrics. I was so delighted to see what colours you will be working with! In this post, you will find tips on cutting your X quilt fabric.

You will notice that I have been very generous with the fabric requirements. Many of the cuts we are making are unconventional dimensions, so I wanted to leave plenty of room for errors in cutting. If all your cutting goes well, you will have a good amount leftover! So set these aside and keep them for Week 6 when we do a fun improv challenge.

Tip #1: Swatch Chart.

Use the fabric swatch chart on page 2. Since I purchased my fabric a few weeks back, I had forgotten which goes where. Having this chart will be handy as you cut.

Tip #2: Starch.

Apply spray starch or flattening spray and press your fabric before cutting. This will help keep your strips nice and straight. We will eventually working with bias edges when we trim our quilt top and this added stiffness will help with minimizing distortion.

If you don’t have starch and don’t want to buy any, don’t worry! I made my first two versions of Everyone’s Got an X without. Just handle your fabric as little as possible once it’s cut. Protecting it too much from movement will help, as well as keep any edges from fraying. I have put my cut pieces in a tray.

Tip #3: Use your ruler to measure.

Where possible, use your ruler markings rather than your measurements on your mat to cut. It will give you a more accurate cut. In addition, you will not be consistently cutting on the same spot on your mat for repeated measurements, which will eventually damage your mat.

In the image above, I’ve actually flipped my mat over so that I don’t get distracting grid lines. I am only using my ruler to measure. I needed 3 strips of 1″ x width of fabric so I cut a 3″ strip, then at the 2″ mark, then a last 1″ strip. This allows me to pick up my ruler as little as possible, as well as minimizes me handling the strips.

Tip #4: Be organized.

While we don’t have a lot of pieces for this quilt, you can save yourself trouble later on and label as you go! A simple piece of masking tape can go a long way. In the same vein, label your binding strips and set them aside somewhere safe. Check off each step as you go.

Tip #5: Butt your rulers together.

Yes, butt (my children are laughing in the background). You will have to make one or two cuts across a diagonal that will be longer than your longest ruler. Butt two rulers together to extend your straight edge.

Above: Two rulers are taped together to the left. The ruler on the right are helping me keep their edges perfectly aligned
aking my diagonal cut for Triangles “Y”.

Tip #6: Using prints.

If you are using a print for your background fabric (Fabric A), you will need to pay special attention to how you cut Triangles Y. Stack fabric right sides together, then cut the diagonal to get your triangles in the right orientation.

Mock up for the photo (dimensions do not follow pattern). Two rectangles stacked right sides together and cut on the diagonal.
The desired result: Four Triangles Y in this orientation.

There we have it! Once you’ve cut everything, be sure to handle everything as little as possible to prevent distortion and fraying. I got a pretty tray for this purpose, in an on-brand colour! Be sure to post your progress with the hashtag #EveryonesGotAnX!