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 4, Trimming & Quilting

You’ve got a quilt top now it’s time for the next step: Trimming it and quilting it. Here are some tips on trimming accurately, quilting designs and thread selection.

Trimming

Finding the centre line. Fold your quilt top in half and press. This crease line will be your guide in figuring out where to trim. You will measure upward from the vertex of the X, where all four fabrics meet. This line falls parallel to the crease line. Make sure you are using the right measurement for your baby or lap size quilt. Mark it.

Measure up from the vertex (lower left corner of photo above) and parallel to your crease line.

Draw a perpendicular line at the measured marking. A way to double-check that your line is straight is to see if it is also perpendicular to both side border seams. If you’ve done it right, it should be!

Is your drawn line also perpendicular to your side border seam?

Once you’ve drawn your line, measure from the vertex to the line again, just to be sure. Then you can cut. (Keep your scraps for improv week!) Repeat with the other side of the quilt top.

We’re back to bias edges!

Now that you’ve cut it, handle the quilt top as little as possible. You’ve just cut some bias edges. 

Baste using your preferred method.

Quilting Plan

In February at QuiltCon, I took a class from the queen of minimalist quilts, Season Evans on how to quilt minimalist quilts. She gave us some tracing paper to get some quilting designs overlaid on our quilt designs (print-outs that we brought to class). You can do this on an iPad or smart phone over a photo of your quilt top, using the “Mark-up” tool. There are two main options for you to choose from: an all-over design or a complementary design.

All-over designs: These straight lines are perfect if just want to get it quilted and done!

Pieced, quilted and bound by Anja Clyke. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

These scallops are an all-over design but harder to execute on a domestic machine.

Complementary designs can:

  • Highlight the X
  • Downplays the negative space OR highlight it
  • Complements the X
  • Add a completely different element to the design

This sketch adds new design elements – Xs – to the quilt in the negative space. The horizontals help to emphasize the typographic nature of the design. Remember when you were learning to print, you had a top line and baseline to guide the size of your letter? That’s what I’m getting at. It will also emphasize the serifed binding.

I think mine will look something like this, but it needs some more thought still.

Thread Selection

What do you have on hand? I am in love with Aurifil 50 wt 2215 which I used to piece the quilt together (bottom spool). It look great across all the colours of the quilt top.

The rust colour (Aurifil 2155) brings in a different colour from the backing fabric. The Gutterman up top will disappear nicely into the background fabric. I think I might bring in some hand quilting as well. I haven’t decided yet!

I’d love to see your sketches, quilt plan, thread choices and your process! Post them on Instagram with #everyonesgotanX or in our Facebook group. Here’s some more inspiration:

Dot-to-dot quilting using a free-motion ruler foot.
Hand-quilting details mixed in. Photo by Emma Poliquin.
Echoing the X shape with straight lines. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

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!

Tutorial: How to Chain Piece Rows

You know that moment when you’ve cut all your pieces for a project and you’re ready to sew, sew, sew? It’s the go-time moment. I think we all love this part – when we can just feed that beautiful fabric through the machine in one long chain. We can apply that chain piecing method to rows of a quilt top. It’s a technique where you don’t have to stop to snip your threads between each block. If you can skip a step, why wouldn’t you – right?

This technique of chain piecing rows is sometimes it’s called “web piecing”. It can be applied to a large quilt top, using a design wall or your floor (see note below about a larger quilt). The mini quilt shown above, which measures 9.5″ x 9.5″ unfinished (9″ x 9″ finished), is a perfect little sample to show you how this method works. The pattern is Thorn and Thistle by Briar Hill Designs and is part of their 2018 Coast to Coast Quilt Along.

So here we go.

Chain Piecing Rows [Web Piecing]

  1. Lay out your blocks in the final arrangement.
  2. Sew Column 1 to Column 2 in a chain.
  3. Finger press your seams to one side, alternating directions at each row.
  4. Add Column 3 to the first two columns of assembled blocks.
  5. Finger press these seams in the same direction as the seams between Column 1 and Column 2. We want all the seams in a single row to go in one direction.
  6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you’ve added all your columns. You’ll have a “web” of rows, all attached together.
  7. Turn on your iron.
  8. Sew Row A to Row B, nesting your seams.
  9. With your iron, press your seam to one side.
  10. Sew your Row 1/Row 2 assembly to Row C.
  11. Press your this seam to one side, in the same direction as Step 9.
  12. Repeat Steps 10 and 11 until your whole quilt top is assembled.

Check out this quick little video to help you visualize how chain piecing your rows works:

Setting your seams. Some of you might like to set your seams before you press them to one side, which can improve the accuracy of your quilt top. If you want to do that, you can do that between Steps 2 and 3, and then again between Steps 8 and 9. My personal preference is to set my seams when I am assembling the completed rows, but not for the individual blocks.

Larger quilts. When you’re working with a mini, you can lay out your blocks right next to your sewing machine on your tabletop. For larger quilts, lay out your blocks on a design wall or on the floor. You’ll want to stack up columns before moving them over to your machine. Here’s another video where you can see that in action.