Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

D cup quilt top – 1

A few days ago I told you I would be busy quilting a D cup quilt.  This week I’ll be posting a tutorial of how I got it finished…. and squared.   
I can tell right away that this quilt has issues.  How?  Well do you see the curve of the border?  The border is smaller than the center area which gives it a curved appearance when folded in half.  This quilt has other issues as well.  It’s an on point setting.  On point quilts usually have lots of bias to deal with.   The pieced blocks are made as on point too.  Meaning there will be more bias in those blocks because each strip sewn into the block is started at the point.  (I hope I’m explaining this well.)
The first thing for me to do is get the top onto the machine, as straight as I can get it, using the beginning outside border as the guide.  I first make my straight line on the batting and backing using my channel lock.  If you don’t have channel locks on your machine then put a couple of binder clips on the rails, in front and behind the wheels, to hold your machine in position.

Using that straight line, I position the top onto the batting and backing along that line.  I tack the top down with single stitches placed a little less than a quarter inch from the edge and about an inch distance from each other.   This is so the binding will cover the tack stitches if the owner does not want to take it out but still easy enough to remove if the owner chooses to do so. 
If you don’t have a single stitch function use pins then sew a line along the edge with your machine.  Just be sure what you sew can be covered by the binding.  Don’t sew over pins, remove them as you get to them.  At this time the top and batting are not attached anywhere except along this line.  Neither the top nor the batting are attached to the leaders.   This is called floating the top.

The beginning border determines the finished width of the quilt no matter what size the center area would measure.  This is different than doing a quilt with a friendly border.  With a D cup top you use only the one measurement.  Use the border that is the shortest of the four sides for the beginning.    Using a measuring tape, find how far from the end of the belly bar to the edge of the top.  Yup, my measurements are done backwards as you can see in the photo.

I write this measurement on a piece of masking tape because I don’t want to forget what it was.  I might be called away from the machine for some reason.  Oh, yes, and my senior memory doesn’t retain things like it used to do.

Now I measure the other side.
I write that measurement down too.

When I’ve gotten the measurements, and written them down, I tack stitch the side edges of the top to the backing and batting just like I did the beginning border edge.  I only tack as far as my machine will go without advancing the top.  I will continue to measure and tack stitch the side edges each time I advance.  If you don’t have a single stitch function you would pin the edge then sew it with your machine just like the beginning edge. 
Now it’s time to start stabilizing the top to the batting and backing.  At this point I’m not going to do any designs.  I only want to be sure the quilt will wind up even at the other end before I commit to the designs.  I’m going to stitch in the ditch around the blocks and the borders.  It’s much easier to frog stitch (rip-it, rip-it) straight lines of stitching, if something gets out of kilter, than it is to frog stitch a design.  I use a monofiliment thread in the top and regular thread in the bobbin. 

Here I’ve stitched in the ditch along the seam line of the outside and the inside borders. Just at this place.  No where else yet.  I end the stitching with a long tail so I can remember where I stopped stitching. 

I advance the quilt and measure the sides again to be sure I keep the side borders straight.  If my measurements get off a little I simply lift the top from the loose end and shift it over.  After I tack the sides then I stitch in the ditch along the outside border and the inside border like I did before.  I only sew the distance my machine allows before advancing again.
I don’t concern myself with the extra fullness of the center area at this time.  It will be dealt with later.  However, I do want to keep the seam lines of the blocks as straight as I can keep them.  Can you see how the seam lines of the blocks (top to bottom) are sort of wavy?

I straighten them with my hand as much as I can and stitch in the ditch to hold them there.  See how much straighter the seams (top to bottom) look now?  Yes, there’s lots of extra fullness within the blocks but I can fix that when I do the designs.  Notice the seam between the pieced block and the solid block (side to side) with the extra fullness?

I must deal with this as I’m stitching in the ditch. 

Here’s a close up of the before.  I use my hand to spread out the fullness as I stitch the line.  That’s very hard to describe.  Think of “gathers” you would do if sewing ruffles.  You spread the fullness to make the ruffles even. 

Ok, here is a close up of after it’s stitched. See how the fullness is still there but spread out sort of evenly along the stitched line?  Yup, there might be a tiny tuck or two along this line but a tiny tuck is much better than one hugh tuck.  Click on the photo to get a closer look. 
The important thing is to keep the seam lines of the blocks as straight as I can while minimizing the fullness along the lines.  Hmm…. I still can’t be sure I’m explaining it right.  The picture says it better.
I continue advancing, measuring the sides, tacking the edge, and stitching around the blocks until I get to the end.  See?  I came to the end and it’s still 30. 

Here’s the other side.  It’s still 30 1/2. 

I tack down the last edge, which has a slight curve.  That’s the cut of the border fabric, not something wrong with the stitching. 

Now that I’ve stabilized the top to the batting and backing I’ll be able to roll it back and forth as I work in different areas to “quilt out” the extra fullness of the center area.  If there had been a problem and the top had not finished up even at the bottom edge, it would be easy to frog stitch the simple lines to correct it. 
Having the top stabilized allows me to concentrate on quilting the designs, on different areas of the top, without the hastle or worry about keeping it straight.  I will roll it back and forth as I work in the different areas.
Tomorrow’s post will be about starting the stitching designs as I deal with the extra fullness of the blocks.
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2 comments on “D cup quilt top – 1

  1. Anonymous
    June 28, 2011

    Hi Ann,

    Are you doing SID around the blocks first? It will be much easier to frog out a single line of stitching if the top doesn't come out square at the end. Another suggestion is…. if it does not come out square…. first try to figure out where it went wrong. Each error becomes a learning experience to file away for the next one.

    Anita

  2. Anonymous
    June 27, 2011

    As always, Anita, your posts and numerous pictures are educational! This is timely for me as the quilt I'm trying to do is an on point setting. It's not too much out of square but dealing with the diagonal seams is different. I can use all the help I can get.
    Ann

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