TGIFF: Learning Curves

As I’ve experimented with different projects, I’ve tried to tackle the independent parts of the quilting process and improve on them as I go.

  • Cutting ~ I feel like I have this down. I’ve established a pattern of lining up my fabric along the same spots on my ruler and cutting mat and feel like I’m pretty consistent.
  • Piecing ~ I’m doing pretty good with my 1/4″ seam allowance. My first project was all over the place, but the last couple of things I’ve pieced have measured exactly right in the end. Sewing bias cuts are another story…
  • Basting ~ I’m still trying to figure this one out. My first quilt sandwich went well and I didn’t have any puckers along the back. The project I finished up this past week, didn’t have puckers, but wasn’t quite right either. More on that in a bit.
  • Quilting: QAYG ~ So far so good.
  • Quilting: Walking Foot ~ Until this week I had only done straight lines. This week I tackled curves
  • Quilting: FMQ ~ Nope. Haven’t even tried
  • Binding ~ Machine binding attempts have been nightmares. Hand binding not so bad. Although this week I decided to use a ladder stitch instead of a whip stitch and I don’t like it nearly as much.
  • LOVE! ~ Done.

My finish this week is pretty simple. I had some extra blocks from my Tula Pink Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver quilt, so I decided to make a small topper for one of our dressers. I’ve wanted something to protect the finish for a while and since it’s a tall dresser and you can’t really see the top, it was the perfect opportunity to experiment.

Piecing it wasn’t a problem and it didn’t take long to get it all pinned up. I decided to experiment with my walking foot and used the Ribbons design from Petit Design Co. This was a really fun design to execute and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out on the front.

I really found a rhythm and while I marked most of it before hand, I felt free to improvise as I went along. The back is another story. There are no puckers and the following picture is post ironing, so it emphasizes the bunching of the fabric. I’m not really sure how bad it is. If it were the back of a quilt, I’d be happy with it, knowing that it would crinkle nicely after being washed. But as a table runner type piece, I would have preferred it to be more taut.

Clearly I didn’t pull it tight enough when I was basting. I even had a bit of a problem with it bunching when I sewed down the binding. My question is how do you know how tight to pull it? I’ve concentrated so much on not stretching my fabric when piecing and pressing, especially as I’ve attempted bias edges, so I’m hesitant to pull hard. I’m also wondering if I was pulling the top too tight as I was moving it through the machine. For the most part I kept my hands flat on the fabric and tried to provide a little tension by easing the fabric to the sides.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m THRILLED with how the quilting came out on the front. I love this design. In fact, I wish I could do the same thing on a baby quilt. I’m learning as I go though, so would appreciate any insight you would have that would help me improve.

Project Stats:
Fabric: Tula Pink Birds and the Bees
Back and Binding: Kona Parchment
Finished Size: 28.5″ X 15″
Finished Date: November 2012

Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday! at Sewing by Moonlight and to
Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

3 thoughts on “TGIFF: Learning Curves

  1. Lynette

    Oh, I was hoping there would be comments ahead of me so I could see if anyone had answered your question. I haven’t had that problem. I don’t pull the backing particularly tight when I’m basting. I just lay it out on the floor and tape it down in a firm-but-not-tight tension. I do the tapes going around and around, rather that doing all one side, then the next, to keep it balanced. I stick it to the fabric, pull slightly so that all slack is out, but not so that the taped portion is making a sideways peak. (well the first couple will do that just because there’s so much slack in the rest at the beginning).

    But, hey! I *love* the quilting on this. It looks like ribbons! Something I will have to try out when I have an appropriate piece.

  2. Steph

    I have the same problem with my quilt backings–I know part of my problem is I don’t tape my backing fabric down because I don’t have a hard floor space big enough. (And I’m not going to thoroughly scrub the kitchen floor every time I want to baste a quilt!) I pin baste but on the last 2 quilts I’ve done I’ve also used just enough basting spray to help keep the layers from shifting. I haven’t completely finished quilting those yet so I’m not sure if will improve my end result. I don’t pull my fabrics really tight. I start at the center and smooth the quilt top fabric out to the edges then spray baste; carefully flip the whole thing over, smooth the backing fabric, spray baste; flip again, smooth again and pin. Even if it’s not perfect, most of the imperfections are minimized after washing. (But most everything I know about quilting I learned from the internet or a book so I rarely do things the “right” way.)

    Regarding machine binding, I’m getting better with each quilt. I tried the Elmer’s glue binding for the first time last weekend and I think it’s the way to go. There’s a video that explains how to do it–

    I think your table runner is beautiful. I love the ribbon quilting–I pinned several of those walking foot patterns to try. I wouldn’t worry too much about the backing. It’s a table runner so that part won’t be visible most of the time!

  3. moonlightsewing

    Did you tape the back to the floor when you basted? I don’t think I would be worried about it, at all. As you said, if it were a quilt, it would be great because it would crinkle nicely and as a table topper, you’re never going to see the back anyway.

    You should jump in and try FMQ. I say this as a person who is completely disgusted with my own FMQ. It’s pretty gross, but I finally decided I’d better just try, or I’d never figure it out. I just signed up for a Craftsy class with Leah Day last night, so I hope that helps me out!


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