Hello charity quilt that I’ve been avoiding for months now! In fact, it’s been about 4 months since I took you home to quilt. Yes, I’ve been busy with customer quilts, the raffle quilt, my birthday, my anniversary, Christmas, etc. but I finally did get to you. I’ve been avoiding you because I knew there would be issues with quilting you, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, to be honest. Plus, with all the sampler blocks, I wasn’t sure just how I wanted to quilt you. I know, I know. Charity quilts are a GREAT way to practice and learn new skills. From the look of the next 2 pictures, I would say that some one was learning how to piece blocks. But, maybe not. Maybe the pen lines are there because that’s just how this person pieces together the blocks with more accuracy. Look closely and you will see lines marked on the blocks.
Charity quilts are typically made from fabric that is donated, so we don’t see too much quality fabric in charity quilts. That’s sad, too, because the charity quilts I typically quilt go to a shelter for abused women. They need something sturdy, yet soft, to hug them through their struggles. Most of the fabric in this quilt is fairly thin. The backing looks and feels like an old worn out bed sheet and is pieced in several places, but the seams are strong because they are serged. Problem is, this creates a bigger issue for the Longarm quilter. Not only does it mess with the hopping foot as it moves around to stitch, but it creates issues with how it lays on the quilting frame. You can see that from this next picture. See how the far end border kind of waves? That block in the upper left of the picture is called an “A” or “B” cup block (bra cup size). It will affect everything from the border to the rest of the quilt if it is not taken care of right away. That is the reason this row of blocks got quilted first.
Another angle so you can see it better. In this case, it’s not just the block (now shown in the upper right of the picture), but it is also the border. If you measure the border to fit the measurements of a wonky block, the borders are going to be wonky as well. Best practices for fixing this is to follow my tutorial on adding a border at http://cowtownquilts.wordpress.com/adding-borders-to-a-quilt-top-2/
As you can see, I quilted out the wavy border.
But then I got done with that row and rolled the quilt forward and found even more waves.
Yep, I quilted that out, too.
I thought I had it all under control. The wavy borders were now straight. Then, I got to the last row of blocks and…
If you look closely at the above picture, you will see that the grain line of blue and yellow fabric are at an angle, so the stretchy sides are attached to the sashing and borders. This is why it’s important to try to keep the straight of grain of the fabric next to the sashing and/or border. Of course, the problem floated down to the corner of the quilt. So, we’re not done with that wavy border, like we had thought.
A tip that I learned from Kim Brunner (www.kimmyquilt.com) was to stitch a straight line across the batting and backing at the top and the bottom of your quilt. Then, push the edge of the quilt top and bottom next to that line and baste a running stitch across to anchor it down straight. I do this at the top when I first start and at the bottom after I’ve quilted to the point where I can lift the fabric at the bottom of the quilt You can see the running stitch on the batting of this next picture. I’ll pin the top to match that line and will then stitch across it.
But, to make sure it is square at the corners (I don’t want the bottom to be wider than the top), I use a couple of strategies to square it up before I stitch the top down. In the picture below, you can see a right angle ruler at the corner of the quilt. I’ve got that stitching line to line up the ruler along the bottom. Since there’s not too much on the side of this one, I eyeball it to make sure the sides are straight.
You can see from the above picture that I’ve got another wavy border along the bottom. If you try to just stitch through it, you may end up with puckers so I pin as many pins as I need to make it lay flat.
And, I will make the top fabric a little more taut by “bending” it along the way.
If that’s not enough to “stretch” the fabric flat as I sew, I may put my fingers on both side of the base of my machine and will remove the pins as I go.
Voila! The edge is no longer wavy.
But, I’ve still got that “B cup” blue and yellow block…
Okay. I’ll make sure my inner border is as straight as I can get it by Stitching in the Ditch (SID) along both sides. I have several tools to help me stitch in the ditch, but my personal favorite is Janet Lee’s Other Favorite Ruler. Little does she know, it’s my favorite, too! It’s wide enough for my big hands to fit around (3″) and long enough (12″) that I can aim it along a seam to straighten it out and stitch continuously longer than I can with other tools.
And, here is the rose colored border. I love how Brandy Lee (owner of The Quilting Place) does those swirly things in her borders and sashings, so I thought I would try it. I’ve got a lot of practice before I ace these! Go check out her work on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quilting-PlaceWhere-Quilts-Happen/108563672527385). Or go to her website at www.thequiltingplace.com. Like I said, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m as good as she is.
I put feathers in the yellow, outer border. If you look at this next picture, here is that blue and yellow block. It’s not completely flat, but it’s pretty dog gone close. I think as I quilt more and learn more, I will get better.
And, the finished product…
It doesn’t look so bad now after all, does it? I really did get lots of practice on this quilt and learned a lot. Hopefully someone will pick this quilt to snuggle up into and will end up loving it. And the quilt will have served its purpose of comforting and hugging the person wrapped in the safety of this warm quilt.
Hopefully this post has inspired you to make and quilt charity quilts, too.