Friday, September 9, 2016

My First Quilt Part 3 - Quilting, Binding and Finishing

Welcome to part 3 of the diary of my first quilt!  This is the third and final post of the series, where I will finally do the quilting and binding of Rowdy's baby quilt.  I am really happy where things are but I was really nervous to put stitches into the top that required so much planning.  I did some practice quilting after I finished stitching together the top and back of the quilt.  The first post of this diary detailed the cutting and planning of the quilt.

The finished quilt!

I finished the back of this quilt ages ago, but have held off on the quilting for many reasons. First, I decided I wanted to get some curved safety pins to make my quilt sandwich. These pins arrived in two days, what could the problem be? Well I'm scared. I'm scared to pin and quilt this baby quilt. However, now that we are in the end of June I really need to get started. I want to finish the quilt by the time Rowdy is 6 months old so I can take his POTD (picture of the day) on the top of the quilt.

This is my plan for quilting: First stitch in the ditch along each border piece. I will not stitch around each square individually but rather stitch down the entire length of the border pieces. Yes this will end up with tiny squares at the intersections, but I'm fine with that. Once that is done I can evaluate what I should do in the center piece.

I used the following layering and basting a quilt tutorial to set up my quilt sandwich.  I used frog tape to place the quilt back on the floor stretched as tightly as I could.  Another type of tape might have stuck to the fabric better, but it actually seemed to work pretty well in the end.  Plus this tape won't damage my floors!  (We put in the hardwood floors when we moved into the house about a year ago.)

I'm using 100% cotton batting  Like the tutorial said, the batting is sticking to the cotton. I carefully smoothed it out over the back, trying to. It stretch it out.

I took care to align the quilt top with the stripe on the back. As aligned, the tulip of the stripe lines up with the same point of the quilt top on both sides. Wahoo! I took extra care to smooth it out, crossing my fingers the bottom didn't shift while kneeling gently on my quilt.  This is when Rowdy woke from his nap and I needed to wait until the next nap to start pinning.

I started pinning in the center and then moved my way out to each side. Starting back at the center I pinned out in each quadrant all the way to the edge


Then I went back and added pins until I could touch at least 2 pins wherever I put my hand.

Next came the moment of truth... unwrapping the quilt to see if all pins really went through all layers. They did! They really did! (Not pictured) Now I can see a few places that could use more pins. Oh man, nothing stands between me and quilting now.


After testing the walking foot, I expanded my sewing table to give myself some more room to work with.  I have the Bjursta table from Ikea which doubles in width.  Normally I keep it collapsed but I knew that when quilting a whole quilt I would want more space for the fabric to rest.

It is the moment of truth. Using navy thread (weight 30) on the top and bottom I started by sewing around the center dinosaurs.

I'm unsure of the order to go... I want to minimize places with double stitching and minimize ends to snip.
I knew I wanted to stitch in the ditch all the way around, but what order should I do that in? I decided to start with concentric squares and that I could fill in the lines that radiate out after.  I back stitched wherever I started and stopped so the quilting won't unravel.

Today I finished stitching in the ditch around the navy stripes.  You can't really see it.

Can you see the quiliting?

I didn't even use up 2 bobbins. Figured since there wasn't that more stitching here than there was to piece the quilt.

I'm not going to quilt I. The individual blocks. Maybe once I get more advanced, but this batting only needed stitching to be up to 8" apart. 4.5" squares will be fine. I do need to do something for the center though.

The only place the quilting is really obvious is through the squares on the back of the quilt.  For the center and border, navy won't work. This shows up waaaay too much. I want something more subtle.

I made another quilting sampler to test out thread colors.

The white isn't so bad on the light blue, white, grey or yellow. It isn't so great on the Navy, though. But the Navy thread is only good on the Navy, so I'll stick with the white on too and try a navy bobbin on the bottom.

When I started quilting the center, I noticed that the bobbin threads were showing through a little.  I reduced the tension from 3 to 2 and that helped a bit.

With my machine it was a little annoying to turn the work for these concentric squares I was quilting, but doable.  I can see why you want as much workspace between the needle and the machine for quilting.  I can't imagine working on a bigger quilt!

I was able to hit almost the exact center from square spiral.  I'm really pleased that I was able to keep my spacing relatively even.


For the edge I wanted to do a squared back and forth zig zag like I tried on the sampler of dinosaur fabrics above. 

I tried to keep my spacing even, I even tried to count the number of stitches on each of the short sections. I would need to fudge it a bit between the corners and I wasn't as consistent as I would have liked.  Hopefully none of this will be hidden under the binding and it will seem relatively centered.  

I finished quilting the edge today!

Quilting done.
The quilt is almost done, I just need to trim off the excess fabric and then bind the edge!

Back when I was planning out this quilt, I purchased some extra polkadot fabric to use for the binding.  However, when I cut the polkadot binding strips and laid it out over the quilt, I was not a huge fan.  

The polka dots are all wrong for the binding.  The quilt is begging for a navy binding to go with the center main panel.

I cut some 3" strips and stitched them together on the bias.  Then I pressed them in half and got ready to attach it to my quilt.

I debated between doing hand binding and machine binding but ultimately wanted to use my machine for both binding steps.  I dislike hand stitching with a passion.  Using my 1/4" seam foot, I machine stitched the binding to the front of my quilt.  I feel like the binding is going to be a bit too wide.  Maybe I should have cut 2.5 inch strips rather than 3 inch. There is too much fabric on the wrong side for a neat stitch in the ditch. There will be too much fabric left.


A handmade quilt I was given and has machine binding. She attached the binding to the wrong side of the quilt and then stitched the overlap evenly around. This might have been smarter. Oh well.

Binding added to the front
Since the binding was wider than I really wanted, I folded the binding wider than the edge but this didn't work at the corners where it is a bit thinner than everywhere else. I did hand tack down the wrong side of the corners so there would be less floppiness.

I can't believe I almost used the polkadot fabric to finish this quilt  The stained glass feeling of the quilt needed a contrasting boarder on the final edge!

Today, 7/7/16, I finished the binding and pressed the quilt.  Voilà it is done!  Exactly one week before Rowdy turns 6 months old.

I cannot express how proud I am do be done with this quilt.  This doesn't quite fit the vision I had in my head, but I put this together from scratch all by myself!

What part of the vision did I miss?  I don't think I envisioned picking out such bold and vibrant colors, but this is where the fabrics took me.  There is also a lot of high contrast.  These colors aren't what I might have picked, but I loved the evolution of finding the first panels of the dinosaur fabric and then searching for complementary geometric patterns that would go with the quilt.  I don't feel like there is anything missing and I LOVE how it turned out. 


Today Rowdy is 6 months old!  

I didn't finish the quilt for his birth, but I did finish it to be the half way point on his Picture of the Day baby book.  I am proud that I successfully have taken pictures of my second child every day of his life  Hopefully I can keep this up to a year so he can have a POtD project like Lucky.  

Look at that face!  My little guy is so happy!  

Thank you for hanging in on this long series of posts.  I know that I have more quilts in me but I have a feeling that next time I won't take quite so many pictures and notes.  I am so glad that my second baby will have one of my firsts!  I'm glad to have created something that is only for him.  Now... what am I going to quilt next?  It is time to start planning out my second quilt!