I got myself a present! At the SDMQG quilt retreat at the beginning of July, it seemed like everybody but me had one of these little mini travel irons. Which is good because it gave me the chance to get the reviews from actual users. They were unanimously pleased with them. My giant Shark iron has recently started acting up after four years of faithful (and daily) service, so I hopped on board and got a Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Travel Iron. I am not ashamed to say that I chose the cheapest one, nor am I ashamed to say that I was drawn to the cute name.
I don’t know how it works so well. I’ve heard that when pressing it’s the heat and the pressure and weight of the iron that do the job, so I don’t know how such a tiny and lightweight iron does it, but I’m gonna trust that the iron science adds up.
What I love about it most (besides its adorable size) is that it heats up super fast. It seems like it reaches full heat (hotter than my regular iron) in about 20 seconds. Here’s to hoping I get at least 4 years outta this puppy.
I took some photos of the final Neighborhood quilt made from Les Petites fabric before it gets sent off to its tiny recipient.
I quilted doors on the homes, plants and fences and rows in the “vacant lot” spaces, and a little moon holding a star in the corner.
On Friday night, I left out a couple of plastic bottles for the kids. A couple weeks ago, there must have been some project at school where they made bugs out of plastic bottles because ever since, my daughter has been digging through recycling and making these paper handprints to “make a bug.” She even hand-wrote “make a bug” on her list of homework assignments for the month.
My daughter also got a coupon for free froyo from her school Jogathon, so I took the kids to cash in. Then we went to our second favorite library (the “red library” in the next neighborhood over is just a skosh better), the “blue library.”
I spotted these adorable crochet test tubes in a little science exhibit, and I need to figure out how to make them. I have had a little finger knit loom since I was about 8, used for making the fingers in gloves, I think. I’ll see if I can make them.
I finally had an excuse to get my grubby paws on a stack of the entire Les Petites collection from Amy Sinibaldi for Art Gallery fabrics. A family member custom ordered a quilt for her niece’s new baby. She had the dimensions and a photo of the crib and that’s it. But the crib had these little decorative pillows: a little house, a little moon, and a little star. And the colors were so spot on, pink, coral, gray gingham. I knew. I just knew…Plus, I had been waiting for some excuse, ANY excuse, to buy this collection.
So I used this pattern, Neighborhood Charm, from the Moda Bakeshop to make some more little houses, and threw on some extra prints, mostly all Art Gallery, a little Kate Spain and some Cotton + Steel, too. I would definitely use this pattern again. Came together so quickly and is charming indeed. Plus, it called for a charm pack when I had a full fat quarter bundle, so I’ve got loads of fabric left over.
I have used wool batting once before, but realized I have never had to baste it before. I spray baste, which requires a little heat setting to make it really stick. The directions on the batting say to not use any high heat so I was a little worried.
I stopped at my favorite Goodwill store today after dropping off one kid and before picking up the other. This is a period of time that generally lasts about 15 seconds. Today I spent my 15 seconds thrift hunting.
I found a sweet wooden e with holes for hanging on the wall and the biggest score of all which you’ll have to wait to see: a tshirt with a Starry Night style portrait of Batman. I’m turning it into a decorative pillow for E for his birthday next month.
When the kids were home, I got out the yarn, washi tapes, and scissors, and we wrapped that letter up good. I love how it turned out.
I am starting a new spinoff business wherein I upcycle clothing into keepsake or memory quilts, and these photos will help my new web store stand out, for sure.
My samples were all twin sized, so Madame Photographer had to be really creative with angles since all the beds we had to use were doubles.
I am just so pleased she was willing to do this product photography for me. She does not usually do product photographer per se, but she does take my family’s photos every year and she is just the very best at it. I myself have never once taken a satisfactory photo of my quilts, and I have photographed about 40 of them so far.
So exciting things are on the horizon for La Bizarra, and I can’t wait to show them to everyone.
You thought I was going to post step one, and then forget to ever post a step two, didn’t you…Sounds like me. But nope, I got your back. So although step one was (mostly) optional (you still need to trim your quilt if you didn’t serge the edges), you should read step one first.
You will also need to create your binding. I always cut my binding at 2 1/2 inches, and all the measurements I use in this tutorial are based on 2 1/2 inch binding strips. I do this primarily because I can find pre-cut 2.5 inch strips if I want to save time, and I can use the leftover strips or even just 2.5 inch squares that are leftover from the binding for lots of things. Here’s a quick how-to on creating your binding.
- Cut your fabric into 2.5 inch strips along WOF (width of fabric…from selvedge to selvedge) –if the need ever arises, you can also cut strips along length of fabric or cut bias binding strips, but that’s not what I typically do because I want to make the most economical use of my fabric in general.
2. Sew them together end to end, where you’re sewing the ends perpendicular, at a 45 degree angle. This disperses the bulk of those seams along the binding.
3. Trim off the corners of those seams, leaving only a quarter inch seam allowance, and fold the binding lengthwise, pressing mightily with a hot hot iron. I like to wind it around an empty spool as I press it to keep it neat and tidy, and tightly pressed.
Now that you have your binding, you will start stitching it down to the front of your quilt, with the raw edge about 1/8 inch away from the edge of your quilt. (With my serged quilt edges, I just make sure about 1/2 of the serged up stitches are showing.) Start at a corner, leaving just an inch or two extra off the corner. Remember, I prefer my method of binding primarily because there is so little wasted binding and only two such small tails, the one here, and the one at the end, that will be connected to this one.
So this is what my first stitches look like. I have left just a 1-2 inch long tail, and I’ve started stitching 3/8 inches down from the top quilt edge, and 3/8 inches in from my quilt’s right edge (the 1/8″ of edge that is showing + the 1/4″ of binding that one typically uses as a seam allowance). I measure this 3/8 inch at every corner, so I keep a tiny ruler nearby, and a frixion pen to mark it. I back stitch after my first stitches to secure that corner.
At the next three corners, I mark 3/8″ from the next edge of the quilt, and sew to that point, back stitch, and cut my thread. I then use a little mitered corner clip tool (pictured), but this is just for accuracy. This is the same corner folding method that countless binding tutorials use. I am folding the binding back over on itself, then out along the next edge at a 90 degree angle, leaving a 45 degree fold in the binding right at the corner. Then I start my stitching again right over that fold.
When I get to the final corner, this is the only place where my binding is a little different then most. I use the no tails binding method (demonstrated with remarkable clarity in this tutorial from Flourishing Palms) on this final corner, leaving me with a stitched up mitered corner (the other three corners are just folded) and no tails to connect or stitch down.
At the final corner, I mark my 3/8″ from the bottom as I approach, then back stitch my final stitches up to that mark.
I trim off my binding, leaving that same tiny tail that I started with, just 1-2 inches. If all your measurements were correct, your first stitch and last stitch should be essentially on top of one another.
Then I use that line I just marked as the bottom of a right triangle that I am about to draw. With my measurements, I line the corner of my little ruler up so that each end of the line is at 5/8″ on the ruler. Then I trace the corner of the ruler to create my right angle.
Then you simply stitch along that right angle. Back stitch at the beginning and end, this becomes your stitched mitered corner. Trim off to leave just a little seam allowance.
Stitched up mitered corner. (Edit: this photo and the way the star print fits make this look like a super jagged line. It is not. It is just yer average 45 degree corner seam) And you are all prepared for Step Three.
Yesterday was a huge binding day for me. This year has been an incredibly productive one for me, as far as quilt making goes, and I think a key to this has been the systematic approach I’ve ironically just stumbled into. I spend a few days just cutting the fabrics for several quilts that I have planned. I spend a few more days just piecing those together. This week, I spent all of Saturday just cutting and adding borders to 3 different quilts. Then I get my machine all set up and foot swapped out for my free motion foot, and spend an entire day (or 2…or 7) just quilting all those quilts.
This has worked out so well because I’m just changing out my thread and bobbin color on quilting days and for each particular quilt. I get so much more piecing done when I can keep the white cotton thread and bobbins going, no changes.
So today was a binding day. And since I don’t know anyone who does their binding the same way I do, I figured this was a good opportunity to post a tutorial. First tutorial!
I exclusively machine bind (I don’t hand bind. I know a lot of quilters have attitude about that, but I simply feel no shame in my game), and I use a combination of the no-tails binding method (see this excellent tutorial by Flourishing Palms for a detailed look) and the more typical folded corners method. The traditional (with tails method) has always bothered me because it requires you to leave an additional 10-15 inches of binding loose before you start stitching, and then you lose most of that when you attach the tails together at the end of your binding. The no-tails method only uses an extra inch or two at each corner, which is better, and easier, IMO. But the way I do it, I only need an extra 2-3 inches of binding. So much less waste. And you get one stitched up mitered corner, and three folded over mitered corners. It’s hard to explain. Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who does their binding the same way that I do. This does NOT mean my way is superior. But I dig it. So I’ll show you.
Today, I’ll show you step one, which is a completely optional step, really. But I’ve started doing it, and I highly recommend it. I serge all the way around the perimeter of my quilt sandwich using my Brother Serger. Not everyone has a serger, and for quilters, they are completely unnecessary. But I happen to have one because it’s fun and easy to make and mend baby hats and tshirts and blankets. It’s also nice to be able to quickly mend all the clothing in my home with no loose edges to get frayed in the laundry. You know I’m not hand washing ANYTHING, right?
Although completely unnecessary, if you have one, this is yet another fun use for it. Serging the quilt sandwich tightly connects all three layers so that when you stitch your binding on, your backing can’t fold over and get caught up, and your batting can’t wiggle its way out and make you miss your backing in the stitches. Also, if it takes you awhile to bind your quilts, they are protected from fraying while they sit around in the queue, and if there is some sort of emergency (an incident involving cat vomit comes to my mind, but i’m trying to forget) you can wash that quilt before it’s bound, and it will survive.
You will need to trim the edges of your quilt sandwich at some point anyway, so this just does that for me. The serger winds thread around the perimeter of the quilt, sealing in its quilty juices, and cuts off anything to the right of this thread web with its helpful blade. So I simply run each quilt through, one edge at a time, with the metal line of my serger foot (shown at the bottom of the lightning bolt in photo) directly aligned with the edge of my fabric. Where fabric meets batting. If you’re a little off, it doesn’t matter too much, as you’ll see in the next steps. I’m very imperfect at all of my steps.
I cut off the thread tails at each corner and that’s it!
Look at that delicious stack of serged quilts! They are ready and waiting for step 2.