Innocent Until Proven Quilty – The Home Run

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Apologies for this post being a week or two later than expected. It seems that at the beginning of this project when I feared, I quote, I had “bitten off more than I can chew”, I was quite right. This installment could just as easily be entitled, ‘Innocent until proven quilty – the final straw’ or ‘the dead end’ or ‘losing the will to live’. Yes folks, I’m afraid to admit that at times, making a quilt the size of a small loch really has proven to be a horrible decision.

However, the good news is that, a little late or not, the quilt is FINISHED and I have made it through with all my faculties intact and, just about, a smile on my face. Along the way I have also undoubtedly improved my nack behind the sewing machine, overcome many an obstacle and developed what can only be described as impeccable quilting character. The path to success is a narrow one, my friends, DON’T QUIT ON THE QUILT.

Ok, so if you’ve made it through the last few instalments (part 1, part 2, part 3), the bulk of the work is done and you’re ready just to fix the whole thing together – the quilting bit – and tidy the whole thing up. You really are highly accomplished individual. Give yourself a pat on the back. Here we go.

Fixing together your layers

Measure the dimensions of your quilt and get a piece of ‘sheeting’ fabric a couple of inches bigger in every direction just to be on the safe side. It is actually easy enough, and most cost effective, just to buy a cheap flat sheet  – I needed a king size! Lay it out on a flat surface (probably the floor if it’s huge), face down, and tape the corners in place to the floor to stop it all wrinkling up.

Lay your wadding on top. Again, get a little more than you need so that there is a couple of inches extra around the edge. I’ve gone for quite a light density but you can pick whatever you like – again, it is fairly inexpensive and available from most sewing shops. Depending on the size of your quilt and the size of the roll in the shop, you may need to cut two pieces and use a big running stitch to secure them together in the middle.

Finally, lay your patchwork on top. Pin all three layers together and then tack them all together by hand using a large running stitch (it doesn’t have to be neat at all) all the way around the edge. You can then remove the pins and the whole thing will stay together and be much easier to handle.

The quilty bit

Now we’re going to officially fix the whole thing together. There are a few ways of doing this depending on what you fancy and whether or not you’ve been vigilant enough to get all your patches lined up.

If the seams of your patchwork all meet up neatly then you can go ahead and do what is traditionally known as ‘stitch in the ditch’ – running the sewing machine along all your straight seams ‘in the ditches’ (like a grid) so that on the front the stitching is barely visible and on the back you have a square grid pattern. Alternatively you could machine long straight diagonal lines both ways through all your squares so that you have a cross through every square on the front and a diamond pattern on the back. The world is your oyster.

If not all your patchwork squares line up perfectly (like mine, cough), don’t worry, there are all sorts of tricks to get around it. For a start, you should have at least your horizontal lines nice and straight (from joining up your rows) so you can run the sewing machine along those ditches to make a stripe pattern on the back. Alternatively, you can do as I have and fix the front to the back by hand-stitching (I really am a glutton for punishment) buttons to the front, so that you stitch through all the layers and fix them together at regular intervals across the quilt where the seams meet (see picture). Either way, by the end of this step, your quilt should be all fixed together nice and securely and should be looking promisingly quilty!

Bind us together

All that’s left to do now is to add the binding to the edge of the quilt to get it all looking neat and tidy. First, trim back the excess wadding and sheeting around the edge of the quilt and measure around the edge, adding a few inches for good measure. This will tell you how much binding you need to cut.

Iron the fabric you are going to use for your binding, It is up to you how thick you have your binding – because of the size of my quilt I am going to do mine 1.5 inches thick but you may want yours slightly thinner if your quilt is smaller. Times this by 4 and cut strips of fabric (as long as you can out of the fabric you have) this width – so I was cutting strips of fabric 6 inches wide.

        

Sew the strips together at the ends by facing the strips together and machine stitching the seam. Then press the seam. Sew as many strips together as you need to until you have enough length to go right the way around the quilt.

Next, using a hot steam iron, press the fabric so that it becomes half the width. Then fold the edges into the pressed seam and press again(see picture) , and finally fold them together and press again so that you have a long piece of binding your desired width (mine is 1.5 inches).

        

Starting in the middle of one of the sides of your quilt and leaving a couple of inches of excess binding dangling, unfold and pin the binding (face to face) around the edge of the quilt.

Machine sew the binding right around the edge of the quilt at the first pressed fold. Stop 1.5 inches (or whatever width you are working to)before you get to a corner, remove from the machine, fold the binding down at a right angle as pictured so that there is excess fabric at the corner, and then continue sewing down the next seam from the very top.

        

When you get to where you started, fold over the excess you left at the beginning and sew the end of the strip right across the fold. This should tuck all the seams in neatly.

Now fold the binding up and over the edge of the quilt, tucking in the pressed fold on the other side and pinning it to the back of your quilt. Your corners should be revealed as pictured. Slip stitch by hand the binding to the back of the quilt and secure the corners in the same way.

Now you can remove the big tacking stitches that you originally used to fix the layers together and trim off any loose threads and YOU HAVE DONE IT!!!!! That really is worth an olympic medal. Just think of the generations to come that will be all cosy in it.

Feel free to get in touch if you need a little advice or just some cheering from the sidelines to encourage you along!