Friday, May 18, 2012

Pinwheel quilt: sashing & borders

With the utility stiching-in-the-ditch completed, it's time to show off some stitching on the surface of the fabric. Although these are twin quilts, they are different, just like the girls will be. First off, I  stitched these novelty blocks with a straight grid design, while the other novelty blocks had a quilted echoed pinwheel design (see previous post).

Also shown on this block are the wavy lines quilted in the green sashing strips. I did this by choosing #4 stitch on my Bernina 153 and elongating the stitch length to about 3.5, which automatically made the wavy line design. Use the walking foot and your wide stitch throat plate. As each wavy line is completed, reset the machine to a straight stitch and travel in the ditch to get to the next part of green sashing and reset to the wavy line (my machine remembers the previous set-up at the touch of the button).

The pink inner border has free-form quilted loops, requiring feed dogs to be down on the machine and a free-form quilting foot. I use the open toe foot #24 for best visibility.

On the outer scrappy-pieced border, I quilted a meandering line and inserted random spiral designs.

A look at the back shows the quilting. The same fabric was used for the binding.

The other quilt has a different green sashing with a marked ocean wave design. A gray inner border features the same wavy line using the Bernina #4 stitch, with the elongated (3.5) stitch length.

The outer border was also quilted with a meandering line but I inserted six-spoked stars throughout.

A soft green flannel with daisies backs the second quilt and I used the same hot pink binding as the first quilt.

Copyright©2012, Sharon Baggs

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday. She is away from me as she turns 23, serving with the Peace Corps in Indonesia. I remember the day she was born, just after Mother's Day when I was overdue with her and so anxious for her arrival . We didn't know if our baby was going to be a boy or a girl. It had been over 40 years since a girl was born on my husband's side of the family, so we were thanked many times when they heard the news. A joyful memory...and we got our boy two years later!

Copyright©2012, Sharon Baggs

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How to quilt a pinwheel block

After the quilt is layered and pinned, the first step to secure the layers is to quilt in-the-ditch. It seems self-explanatory but at first I really didn't know what this meant. A stitch-in-the-ditch is a stitch taken into the seam line, that hidden place where two pieces of fabric are joined by stitching when piecing. By quilting into the seam line, the piecing stitches are being locked-in and secured. This is what it looks like:

Begin with 1/4" of small stitches to secure the beginning, then stitch on one side of the sashing strips, pivot the needle to stitch in the ditch across the bottom and quilt up the other side, and tie off the thread with another 1/4" of small stiches. I did all the inner sashing strips before quilting all the way around the perimeter, still in the ditch between the blocks and inner border.

In addition to stitching the layers together, the ditch also provides a means for travelling from one point of quilting to another without having to stop and start a new line of quilting. This is very helpful when quilting the blocks.

I tried googling "how to quilt a pinwheel block". All I got was piecing instructions, which is not the same, so let me share a couple of ideas on how to do this. I quilted the pieced pinwheel blocks by stitching-in-the-ditch. Quilting between the seamed pieces from one corner to the other, pivoting and stitching in the outer edge (ditch). This is basic utility stitching that works well. Another option would be to quilt some free form swirls or a curved arch on each piece of the pinwheel to create some movement. This can be done in addition to, or instead of, stitching-in-the-ditch.

To keep a consistent design that will show nicely on the back, I decided to quilt a pinwheel design on the novelty square framed block to echo the pinwheel block next to it. When I did this I also used blue painter's tape, a very low adhesive tape that provides a guide for quilting straight lines without having to mark the fabric. Use an acrylic ruler to find the center of the square and lay the tape alongside it.

Begin stitching at the edge of the center mark, being careful to stitch next to the tape but not into it.

Travel from the side edge to the corner by stitching-in-the-ditch.

Remove the tape and position it on the diagonal. Keep the needle in the down position while adjusting the tape, then pivot in line with the tape. Stitch from the corner to the opposite diagonal corner.

When you get to the final line, check to make sure your tape is positioned right where the threads have been quilted in the center, then adjust the tail ends of the tape to the corners.

When you're finished, it should look like this:

Copyright©2012, Sharon Baggs