Market is coming… again! And cool news from Aurifil!

Spring Quilt Market is coming up, starting May 14th in Minneapolis this year. Like other people in the industry, I’m beginning to dig into the final stretch of work that needs to be done. I’m again doing some fast sewing for Hoffman Fabrics, with the help of some dear friends who are offering up Stunt Sewing services. Keep an eye on @huntersds on Instagram for images as we crank out a bunch of quilts this week! It’s all good and exciting stuff – new patterns made from new fabrics – and it’s been a real bummer to not be able to share most of it with you during the development.

But I will be able to share SOON. Really SOON. Once I’m allowed to blab I’ll be blabbing and sharing pix, and offering up some free stuff, so watch this space!

One thing I CAN blab about is this…

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Yes, that’s my smiling face on the box! I was approached last year by the ever charming Alex Veronelli of Aurifil to pair a collection of thread to Hoffman’s batiks. This is the result! And I’ll be releasing the quilt pattern that goes with it for market, so you’ll see it here shortly.

I chose bright, summery colors of batiks, and matched them up with bold, bright colors from Aurifil.

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Yes, there is ORANGE! But also red, yellow, blues, purple, greens, teal, and a medium gray for everyday piecing. They are all 50wt, my favorite, and not just because it’s on an ORANGE spool! I love the finer weights for both quilting and piecing.

I’ll have one to give away soon!

In the meantime… back to the sewing machine!

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Free Pattern – Washable Veggie Bags

I have another freebie for you over at Janome’s site! This time, a fast way to make cloth bags to take to the farmers market or grocery store.

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One yard of fabric quickly turns into SIX bags of different sizes. And you just know you have a yard of something in your stash that you might no longer need to keep :-)

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I’ve been carrying bags like this, along with my re-usable shopping bags, for a couple of years. I always get compliments about how cute they are, and how cool it is to use one less plastic bag. And if they get wet or dirty, you can pop them into the laundry with your towels.

The link to the project is here – enjoy!

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Final QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 13 – ORANGE – with me!

You made it! Lucky 13 ends here with me, and of course, with the ORANGE bucket!

ORANGE Bucket

Here’s a link to the ORANGE pattern, and here’s a link to the instructions on how to construct all the color buckets (you only need to download this once).

It was pointed out to me that the ORANGE bucket seems to have a bit more work in the fabrics – to which I can only say “guilty as charged!” ORANGE is definitely my favorite color, and I had strips left over from making another project, so it was perfect.

Thank you for hopping along, and I hope you’re inspired to make a project talk with some words! If you didn’t yet purchase your copy of Quilt Talk, you can get a signed copy here. You can also hit up your local quilt shop or indie bookstore – remember, the price difference between the local store and Amazon is only about the cost of a frothy coffee or a half yard of fabric – so please give your local stores some love or they won’t be there when you need them!

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And finally – I have goodies for you! In addition to an autographed book, I have a package of my favorite newsprint paper-piecing paper, a hunk of Timtex and fusible fleece to get you started on a bucket, printouts of all the color words on the newsprint, and some Sassy Buttons. And if there’s room in the envelope, maybe other things!

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In your comments, please talk quilty to me! Tell me which words you’d use on your wordy quilt. Random.org will help me choose a winner on Monday Oct 27, after I get back from Houston Quilt Market (where I plan to take a lot of pix, so follow @huntersds on Instagram, or here on Facebook.

ALSO – when I get back from Quilt Market, look for a photo tutorial on how to make the buckets!

A LAST REMINDER: Hop back to these great people to grab any missing color patterns!

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 11 – BLACK – with Cheryl Sleboda

Day 11 is here! We’re doing the Quilt Talk BLACK bucket with the Mistress of the Sewing Skull goodies, Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com!

BLACK Bucket

Once I put the BLACK bucket together, I knew I needed to call Cheryl to see if she would host all those dancing skeletons! I’m so thrilled she said yes!

Cheryl is a whirling dervish of innovative quilt stuff: she’s done a lot with LEDs and electronics as fun light-up accessories for quilts, and she has revived some classic smocking techniques for quilts, yes quilts, in a sweet DVD.

I don’t have a pic of us together to share, but I’ll be getting one next week at Quilt Market, so keep your eyes peeled!

When I found out Cheryl was a comic book industry exec (I can hear my geeky son swooning at the thought) I thought she was pretty dang cool. Then she started posting all these beauty shots of one certain classic Mustang, and let’s just say I’m determined to be her new bestie.

Cheryl and Mustang

I’m a car girl through and through, and this pale yellow beauty, below, used to be my chariot of choice. A ’65 Impala 327 SS Convertible… glass packs and a 4-barrel carb – 13 to the gallon and oh, so fast!

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I still happily drive a sports car as my daily driver. Our family motto is “Fly casual, Chewie.” (Not the actual quote, but hey, it’s close, and it gets the meaning across!) Here she is this afternoon, and yes, fall is upon us here in PDX!

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Please hop over to Cheryl and check out her goodies, and grab the BLACK bucket pattern while you’re there!

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 10 – GRAY – with Maddie Kertay

Day 10 takes us down south to Chattanooga, TN, and into the arms of the inimitable Maddie Kertay of the BadAss Quilters Society, and of the new quilt shop Spool. Gray is the color for the day!

GRAY Bucket

You might not know that I spent my formative years hopping back and forth between England and the US, and because of that, I have some blind spots in my ability to spell. The word GRAY/GREY is one of those spots. I had to research this one before making the pattern… it turns out that A belongs to the US and E belongs to everywhere else. I put both in the pattern so that wherever you are, you’ll be OK!

And now, to Maddie. I adore this woman. She is all-out inspiration, living life large, but the best part about that is she encourages those of us around her to do the same. She started BAQS when one person too many told her to be a bit more seemly, and to make her quilts fit their definition of proper. Not only did Maddie rebel, she made a place for all of us to go be ourselves. Acceptance is the first tenet of BAQS, and being totally, beautifully, uniquely YOU is the next, and “be nice” is the third – no flame wars allowed! AND she dived into making a quilt for the book with wild abandon! (See the pix on her hop)

Beyond that, she is the champion of MANY in the quilt arena. She is a wise business woman who uses her powers for good, the embodiment of one of my favorite quotes from Madeleine Albright:

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She helps those of us around her, coaching us all to shine a bit brighter. She promotes and links and shares and praises the things she believes in with generous abandon, and I’m a very, very grateful recipient of her TLC.

She’s also a dear, dear pal. I ended up in the hospital during last quilt market, and she and Megan Dougherty scrambled their schedules to make sure I had a friend with me pretty much until I got discharged. Lucky me, I get to take another picture like this one next week in Houston! (while avoiding the hospital like the plague!)

Maddie and Sam

Please hop over to Maddie, and if you haven’t joined BAQS yet, please do so… it’s one place you can go to just make the quilts you love to make.

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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Tablescapes

Tablescapes. This word has risen out of the noise at me a few times in the last couple of weeks… and, being a Word Girl, I pay attention when words poke at me.

The first mention of it was a call from one of my distributors for the loan of quilt samples in one of a few categories for the upcoming Quilt Market in Houston (the last weekend of October). The second mention was last weekend, when I demoed at a local distributor’s big new stuff shindig… “Do you have any patterns for tablescapes?” Ummm… no.

So off to the modern day oracle for an image search to go with the word, and yikes!

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(Yes, I picked an ORANGE image, because, well, ORANGE.)

Confession…. I missed this class in school, and I have avoided it like the plague on Pinterest. While I love to have friends over for food and board games, I put my energy into making things like pots de crème instead, and if we manage to eat off real plates with cloth napkins I feel like I’ve appeased Martha just a wee bit and call it a win. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty of a table set like this (I love me some beauty), I just don’t care about creating it – I’d rather make more desserts. And if I had the space to keep all this extra kitchen/table stuff around (I don’t) I would have filled it with fabric long ago.

So back to the pattern requests for tablescapes. Another return to the oracle reveals that, yep, there are lots of quilted table runner and placemat patterns out there.

As it happens, I designed some cheeky placemats for Quilt Talk not knowing that they were part of the tablescape clan, but frankly, the idea that gravy could be spilled on something I bound by hand gives me the willies.

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I just can’t imagine putting a pretty table runner down the center of a big, noisy, family dinner and have it escape unscathed. And the last thing I want to think about during a big, noisy, family dinner is keeping the tablecloth clean… I’d rather eat and laugh.

And so… I have questions. Why are table runner patterns popular? Do the runners get used? Close to food, or only decoratively? Is it because, as a smaller project, they are easier to make? Easier to quilt/wrangle on a domestic machine? More affordable in terms of materials? Great/fast/small as gifts?

And if I did design one, what matters about the design? Size? Customizable size? Scrap or pre-cut? Or….?

And… should I be designing them? While I design mostly for what turns me on, I’m no fool. If my readers want something, I’m interested in seeing if I can point my design head towards it, with the understanding that it’s MY design head, which means if I’m not turned on by the idea I won’t put my energy there. Trust me, you don’t want things that are made by people who aren’t turned on by making them! Passion matters!

Let me know your thoughts!

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Square Pegs for Hoffman – plus a fabric giveaway!

If you didn’t already know, I frequently sew for Hoffman Fabrics: they send me pix of their new stuff; I choose a couple of colorways and offer pattern choices; we shake hands on an idea; they send fabric; and I start sewing.*

New collections are ready to debut, so they reached out for a quilt. This time, we chose one of my newest patterns, Square Pegs:

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While the cover quilt leans more “modern” with its clean colors, I’ve been interested in seeing it rendered in batik. There’s been much discussion of late in as to whether batiks can play well in the modern quilt arena (I contributed to an article in the latest Gen Q mag about it). My answer to the question is YES, of course batiks can be “modern.” I think how you categorize a quilt is as just as much a function of the pattern design as it is the fabric choice, and as long as you play by good fabric choice rules (mind your values… watch out for too much medium tone mush), batiks are a fabulous choice.

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Batiks are also a fit for our current hand-made vibe – they are still hand printed, even at the volumes the quilt world consumes. And if you need more eco-assurance, Hoffman has some lovely environmentally careful practices around the water used to make their pretty fabrics.

Anyway, back to that quilt. Like last time, I posted Instagram pix (@huntersds) in real time, and shot them out to the HDS FB page (please go like it! thank you!), answering questions along the way. And feel free to ask more questions over there or in the comments below.

So – fabric choices! The pattern needs 12 quarters (fat or long, or a mixture) and a chunk of background. As you know, I usually lean ORANGE, but this time I was intrigued by the elegance of these cooler colors:

Hoffman for Sq Pegs

They are much prettier than they look in the long shots on Instagram! The background is not pure white, it’s a subtle, very light, mottled blue-gray – it’s part of the Watercolor series (Snow 1895-307) which are the solid-reading batiks. The light gray at top right became the binding. And look at the bold graphic designs in the prints!

For the curious, it took approximately 22 hours over the course of 3 days. Yes, I’m pretty speedy (#sewingatthespeedofsam was coined by my friend, Z-Girl) BUT – truly, this is a speedy quilt to make. It’s all straight seams and easy construction, with lots of negative space for you to quilt-doodle through. Yes, I sew fast, but the pattern choice didn’t hurt!

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For an even faster finish, you could skip the pieced border if you like, or sew these parts together as “leaders and enders” as suggested by one of my Stunt Peeps** if you sew that way. I also copied the quilting I had done on the earlier one, which meant I didn’t spend design time testing different quilting ideas. It’s easy straight lines following the lines of the blocks, and simple stippling in alternating spaces for extra texture.

On the first day I made the blocks and the border; on the second I set it into a quilt top, made the back (ran errands, had the car break down, got towed), and basted it; and on the third, I quilted and bound it (catching up on Mad Men) – and in a rare moment of having it all together, got the sleeve and label into the binding process rather than putting them on, cussing, as an afterthought! If making it for a client, I would bid 28 hours of time to allow for more unique designing if needed, and possibly surprise them with a discount if I beat my time.

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And so to giving away fabric! I have 2 bundles…

Bundle 1: A Square Pegs pattern plus 14 almost Fat Quarters – I cut a couple of the fabrics wrong, so they’re a tad short (wasn’t wearing my glasses… sigh) so you get the 12 you need for the pattern and a couple extra because I’m a goof (and the pattern doesn’t use the entire FQ so you’ll have plenty if you want to use them for this).

Bundle 1

Bundle 2: A Square Pegs pattern plus all my big scraps – most of which are 1/4 yard or more. You’ll have enough to do the non-background parts of the top, but might need to be creative with how you cut. And I might put in some ORANGE just because.

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Comment below to win – and tell me what you think of batiks as potential modern fabrics. And yes, you’re welcome to disagree with me – I love the discussion! I’ll choose winners on Friday. And yes, this is open to international folks too.

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* I disclose my arrangement with Hoffman Fabrics out of a desire to be transparent in the name of my commitment to the We Are $ew Worth It movement. That said, I love working with Hoffman, and like and respect their people – and wouldn’t play with them if I didn’t! I only do what works for me with people I like :-)

**Square Pegs was test driven by Stunt Sewist Peeps Karyn, Jennifer, Karen and Julie!

New Pattern – Star Stuff!

Another new pattern!

StarStuff - Cover 300dpiAnd so named for Carl Sagan’s statement that “we are star stuff,” made of the hydrogen atoms that are the stuff of life. I like the idea that we all have a bit of sparkle within us.

It’s a paper-piecing pattern – four identical quadrants make up one 15” finished star. I give pre-cutting instructions for paper-piecing, which minimizes fabric waste, and makes construction a little more efficient. If you can paper-piece and sew a decent 1/4” seam, you got this!

The pattern includes instructions for 6 quilt sizes from crib to king. You could bust some stash with it, or play with radiant colors like I did on the cover quilt.* I used leftovers to make the scrappy binding. The pattern also includes a  copy-able sketch sheet that you can fill with color for design purposes.

Color in Star pattern

It’s available in the shop here (will ship by the end of the week) or as PDF here immediately. It’s also carried by major distributors, so ask for it at your local quilt store.

Enjoy!

* Disclosure: this quilt is made with Kaufman Kona Solids, mostly purchased by me, and the rest generously supplied by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. The blocks were constructed by my lovely stunt sewists Abby, Jennifer, Julia, Julie and Julie!

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New Sassy Buttons!

The last minute prep for Spring Quilt Market is under way… the suitcases are out, the new pattern samples are with the distributors (I’ll give you a peek next week), and I have one load of laundry left to go.

One of the things I always take to market are Sassy Buttons… usually a bag of the latest and favorites, along with a bag of brand new ones, hot off the presses, to share and test. But it hardly seems fair to exclude you, dear readers, from the newest sass! So here they are:

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If you’re interested in winning a set, leave a comment telling me which one you would give to a specific friend and why – I’ll draw after I get back from Market next week. YES, if you’re outside of the USA, you can play too :-)

As for Market – keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram ( @ huntersds ) – I’ll be posting pix there for you too. If there’s something specific you want me to look for, please mention it on FB and I’ll do what I can to track down a picture for you.

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

 

 

Finishing Birch Bark

The games continued yesterday, and as promised, here are more detailed shots and more process information as I finished the Birch Bark quilt for Hoffman Fabrics. As always – if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer as best I can!

The first job of the day was to make the backing. I had yardage for this, so no pieced backing needed. One seam did the trick. BTW, if you don’t have the Creative Grids yardstick ruler, you NEED one. I can’t believe how much I use it.

IMG_4967It’s still important to take off the selvedges on the seams for a back. You’ll notice that they are often tighter than the rest of the fabric, so if still in the seam they can lead to puckers on the back. Also, and again especially with batiks with their denser weave, the thicker edge can make you break a needle. I used a 1/4 inch seam and pressed it to one side. Had I been sending it to a long arm artist, I would have used a 1/2 inch seam for extra insurance, and pressed it open to reduce density (or asked for the artist’s preferences).

I use spray baste, specifically 505. I think it is the least smelly of the bunch, and holds well for a long time (seriously, I’ve had stuff spray basted in the bottom of the closet for a couple of years and didn’t need to re-do it when the time came to quilt it). When I started using spray, I didn’t get shown how by the people that “knew” so I daresay my method could be considered wrong. But it works well for me with the studio tools I have available so let me see if I can explain it well in pix (one of these days I swear I will attempt video).

First I clip the back down to my table. It’s one of those old, heavy, particle board affairs and it’s perfect for the job. Just like when you pin baste, it’s important to have a smooth tension on it, but don’t stretch the back or you WILL get wrinkles. I work from top to bottom on the quilt, not from the center. The TOP is on the left for reference.

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Then I lay the batting and top onto it. BTW – see the fan in the background – you need to have some type of fan pulling the air out of your space when you do this… I also cover all the important stuff with old sheets because it will all get sticky otherwise!

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I fold them both back, and spray the backing fabric (imagine video of me spraying here)

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Then I smooth the batting down, and spray the batting. I start at the center and move towards the edges. But don’t stretch!

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Then smooth the top down the same way.

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At this point, it’s glued from the top to the edge of the table. I unclip everything, move it towards the top so that all but about 4 inches of the the glued stuff is hanging off the top edge of the table.

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Then I re-clip the top edge (that’s glued) on the outside of the sandwich, and re-clip the backing only at the bottom edge.

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Now, we’re doing the same thing, but working from the other side of the table. Spray the backing and smooth down the batting.

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Then spray the batting, and smooth down the top. And move it again. Once you get to the bottom of the quilt, only move it as much as needed to get the bottom of the quilt onto the table. This stops you from overspraying batting and backing that might go back into your stash.

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Once all the spraying is done, unclip everything and give it a trim. I trim about an inch away.

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And done. A quick flip to the back to see if there are any wrinkles that need attending to…

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Looks good. And now onto quilting! I put this one back on the design wall to contemplate it. My first thought was to do a spiral, but that involves a lot of turning on the quilt, and remember, this one needed to get finished quickly. So I decided to go with a straight line pattern – fast and easy to do with a walking foot. This design was inspired by something my friend Flaun did recently on a commission. I set the lines on diagonal so as not to run into issues keeping them parallel to the seams in the top.

Another reason for choosing this design is that every line starts and stops OFF the edges. This also reduces the time spent pulling up threads or burying them later.

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I needed to find the right starting point for the center, and the “rule of thirds” worked well here… things that are off center in such a way that they align with thirds are usually pleasing to the eye. Here’s the third in both directions marked with a square of batting so you can see it:

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I chalked out the initial X of the design while it was on the wall so that I could see the angles.

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BTW – I used a Chaco Liner in white for this. I find the white comes off dark fabric easily, although sometimes it can be faint. I wanted a fine line to follow, and this does fine lines beautifully. I will also say that I use their other colors with reservation… sometimes they don’t come out too well. In their defense, Clover states in a blog post I dug up that they were designed for marking dress seams and darts that would be hidden, so it coming out quilts wasn’t part of the product design.

I chalked out one quadrant – one of the smaller ones to start with.

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And now to thread choices! I have a lot of Robison Anton rayon threads in my studio. I bought them before I discovered the likes of Aurifil (my #1 piecing thread) and Isacord (which I like to quilt with too), so I still use them. No sense in waste! I have quilting friends that don’t like to use rayon for “utility” quilts – those that will get used and washed a lot – as they might be too delicate and break under wear and tension. Most of my quilts are designed for photographing on pattern covers, and then carted around for trunk shows. So while I would never use nasty cheap thread, the RA is fine for how I use my quilts. I do have some utility quilts that have RA quilting that is holding up just fine – so as always – your mileage may vary!

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I ended up choosing an ORANGE. Surprise! I also want to show you these – they are Steady Betty Bands. They wrap around the palm of your hand to give you traction while quilting. I quilt with my palms, not my finger tips, so most of the gloves don’t work well for me. I also like that I can re-thread the machine or handle scissors with them on. They could be a prettier color though!

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And on to quilting! I marked one quadrant and quilted it before marking the next so as not to rub off all my chalk lines. For reference, it took 2 bobbins worth of thread to complete. The quilting unfortunately doesn’t show up well on this picture – often times the quilting on batiks gets lost in the fabric patterns.

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And onto the binding. Again, I put the quilt back on the wall while I worked out the binding choices. I had two ORANGE fabrics to work with, and liked the darker one better.

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I like to make bias binding when I can. I don’t find it any harder to cut and sew, and I like how it settles in on the edge.

How to calculate? Perimeter +20 (for goof-ups) times 2 1/2′ (width of binding), then divided by 40 (the width of the fabric), then rounded up to the next whole number, plus one (for goof-ups). In this case that was 18” x WOF. And I had about 30” left over so pretty dang perfect!

I lay it out on the mat, and make the first 45 degree cut at one corner.

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Then cut the rest of the fabric in 2 1/2” strips.

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And finally, take that first triangle that was left behind and cut it too. I leave behind the last corner triangles – usually anything under 8” (that’s why the +20 and round-up in my calculations)

Sew them end to end. Mind your right sides and wrong sides with batiks!

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Press those seams open, and the press the whole thing wrong sides together.

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And here’s the last edge getting sewn down. I join my edges with a bias seam, but that’s a game for a different post!

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Last step – I press the binding out so that when I do the hand work it folds over better.

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And DONE. This step, from making the back to ironing the binding was about 5 hours, sewing at the Speed of Sam!

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I sew the back of the binding down by hand because I like how it looks. This one took me the length of the Avengers movie on Netflix and a healthy dose of chocolate!

Total time for the entire project is right around 12 hours – but I was seriously hustling. If I was bidding it as a custom job for someone I would estimate 15 hours for safety, and surprise them with a little discount if I finished faster.

Questions? Do ask! I’m happy to help you make more quilts!

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!