Monday, August 16, 2010

Quilt Step Six: The Quilt Sandwich

Disclaimer: I am in no way a quilting expert. I have learned solely from trial and error (emphasis on error) and reading on the internet. I have only made 4 quilt tops and have hand quilted 1 top and machine quilted 4 tops. I am not saying everything I do is the right way to do it, just sharing what I've picked up so far. You'll probably learn best by trial and error too ;-)

I finally decided to hand quilt the Scrap Happy quilt. I will probably be cussing myself over this decision in the near future, but I did have sound reasoning: First of all, I only have the pieces to do up to a queen sized quilt on my machine. I can move up to a king-size, but it would probably cost me about $30 to get bigger pieces for the frame. If I were going to be making more quilts, that would be reasonable, but I don't expect to be making a whole lot of king quilts. Second, I don't have a long-arm quilting machine, I just have a nifty frame that allows me to quilt easily on my regular machine. One drawback to it is that as you go along (and more material is rolled up on the'll see that with the other quilt as I machine quilt it), you have a smaller and smaller area to quilt at one time. The end result is that the only feasible quilting pattern that I can do with my set-up that won't look totally ridiculous on this quilt is a random meandering pattern done with invisible thread, which I wasn't thrilled about for this pattern. Third, I need to practice my hand quilting anyway.

The first step to quilting is to come up with a backing. Because this quilt is so big, I would need just over 8 yards of fabric to make a back. That gets expensive. Lucky me, my grandmother gifted me several sets of sheets a little while ago. They are perfectly fine and were still in the package, but they are many decades old and apparently mattresses are thicker now, so the sheets don't really fit well. We had been using them on the girl's bed, but we have other sheets that work better. So I picked out a set that I think compliments this quilt pretty well and decided to use that as my backing fabric. It's free! It's scrappy! It's perfect for Scrap Happy! Now, ideally, I would have put the seam of the back down the center of the quilt (or patched four big squares that were centered, or something else along those lines). Frankly, I'm getting big and pregnant and lazy and the only centered option I could come up with was to lay my flat sheet diagonally and then cut up the fitted sheet to fill in the four corners, then make sure it was all centered. Blah, to say the least. And I risked messing up and having to start all over again in my quest for cheap fabric. So I opted to do a totally not centered seam. Slightly tacky? yes. County fair worthy? no. But it'll keep us just as warm in the winter, so I went with the easy option.

So without further ado, here is a picture of the sheets I'm using:

I ripped out the seam that made a wider border at the top of the sheet so that I had a little more fabric to work with, and I cut the elastic and corners out of the fitted sheet. Then I laid out quilt top to see how big I needed the backing to be (your backing should be bigger than your top), and sewed the flat sheet and fitted sheet together and pressed the seam open.

With that done, I cleaned a section of the floor really well and laid out my backing wrong side up:

I smoothed it out as best I could and taped the corners to the floor (without stretching the fabric). I put on a pair of clean socks when I needed to walk on it to minimize the dirt I tracked in.

Next, I laid out the quilt batting and again, smoothed it as best I could and taped the corners down:

And lastly, it was time to lay the quilt top down, right side up. Again, more smoothing (no tape this time though):

With all my layers sandwiched together, I walked the edge of the quilt and made sure the backing and batting were bigger than the top all the way around (these get "pulled in" as you quilt).

Then it was time to baste. You need to baste your layers together so you can move the quilt around and keep everything together. Some people use large safety pins for this, but I'm sure I'd stab myself numerous times doing that, so I stick with sewing. This was by far the biggest quilt I've ever sandwiched together, so I was doing a "fly by the seat of my pants" type thing, but what I ended up doing was finding the middle of the quilt (always start with the middle) and safety pinning that, then working my way out from the center, smoothing the fabric as I went, and pinning the middle of each edge and the corners.

With everything temporarily held together, I picked a thread color I could see easily (a bright pink in this case) and sewed basting stitches that started from the center and went out to each edge horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Then I basted all around the outside edge. To make it go a little faster, I left my thread attached to the spool while I was sewing each line (so I didn't have to keep starting new pieces or dealing with LONG threads).

Once all the basting was done, I took out the safety pins and trimmed up the extra fabric a bit:

Here is an up close shot of one of the corners with the basting in:

I went ahead and put my hoop on (again, a frame would be easier, but I don't have one without spending that $30 that I don't want to spend) and folded up the quilt to put away. I will start quilting it tomorrow and will take pictures as I go, so a post on that is coming up in the next few days. (along with a post about all those frame looking things in the living room...that's Josh's "man-nesting" project, the bunk bed he's building the girls)

Quilt Step One: Planning
Quilt Step Two: Cutting Fabric, Preparing Machine
Quilt Step Three: Piecing The Quilt
Quilt: Piecing, Continued
Quilt: More Piecing
Quilt: Scrap Happy Blocks Pieced
Quilt: Spindrift Pieced
Quilt Step Four: Sashing
Quilt Step Five: Border
Quilt: Choosing Batting
Quilt Step Six: The Quilt Sandwich


Anonymous said...

The only thing I think I would have done in addition is used the quilters basting spray. They did not have this when I was first started quilting and I really love it as it keeps in between your basting flat so you don't get any puckers or anything. But your quilt looks great and using a hoop is easier I think than sitting at a big quilt frame I think they are hard on your back and for sure you don't need that.



The Hills said...

I've wondered about the basting spray. There's no need with the Flynn Frame, but with quilting by hand, it might be easier? I'm paranoid I'll "glue in" wrinkles (especially with this one being so big).

Anonymous said...

No need to worry. You spray the bottom
then put the bat on it and smooth it out if you need to reposition it just pull it up it takes along time to dry. Then you spray the top of the bat and what I do is roll up my top and then just put it on and unroll it as you go smoothing out as you go. I used it even when I did machine quit cause there might be many days months years lol till I try it again. I have a wall hanging here now that I am looking at and it has been sprayed for 7 yrs and it's 1/2 done. I will get around to it soon.



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