Alright everyone, it’s here.
The big finish.
We’ve been working toward this for a year now and I have rather mixed feelings about the end of this BOM. I’m really going to miss our (admittedly one-sided) chats each month. But at the same time, I am SO EXCITED to see your quilts coming together! So many of you have jumped in on this appliqué adventure with me and it has been an absolute joy seeing your incredible work and interpretation of these blocks each month. Thank you for that.
Last time we assembled our tops, so this month I’ll tell you about how I chose to back, quilt, bind and label the original sample. This is most assuredly not a set of instructions. It is merely my process. I’m offering it solely in hopes that you might use it as a spring board for your own ideas. Or if you’re desperately bored, something to read for a few minutes.
Some people are dedicated one-fabric quilt backers. Which can be especially fun if you go to the effort of pattern-matching. Others like to cobble a back together with whatever they have hanging around. This is me. I tend to buy small pieces of fabrics, rather than larger yardage cuts, so I rarely have anything that will cover more than a mug-rug. Plus, I feel like once I get to the back, the pressure is off and I can just play with any old random arrangement that will make the most of what I have.
However, since all the appliqué for this quilt was done in Liberty, I wanted to back it with a yummy lawn. Of course, I didn’t have remotely enough. So I shopped around and picked up actual yardage (what?!) of a fun, dotty Cotton and Steel lawn. It still had to be seamed together though, so I took the opportunity to add in a strip of Liberty scraps for a bit of fun. (Also, I like to use all the fabrics. Like, pretty much always.)
I am Not a Quilter. I dread the quilting bit. It scares the bejesus out of me and makes me swear a lot. Like a sailor. Or a trucker. Or my dad when he puts the lights on the Christmas tree. A lot of swearing. So this part stressed me out. But I did spend quite a bit of time thinking about it as I was sewing the top. Slow hand stitching is reeeeally good for thinking. So by the time I got to this point, I had given myself all the pep-talks and was ready to face it. Mostly. Gulp.
When I originally pieced the sashing and borders into my quilt top, I knew I wanted to quilt it in a way that would minimize them as much as possible. My ultimate goal was to “erase” the setting pieces so the appliqué would just appear to float without looking quite so squarely framed. I also wanted to repeat some of the appliqué motifs within the quilting.
So I made a few printed copies of the layout and drew all over them again and again until I had a plan I was happy with. (You can print out copies for yourself of either the lap or wall size versions if you want to give it a go too.) The appliqué shapes I wanted to repeat were drawn on first, then I used a mix of straight lines in varying patterns and a few grids to fill in the rest of the space.
Then using that plan as a guide, I drew each line on the quilt top with my trusty blue pen. Since I am Not a Quilter, this was a necessary step for me. You probably don’t need to go to such extremes, but I was still tip-toeing around the edge of a major quilting induced freak-out, so I wasn’t taking any chances. Marking every line took absolutely FOREVER (or at least it felt that way), but it was worth it in the end.
Tip: The pen I use is the blue ink, water erasable fabric marker by Sewline, UPC 4989783070331. I love this pen. The only time I have had an issue with it not entirely erasing from fabric with a bit of water was when I had used a ton of starch and it didn’t come out until it had been through the laundry. But it did come out. I LOVE this pen.
Once everything was layered up and basted, I chose a quilting thread to match the grey background of the top and an off white for the bobbin. It needed to blend in as much as possible to help hide the potentially janky stitches. Not a Quilter, remember?
After all that preparation and worry, I finally dug in and started quilting. It was very slow going. However, for the first time in my entire quilty life, I completely surprised myself when I realized that I was kind of excited about that step in the process. (Who am I?!) The texture I was starting to see was so dreamy and I started to actually relax as I moved from section to section. As I neared the end, I was practically giddy to finish it. It was like a Christmas miracle. Only in February. Which totally counts.
With the unexpectedly pleasant quilting out of the way, it was time to do the binding. For years I have been meaning to try a flanged binding, but not being a Quilter, I rarely had much to bind. Funny how that works, huh? Anyway, I wanted to add a pop of color to the top so I used a bubble-gum pink for the flange and more of the background grey for the binding. It was surprisingly easy to do and I love the extra bit of color that helps break up that sea of grey.
Tip: If you search for “faux piped binding” or “flanged binding” online, there are lots of tutorials if you’d like to try it too. It’s typically machine finished, so it’s a nice option if you don’t enjoy hand stitching a binding.
At the last minute, I also spliced a couple pieces of Liberty into the binding too, because I cannot leave well enough alone. (Also, use all the fabrics.) It’s a nice way to add in a bit of an accent if you like that sort of thing. And I really love how the blue section wraps around from the strip I pieced into the backing.
Coming from generations of non-quilters, there is only one quilt in my family and it isn’t labeled. It is appliquéd, embroidered, hand quilted and at least twin-sized. A family friend made it for my father when he was born in 1934. I don’t know any more about it and I’m not sure he does either. I find that terribly sad; so much time, effort, and love went into making it.
It may seem like once you’ve hit the binding point, you are so ready to be on to the next project that a label is the least of your concerns. But I really wish that quiltmaker had taken the time to add that one last detail so we would at least know her name. Besides, after you spend all that time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, money, and energy on making a quilt, you ABSOLUTELY deserve to get all the credit for it.
Put your name on your quilt.
Write it on there with a Sharpie, like a celebrity autograph if you want. Embroider a fancy label. Have little nametags made. Piece it into the back. Whatever. Put. Your. Name. On. Your. Quilt. You have sooooo earned it.
For this one, I typed up my info and printed it on a piece of pre-treated Kona that I ran through my printer.
Tip: I used Bubble Jet Set 2000, because I happened to have some (you can find it on Amazon). It’s very easy to use and works well. You can also buy pre-treated fabric sheets that are all prepped to run through your printer without dealing with any chemicals or mess yourself.
I appliquéd the printed fabric on the back next to the pieced strip, along with a few of the same shapes from the front. It didn’t take long to do, but it did give me a chance to put a bit more of myself into this piece of art that has become very meaningful to me. It’s a quilt about art, about family, about fellowship. And in 80 years when someone else comes across it, they will know who inspired it, who made it, and why. And that gives me a wonderful sense of completion.
Now it’s your turn.
Please tag me on Instagram (@bespokeoutlaw) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or come find me at a guild meeting so I can see your finished quilt. I have seen a few so far and they are just amazing. I cannot wait to see more!
To those of you who sewed along, commented on the posts, or took the time to tell me how much you enjoyed reading these, I cannot begin to tell you how much it has meant to me. Thank you.