Archive for the ‘finishing’ Category


Let’s Face It!

October 10, 2011

My latest quilt has a very odd outer edge that I wanted to face, rather than bind. After a bit of noodling I came up with a way that worked great! It would work for any quilt with a curved or unusual outer edge (scallops, double wedding ring, grandmother’s flower garden, etc.). I can’t show the front of the quilt because I plan on entering it in a major show and don’t want to have it shown publically yet. So here’s the step by steps along with a full shape picture from the back :-). I hope you enjoy them.

1. Layer and quilt the quilt. Then, with water soluable thread on top and a thread that contrasts the backing fabric in the bottom, stitch through all layers on the exact line that will be the outer edge of the quilt. Cut away all layers 1/4″ from this line.

2. Lay quilt, right sides together, on a piece of  facing fabric which is slightly larger than the quilt itself . Pin all the way around.

3. Stitch through all layers (with regular thread on top now), exactly on the previous stitching line, all the way around.

4. Trim even with quilt and clip all “inny” angles.

5. Trim facing fabric 1″  away from stitching, all the way around.

6. Fold facing to back of quilt and match facing raw edge with quilt raw edge.

7. Fold facing completely to back and pin in place.

8. Hand stitch the facing to the back of the quilt and – Voila – you’re done!

If any of the water soluable thread shows along the edge, just get it wet and the problem will be solved (or disolved :-).

Also – This past week Laura Krasinski and I hung a joint exhibit of our work entitled “Make a Joyful Noise” in the lobby of the Waukesha Civic Theater on Main Street in Waukesha (just 2 doors down from Frank’s Sewing Center). Please stop by if you’re in the area!


Flange in Photos

October 2, 2011

Natalie commented that she’d like more instructions on inserting the flange from last week’s blog. So here goes…and with pictures :-)

1. Cut a strip from contrasting fabric 1″ x the length of each side for a ¼” wide flange or 1 ½”  x the length of each side for a ½” flange.

2. Press these strips in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together.

3. Lay a flange along one side of the the quilt top, keeping all raw edges even and pin in place. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Here’s a close up of the “keeping the raw edges even” part:

5. If you’re adventurous, you may leap to step 6. If you’re cautious, you may stitch the flanges in place with a basting stitch, all the way around. Use a seam allowance that is shy of ¼” so these stitches won’t show later.

6. Border quilt as usual.

By basting the flanges in place in this way, the flanges look as if they are just a narrow border.

It is “legal” (remember – there are no quilt police) to just tuck the flanges into each border seam as the borders are sewn on without cutting them to fit and basting them in place, but  then you get a different look as in this tumbling blocks quilt:

This look isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

One warning with flanges – they lay on top of the quilt and extend into it ¼” or ½”If there are triangles pieced to the edge, the flange will lay over them and the points will be lost. So they work best on non-pieced outer edges or between plain borders.

Flanges may also be added just before binding.

If you’ve never tried a flange – I highly recommend you do :-)!


Pleasing separation

September 26, 2011

This past week a student inquired about adding a very narrow border to her quilt to visually separate the quilt center from a wider border. Piecing in a 1/4″ border can be tricky and so I had some alternative ideas to share:

If you’ve ever done counted cross stitch, you are no doubt aware that once the crosses are completed, most patterns have the different color areas outlined with a line of black backstitches. Even though this line is very narrow, it adds a lot of interest and definition. Sometimes this is a good option for separating borders…and even bindings.

One simple way to do this is to sandwich piping (purchased or homemade) into the seam between the quilt center and the border

Another idea that has been very popular recently is to fold a 1″ strip of contrasting fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and slip this into the seam. I like to refer to this as a flange and it can add a lot of punch for a small amount of fabric and effort.

One additional idea is really simple and can be done after the quilt is finished and bound – couch a piece of yarn or cording on top of the seam! Couching simply means to lay the yarn/cording in the “ditch” of the seam and stitch on top of it with a zig-zag or serpentine stitch. It can be done in invisible thread or something decorative.

And now for an example to show how helpful this effect can be:

I made the following quilt for a “Tea” challenge through the Milwaukee Art Quilters. All of the fabrics were dyed in tea and I quilted the different areas as a sampler of quilting designs.

For some reason I bound the quilt in a similar color fabric to the rest of the quilt and it seemed to look like the quilt never ended when hung on a light colored wall. So I couched a brown chenille yarn along the binding and was very pleased with the results.

That simple addition made the quilt a success in my mind :-).

On a completely different note, there is still room in many of my local classes at MATC in Watertown and WCTC in Waukesha. Please scroll down to my August 4th post and simply click to register on line or call the number next to the class to register by phone.

And something new: I will be teaching the following  quilting classes in Hustisford, WI on Saturdays this Fall.

Beginning Fast Patch – Oct 15th & Oct 29th 8:30am  -1:00pm: Learn many quick and fun quilting techniques while making this wall hanging. It may be made in any color scheme you like (Packers fabric is optional :-).

Paper Pieced Project – Nov. 19th – 9:00AM – 1:00PM. Learn to piece “Flying Geese” and “Square in a Square” blocks on a paper foundation while creating this lovely small wallhanging. It’s a fun technique that yeilds accurate results (once again, fabric and color themes are up to you :-). 

For more information, or to sign up, contact Cindy Fitzsimmons at:


Hurry Up or Wait

June 28, 2011

While reading an issue of Irish Quilting Magazine I came across a comment I spent some time contemplating: “never be in a hurry to finish a quilt”. Now, my first response was that it was good advice, but I soon discovered that there are times the opposite can be true. Let me explain :-).

The article went on to say that “most of the time when we’re in a hurry, mistakes happen”. This can certainly be true and I decided I agreed. A day or so later I realized it was time to do a bit of tidying up in my studio and ended up staring at one of my recent (I use the term loosely) projects. It is my version of a mariner’s compass on drugs. About a year ago I started drafting a bevy of amoeba shaped compasses that interconnected, and I was pleased with the design. I had it enlarged and then agonized over a color scheme. Once that problem was solved the piecing was great fun. It turned out so well I decided I needed a truly wonderful quilting design and began to ponder what I could do that would take the quilt over the top – I didn’t want to rush into anything.

The top has been hanging on my design wall since March :-(. I was telling myself it was marinating, but now its simply frustrating. No amazing quilt design has materialized and I’ve gone way past the stage of rushing into something!

So, while staring at this piece that used to make me smile I realized that there is a happy medium for everything and at that moment my own advice, which I often share in my Beyond Meandering class, resounded in my ear:

When choosing a quilting design don’t say to yourself “a judge would appreciate feathers”, but rather “what would be fun to do today?” I was looking for the perfect design and it wasn’t forthcoming…. so I made the decison at that moment that my favorite free mo design is spirals and they’d be more fun then cleaning so I set up the machine and had a ball! I’m not ready to show the whole thing – and there’s more quilting left to be done – but I’m back to excited again. Here’s a picture of some of the fun.











So, don’t rush, but don’t let the moss grow on your quilt either. The perfect quilting design is the one you are in the mood to do today!


Making My Mark

September 17, 2010

Not many comments. Hmmmm, you must all be anxiously awaiting my response (ha!ha!). I seem to be trying to own every marking tool on the market and I think I’m accomplishing just that. For this post though, I’m going to narrow my collection down to 3 favorites. But, before I name them I want to stress that you should always test your method on the fabric in your quilt before using it. Even if your favorite silver pencil has always come out….don’t count on it (do I sound like I speak from experience?)

For medium to dark value fabrics my marker of choice, hands down, is a sliver of soap. Straight from the shower (don’t let anyone slap it onto the new bar when it reaches sliver stage), it goes on easy in a nice thin line and can easily be removed by gently rubbing with a damp piece of muslin. The line lasts longer than chalk and its incredibly inexpensive. In this age of liquid soap and super sizing, my poor husband has not been allowed to bathe with anything but travel sized bars of soap since I became a quilter. They become the perfect thickness much more quickly than the regular sized bars.

For light fabrics I tend to use the blue, washout marker most often. But be careful! If the line is heated in any way it can become permanent. Also, the ink is a chemical and if you only “spritz” to remove it, it can remain and cause mischief. I’ve had the color of my fabric change permanently where the lines were drawn in 2 different quilts. Therefore I alway submerge the quilt in cool water when the quilting is done. That being said, it is easy to put on, easy to see and usually easy to remove!

My other “favorite” is a product commonly found in the kitchen called Glad Press ‘n Seal™. It’s a transparent film which can be pressed around the rim of a bowl to create a watertight seal. This is very helpful in quilting. If my design is printed, I can tear off a piece of the film, finger press it over the paper and trace the design. The film can then easily be “stuck” onto the quilt. If I need to create my own design, I can finger press the film directly onto the quilt and draw on it to perfectly fit the area needed. I usually use a fine Sharpie™ marker, but a quilter in one of my lectures said she did this on her long arm and the permanent ink wiped onto her quilt. I haven’t had this problem, but will most likely use a removable marker from now on (which I’ll test on my fabric, just in case :-). Once the design is quilted, the film can simply be torn away. I find it tears quite easily from straight, gently curved or single crossed lines. Areas with many crossed lines are a bit more of a challenge. The best part about this method is that you can see the fabric below for placement and the way it sticks to the fabric helps to prevent puckers when quilting .

In my lectures at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Expo there was some wonderful sharing and a number of quilters recommended a few markers I hadn’t tried. So far I’m liking them. Here are a couple for you to experiment with:

Bohin™ white mechanical chalk pencil (rubs or washes off) – a very fine line. One quilter commented that some of the color “leads” were harder to remove than the white.

Clover™ white marker (irons off) be aware that the mark doesn’t show right away and you need to wait for at least 10 seconds. When it does appear it is quite visable and irons off easily.

Graphite (rub off with a damp piece of muslin). I found this in the Morton Hoops™ booth at Expo. It fits in the soap stone stylis and can be sharpened to a fine point.

If I’ve missed your favorite or you have any comments to make about mine, please let me know. Happy marking!


Make Your Mark and Erase it Too!

September 12, 2010

I’ve spent the past 3 days teaching at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Expo in Madison, WI. What a great show and a wonderful teaching experience! Three days in a row I presented a lecture with the same title as this blog. The best part was how much I learned from the quilters attending. It went so well, it just seemed appropriate to share this with all of you.

I dislike the marking step when making my quilts. It takes time to make the marks and then they have to be removed. All necessary, but time consuming non-the-less. When free motion quilting I really enjoy designs that don’t need to be marked, but sometimes it just has to be done. As far as I’m concerned, marks need to be easy to put on and even easier to remove.

So, from the plethora of products available, what is your favorite method of marking your quilting design on both dark and light fabrics? I’ll share my favorites with you on Thursday, along with some of the new things I’ve learned!


Hanging Quilts II

July 9, 2010

Since there were no comments on this topic I assume everyone’s happy with their method for hanging quilts, or you’re just waiting to see what I have to share :-). Either way here are my thoughts:

I usually hang my quilts with a “Split Sleeve” and a 1/2″ wooden dowel:

1. Measure the width of the quilt, subtract an inch, divide this measurement by 2 and cut 2 pieces this length by 4″.

2.  Hem both ends of each strip folding 1/4″ to the wrong side and topstitching. 

3. Prior to binding the quilt, fold each strip lengthwise, wrong sides together, and pin in place with the raw edges even with the top edge of the quilt and a 1/2″ gap between the sleeves.

4. Attach the binding, catching the sleeves in along the top edge (but not on the sides).

5.  Finish binding as usual and then handstitch the bottom edge of the sleeves to the back of the quilt, being careful not to stitch through to the front.

6.  Cut the dowel the width of the quilt and insert.

The split in the sleeve allows a small quilt to hang from a single nail. A larger quilt may be hung with a nail on each end. If the quilt is quite large and heavy, an additional nail may be added for support in the middle or a larger dowel/sleeve may be needed. (tip: it’s easier to see and use the sleeve if it doesn’t match the back!)

In my last post I pictured a quilt hung “on-point”. A simple way to do this is to make a sleeve 2″ shorter than the horizontal width of the quilt and attach it across the widest part (isn’t it hard to see when the fabric matches?). Insert a dowel that length.

Stitch a Plastic ring (I find them with knitting supplies) to the top and hang the quilt with a single nail on this ring. Easy and effective!

Any other quilt hanging tips or suggestions???