Pieced Borders & That 1 /4″ stitch

Pieced Borders & That 1 /4″ stitch

I’d love to tell you that my head did not explode [yet] while doing the pieced border on my exploding Block Quilt.

and I could tell you that I’m a genius, who mathamagically  calculated the length of the quilt sides, divided it by the number of blocks, added 1/4″ to each,  cut all those tiny pieces precisely, and sewed them to end exactly on the corners, but that would be a lie.

I used EQ7 to do my math, and a Dritz Quilters Gauge for my almost perfect 1/4 stitch.

Many ask how to get that perfect quarter inch stitch, so here is how I do it.
I use a quilters gauge by Dritz, but there are probably other brands. I tried using a ruler, and measuring from the needle to the edge of the foot, and moving the needle over, but that wasn’t as quick or effective, and some machines don’t let you adjust your needle, so for about $6, this tool make life easier.

needle_space_guage

This works best without the needle threaded, but I was in a hurry to take the pictures, and I was resetting my guide to 1/2 inch to piece the backing, so acuracy didn’t matter in my case. I will remove the thread when I reset it to a 1/4 stitch, or that thread could cause me to be off.
Step 1 Turn hand wheel until feed dogs are down, and the needle is still up.

feeddogs_down

Step 2 Place the quilters gauge under the foot and slowly lower the needle into the hole at 1/4 inch mark. [reading glasses may be helpful]

lower_needle_through_hole01

Step 3 lower your presser foot to hold it in place, then slide your stitch guide over to meet the edge.

slide_guide_plate

  • You can use an expired gift card if you do not have a guide that attatches to your bed. Do not use other kinds of tape or they may damage the finish on your machine. Besides painters tape is also handy to use for straight line quilting when you don’t want to risk other types of markings on your quilt.

Finally, tighten down the guide screws, or tape the expired gift card down, raise needle, and presser foot, then remove the dritz quilters gauge.
Then go ahead and test it. Sew 2 pieces of 2 1/2 wide fabric together, and the result should be 4″ wide after pressing.
If your sewn pieces are not 4″ wide after pressing, scoot your guide over a teensy bit. I got it on the first try, I don’t always get stuff on the first try, so some practice may be in order.

exploding_block_pieced_border

Now one thing I learned about oddly shaped pieced borders is 1 you must press each piece before sewing on the next piece, and 2 it does matter how you press it. The image with the scissors shows a gap, which will disappear when pressed correctly. This is when “Press to the dark side” won’t work. You have to let the fabric tell you where it wants to go.

Pressed correctly will result in a quarter inch of leftover so you can sew your next piece on and not cut off your points.

exploding_block_borders02

Also if your last border is pieced, you may want to add a small border the same color as your outside edge so you have something to trim after quilting. That quarter inch left over leaves you with nothing to trim. If your quilting is perfect and you don’t have to trim, adding the binding to that tiny 1/4″ will be tricky. but hey if you quilted it perfectly, maybe you’ll get lucky with the binding too.

The second reason to add a trimmable border is, if your pieced border has bias pieces, you want to stablise those for quilting. That, or if you want to remain in good standing with your long arm quilter.

I am quilting it myself, and not wanting to waste any prefectly good luck on this, I added a  white border that I can trim later.

The hardest part of making this quilt has been chosing the backing! With only 3 main colors, and everything I liked clashing with one of those colors, it has taken me longer to find the fabric than it did to sew all those pieces together. I know if you can’t match, you contrast, but any contrasting fabric I found included a shade that was just ‘off’ for the rest of the quilt. I lost count of how many fabrics I auditioned, and by that I mean bought. I now have enough backings to do a dozen more quilts!

I finally found fabric that actually matched. Of course it came in 2 pieces, so I had to get creative on the back. Fortunately it’s busy enough to hide both the number of pieces, and any imperfect quilting.

I thought I’d take a “ready to quilt” picture.

exploding_block_readyforquilting

It’s only halfway quilted now, so that’s all you get.

#QuarterInchStitch  #ExplodingBlock #FancyBorders

Exploding Block [Head]

Exploding Block [Head]

Inspired by Jenny’s Exploding Block Tutorial, I decided to one day make a quilt from it.
That day came when I was shopping to make my Husband’s Daughter’s Baby – who had just graduated to a big girl bed – a quilt. I had a quilt in mind, big then I saw the kitties! The kitties wouldn’t work with that quilt, but they’d be happy in an exploding block quilt framed in pink and turquoise, so I got them. I skipped up to the cutting counter, and told them I wanted it all. Cuz, come on, it’s KITTIES!

I also bought some turquoise, and I knew I had some pink at home.

fabric

I made my first test block, then spent 5 minutes trying to pull the layers apart to cut them.
Being a production junky at work, I tend to stream line things. At home I usually am more relaxed – something my co-workers would never believe. However, my work brain kicked in as I had found what I call “the time suck” So, to eliminate this time suck, I cut up some little pieces of left over batting from trimming a quilt.

I was only making 24 blocks, so I only needed 24 aprox 1″ sq pieces of batting.

I cut 4 strips 6 1/2″ wide to make 24 kitty squares,

2 strips 6 1/2″ wide to make 12 pink squares,

and 2 strips 6 1/2″ wide to make 12 turquoise squares.

I used a 6 1/2″ ruler to cut the squares from the strips.  A marking pencil and very sharp pointy sicssors are also needed.

exploding_block_tools
Since I would be cutting the pink and turquoise pieces after sewing them to the kitties, I drew my lines on the wrong sides of the pink and turquoise pieces – corner to corner – before sewing them. It is important to mark them before sewing them together, and to offset the ruler by the thickness of the marking pencil to get the line dead center.

 

Take them to the sewing machine . . .

exploding_ready_almost

I placed each kitty, pretty side up,  put one piece of batting in the center [I swear I ironed these first!], and then placed the other pieces [pink and turquoise – one piece at a time], pretty side down on top of the kitties.

exploding_block_trick

Then I sewed 1/4″ seam on all 4 sides.

exploding_block_sew
Now I could seperate the fabrics with ease!
Simply fold on one of the lines, and nip the perpendicular line to get a starter cut.

 

I finished cutting on all the lines right down to the corner, and popped out my batting pieces.

exploding_block_open

Iron them back, and we have our kitties peeking out at us from their little pink and turquoise frames. These will be 8 1/2″ at this point.

exploding_blocks

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that, while this looks like a square in a square, it’s not. The big difference is that the points will be nipped off, which will be fine with many fabric designs. Other designs [or obsessing] may cause you want to actually make a square in a square, but I resolved not to obsess over this quilt [yet].

exploding_block_times4

Because the points would be cut off, I decided to sash it, and found a bit of brown floral for the conerstones.

exploding_block_sashed

The center of this twin sized quilt is finished [currently 39.5 by 59.5] and ready for borders

exploding_block_center_38-5x59-5

and then I made a mistake.

I sent Mom a picture of what I was making.

exploding_block_juliet

Opon receiving her quilt last year, my Mom has now taken an intrest in my designs.

Who knew?

She texted back that she thought the borders were kind of plain, and asked why I didn’t extend the design out more. After explaining to her that the borders weren’t added on to make the quilt bigger, but to frame the design on top of the twin size mattress, and that they would actually drape down the side of the bed, I decided to get all fancy shmancy about it.

New design – which I did not show her.

exploding_block_juliet2

I am still cutting all the oddly shaped pieces. Thanks Mom.

exploding_block_borders_shmorders

I guess she hasn’t heard “Finished is better than perfect” yet. She will. After my head explodes I’m having that engraved on my tombstone.

exploding_block_tombstone

#ExplodingBlock #FinishedIsBetterThanPerfect #WhyDoIListenToMyMother #Kitties!