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Adding Borders – Quilt as You Go!

Last week I shared a technique for bordering a block quilt-as-you-go, but have you ever finished the quilting  on a project and realized it would look nicer with one more border? or maybe it needs to be just a little bigger? I’ve had this happen a number of times and, before I bound the outside edge, I did something about it! This also works for quilts that have been constructed “quilt-as-you-go” fashion and need borders, and it works on any quilt – small or large. It’s as simple as:

1. Measure the top and bottom edges of the quilt, decide the border width, and make two border strips this width and length from each of: (a) the border fabric for the front of the quilt, (b) the backing fabric and (c) batting. (Please be aware I’m using a sample quilt sandwich as my “quilt” for this demo – I was practicing feathers  🙂 )

2. Choose 1 set of borders and lay the border fabric (a), right sides together, and even with the top edge of the front of the quilt.

3. Pin this strip in place and flip the quilt over to the back. Lay the back border strip (b) even with the same edge of the quilt, right sides together.

4. Lay the batting strip (c) on top of this back border strip.

5. Add more pins along the edge through all the layers

and sew through all six layers with a ¼” seam allowance (a walking foot is very helpful).

6. Fold all the border strips away from the quilt, and on top of each other to make a flat border:

Here’s a side view:

7. Press this new quilted border along the edge, pin if desired, and repeat for the bottom of the quilt.

8. Measure the sides of the quilt and repeat from step 1 above to add the side borders.

The borders may now be quilted (if needed) and the binding attached. I like to quilt a straight line ½” from the border seam all the way around. This encases the seam allowance and it’s thickness adds a nice fill to this narrow quilted area.

I hope this was helpful and easy to understand. It is a very do-able technique :-).


Continuing Stories:

A few weeks ago I shared the story of a shirt and tie quilt made by my friend Jean. She recently wrote to tell me she made a label for the quilt using a pattern for an origami Hawaiian shirt ornament she’d made as Christmas gifts in 2014. I was a lucky recipient of one of those ornaments:

And here’s the label (name removed to protect privacy):

Adding the “dry clean only” advice on the label was a great idea too. She also said she tucked some leftover tie fabric in a few of the border pockets.

I was so glad she included these pictures. Thanks again Jean!

Also, in response to Debbie’s quilt for little Grace, Beth emailed me this: “I saw your picture of the memory quilt with the clothes. I thought I would share the quilts I made for my great niece and great nephew with their onesies!”

So many great ideas – thanks Beth!

December 2, 2018, finishing
Finishing a Small Quilt – “Quilt-as You-Go”

Looking for a quick way to finish a small quilt – borders and all?

I have a small block I want to border, finish and hang on the wall (this would work great for placemats and table runners too). Rather than adding the borders and then layering and quilting the traditional way, I decided to cut the backing and batting a little larger than the size of the finished quilt.

*Then I layered them on the work surface: backing, wrong side up, then batting.

*Next I centered my block on top and pinned it in place.

*I cut border strips for the sides at the appropriate size, layered them right-sides-together with the block and sewed them on with a ¼” seam allowance, pressing the border over the batt after stitching.

These seams will act as quilting lines.

I then measured, cut, and stitched the top and bottom borders on in the same fashion.

I began with larger pieces of backing/batting then my first border required, because these were leftovers from a previous project. I could now add another border if I want, since the extra backing/batting is already there, or I can square this up and bind as usual.

I’m thinking one border is enough – gotta go – time to bind!



No-End Binding – Improved Yet Again!

In February I shared a number of posts on some great uses for School Glue while quilting. I was very excited with how it worked for finishing the ends of my quilt bindings (click here to read that post), but I’ve found another tip that makes it even easier!

When sewing my binding ends together the lazy girl in me hated to stop when I was almost done to heat up the iron and press the glue dry. What to do?

Head to the store for another must have notion – “Wash Away Wonder Tape™”!

Once you have the tape the hard work is over. Prepare to be amazed  🙂 .

This works for single or double (French) binding (my example is done with a double binding). Sew your binding to the quilt, Beginning about 8″ from the end of the beginning tail, leaving at least 12″ open between the stitching of the tails, and leaving 8″ of ending tail open too – with a good overlap.

Because I made a double binding, I need to lay it open against the quilt to connect the ends. This works best if I pin the tails flat against the quilt (the corners of the quilt may “cup” up to allow for the opening of the tails).

Fold the end of one tail at 45° and finger press.

Cut a length of tape just a bit shorter than the angled edge, and affix the tape, paper side up.

Remove the release paper,

and lay the other tail smoothly in place, rubbing over the tape to secure it to both tails.

Pull the ends back to reveal the crease,

Carefully take it to the sewing machine and stitch in the crease.

Lay the binding flat against the quilt to be sure it fits.

Because the tape is wash away, you can skip this next step, but I liked the idea of pulling apart the end tails before you trim them and peeling away the tape. Now it’s gone and I don’t need to worry about washing it away.

Trim the tails 1/4″ from the seam.

Remove the pins, lay the folded binding back against the quilt, and stitch in place. Viola!

I still love the School Glue for matching fabrics and mitering borders, but I think this is the quickest and easiest way to finish the ends when binding. I’ve done it many times already and I think it’s pretty close to foolproof. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.


And one more note. In last week’s post I shared Anne’s email address for instructions on her Serendipity Star. The address was incorrect. I have corrected it in that post, but I wanted to share the correct one here also:

Thanks again Anne – for your generosity!

August 5, 2018, finishing
Facing a Quilt and With Great Corners!

I think you’re going to love my technique for FACING A QUILT, but first let me tell you about the sample quilt I’ll be demonstrating on  😀 !

When Wendy and I lead quilting tours we come up with projects that can be created onboard the ship, and we like to include creative techniques. As I was contemplating what we could do to make a traditional Hawaiian appliqué style project that was fun and inventive, the Lord dropped this idea into my head! I’m so excited!

Each participant (the projects are always optional) will make their own unique pattern from their initials, and then “stencil” the pattern onto fabric using Shiva Paintstiks™. Here’s my first “Cruise Hawaii” quilt, using the initials for “Sew We Go” and palm trees:

Do you see the “SWG”s? I echo quilted this 25” wall quilt by machine and faced the edge.

Our Hawaiian cruise adventure will take place in January 2019. That may sound like a long way off, but this sailing on NCL’s American Pride will sell out.  We need to release cabins back to Norwegian if they are not spoken for soon so if you’ve been contemplating joining us, please let us know. Simply click here for a printable version of the cruise flyer!”

And now – on with this week’s post:

In my last post I shared a simple technique for finishing a quilt without the need for a traditional binding. There is another option for a “binding-less” finish and it’s called a facing. I’ve seen many faced quilts while judging quilt shows and, as with the turned quilts we talked about last week, the corners are always the problem area. They tend to be lumpy, and they’re often messy looking along the edge and the back.


This really isn’t any harder than attaching a binding:

• Begin by squaring up your quilted quilt 1″ longer in each direction than you’d like it to finish, because the facing requires a 1/2″ turn under allowance all the way around (a binding fits over the cut edge of the quilt and thus no length is lost, but a facing does require this extra inch, so remember to allow for it).

•  Choose a facing fabric that is similar in color and value to the fabric along the outer edge of your quilt.  Measure the width and length of your squared quilt. Substract 4” from each measurement and cut (2) 1 ½” strips at both measurements (ie. a quilt measuring 30” x 40” would need 2 strips cut 26” and 2 strips cut 36”). Cut (4) 5″ squares also.

• Press the 5” squares in half diagonally, right side out. Trim about 1” from one corner as in the picture below.

• Place a folded square against the right side of the quilt, in one corner, raw edges even, with the trimmed corner facing up.

• Place all 4 corners on in this manner. Then place the long strips, right sides together with the quilt, along all 4 edges, and pin in place. The strips will overlap the corners.

• Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, stitch all 4 sides of the quilt, going off the edge on each end instead of pivoting at the corners (this portion is a repeat of last week’s instructions).

• Using a seam ripper, remove the last 1″ of stitches in both directions (if there is quilting in the seam allowance, that will need to be picked out too).


•Pull back the square and the quilt top from the batting in the corner, exposing the previous stitching holes.

• Trim the batting corner off just inside the crossed stitches. Make sure you trim the batting only!


• Put the layers back in place and repeat for all 4 corners. Re-stitch the corners, pivoting this time. Trim.

• Turn the quilt over to the back and pull all the side strips out along the edges.

• Beginning at the end of one strip, wrap the strip to the back tightly around the outer edge of the quilt.

• Then fold the facing to the back of the quilt leaving the seam at the quilts edge. Pin and continue along the entire length.

• Repeat for all four sides.

• Turn the corner pieces to the back of the quilt. Push out the corners so they lay flat and sharp. Pin in place.

view from the back

view from the edge

view from the front

• Hand-stitch the facing to the back of the quilt.

This technique isn’t for every quilt, but it’s a good one to have in your toolbox when you need it  😀 !

And here’s a quick peek at two other Hawaiian quilts I’ve made. The first includes pineapples and my initials (CLK):

And this one is a small hibiscus flower quilt – just because it’s pretty (no initials or repeated designs):

They’re like potato chips – I can’t stop making them!

And I discovered an added plus – it’s quite simple to use one of the corners on the back of the quilt as a label!

I apologize for this post being a bit lengthy, but I’m hoping you found it interesting and worthwhile.

March 11, 2018, finishing
“Binding-less” Flat Corners

Currently it is very “trendy” to hang art on the wall without a frame. My daughter-in-law is a talented artist and often hangs her canvases in this manor:

This has become popular with fiber artists too. It is very “in” to hang wall quilts without borders or bindings.  I’ve made a number of wall quilts that I just didn’t think would look great with a binding.

I call this quilt “Interchange” and it is an example of one of my faced quilts. It was made for a challenge entitled “Colorwheel Opposites”. I chose pinks and greens and quilted it with “wheels”.

I love the visual “feeling” that the squares are about to tumble past the outer edge.

“The Narrow Gate” is another one of my faced quilts. It was made for a different challenge, this one entitled “Portals”, and it’s one of my spiritual journey quilts. The tree depicts the cross, and the portal is a sliver of the heaven we are promised when we are saved by Jesus. The leaves are 3-D and are printed with Scripture verses which tell about this amazing gift. Once again, I thought a binding would be too confining.

So, how does one get this look without a lot of effort? Well, I have two favorite techniques for accomplishing this quite easily. I’ll share the easiest in this week’s post and my favorite way next week.

The simple way is to “turn” small quilts (envelope style: layer batt, top and back; sew all the way around and leave an opening to turn right sides out) instead of binding them.

My least favorite part of turning a quilt is having an unsightly hand-stitched area along the quilt edge where it was turned. In a previous post I shared my favorite technique for eliminating that problem (click here for that post and scroll down about half way through the post for the turning trick).

My second frustration when turning a quilt is lumps at the corners. No matter how much I trim the batt and fabrics, there is always a lump… and worse – I sometimes trim it so close my turning tool pushes through the corner! UGH!

Well – I have a solution for that problem too. Here goes:

• Stitch all the way around the quilt, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, but don’t  pivot at the corners. Instead, stitch off the ends of each edge as in the picture, yielding crossed seams at the corners:

• Choose a corner and “unstitch” the last inch in both directions. You’ll be able to see the holes where the stitches were when you pull back the fabric:

• Pull the backing fabric out of the way too, and angle cut the batting away just inside the intersection:

• Lay everything back in place and resew the seam, pivoting at the corner this time.

• Trim the corners as usual for turning.

• Repeat for the remaining corners.

• Turn the quilt, right side out, and enjoy the “lumpless” results!

Do you turn your quilts? Do you have problems with lumps? If so, I hope you’ll give this a try, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about the technique.

Please return next week for step-by-step facing instructions. I think you’ll find it quite interesting!

March 4, 2018, finishing
Glue Basting to Miter a Border

Before I get to my topic of the week, I’d like to share a few helpful hints for using a blog such as mine. Some posts (like this one) contain instructions for techniques you may want to save. There are a number of ways to do this:

• When you click on the link to open my blog the first thing you’ll see is my most recent post and, if you scroll down  through it, you’ll find my previous posts. Because I put a lot of pictures in my posts, my site may load slowly on your computer or other device. That’s why I always send you a link to just my most recent post also.

• If you are on my full site and want to open just one of my posts, simply click on the title of that particular post:

The post title is in the red circle.

• When you’re in the page that contains only one post, the title will turn black as in the example below. You can “bookmark” that post to save it for future reference. On my computer I can add a bookmark by clicking on the star in the upper right, typing in a name for it and clicking on “done”. This process may be different on your computer, but it should be similar.

Once again – look for the red circle above :-).

• If you’d rather print that post and save a hard copy of the information, click on “print me” under the post title (and be sure you’re connected to a printer):

I hope this was helpful. Now for my topic of the week:


I’ve recently been using Elmer’s School Glue™ to match fabric patterns when sewing strips together. This week we’ll use the same glue technique to miter a border.

• Sew the border strips onto 2 adjacent sides of the quilt top, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and backstitching 1/4″ from the corner on each strip:

• Lay the vertical strip flat against the ironing surface:

• Fold the end of the horizontal strip under at a 45 degree angle, forming a miter.  If your fabric happens to be a stripe – the miter will be much easier to see  :-). Press:

• Pull this newly pressed crease back

• and squeeze a thin line of glue along the edge of the crease:

• Lay the glued crease back in place on the vertical strip and press again to dry the glue:

• Once the glue is dry, fold the quilt top in half diagonally to expose the glued crease and stitch in the crease. Trim off the excess strips,  1/4″ from the stitching, and you’re done.


And one last thing!

Last week I shared information about the Sun Prairie Quilt Show. There will be two other shows in the Southeast Wisconsin area that same weekend:

West Suburban Quilters Guild will be holding their show at the Waukesha Expo Center. For more info go to:

The Crazy Quilters in Mukwonago will also be holding their annual quilt show at the Mukwonago Middle School. For more info go to:

February 11, 2018, finishing Notions
School Glue – a Quilter’s New Best Friend

Last week I shared how to match striped fabric strips, using “Elmer’s School Glue”™, with a straight seam. This time I’ll demo matching with a bias/mitered seam. Its the same basic maneuver – glue basting, plus a pressing tip for creating the miter:

• Begin with 2 strips you want to sew together end-to-end, and find a matching pattern on both.

• Turn over one strip and fold back the corner of the end. Press.

• Run a thin line of glue along the pressed crease.

• Lay the “pressed/glued” strip on top of the second strip, glue side down, and carefully match the pattern. Iron in place to dry the glue.

• Then fold the strip you just added on the right, down to expose the inside of the crease and stitch in the crease.

The great thing about using the glue is – if it doesn’t match exactly, even after pressing, simply pull it apart and glue again!

And …

The above technique works great for finishing a “no-end” binding!

• Sew your binding to the quilt, leaving about 8″ open between the beginning and ending tails.

• Fold back the end of the tail on the left at a 45 degree angle and press.

• Run a thin line of glue along this crease.

• Place the tail on the right back evenly on top of the glued crease. Press to dry the glue.

• When the glue is dry, pick up the strip tails, open them to reveal the inside of the crease and stitch in the crease.

Trim the excess tails 1/4″ from the seam and continue sewing the binding to the quilt.

If you prefer to use a double or “French” binding, simply leave yourself a wider opening between the beginning and ending stitches (perhaps 12″), open the strips flat, and connect them as above, folding the strip back in half after it is stitched, and sewing it to the quilt.

I do hope you’ll try this technique. I’ve found it extremely quick and accurate!

An FYI for local quilters

The Sun Prairie Quilt Show is fast approaching. To enter a quilt in the competition and/or read all about the show click here!

February 4, 2018, finishing Notions
A Great Binding Tip!

A number of years ago my friend Jean  showed our Open Lab class a clever way to control binding while attaching it to a quilt (to read a previous post about some lovely placemats Jean made, click here!). I thought I had posted about it, but can’t seem to find that post (after 6 years of blogging I’ve covered a lot of topics!)

The concept is quite simple and it requires 2 easily obtained supplies: an empty toilet paper roll and a piece of ribbon. After making enough binding to go around her quilt, Jean rolls it onto the toilet paper roll, threads the roll onto a length of ribbon, ties the ribbon around her neck, and stitches the binding to her quilt. The binding feeds evenly off the roll in an extremely organized fashion. Brilliant!

Fast forward to this past Christmas. Connie, another Open Lab friend, was making tree skirts (I posted about them in December – click here for that post). She chose to couch silver cording onto one of the tree skirts (for couching instructions click here). Jean just happened to have one of her special rolls with her and it made the couching oh so much easier:

Connie added the cording with Jean’s binding roller.

couching roll

Here’s a close up of the couching. It really added some extra zip to the tree skirt!

Thanks Jean, and Connie 🙂 !

I don’t know why I haven’t tried this yet, but I know what I’ll be doing with my next empty toilet paper roll.

Let me know if you try this. A picture of your project would be fun too!

January 22, 2017, Embellishing finishing
A Winter Window Quilt

Last Summer I shared the story of a winter quilt I’d completed (click here to read that post). Well, it’s finally hanging on the wall!

Today’s post is about another winter wall quilt, recently finished, and a quick tutorial on a fun raw edge appliqué technique that doesn’t require fusibles! It’s a very different quilt from the first one, and is hung in a unique way.

In November my friend Doris Deutmeyer gave a lecture and workshop for Patched Lives quilt guild. You may have seen her wonderful work at quilt shows, as she vends at many of them. Her patterns and kits are great, and just in case you’d like to see more, go to: I was excited to take her class and chose a winter scene called Crystal Night. This is the pattern and the piece I left class with (some of the students got theirs pieces done and matted!)


Mike and I like to repurpose antiques for our own use and enjoyment (to see another antique repurposing project from a few years ago, click here). Years ago we needed a towel rack in the master bathroom. We found an old window, Mike added coat hooks to the sides and I made an autumn landscape quilt to fit inside it. Since we have no windows in this bathroom (only skylights), it seemed the perfect answer.

I had told Mike I’d make a quilt for every season – but that never happened. As I was making my Crystal Night quilt I realized the time had arrived to change out the seasons (or at least one of them)!

I ordered some extra fabric from Doris, because the new center was too small for the window. I measured how much I needed to add to all 4 sides, knowing the sides were going to be a bit of a challenge. I wanted the distant trees and mountains to match up and look more organic – a straight seam would be too obvious.


I decided to use one of my favorite “raw edged landscape” techniques. I placed the light blue fabric over the dark blue, making sure there was enough overlap. Then I drew a “mountain” line and stitched:


Next I trimmed close to the line.


Once both sides were done I added them and sewed the additional sky and snow on top and bottom. After layering, quilting, binding and placing it in the frame – we have a towel rack with a winter view:

The Springtime view is already beginning to percolate through my brain.

Do you like to repurpose antiques? Any pictures you’d like to share?

January 15, 2017, Appliqué finishing
Quilts and Staples?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our woods. Last week we got a few inches of snow, so I headed out to take some pictures. This was my favorite:

Yesterday we brought the canoe into the barn just in time for more snow. The pond is now frozen over, the birds are loving our feeder, and it looks like we’ve had about 6″ more so far.  I think it’s beautiful!

This week’s post has nothing to do with snow, but I hope you enjoy it!

You may remember a post I did last Spring about rust dyeing (click here to read that post). My friend Ida created a couple of pieces of rust-dyed fabric when our group experimented with the technique. Well – she decided to do something with a piece of that fabric. She added a Seminole border in wonderful matching fabrics.


Our group had discussed the difficulty of quilting rust dyed fabric. The rust leaves enough metal in the fabric to make some areas impenetrable to a needle, thus making the quilting step a frustrating experience. Ida surmounted that problem by “tying/tacking” her quilt with brass staples!

idas-staples1 rust dyeing

Ingenious! And just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun. Leave it to my very creative friend Ida – to come up with the perfect solution.

Stapling your quilt… it might become the new, “in” way to quilt!


An Exciting Update for quilters in and out of Wisconsin!

This past week I received good news about the Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin video on pbs. The entire show is now available on-line. So, even my out of State viewers can access it! Here’s the link!

Join host Nancy Zieman for this special featuring interviews, stories and quilts.

December 11, 2016, finishing
Fitting Quilt Borders – Mathlessly

Seminole quilt border

The generally accepted rule for getting borders to fit on your quilt is to square up the top, and then measure the length of two opposite sides and across the center of the quilt top. In a perfect world these 3 numbers should be the same, but only God is perfect, and most of us know that these numbers seldom match. If they’re way off I do some re-stitching. If they’re within a 1/2″, I split the difference and cut the border strips at this size – easing them to fit.

On smaller pieces I’ve discovered an easier way. It may sound like cheating, but it works for me – if the sides are close to the same length (1/2″ or less difference – I might try up to a 3/4″ difference, but more than that would be pushing it). Here are the step-by-steps:

  1. Fold the quilt top in half and lay it on a table, with the edges you’re adding the borders to closest to you. I’ve left a 1/2″ underlap in the picture so you can see that both sides are aligned together. I then smooth these edges out so they are evenly on top of each other (trust me, even though the entire length isn’t in the picture, it is even on the right side too). If they aren’t exactly the same size I: place the corners on top of each other, hold them between a forefinger and a thumb on each side, and tug gently, placing it back on the table.mathless borders1
  2. Make 2 border strips at least 1″ longer than the side of the quilt, and square off the ends on the left. Place these border strips on top of each other, and aligned with the left edge of the quilt top.mathless borders
  3. On the opposite end of the strips, rotary cut the borders even with the right edge of the quilt top. You now have two strips that are the same length as the quilt top.mathless bordersmathless borders
  4. Now it’s time to sew on one of the border strips. This is one time I do pin the pieces together! Place a border strip, right-sides-together with the edge of one side of the quilt top, and pin it even with the left end (red pin head). Pin the right end even also (pink pin head).
  5. Grasp both ends, holding the quilt top and strip between finger and thumb, and gently tug until the strip lays flat (as directed in step 1). Place a pin in the center (middle pink pin), mathless borders
  6. This is the trick to make sure the strips fit: Use the grasp, tug and pin method from step 5 to place a new pin between a center and end pin. Repeat this process of pinning in the center of every pair of pins until the strip is securely pinned to the quilt top.
  7. Sew in place, and repeat for the opposite side. Attach the remaining sides in the same manner. (I just realized that I took these pictures while attaching the second set of green border strips, but you get the idea).

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

And if you like the Seminole piecing in this border – stay tuned – I’m planning to do a blog topic on it soon!


And now – a photo finish! Connie took my Spin Star class a few years ago and used my piecing technique to make purple blocks for her granddaughter (click here for more information on my Spin Star technique). Then she did something spectacular!

Connies Spin Star quiltShe brought this quilt to class last week and I knew you’d want to see it! What I love is the way she alternated the spin stars with bears paw blocks, but to make them fit and work together, she added the outer, “claw border” from the bears paw block around each spin star. Wow! What a clever idea! Great job Connie!

August 7, 2016, finishing
Another Spin Star

You may remember a post I wrote last January. I was hosting a “Tie Dye” baby shower for my niece Brianne. Well, Tessa Grace made her arrival later that month, and I needed to make her a quilt! I decided I was in the mood to make another “Spin Star” (my version of a fussy-cut quilt – click here for more on my technique), and I found a bright and pretty print fabric that was just right. I cut my identical repeats from the fabric, and stitched together 12 unique stars on a yummy butterscotch color background.


When it came to the quilting, I wasn’t sure what would work best in the open areas. I decided to cover one with Glad Press n Seal™, and audition a variety of designs using washable markers, erasing and redrawing until I found the pattern I liked. Then I just quilted through the Press n Seal™ and tore it away.

marking quilts with Glad Press n Seal

I found a beautiful turquoise blue “Minky” fabric for the backing and turned it to the front, to give it a soft outer edge. For instructions on this technique, click here!


The Minky had a lovely texture, and the free motion quilting made it even more fun.


Here are Scott, Brianne and Tessa with the quilt.


It took me a few extra months to complete the quilt, but I don’t think Tessa minded the wait. What a blessing to give a gift of hand-made love. I hope she enjoys it!


And just a little FYI 🙂 ! _QE2016_I'mTeaching_225x225Click here for all the information!

July 24, 2016, finishing Piecing
Faux Piped Binding

faux piping

I recently learned a very easy way to get the look of a piped binding, with a lot less effort than the traditional method (it’s the little sliver of blue, next to the binding in the quilt above). The best part is that it is all done by machine – no hand finishing! I’m posting it for my friend Laura, who hasn’t seen it yet, and for any of you who are in the same boat 🙂 .  Here it is in 5 easy steps.

  1. Cut binding strips 1 3/8″ wide (one and three eighths -sorry, the blog font looks wierd in odd fractions). Cut enough to go around the entire quilt and piece together, end to end. Cut piping strips 1 5/8″ wide (one and five eighths), and piece together as you did with the binding strips. It seems a little wierd that the piping strip is wider than the binding strip, but trust me – it works!
  2. Sew the binding strip (black) to the piping strip(blue), with a ¼” seam allowance.faux piping
  3. Press the seam towards the binding strip,faux piping then press the strip in half, wrong sides together.faux piping
  4. Align the raw edges of this binding unit with the outer edge of the quilt, on the back of the quiltpiping side up, and attach with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  5. Turn the binding to the front of the quilt and pin or clip in place, mitering the corners. Stitch in the ditch between the binding and the piping, in a color thread to match the piping.faux pipingVoila! A great look with only a little extra effort. Please let me know if you use this technique – and what you think!

November 29, 2015, finishing
A Lunch Bunch Quilt – Part 3

Binding an Inside Corner

Every so often a quilt comes along that has an odd outer edge – the question is “how do you bind it?” This was a problem I had to overcome in the Lunch Bunch quilt I’ve been sharing with you. Because the quilt was done “quilt as you go” style, in columns, I ended up with an interesting bottom edge.

in corner 1 - whole edge

All the corners are right angles. The “outside” corners are easy – they miter like the corners on a square or rectangular quilt. The “inside” corners are a bit trickier, but not too bad if you know the “tricks”.

1. Begin by stay-stitching, inside the seam line, about 2″ from both sides of the inside corner “pivot point”.

in corner 2 stay stitch

2. Clip to the stay-stitching “pivot point”, stopping a few threads from the stitching.

in corner 3 clip 3. Attach the binding down one side of the inside corner, stopping with the needle down at the binding “pivot point”.

in corner 4 sew side 1

4. Leave the needle down, lift the presser foot, and pull the quilt straight (the clip will allow you to do this). Lay the binding strip even with this new edge and continue stitching the binding to the quilt.

in corner 5 sew side 2

5. The binding will be standing up on this corner.

in corner 6 miter 1

To create the miter on this first side, fold one side flat, as in the picture:

in corner - miter 2

Then fold the other side until a 45° miter is formed.

in corner 9 - miter 4

Pin or stitch this side of the miter to secure.

6.  Turn to the other side and fold this new miter – fiddling until it looks good. Repeat to pin all inside corners and then stitch the binding to this side of the quilt, using your preferred method.

in corner 99 - frontIt really is quite simple and the effect is worth the effort!

And now (drum roll please!) Here is the finished Lunch Bunch Quilt!

Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt

Almost 20 years in the making – and finished! It was even juried in to be featured at the in the Fine Furnishing Show held this weekend in Wauwatosa, WI. It was hung in the entry to the show and I was very pleased – praise the Lord!

Lunch Bunch quilt at FF show

So, are you considering sending me a picture of your blocks? I hope so!



September 20, 2015, finishing
Turned Binding

Our youngest granddaughter, Rainee, lives in Washington State, and she just turned 3. I decided she needed a new snuggly quilt (with only a short amount of time to make it). I asked Sommer to help me pick out “I Spy” type fabrics once again. This time I cut 9″ squares and pieced them together. I also thought it would be fun to Repliqué her initial in one of the blocks using the technique from my Snuggle & Learn book.

turned back to front binding

A number of friends have been backing their kid’s quilts with Minky fleece recently, and it sounded like the perfect choice. Sommer loved it’s softness! I also wanted to turn the back to the front for a soft edge, as opposed to a traditional binding. While backing and finishing the quilt, it hit me that this would be a good topic of the week, so here are some of the things that worked for me.

*  When laying out the Minky backing, I smoothed it on the work surface, but didn’t stretch it at all. In the past I’ve had pucker problems if I stretched it (even a little).

* I made sure the backing was at least 3″ larger than the quilt top, and I chose not to use any batting.

*I smoothed the top onto the wrong side of the backing and safety pinned it well. Then I free motion quilted it (this also helped to not stretch anything) – in my favorite spiral pattern.

turned back to front binding

* Once the quilting was complete, I trimmed the backing 1 ¼” away from the edge all the way around.

turned back to front binding

*Then the fun of turning began. Step 1. Begin on a long edge and fold the raw edge of the backing up to meet the raw edge of the quilt top. Then bring the fold up to the top and clip or pin.

turned back to front binding

2. Do this all the way off the next edge.

turned back to front binding

3. Bring the folded outside edge up to the raw edge of the quilt top, gift wrap style, creating a miter.

turned back to front binding

4. Fold the new raw edge of the backing to the raw edge of the quilt.

turned back to front binding

5. Then bring the folded outside edge up to the top and clip or pin.

turned back to front binding

6. Continue all the way around and then machine stitch in place with a decorative stitch.

TB miter stitched

Voila – a quilt with a snuggly soft back and edge!

turned back to front binding

The day Sommer helped me pick the fabrics for her cousin Rainee’s quilt, she noticed my fish bowl full of scraps. She hadn’t played with it for months and asked if I could bring it down off the shelf.


I’ve posted pictures previously of various grandkids playing with the scraps, and she had so much fun I had to post a few more! She had a blast pulling and throwing.

sommer scraps 6-15bWhen she tired of plopping them on her head, she took aim at me.

Sommer scraps 6-15c

Then she laid on the floor and did a bit of scrap swimming.

Swimming in fabric scraps

She’s big enough now to do a good job of picking up afterwards – so it’s fun for both of us!

July 5, 2015, finishing Kids
No-End Binding – a Great Improvement!

I have been using a no-end binding technique for years with great results. It is a fairly simple way to sew a mitered seam to attach the beginning and ending tails of the binding to each other, but this old dog has just learned a new trick – and I love it!

Once you have cut and sewn together all your binding strips (this works for a single binding as well as for a double/French binding), take your “beginning” end and cut it at a 45° angle. Press under a 1/4″ hem. Cut a piece of paper backed fusible web (Wonder Under™, Heat and Bond™, etc) 1/4″ x 2″. Iron this to the hem, leaving the paper in place.

fused no-end quilt binding

Begin to sew your binding to the quilt with a back stitch, leaving the angled “beginning” tail unattached for about 8″. Continue to bind, mitering the corners in your preferred way. When you get all the way around, stop stitching about 10″ from the beginning stitching, and backstitch once again. Remove the paper from the beginning tail,

fused no-end binding

and place the ending tail where it should go.

no-end fused quilt binding

Press with a hot iron for about 5 seconds, let cool and then open the original 1/4″ hem up to reveal the crease.

fused no-end quilt binding

Stitch in this crease and trim away the excess tail. Lay this pieced portion of the binding against the quilt and sew the last 10″ to the quilt. Finish as usual!

No more fussing around, trying to figure out which angle to sew and where. I hope you find this helpful. If you’d like more detailed instructions, Nancy Zieman has a great video on bindings. Click here to view it!

June 21, 2015, finishing
Facing a Quilt

I’ve discovered a great way to face quilts – giving the look of no visible binding on the front. I found it in an article by Kathleen Loomis, in American Quilter magazine 7 years ago.

It’s not uncommon for a faced quilt to end up with bulky corners, but Kathleen’s way eliminates that problem with a slick trick for trimming out the excess.  I’ve used her facing technique for many of my quilts and have always been pleased with the results. Here are a few of my faced quilts. All three of these quilts are clearly art quilts and I felt a binding would have detracted from the finished look of the quilt.

Risen - an experiment in celtic design using red rayon rat tail to outline all the elements.

Risen – an experiment in celtic design using red rayon rat tail to outline all the elements.


Interchange - made for a challenge called "Color Wheel Opposites"

Interchange – made for a challenge called “Color Wheel Opposites”

Vanishing Point - made for a challenge called "On-Point"

Vanishing Point – made for a challenge called “On-Point”



Kathleen has a great tutorial for facing quilts on her blog (with lots of clear pictures) . She’s refined her technique a bit since I first read about it, and she’s eliminated the curved corner pieces on the back, but the essence is the same. Rather than my having to redo the instructions, I think you’ll enjoy getting it from the originator. Please click on this link for the step by step instructions:

Give it a try and then remember to “bookmark” her site so you can find it again (although the link will always be on my blog and you can find it by typing “facing” in the search box on the upper right of my blog page).

Sommer Sews!

Sommer and I had a sewing adventure this past week and I just have to share. She came over wearing pants that were about 1 ½” too long. Grandma decided she needed to do a quick hem job and Sommer was fascinated watching me thread the needle. She climbed up in my lap and really examined each stitch I was taking. After a few she said “I do it” and tried to take the needle from me. I told her it was too sharp and she should just watch. My next thought was: “I wish I had an old fashioned sewing card for her”, then: “where can I buy them nearby”, and this was followed quickly by “you own a paper punch – go find some cardboard”  😀 ! In a short amount of time she had colored on her card, I wrote her name on it and then found an old rainbow colored shoe lace. I took a video as she stitched, and you may click here to watch it. Here are a few pictures of Sommer sewing!

Sommer Sews 1

Sommer Sews 2

Sommer Sews 3

She loved it, and sewed, and re-sewed the card three times. She sure is grandma’s girl!

October 5, 2014, finishing
Problem Solved

I’ve been doing a lot of quilt related stuff lately and find myself in the wonderful position of having many blog topics just waiting for a week to be posted. I’m grateful to have so many fun things to share. This week’s post is from an email I received a while ago. I think you’ll find it quite interesting:

Hi Chris,
I was told that if you want to hang a small wall hanging all you have to do is pin the corners onto the wall.  I decided to try that with my 30s flower wall quilt.  Obviously, my 26″ X 30″ piece was too big because after several months it began to sag in the center.  I am sure the added weight of the applique added to the problem.  I knew I had to add a sleeve and dowel but since that is not one of my favorite things to do I just left the quilt on wall for a few more months.  The sagging got worse!

I finally added a proper hanger but of course that did not solve the problem.  I tried starching the back and ironing it, that didn’t help.  I laid it on a table, put a cutting board on top and weighted it down with heavy objects for several days, hoping to get it to flatten out, but that didn’t help.  I didn’t know what else to do.  I just resigned myself to the fact that I had ruined my wall hanging and would never just pin a piece on the wall again.

Then I read your January blog, “Wash and Pucker?” and decided to try your method of blocking the quilt.  Here is the result!!!!

Lorrianes flat quilt

Thank you so much for your wonderful article!  I can now go downstairs and enjoy my wall hanging again! Lorraine Bahr”

I was thrilled to received Lorraine’s email and to see the results on her beautiful Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I’ve used blocking to fix minor problems with many of my quilts and I hope you found Lorraine’s adventure helpful. In case you missed the instructions for my blocking technique, go to:

Do you block your quilts? 

Also, this past week Natalie sent me this photo of a quilt she began in one of my classes.

Natalie Rockley Fiber Art QuiltHere’s what she had to say:

“Hi Chris, You taught a “Parallelisms” workshop on Oct 18, 2014 in Hendersonville, NC and this is my finished quilt from that class. Thank you so much for a fun class! Pattie Votruba helped me put the finishing touches by teaching me how to embellish with beading.”

What a happy quilt!

Thanks Natalie and Lorraine!

Speaking of beading, this leads me to one more item I’d like to share. My friend Sandy Hendricks (who taught me about thread painting faces), has an exhibit of her beaded floral quilts on display at Eclectica Bead shop in Brookfield.

beaded fiber artHer work is wonderful and the shop is truly a bead adventure. Here’s the contact information, in case you are able to stop by:

Eclectica & The Bead Studio
Galleria West Shopping Center
18900 West Bluemound Rd., Ste #148
Brookfield, WI 53045

July 27, 2014, finishing
Wash and Pucker?

To prewash or not to prewash – that is the question! This week’s blog can be filed under the “Learn From My Mistake” category. I made a small, quilt-as-you-go, reversible table topper a few years ago. It’s been carried to many classes as a sample for two-sided-binding, as well as having topped my table each Autumn and Winter. During a Christmas gathering in my home this year, something was spilled on it. I didn’t ask myself: “has this been washed before?”, or even  “did I pre-wash the fabrics?”. No … I just threw it in the washer AND the dryer, without thinking! It came out a shriveled wad :-(.

I was so mad at myself (and never even considered taking a picture of it – probably for the best). Instead I decided it is never too late to block a quilt and that’s what I did.

pucker-postwashInstructions for my favorite way to block a quilt can be found at:,

It worked and my little topper is now back on the table – winter side up (and considering it’s snowed everyday for the past 2 weeks – it’s quite appropriate :-)!

quilt blocking


January 19, 2014, finishing
Turning a Quilt

I’ll get to the topic at hand in a moment, but first, I received some lovely responses to last week’s post about the memorial quilt.  Please go to the comments on that post to read about them. There are so many ways quilts can be used to comfort and show love. Laura Krasinski reminded me of the memorial quilt the Milwaukee Art Quilters made for Margot (one of our members), who’s sister passed away. Each member made a floral block. Here’s Margot with the quilt.

memorial quilt

This week Nancy sent me a photo of the memory quilt she made for her mother who is struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. Here’s what she wrote:

“Dear Chris,I enjoyed your recent Blog about Memory Quilting.  I have done a lot of Memory Quilting and enjoy this process of keeping the past alive.  It was a helpful tool for me, also, when grieving the loss of a much loved family member.  I have attached two photos of a quilt I made for my mother who is living with Alzheimer’s Disease.  It has photos of her as a child, young adult, young mother and wife.  She has it on top of her bed and continues to tell me that “it is the best gift I have ever received”.  She looks at the photos and occasionally it triggers memories from the past.  Thanks for highlighting this quilting format.  Nancy”

This is Nancy’s lovely quilt:

memory quilt

My Father-in-law suffered with Alzheimer’s and he passed away a few years ago. In his memory I decided to make a small quilt for Ami Simm’s Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. She has raised a large amount of money to fight Alzheimer’s in honor of her mother, by auctioning off small art quilts (8″ x 11″). Harold Von der Linde, my dear FIL, was a passionate gardener, so I called his quilt “Memory Garden”. It sold for $75, what a blessing!

memory quilt

Then yesterday I received an email from Marie with this message:

“Chris, I enjoyed your blog on memorial quilts.  My grandmother passed away over 10 years ago and I was fortunate enough to get her stash.  She had scraps left over from toys and quilts she made the grandkids.  As I was going through the fabrics, I found several patchwork blocks and partial pieces from a double wedding ring.  This year for our family reunion I decided it was time to put them to good use.  Here are a couple of pictures of the wall hangings I made combining the pieces.  The family members who received them were just thrilled and I felt good about passing on a bit of my grandmother’s legacy.”

These are the pictures she included in the email:




They’re lovely Maire, thanks for sending the pictures!

So, on to “quilt turning”. Not as in “a bed turning of antique quilts”, but a simple technique for finishing small quilts, sometimes referred to as the “envelope” technique. This is my favorite way to do it and it’s really quite easy!

1. Square up your small quilt and cut a piece of batting the same size. Cut a piece of backing the same width, but add 1″ to the length measurement.

2. Sew a 1/4″ seam in the back (this will take up some of the extra length), leaving a 3″ opening in the stitching, and back stitching on both sides of the opening . Press the seam to one side, and cut the fold at the opening in the stitching. Trim the length to the same measurement as the quilt top.turning a quilt

3. Layer the pieces: batting, quilt top (face up) and then quilt back (right sides together). Stitch all the way around with a 1/4″ seam (no need to leave an opening along the edge).


4. Trim off the corners of the seam allowance and turn the quilt right side out.

turning a quilt

5. Push corners out and press.


6. Stitch up the opening in the back and quilt as desired!


The best part of doing it this way is that the opening is easy to stitch together on the back and you don’t need to stitch up an opening along the outer edge of the quilt. The ones I’ve done that way always seemed to wobble a bit.

Another way to do a “non-binding” finish on the outer edge of your quilt is to face it. If you have an oddly shaped outer edge, you may want to refer to my previous post on that topic by clicking here.

October 13, 2013, finishing
Wedding Quilt

First of all, I must begin with a huge thank you to everyone who responded with opinions concerning the cover for my new book. I was blown away by the number of responses and grateful for all of the thoughtful comments. I did not take that decision lightly and feel good arguments were presented for both covers. That being said, I’m not telling which way I went yet :-)! “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art?” is now at the printers and should be ready for my classes at Expo in Madison next month. It will be available on my website shortly after that.

Now for this week’s topic. My August 11th post began with a picture of me basting a quilt in the driveway. I was making it for my niece’s wedding and Brianne and Scott were married this past Friday. They are a very sweet and special couple and their day was beautiful! It was such a blessing to celebrate this joy filled time with family and friends.

Brianne and Scott

Quilting and finishing their quilt was an adventure for me and I’d like to share some of the things I tried and the results. It was actually made for a class sample last semester and as soon as I got the top together and decided on a border (click here for that story :-)) I knew it was the one I wanted to finish for Brianne and Scott. The colors are bright and modern, and I could just picture them cuddled up under it.

When it came time to layer and quilt it, I chose to use a washable wool batt to make it extra snuggly and, while basting it in the frame, I had a thought: I’m always telling my students that quilting the quilt should be as much fun as making the top. So, how should I quilt it?

Sparingly was the answer. No tight and tiny filler designs this time! I didn’t want to flatten the nice poofy wool. I also didn’t want to drive myself crazy with a lot of marking and planning. This quilt wasn’t going to competition, it was meant to keep 2 people I love warm. Here’s what I did:

1. Gridded the quilt on the diagonals, through the dark squares, with a walking foot.

grid quilting

2. Prepared to make fast and fun feathered wreaths by marking a circle around an embroidery hoop,  straight pinning up to the circle and removing any safety pins that were in the way.

quilting simple feathered wreath

3. I began by free motion quilting the marked circle and then “feathering” around the outside. I’ve found feathers to be much easier since I took a class with Diane Gaudynski and she taught that a feather is half of a heart. I doodled loads of hearts when I was a young girl, so I had the shape down. She also showed us how it was easier to “draw” a half heart from the indent at the top, around to the point at the bottom. Here is my first “outside the circle” feather. I’ve come back up from the point and am at the top of the bump which will be the second feather.

quilt simple feathers4. As you can see – my feathers are big. Once I made all of the feathers around the outside, I stitched a second circle inside the first to create a “spine” and then I feathered the inside.

quilt simple feathers

5. They were a joy to make and the wreath was done so quickly I couldn’t wait to start the next one. Here’s a view of a wreath from the top:

quilt simple feathers

and from the back:


Notice how the feathers are not consistent in size or shape and yet they look good when all were done? Don’t agonize over each little stitch – revel in the finished effect!

quilting a large quilt

I did the free motion quilting on my HQ Sweet 16 and I used my “Quilt Float” system to lift the quilt and keep the weight of it from dragging me down. Quilts can be floated with a domestic machine also. For info on the “Quilt Float” from 2 previous posts, click here and then here :-).


When all the wreaths were made it was time to fill in the open areas. I did this with free motion hearts.

The adventure didn’t stop there, but the post is getting a bit long. Next week I’ll share my thoughts on border quilting and working with a wool batt.

Oh – just one more thing. I’ll be presenting a program at the library in McHenry, IL in September and I wanted to share their flyer in case you can make it!

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 8.59.56 AM


Quilt Blocking

When my quilts are meant to hang on a wall or go to competition, I really want them to be square and lay flat. This doesn’t always come naturally, so blocking is a good way to do some fine tuning. It won’t correct major ripples or wobbles, but it can work wonders for minor issues. Please be aware that I use this technique with cotton batts. Polyester batts may flatten due to melting from the heat of the iron. Be careful too that the colors in your fabric will not run when wet and the fibers are not too fragile for the heat of the iron.

I always quilt my quilts before I attach the binding. I feel this allows me to quilt any fullness out to the edges and then square things up prior to binding, yielding a truly square and flat quilt. So, once the quilting is done I do the square up step.

This is my method of choice:

1. Choose a carpeted, out of the way area and cover with a layer of towels a little larger than the quilt.

2. Place the quilt on the towels, back side up, and mist with water.

3. Turn the quilt to the right side and mist again.

4. Place a large square ruler in a corner and pin the quilt into the carpet along the ruler, keeping the edge of the quilt top even with the ruler. A bit of tugging and encouraging may be required.

5. Butt 2 long rulers up to the top and left edges of the square ruler. This is called “piggy backing” and creates a large square. Keeping the rulers aligned, continue pinning the quilt into the carpet.

6. Continue moving the rulers around the quilt, pinning as you go. Some areas require a bit more encouraging than others :-).

7. Once the entire perimeter has been pinned. Place a pressing cloth over an area and place the iron in the corner for a count of about 5. Move the iron to an adjacent area and repeat until the whole quilt has been pressed.

I then leave everything as is for at least 24 hours. This allows for thorough drying. Once the pins are removed, rotary cut around the now square outside edge of the quilt and bind!

Do you block your quilts?

September 16, 2012, finishing
No End

I believe a good binding can really make a quilt. There are so many ways to bind and I’m quite sure I’ve tried them all. The best way I’ve discovered to connect the beginning and end tails is really quite easy. I often demonstrate this in my classes and workshops, but a number of students have asked me to post a step by step demo with pictures ……. so here it is!

Depending on the size of the quilt, it is quite common to have to join a number of binding strips together to make a strip long enough to go around the entire quilt. I like to join these strips in a diagonal or mitered seam (trimming off the extra triangles after the seam is sewn).

This results in a relatively unobtrusive seam in the finished binding.

So here are the steps for a no end finish that looks just like the above:

1.  When you begin to stitch your binding to the quilt, leave an 8″ tail that is not stitched to the quilt and do a back stitch to secure. Bind all the way around the quilt and then end your stitching with a back stitch 10 -12 inches from the beginning back stitches. Leave at least 8″ of ending tail unattached to the quilt.

3. With a single binding (as above) the strips are a flat, single layer. If you are doing a double binding, the next steps need to be done with the binding opened to a single layer, as in the sample below.

Mark a 45 degree line towards the end of one of the tails and cut it off.

4. Pull back this end and lay the opposite end against the quilt. Then lay the diagonally cut end back on top of the other strip and mark the diagonal cut.

5. Pull away the cut tail and mark a 45 degree line 1/2″ away from this line. This is the way to add the seam allowance, so be sure you add it to the side of the line that makes the strip longer. Cut on this second line.

You should now have a 1/2″ overlap of the 2 tails.

6.  Pick these ends up and place them right sides together as in the picture for joining binding strips at the beginning of this post. The bulk of the quilt will need to be pulled inwards to create a bit of play in the strips.7.  Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

8. Lay the quilt flat so the binding strip lies back against it and finish sewing the binding strip to the quilt.

Once the binding is turned to the back and stitched down you will not be able to tell this ending spot from any of the other strip joinings as in the picture above step 1. So it is truly “no end”!

Is this something you already are doing? Did you find it helpful? Do you have a way you like better? I love to hear from you, so please let me know.

PS I’ve learned a neat trick to see a close-up detail of any of the pictures above on my PC. While you are looking at the chosen picture, hold down “ctrl” and click the “+” sign. This will zoom in on the picture. You may do it repeatedly for more zoom. “ctrl” and the “-” sign will zoom the picture back out, and holding down “ctrl” while clicking “0” (zero) will cause the page to go back to normal :-).

July 15, 2012, finishing
A New Look For My Blog & a Quick Miter Tutorial

Welcome to my new blog look!

Diahann Lohr, of Adunate Word and Design, inspired me to create my blog over a year ago. I then hired her to design my website, now she has integrated the two. I’m thrilled and I hope you enjoy the change!

The address for my new blog is: It’s shorter and simpler than my previous blog address, and the good news is that if you usually access my site by clicking on the link in my emails, you can continue to get here the same way. Please feel free to offer feedback by clicking on the word “comment” at the end of this post.

This week’s topic is about my favorite way to miter a border. Once you have sewn on the border strips, stopping both seams 1/4″ away from the corner to be mitered, it’s as easy as:

1. Fold diagonally through the quilt while aligning the border strips on t0p of each other (right sides together), and lay a ruler along the fold with the 45° line along the stitching.

2. Draw along the edge of the ruler on the border strip, remove the ruler and pin.

3. Sew on the line!

I’ve been doing a bit of mitering lately because I was designing a new Attic Window project for a Summer class at WCTC in Waukesha. If you live in southeastern Wisconsin I’d love to have you sign up for a class or 2. Here are my upcoming Summer classes:

Attic Windows – Use this three-dimensional style block to showcase your favorite “too-beautiful-to-cut” fabrics. Learn how to make the windows different sizes to accommodate whatever you choose to set in them. It’s also a great pattern for setting a printed panel scene “through the window”, finishing up a collection of  embroidered blocks, or even showcasing leftover blocks from previous quilt projects. Thursday, July 12, 9 – 2:30.

Threaded Borders – In this advanced machine quilting class you’ll create delightful borders and illusions using only free motion quilting techniques and contrasting thread. This class is for those comfortable with free-motion quilting who want to advance their skills. Thursday, July 26, 9 – 2:30

Compass Capers – Using the steps from my new book, learn easy paper folding techniques to draft a Mariner’s compass block. Begin with a traditional round compass, then learn to create compasses of different shapes and sizes. From there, select a favorite design and and learn how to paper piece it. Thursday, June 21, 9 -2:30

Great Finishes – Bindings are nice, but there are so many exciting variations and options for finishing the edge of a quilt: piped, ric rac, bias, curved, couched, faced, and even continuous prairie points. Make samples of each in class to keep for future reference.

To register on line go to:; click on “Class Search”; check Summer semester and fill in “quilting” in the Course Title/Subject Box; Click “Submit” and all the summer quilt classes will appear. Then follow the site directions to register.

Let’s Face It!

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!

October 10, 2011, finishing Uncategorized
Flange in Photos

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 :-)!

October 2, 2011, finishing Piecing
Pleasing separation

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:

September 26, 2011, Embellishing finishing
Hurry Up or Wait

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!

June 28, 2011, finishing free motion
Making My Mark

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!

September 17, 2010, finishing
Make Your Mark and Erase it Too!

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!

September 12, 2010, finishing Notions
Hanging Quilts II

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???

July 9, 2010, finishing
Hanging Quilts

In grandma’s day quilts were made to keep people warm. This is still a vital function, but in recent times quilts are often made for other uses and decorating a wall is a very popular one. This leads to the question: “what’s the best way to hang a quilt on the wall?”

I’ve seen many quilts made with “tabs” along the top, curtain style, so the quilt can be hung from a pretty rod. This look often has a “country” feel and isn’t appropriate for all types of quilts.

Some quilts have an unusual orientation or shape and this can be a challenge.

Parallelisms I

 I prefer to hang my fiber art as you would a fine painting – with no visible means of support. This works for more traditional wall quilts too. I’ll detail some of my techniques on Thursday. Until then, please share your favorite methods by submitting a comment.

July 5, 2010, finishing