Monday, May 13, 2013

Adding Borders to Your Quilt

(This is a repost, as I had to delete the original due to thousands of comments by spam-bots.)

As a long arm quilter, I have a few pet peeves when dealing with customer quilts. Bad pressing is one. But what bugs me the most is bad borders. Borders that are too short on one side and too long on the other. Borders that are rippled and wavy. Borders with too much fullness. They all add up to one insane quilter.
To a certain extent, they can be "quilted out." But it takes a lot of fidgeting, time, steaming and irritation on the part of the quilter.

My posting for today is simply my own instructions for adding borders. I’ve gathered bits and pieces of information and techniques from a variety of sources, blended them together until I found what works best for me. Many of my students have told me that it works well for them. Try it for your self.

How to Add Straight Borders to your Quilt
Ensuring that the quilt is square and the borders lie or hang flat without ripples is as simple as following the steps listed below.

  1. Measure the quilt to calculate a "base" measurement for each border.
  2. Do not take the measurements on the edge of the quilt as the seams may have opened a little and will give a false result. Instead position the tape measure approximately 20 -30 cm in from the edge at both ends. Take a third measurement through the center of the quilt.
  3. Now average the three measurements to find the "base measurement". However, If there is more than a 1.5 cm variation in the measurements it means that the pieced seams are not even so go back to the quilt and adjust seams before adding border. This will make you quilt lay and hang flat. In the end you will be glad you took the time to correct your seaming.
  4. Cut your side borders to base measurement for the length of your quilt.
  5. Mark the quilt and the border at the ½ and ¼ points with pins. Match these points and pin the entire length together of your border and center unit together. Sew with a ¼ inch seam.
  6. Repeat for the other side. Press these seams. Generally press to the darker fabric. You may press to the light or open as needed.
  7. Measure the width of the quilt (including the added borders) in three places as instructed in step two.
  8. Add these borders as above.
Note: if your fabrics strips are not as long as the required borders I recommend that you piece them together using a 45-degree seam. This lies flatter than a straight cross-seam and is less visible.
Lay two border strips right sides together at with their ends at a 90-degree angle. Sew a seam from point to point. While stitching from point to point, think of the capital letter A. Your strips are the legs of the A and your stitching the cross bar. Open to ensure the strips will lay straight. If so, trim seam to 1/4inch and press open. Repeat with another strip if more length is needed. Cut desired strip length from this piece. Piecing all your strips together and then cutting your borders gives all one large piece for your scrap bin rather than many small ones.
It doesn’t take long to make your borders perfect. Try it and see what you think.

Please, if you share these directions, let people know where you found them. Thanks.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Indulge Your Inner Goonie and Find Time For Your Passions

Have you ever noticed that life has a way of throwing curve balls at you? Just about the time you think you have everything under control, shit hits the fan. You know what I mean. You finally get the credit cards paid off and the car goes KLUNK and dies on the freeway. The Christmas bills are paid and the furnace blows up. You finally free up a four day weekend for relaxing and doing nothing when Great Aunt Bethany calls to say she’s coming to town for a few days. It is easy to get caught up in the little things and lose sight of your passions. A few extra hours at work; a couple dinner invitations; people making demands on your time and asking you to do things for them; it all adds up and eats into your time.

How do you find time for those passions? When do you say no? When do you start to let things slide? When do you shout at the world, “Enough is enough?”  But most importantly, how do you decide which things occupy your time?

Personally I am selfish. I try my best to put myself and my needs first. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean I refuse all requests or tell people to take a flying leap when they ask for a favour or for some help. I just do my very best to make time for the things that I love to do, for the things that nurture my soul. I try to hear what my mind and my soul are telling me.

I am a creative person and I try to be aware when my creative side screams for an outlet. I NEED to do crafty things. I need to write stories. Some are good, some are awful, but they need released from the crowded confines of my mind or my head will explode. My house is littered with the detritus of my creative side. There are piles of partial manuscripts, writing materials and reference manuals. There are balls of yarn, knitting projects, needlepoint canvases and half-finished baby afghans. My studio looks like a fabric truck exploded inside of it. Fabric is stacked and draped on every surface, pattern books stick out of weird places, all higgety piggety.  Generally, I have so many projects on the go that I can’t decide what to work on. My husband says that I have Magpie Syndrome; I get distracted by bright shiny or colorful objects. He may be right. Personally I think it is just my creative side trying to escape and express itself to save my sanity.

The trouble is that sometimes it is hard to fit that creativity, that passion, into my life. But somehow I manage it. It is a very rare day that goes by when I don’t indulge myself. Sometimes it is with quilting or writing (most days); sometimes it is a couple rows of crochet or a bit of applique or needlework. To find the time, I have turned down invitations to coffee, to home clothing parties, dinners, and on occasion, I tell my man that I cannot go with him to Home Depot, or that he has to wait an hour while I stitch this. Recently, I have told my kids I don’t have time to visit. That isn’t as cruel and heartless as it sounds. I see one daughter and her family at least five days a week, so a missed visit isn’t a big thing for any of us. My other daughter is as busy as I am, so I rarely turn down the chance to see her.

For years and years, I cleaned my house from stem-to-stern at least once a week, sometimes more often. Now, I’m doing good to get it done once a month. We don’t live in squalor. I’ve just changed my priorities. Things are clean enough. Nobody who comes over complains, in fact one fellow says, “I like coming here, I feel comfortable, like I was at home. I’m not worried about destroying a show-home.” The first thing he does when he shows up is take his socks off … so the floors can’t be that dirty.

The joke around here is that if I have cleaned up, someone must be coming over. (And usually that is true!) And hubby has taken over the dishes and the laundry. This leaves me more time to play with the things that nurture me and keep me sane and happy. Because we all know that if Cathy isn’t happy, no one is happy!

It’s about balance. It’s about not neglecting your needs to meet the needs of others. It’s about being who you need to be and not feeling guilty when you say no or when the toilet doesn’t get scrubbed exactly on schedule.

Remember the movie Goonies? They were under the wishing well and had to choose between following a dream and searching for One Eyes Willie’s treasure and returning to the world of their parents. Remember Mikey’s passion speech about time and staying a Goonie? “Our parents, they want the bestest stuff for us. But right now they gotta do what's right for them, 'cause it's their time. Their time, up there. Down here it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.” Mikey had it right! Stand up for your time, not what is right for the people in your life. Be strong, be a Goonie and make time for your passion. Make time for you! Stay out of Troy’s bucket!

What is your passion and how are you going to find time to fit it into your schedule?