Basic Quilting Skills Series · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials

Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Binding 101

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

Again, THANK YOU for following our Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners series. We are all thrilled with your interest to this series of posts. Sadly, this series will come to an end next week with Labeling Your Quilt.

So, I thought I’d ask — are there any other topics you’d like to see here? If so, please leave a comment or you can email your suggestions to me at tricia@villarosadesigns.com. I’d love to have your thoughts and ideas so our blog will continue to be relevant to you, our VRD fans and followers.

Now let’s get to BINDING!

The good news is that once you reach the binding stage, you are totally in the homestretch of having a finished quilt.

Yay you!

This week for our binding tutorial, we’ll use my Halloween Ice Jam table runner again. If you didn’t order the pattern last week, you can order it HERE.

There’s a couple of things we have to go over before we can do our binding.

How wide do I cut my strips?

You could ask a bunch of different quilters this same question and you would get multiple answers, I’m afraid — it’s not a one size fits all situation.

A lot of quilt patterns and quilters prefer to cut binding strips 2 1/2″ wide. As this seems to be the most common size in the quilting world, I too use this width for my patterns, but I personally find 2 1/2″ a bit too floppy, so when I do my own binding, I cut my strips 2 1/4″ wide, which for me makes a nice full binding. Of course, you will have to try both to see which one you prefer.

Yes, I use 2 1/4″ for almost all of my binding, but I must confess that there are a few types of projects I actually cut 2″ wide binding strips for — miniature quilts and any other tiny little quilty projects. Again, you’ll just have to try different widths on different projects to find out what works best for you.

Here’s a little something to consider — I have found that if your 1/4″ seam is a “fat” 1/4″ seam, then you’ll probably like using 2 1/2″ or if you’re like me and you use a “scant” 1/4″ seam, then 2 1/4″ might be a better fit.

As for mini quilts and such, you’ll probably want to use a slightly narrower width than what you use for your regular-sized quilts. You’ll just have to try things out to see what you like better because trial and error is all part of learning, isn’t it?

How do I know how many strips to cut for my binding?

Sometimes you get lucky and your quilt pattern will include the number of strips to cut and it might even suggest a specific width. But, if your pattern doesn’t specify how many strips to cut, read on my friend!

If you don’t know the dimensions of your quilt, you will need to measure the width and the length using your tape measure.

Let’s use my Halloween Ice Jam measurements for this example — it measures 18″ wide x 54″ long, so we need to add together 2 widths and 2 lengths to get the total inches around the outside of the quilt (otherwise known as the circumference).

18+18+54+54=144

Now we are going to divide 144 by 40.

This number will tell us how many strips to cut because we are dividing the total inches by the inches in the width of fabric.

Please understand I didn’t just pull a random number out of the air — ha ha! — 40 is the average width of fabric that I and a lot of other quilt designers use to determine yardage requirements for our patterns. Fabric can vary in width so it helps to use an average number maybe a little smaller than the actual width and 40 does that when fabric generally ranges from 42″ – 45″ wide. Besides, that little extra also helps to make sure you don’t run out of fabric by accident.

So, let’s continue.

144÷40=3.6

Let’s round that number up to 4 — I need 4 strips of fabric for my binding. That little extra is helpful to make room for the corners and joining our binding ends. There’s nothing worse than getting close to the end of sewing on your binding to find you are 3 inches short. When in doubt, add an extra strip.

But what do you do when you get a whole number instead of a fraction for the number of strips needed? Me, I definitely add an extra strip because I don’t want to run out of binding before I get to the end.

Yay! Quilt Math to the rescue again! Three cheers for math! Want to read my post about quilting and math? Check it out HERE.

Moving on……

Cut the required number of strips and then cut off all the selvedges. The selvedges are those tightly woven long sides of the fabric which usually have little holes in them. Off with the selvedges, I say, off with those selvedges!

Now we’re heading back over to the sewing machine.

There are a couple different ways to sew your binding strips together.

The first way is to layer 2 strips right sides together with the ends lined up. Use a 1/4″ seam to sew the strips together, just like in piecing. Press the seam allowance open to reduce bulk in the binding — nobody wants a lumpy binding. LOL!

The second way to join the strips is on the bias or diagonal. Lay a strip right sides up on your flat surface. Place a second strip perpendicular to (NO, not another math word! Horrors!!!) and on top of the first strip with the wrong side up, that way the strips are right sides together. Next, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.

Then — you guessed it! — sew on the line. Does this sound familiar? It should because quilters use this technique for making triangles (HSTs) and flippy corners.

The next thing you need to do is find the end of the strip that is on top. Turn the strip over so it is now facing right side up. This is really important or else your binding will not have all the seams on the back of the strip. Take another strip and place it perpendicular to the second strip with the right side down, again making them right sides together. Draw a diagonal line and sew on the line again. Repeat this until you’ve sewn all the strips into one long binding strip.

Clip the threads in between the strips if you chain-piece and then cut off the waste triangles where the strips meet, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Time to press our binding strips. Let’s head back to the ironing board.

Place your binding strip right side down on your ironing board. Using your iron on a cotton or hot setting, fold the strip in half with the wrong sides together, pressing as you go. Remember, you are pressing, not ironing here. We just want to make sure the strip gets folded and creased.

When you come to a seam, press the seam allowance open like we did when we joined our strips into one long binding strip. Then fold, press, and keep going.

Almost done now. Just keep folding and pressing until you get to the end of the very long strip. Keep in mind the bigger the quilt you are working on, the longer the strip and the more time it will take to do this step.

Let’s head back to the sewing machine once again because it’s time to sew the binding onto your quilt. I know this seems like a lot of steps, but writing/reading about it takes longer than actually doing it. After some practice, it will become second-nature and you won’t even have to think about it, you’ll just do it.

Lay your binding on top of the right side of your quilt with the raw edges lined up. I usually start my binding somewhere towards the middle of a long side. Be careful here because you want to avoid placing binding seams at your corners because the added bulk can make your corner turn out weird. Trust me on this. Been there, done that. It’s okay if you want to pin your binding all the way around your quilt, but with a little practice, you’ll have a fairly good idea how to avoid the dreaded seam allowance at the corner issue.

Pin the layers together about 10-12 inches from where the binding strip starts. Then place a pin through the quilt right before the binging begins, but not through the binding, only the quilt. This second pin right before the binding starts is a marker you will need later.

Start sewing at the pin 10-12 inches from the beginning of the binding strip. Backstitch a few stitches, and….GO.

Most people use a 1/4″ seam for sewing on their binding, but I personally use about a 3/8″ seam because I like a nice full binding. Try both ways to see which one works best for you.

Sew until you get to about 1/4″ from the corner.

When you get to 1/4″ from the corner — STOP and backstitch to secure the stitching. Cut your thread and pull your quilt out from under the needle.

GULP! Here comes the scary part — making a French fold mitered corner. Cue the scary music….

Fold your binding strip at a 45 degree angle towards the right.

Now fold the binding strip back over itself to the left. Place a pin if you need to. This little fold here makes you able to overlap the binding into a nice miter on the back which will give you a really nice square corner.

Turn your quilt and start sewing at the corner, backstitch a couple stitches and sew until you get to 1/4″ from the next corner. Not scary, easy peasy!

Repeat the mitered corner fold, turn your quilt again, and keep going. When you finish the fourth corner, keep your eye out for the pin marking the place where the binding strip began. Stop sewing 3-4 inches before that pin and backstitch to secure the stitching. Once you’ve backstitched, cut your threads and pull your quilt out from under the needle.

Here’s a helpful little video from Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims about mitering corners.

Now we’re going to sew the ends of our binding strip together. This next part is really a leap of faith, but it does work, I promise you. Just stick with me, I won’t steer you wrong.

Smooth your binding strip over and beyond where the marker pin is (move the loose beginning binding tail out of your way). Use a ruler and measure from the marker pin the length of how wide you cut your binding strip. For a lot of you, that would probably be 2 1/2″ but for me and some others, that will be 2 1/4″. Draw a line with a fabric pen at that measurement from the marker pin and cut on the line.

Next open both ends of the binding, overlap them with the the ends right sides together at an angle, and then pin the binding layers together. Draw a diagonal line if you like or just eyeball it.

Please note that this technique isn’t the only one out there. If you want to learn other ways of doing binding, you can do an Internet search.

Sew on your drawn line and trim away the waste triangles 1/4″ beyond your sewing line.

Finger press the seam open to reduce the bulk and refold the binding with wrong sides together again.

Your binding strip should now lay nice and snug against your quilt. Yay! Next pull out the pins and use them to keep the rest of the binding lined up with the quilt.

Now it’s time to finish sewing the binding on. Start where you stopped before we sewed the ends of the binding together until you overlap where you originally started sewing the binding on. Backstitch at the both the beginning and the end of your stitching line.

Finishing Binding by Hand or Machine?

While doing this series about beginning skills, I have discovered that I am an “old school” quilter. It pains me that I am starting to show my age, but I know these tried and true methods work. Feel free to explore different methods to do any of these skills, but keep in mind that it’s important to know the old skills before you can learn the new skills — you have to have somewhere to start. So, maybe I’m not as antiquated as it sometimes feels these days. LOL! But that’s okay, those old skills serve me well and keep me making quilt after quilt with excellent results.

That being said, there are 2 ways to finish your binding on your quilt — by hand or by machine.

I finish all my binding by hand. After writing multiple books and making oodles of samples for magazines and patterns, I know I’ve probably hand-sewn miles and miles and miles of binding. But that’s okay. I like how a hand-stitched binding looks.

If you are interested in learning to finish your binding by machine, here’s a nice video from Jenny at Missouri Star Quilting. It’s actually a complete binding tutorial and shows you how you can sewn it down by machine.

If you prefer finishing your binding by hand, you can check out this video by Quilting in the Rain as she shows you how to sew a hidden blind stitch.

You might wonder why I’m giving you videos here, but I learned a long time ago that as a lefty, there are just some things I can’t teach to righties and sewing down binding is one of them!

BIG SHOUT OUT to my pal, Cathey Laird of Cathey Marie Designs, the inventor of the Y Block Ruler.

Long long ago, I tried to teach Cathey how to do mitered corners like I did, she found out hours later that a lefty can’t teach a righty how to do that because we fold our corners in different directions. Oops, sorry, Cathey!

Anyway, I don’t want to confuse anyone, so here’s a righty doing the hidden blind stitch for you. If you are a lefty and need a little help from a lefty, just shoot me a message and I’d be glad help you.

Here is my cute little Halloween Ice Jam table runner! Now all I have to do is sew the binding down and put a label on it.

Whew! I’m totally worn out now! I guess that’s about it for binding, folks. I can’t think of anything else to add.

If you have any questions, though, just ask. Did you know you can send us a message on the blog? You can go to our Contact Us page and scroll down to the bottom to find a form to fill out.

Stay tuned for next week’s post about labeling your quilt.

Happy binding!

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Basic Quilting Skills Series · Quilt As Desired · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials

Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Quilt as Desired

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

Leaf Background Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

Here’s hoping we all have a productive autumn season — especially with our quilting.

I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but I tend to quilt less in the summer months. First, of course, it’s summer and I want to be busy doing other summer-y things and going places. Second, my Sewing Dungeon, er….Studio, is not air conditioned, so for a couple of months out of each year, it’s hard to sew with sweat dripping down into my eyes and onto my projects.

Yup, here’s my dungeon! LOL! Cue the creepy music, please!
Image by upklyak on Freepik

Needless to say, I look forward to the cooler fall months when I feel more productive in my studio and I get excited again about new projects.

What the Heck is “Quilt as Desired”???

If you’re new to quilting, you might have seen the phrase “quilt as desired” at the end of some of your quilt patterns. But what does it really mean? It’s a designer’s way to say quilt your quilt any way you want to.

On our Villa Rosa Designs Rose Cards, we take it a step further and say “Quilt and bind as desired.” Gee, that makes all the difference, doesn’t it? NOT!

If you’re a beginner, how are you supposed to know what to quilt or how to quilt your quilt to finish it?

Never fear — I’m here to help!

The first thing you need to consider after you complete the quilt top is what kind of quilting are you going to do? Machine quilting? Hand quilting? Or even tying/tacking?

Next, are you planning to quilt it yourself? Or pay someone to quilt it for you? Depending on your answer here, you may need to prepare your quilt differently. You can see last week’s post “Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Batting, Backing, and Preparing a Quilt for Quilting” to help you with your preparation.

Okay, let’s say you want to machine quilt your quilt yourself (sorry, I’m not into hand quilting, so you’re stuck with machine quilting). Here’s a little video I put together a while back about some basic free motion quilting skills and information.

Wiggly lines are just one way you can quilt your project. Here are some of my other free motion quilting favorites.

Straight Lines

If you haven’t tried quilting simple straight lines on a project, it’s way past time you did! To get your lines relatively straight, you will probably want to use a walking foot or an even-feed foot on your sewing machine. A walking foot or even-feed foot moves the top and bottom layers under the needle at the same time so your sewing lines are less likely to pucker and you won’t get those annoying tucks on the back of your quilt.

Here’s a great example of what straight lines can do for your quilt — this is only the backside and it’s unwashed! Cool, huh? Straight lines add a lot of texture. And if you look closely, you’ll see that my lines aren’t really all that straight, but by repeating the lines over and over about the same distance apart, it looks pretty awesome. Now imagine what this table runner will look like after I wash it and it crinkles up beautifully! You’ve just got to try straight lines!

Straight lines look great quilted on anything modern as well as children’s quilts. But I wouldn’t recommend straight lines on your Civil War reproduction quilt. LOL!

Loopy Loops

Loops are probably my all-time go-to design. I usually use this design edge to edge but sometimes I will use loops in the quilt center with something different in the borders. It depends on my mood, how much time I have, and what the quilt needs to be completed. (Yes, quilts talk to me — I am a quilt whisperer…)

As a free motion quilting teacher for a lot of years, I have discovered that loopy loops are more beginner-friendly than stippling/meandering. You have permission to cross over your lines in loopy loops, whereas in stippling/meandering you do not cross lines at all. Loopy loops are less stressful and I find them lots of fun to do.

Below, here’s an example of loopy loops. Neat, huh? See how all the loops are not the same shape or size? That’s what makes this design look easy-breezy. You can also use loopy loops as a jumping off point for A LOT of other variations.

I tend to quilt my loops big and open, which of course uses less thread and takes less time than quilting itty bitty loops. My rule of thumb is to quilt my lines of quilting no closer than a finger’s width. Of course, if I’m quilting a doll quilt, I’m going to quilt this design smaller and closer together than if I am quilting a throw quilt. Adapt the size and density of your quilting to the project you are quilting.

Loopy loops look pretty great on almost any project! Maybe not your Civil War repro quilt, though. (Maybe you should try hand-quilting for that one, just sayin’.)

Stippling/Meandering

All beginner quilters want to learn how to stipple/meander. I have found over the years that a lot of intro to free motion quilting classes start with stippling/meandering. This is not really a true beginner design, in my humble opinion. I think it is better suited for a more advanced machine quilter. Why? Because you cannot cross over your lines and that is hard to do (or not do) while you are trying to get all the other 101 free motion skills and information all at the same time — beginning free motion can be a bit overwhelming, and that’s without having to worry about not crossing over your stitching lines! Ugh!

Sadly, intro free motion classes keep trying. And mostly failing. Then beginners get frustrated and upset when they can’t quickly pick up stippling/meandering in a couple hour class. Then many of them just quit. I’m sorry to tell you, but stippling/meandering takes most people a lot of practice to master. So I recommend that beginner free motion quilters start with straight lines, wiggly lines, and loopy loops before even attempting stippling/meandering. Most of us have to crawl before we walk….

By the way, in case you wondered, stippling and meandering are pretty much interchangeable terms at this point, although once upon a time they were slightly different. I am using both at the same time so as not to cause any confusion for anyone. 🙂

To me, stippling/meandering is a lot like loopy loops except you are not crossing over any lines. That difference can be very daunting to a beginner, however. If the idea of not crossing lines terrifies you, then please do try straight lines, wiggly lines, and loopy loops before moving on to stippling/meandering. I still try to use my rule of thumb of leaving at least a finger’s width between my lines of stitching.

Here’s an example of stippling/meandering. I apologize that it might be hard to see my brown thread on the swirly-printed pink backing fabric on this place mat. Aha! Here’s another one of my tips: Use a busy fabric on the back of your quilt because it helps to hide your quilting stitches — this is particularly helpful when you are a beginner. It will help you to feel more confident about your developing quilting skills!

Probably the most important thing to remember about machine quilting is RELAX and HAVE FUN! Because quilting shouldn’t be like a job or chore, it should be relaxing and fun or else why would we be doing it???

You can check out some of my other favorite quilting tips HERE.

Next week we are going to tackle Binding, so stay tuned!

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

A Little Gardening and Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer so far.

My summer just got a whole lot better! Just recently my family got in gear and finally got our little back porch raised garden planted. And our flowers, too. We may be running a little behind, but I have hopes that in late summer/early fall we’ll be enjoying some fresh veggies picked right out of our little garden pf goodness. If it goes well, next year we are going to add a second raised bed garden.

I used to be an avid gardener way back when, but gave up the year I planted my garden twice and the critters ate everything before it even had a chance to grow. That was it.

But now I’m excited to try container gardening. Besides, ”container gardening” sounds so trendy, don’t you agree?

Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on how I put the Cake Day table runner quilt block together along with some of my favorite piecing tips.

Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card Pattern

You can get your own Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card pattern HERE.

Often, I prefer to cut out all my pieces for the blocks before I start sewing. I find this is usually quicker than cutting and sewing one block at a time.

Here you can see the pieces all laid out in the right order (all four blocks are stacked) on a flannel board and then I can simply take everything to my sewing machine. This works well if you have to stop in the middle and come back to your project later. Everything stays right where you left — unless of course, you have gremlins or leprechauns or some other little mischievous creatures running around your sewing room when you are not looking.

I have also found that laying out and stacking the pieces in order makes sewing them together faster and easier because I don’t have to stop and figure out where each piece goes.

With all the pieces cut and laid out right sides up, sewing them together is a breeze, especially when I chain-stitch the units one right after the other without cutting my thread in between the units.

Nope! No need to head to my ironing board after clipping the thread between the units, I just kept sewing and chain-stitched the other side too.

I have discovered that the less I press as I’m putting together quilt blocks, the less the blocks stretch or get distorted, which of course improves the accuracy of my sewing.

In the next photo you can see I have the left side background sewn to the Cake print rectangles. Now it’s time to sew the right side.

All right! All the units are sewn together and I’ve clipped the threads between them. I made double sure I layered the units again exactly the same as when I started — we’re ready for the next step.

Again, I’m going to ignore my iron (it must be getting lonely). Time to sew the units together. More chain piecing.

Want to know what happens when I get to seams (remember I haven’t done any pressing at this point)? I’ve already decided which way I wanted my seams to go so as I sew, I hold them down and keep on sewing. Pedal to the metal!

In this next photo you can see I sewed the top unit to the second unit. We’re on a roll — let’s keep sewing.

Okay, we’re almost there! I sewed the rest of the units all together and presto — all 4 of our blocks are now complete and I didn’t even have to get up from my sewing machine.

All right, all right, I relented and finally pressed my blocks — my iron was getting a little dusty from disuse.

Voila! Here is a finished Cake Day block. It’s a cutie, isn’t it?

My 4 blocks are now ready to assemble into a runner. There are sew many possibilities for this runner — birthdays, weddings, showers, parties, and the list goes on and on.

Any day can be a “Cake Day.” What’s yours?

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt As Desired · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

NEW June VRD Rose Card Patterns and A Free Motion Quilting Demo

Hello Quilty Friends!

Welcome to another Thursday — the first Thursday in June. Summertime, right? The kids are out of school or will be soon. Life will get crazy. Fun. And more crazy.

Are you kidding? I thought it was still March.

At least, it should still be March, don’t you think?

Que sera, sera.

OH! Did you see the new Rose Cards for June yet???? As always, our VRD designers didn’t let you down.

You can order all 5 cards HERE.

And here is June’s NEW Table Runner, Cake Day. Cute, huh?

You can purchase the Cake Day pattern HERE.

Did you know you can actually join the Rose Card Pattern Club and get the new monthly Rose Cards delivered right to your mailbox every month without you having to do a thing????

If you live out of the USA, you can sign up for the digital Rose Cards, which will be delivered to your inbox without you having to do a single thing.

There are even several different Pattern Club options to consider. Cool, huh?

You can sign up for the Pattern Clubs HERE .

Another really AWESOME thing about Villa Rosa is that we create a lot of kits using our Rose Card patterns. You can find kits for this month’s new patterns AND you can find kits for lots of other favorites, too. You can visit the website HERE to see what our selection of kits are. Please remember that we add new kits all the time, with all kinds of different fabric, so make sure you stop in often to see what’s new.

A Little Bit of Free Motion Quilting and a Video Demo

How many of you are a little bit afraid of free motion quilting on your own domestic sewing machine?

Be honest!

Okay, that’s better, I see a lot of hands raised and heads nodding out there.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid anymore. I’ve been teaching free motion quilting (FMQ) for more than 10 years and I haven’t lost anyone yet!

Here’s my TOP 12 TIPS for FMQ:

1. Find a teacher at your local quilt shop to show you how and to guide you so you feel safe. Don’t try to teach yourself by using YouTube videos.

2. Start out small — the smaller the project the better for beginners. Potholders, table runners, place mats, wall quilts, or other small projects.

3. Start with a beginner-friendly design like wavy lines or loops. Meandering and stippling are NOT beginner-friendly.

4. Try to relax. The more tense you are, the worse your quilting will be.

5. Play music while you quilt, something with a beat. A beat will help you find your rhythm for FMQ on your own machine.

6. Keep practicing, every day if you can, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better your quilting will get.

7. Practice machine quilting with a friend. You can encourage each other and laugh together.

8. Try machine quilting gloves. There are a lot of different types of gloves out there, so you might have to try different kinds to find the ones that work for you. Machine quilting gloves will help you get a good grip on the fabric so you can move the quilt more easily when you are quilting.

9. Doodle. Doodle a lot. Practice drawing the designs before you quilt them — this builds some muscle memory between your hands and you brain.

10. Practice…….practice……..practice…….

11. Practice……practice…..practice……. (I can’t stress this one enough)

12. HAVE FUN!

Here’s a little video I put together demonstrating how to free motion quilt wiggly lines on last week’s Ying Yang Cats. Enjoy!

I hope this video inspires you to try free motion quilting some wiggly lines on your own little project.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD