"Quilt-a-Long Series": Baby Quilt - Assignment 5: Quilting and Binding

Last week you finished creating your quilt sandwich {the layers of your backing, batting, and top}.

This week we are going to be working on actually quilting our baby quilt. You can do this several different ways, but the most popular are to "tie" it or to machine quilt it. I will be sharing how to machine quilt your baby quilt in this post. If you are interested in simply tie-ing your quilt you can search the internet or youtube for instructions. Tied baby quilt are super cute, but since I can machine quilt I prefer to use that method so that I can save my fingers from the tie-ing process, and I think it makes a really neat finished product! 

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If you are going to be doing any amount of machine quilting you will want to invest in a walking foot for your sewing machine. I think I mentioned this in a previous assignment too. A walking foot feeds the top and bottom fabrics at the same rate so that your fabric doesn't end up stretched or bunched when you are finished sewing. Here is what my walking foot looks like:

The bottom of the actual foot has teeth to grab your fabric as you sew so that it moves along with the bottom fabric. It takes some getting used to, but it is really worth the investment. You can find good ones on Amazon.com or at your local sewing machine supply store. 

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Step 1:
Take your quilt sandwich to your sewing machine. Make sure that your walking foot attachment is on your machine and place your fabric so you can begin sewing. You will want to pull your bobbin thread up to the top and give yourself about a 6 inch tail of extra thread before you start sewing {this way we can hide all our thread ends when we are done}! 

We are going to start by "stitching in the ditch" along the outside border. This is a term used for when your needle sews along the "ditch" created when you sewed your fabric pieces together. You want to keep your stitches as close to the middle of the "ditch" as possible. Start in the top corner of one of the border pieces. Pull your bobbin thread through to the top leaving a long tail, and start stitching. 

Continue all the way around your quilt until you get to your starting point. Leave another long tail of thread before you cut it.

Here is how it will look on the back side. You will see a rectangle stitch line all the way around your quilt. 

Step 2:
Once you complete the outside border, start stitching in the ditch along the inside border. Again, go all the way around the quilt and be sure to leave long tails of thread on both ends. 

Step 3:
You can choose whether you want to continue to stitch in the ditch on the inside of your quilt {the quilt squares} or if you want to do what I did which is a diamond pattern. If you choose to stitch in the ditch, then simply continue to stitch along all of your quilt squares -- going both horizontal and vertical in between your quilt blocks. 

If you choose the diamond pattern you will need to grab your ruler and a disappearing ink marker or chalk pencil. Using your ruler draw straight lines diagonal across each row of quilt blocks. I marked all the lines going one direction, sewed them, then drew them going the other direction to for diamonds, and sewed them. I didn't want to take my chances that my chalk lines would rub off before I was able to do both directions. If you choose a disappearing ink marker you can do both sets of diagonal lines at the same time. 

Once your lines are drawn you can begin sewing. It gets tricky as you get to the center of your quilt. It helps to roll up the sides so that your quilt fits in the throat of your sewing machine. **Once you get to the middle, turn your quilt around so that the bulk of the fabric is outside of your machine instead of in the throat of it. 

Here is how the finished diagonals look:

You can see the two outside borders as well on the back. It is difficult to see them on the front because they are in the ditch.

Step 4:
Finishing the binding on your quilt. This can be daunting, but I'm going to make it really simple!!

Using your rotary cutter and rule, trim the backing of your quilt to 1-1/2" larger on all four sides than your quilt top.

Then go around and trim your batting so that it is the same size as your quilt top.

Step 5:
Take your trimmed quilt to your iron. I like to give everything a good press. Then fold your backing in half so that it meets up with the edge of your quilt top and iron it in place all the way around your quilt.

After you have gone around the entire quilt edge, go back and fold the backing again so that it comes around to the front of your quilt. The crease this time will line up with the top of your quilt.

When you unfold it you should see two creased lines: one along the quilt top, and the other half way between the quilt top and the backing edge.

Step 6:
Grab your pins or your wonder clips and pin your binding in place along the edge of your quilt. When you get to the corners... here's a little trick! Follow the diagram below and fold along the dotted line. Finger press it using your finger nail.

Then take your rotary cutter and ruler and trim off the folded piece.

Fold the first side of your binding down and pin it in place. Then fold the corner up so that it creates a 45º angle on the second side. {obviously I need to go back to geometry because mine wasn't quite at a 45º angle ... }

Then fold up the second side of your binding. Make sure that your corner makes a cute miter.

Pin the corner and the second side in place and repeat for all four corners. This creates less bulk on the corners and makes it much easier to sew your binding on with your machine. I love easy!!

Be sure to keep your pins fairly close together so that your binding stays in place as you sew.

Step 7:
Take your quilt to your sewing machine and sew your binding on. You can use your walking foot for this part if you like, but I find it easier just to use my regular sewing foot. Again, be sure to pull your bobbin thread up to the top of your quilt and leave a long tail of both your top and bobbin threads before you start sewing. I generally sew about 1/8" from the edge of the binding.

When you get to the corner, sew past the other side of binding by 1/8". Leave your needle down and lift up your presser foot. Pivot your quilt so that you are ready to sew along the next side of your binding.

Put your presser foot back down and continue sewing.

When you get back to the beginning of your stitch, do a couple back stitches to finish off your sewing. Then leave a long tail of threads again and clip them.

Your binding is now completely finished and except for the thread tails it looks like a finished quilt! Next week we will hide the threads, wash our quilt, and it will be finished!!!

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If you need to play catch-up or if you are just starting, be sure to check out the previous assignments:

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