Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Enjoying the Process

I often hear people say they don't like to mark, hate to baste, can't stand to seems to be these steps in the process that trip people up. I've learned to like them all. Granted, I still have to 'be in the mood' for marking and basting, but I've learned to enjoy them for what they are, necessary steps to move on in the process.

Usually I don't have a huge amount of marking. I outline quilt a lot of the elements and long ago learned to 'eyeball' the 1/4 inch. This takes a little practice and you don't have to be perfect! I mark bigger areas as larger areas get motifs quilted in them. Borders usually have to be marked as well. I sometimes will work around design elements in printed borders, but this is rare.

I've tried just about every marking tool out there! It took a lot of trial and error, but I've found my favorites. The two I use the most are at the far right and far left in the picture. They are General's brand washable graphite (right) and white charcoal (left.) Between these two I can mark just about everything that I want to mark. The 2nd from the left is also a wonderful graphite marking tool, it's messier as one has to slide the graphite out (and eventually remove it as it gets smaller) to sharpen it.

The yellow chalk tool is good for marking straight lines as you go. It wears off quickly so I only mark a hoopful at a time when I use this.

Not pictured is the blue washout marker, I also use it on occasion. It's good for marking applique position and quilting lines on light colored fabrics. I've had no issues with residual lines, though I have to be careful not to drip anything on it or the lines go away! (I have a glass of something with me all the time, with lots of my glasses always drip 'sweat')

Basting is another part of the process that many people don't like. I really don't mind it a majority of the time. I used to only thread baste, but mostly pin baste now. It's quicker and the pins get removed as I go. My frame dirctions said I don't have to baste, but I really need to for my own peace of mind. I prefer thread basting overall, but like the ease and quickness of pin basting.

I think one of the things I hear the most is how much people hate to bind. I've always enjoyed it, because binding meant something else was finished! What I didn't like is fighting the lump where you begin and end until a friend figured out a sure fire way to solve this. She always does hers with bias binding, so the joining process is a bit different and more complicated. I almost always use straight binding, so the joining process is simpler.

When putting on your binding, leave a 'tail' about 18 inches long where you begin (best is several inches off center on any side.) Sew around as usual and when you get back to that first side, leave a gap of several inches. Trim both sides of the binding so they overlap the amount of your seam allowance. Take those two ends and hold them right sides together, and sew them together. Lay your binding back on top and sew the 'gap' closed. Now, where you began and ended is just a regular seam.

When sewing to the back, I use clips to hold the binding in place. This is my binding box. I keep a small scissors, my clips, some needles and a pincushion in this little metal box so all I have to do is pick the right color thread and I'm ready to bind.
For me, it helps to have projects in each stage. When I've been doing a lot of hand quilting, sometimes I just need a break for a day or two and then I will mark or baste a top that is waiting to be quilted. Usually by the end of marking and basting a top or two, I'm ready to quilt again.

Actually, blogging has a been a good motivator, too, by the time I've finished writing about quilting every morning, I'm ready to do some!

And so I will.


Belvie said...

I actually like sewing the binding down....I just don't like sewing the binding onto the quilt. I do join the binding as you described because it does make for less bulk at the joining.

Pieces From Me said...

I tagged you. Go to my blog for the rules. Bren