Finishing Spree! Finish with a Facing

A quick note before we dive into facings – I have 3 more Zoom classes coming up soon:

Easy & Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot – Sat., April 17 & 24, 2021; 10 am – 1 pm

It’s All About the Thread – Thurs., April 29, 2021; 6 – 8 pm

Color Tools & Color Confidence – Thurs., May 6 & 13, 2021; 6 – 8 pm

Registration is through the Wyoming, Michigan Lakeshore Sewing store – 616-531-5561.

And now back to Facings. 🙂

My sewing machine has been getting a workout! I’ve been in full-on production mode with even more projects than usual in-progress at the same time. As I’ve been working, one of the techniques I’ve been exploring is different ways to finish the outer edges of my quilts.

My Sea Breeze table runner, finished with a facing. I also tweaked this foundation pieced pattern by Sharon Holland to better fit the dimensions of my table. I machine quilted it with variable channel quilting to add subtle texture without taking away from the elegant simplicity of the design. The wonderful batik fabrics are from Cotton Cuts. 🙂

I always finish my utility quilts (bed quilts, cuddle quilts, throws, etc.) with a sturdy French Fold Binding, as the binding is often the first area to start to show wear on a quilt that is getting lots of use.

But when it comes to art quilts, wall hangings, table runners, or other smaller items, there are other options. One of these is a facing. Facings are a great alternative when you don’t want to cut off or confine the design with a binding. There are lots of different ways to approach facings for a quilt; but after quite a bit of experimentation, I have found what works best for me. And even better – there’s a link to free printable instructions near the end of this post!

Corner of a quilt finished with a facing (the quilt on top) versus finished with double-fold or French Fold binding (the quilt on the bottom).

All of the methods I tried were similar in that they involved sewing strips to the front of the quilt and then pulling the fabric around to the back of the quilt to create a finished edge. All of the methods also called for hand-sewing the fabric strips to the back of the quilt. The main differences were in how the fabric strips were prepared and how the corners of the quilt were handled.

The first method I tried involved sewing folded triangles to the corners, which, when you flip them to the back of the quilt, create “pockets” in which you can insert a hanging rod. You can read more about this method in this tutorial by Robbie Joy Eklow on the We All Sew site.

My Hold-Tight quilt (pattern by Sharon Holland) finished with a facing. I had fun machine quilting this quilt with my walking foot and several different sizes of serpentine stitch in a variety of variegated colors.

I ran into a problem, though. I think this method would have worked really well for a much smaller art quilt, but my quilted wall hangings were too large to be well supported by just the two pockets at the corners. I needed to add an additional hanging sleeve. I also wasn’t crazy about how much extra bulk the folded triangles added at the corners of the quilt, or about how they tended to stretch out and slightly distort the upper corners of my Snowflake quilt so that the edges aren’t hanging perfectly straight in the photo below.

My Snowflake quilt finished with a facing. I resized this fantastic pattern by Modern Handcraft to make a wall hanging instead of a large throw or bed quilt. I free-motion quilted this quilt with variegated thread – which is easier to see in the next couple of photos.
What the folded triangle corner and folded top and side strips look like before sewing them to the front of the quilt.
One corner of the quilt flipped over to show the back of the quilt after the facing has been pulled to the back and hand-sewn in place. Note how the folded triangle of fabric has created a pocket.

So I don’t know that I’ll do the folded triangle corners again. I also prefer to further eliminate some of the bulk of the strips used at the top, bottom, and sides by using this method (free printable instructions) from Susan Brubaker Knapp. Please note that Susan gives express permission for this free handout to be distributed. Check out her site for more great eye candy, info, & free tutorials – including one for Mitered Facings.

This time, I used Susan Brubaker Knapp’s recommended method for added a non-mitered facing – and was very happy with it!
Back side of my Sea Breeze table runner showing a finished corner.

Whichever method you choose, I strongly recommend Wonder Clips instead of pins to hold everything in place – you’ll be working through a lot of layers!

This is the exact link I’ve used to purchase 4 sets of these AWESOME clips.

Happy Finishing!

Wicked Weaver & My New Favorite Product

The October Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts and the Midnight Bite Sew Along (#MidnightBiteSAL) from Lillyella Stitchery offered me a fun opportunity to go outside my comfort zone this month.

Ronan posing with the contents of the October Java Batiks Box from Cotton Cuts.

The Midnight Bite pattern bundle has 3 sizes of each of two different patterns – a bat and a spider. I opted to make the Wicked Weaver, which is also available as an individual pattern. Admittedly, spiders aren’t usually my thing, but I thought it would be a interesting challenge.

Wicked Weaver (pattern from Lillyella Stitchery) in progress.

When I made my fantasy butterfly this summer (from the Take Wing pattern also by Lillyella Stitchery), the only part of the process that I definitely did not enjoy was removing the paper foundations after the stitching was complete. What a pain! Trying to get all the little bits of paper out from underneath the small stitches – without putting too much strain on the stitches – is not my cup of tea. Which was frustrating, because after years of avoiding foundation piecing, I felt like I’d finally hit my groove and figured out a method for foundation piecing that I find straightforward and satisfying.

Which brings me to my discovery – June Tailor Perfect Piecing Foundation Sheets. As far as I’m concerned, this product is the best thing for foundation paper piecing since sliced bread!

Just like other foundation papers I have used in the past, these sheets ran though my printer with no problems. But that’s where the similarities ended.

First of all these sheets are translucent, which makes it so much easier to line up the seam allowances perfectly on the underside of the paper while sewing on top of the paper.

It was easy to see through the paper and keep my pieces lined up properly.

(Side note – I don’t precut exact shapes when I foundation piece, but I do measure the average width of the shapes – plus seam allowances – and cut strips of fabric accordingly. This minimizes waste, but still saves lots of time over precutting exact shapes.)

Secondly, it was also easy for me to fold the paper back before sewing each seam and see through to the fabric, making sure that the fabric would completely cover the appropriate shape after the seam was sewn.

Before sewing, I folded the paper back on itself (the stitching line being the fold line) to make sure that the fabric would completely cover the shape it needed to cover.
After sewing and pressing – but before trimming.
After trimming – view from the back.
After trimming – view from the front.

I once again used 60 wt. Bottom Line thread in both the top and bobbin of my machine, but didn’t need to shorten my stitch length – which made it much easier to “sew in reverse” when I wasn’t paying close enough attention and sewed a piece out of order.

And best of all, the “paper” is actually a non-woven stabilizer than can be either torn away cleanly or (HURRAH!!!) left in the quilt.

Backside of my spider, showing the foundations. I pressed the seams between each section open to reduce bulk.
Completed Wicked Weaver – pattern by Lillyella Stitchery, made by Beth Ann Williams.

The pattern was just for the spider itself. I improvised a quilt-as-you-go setting and added some decorative stitching to up the “ick” factor and make my spider “hairy”. I finished it off with a flanged binding.

Wicked Weaver spider (pattern by Lillyella Stitchery) with setting pieces designed by Beth Ann Williams and flanged binding.
And here is the pic with the funky background that I posted on my Instagram.
Wicked Weaver spider (pattern by Lillyella Stitchery) with setting pieces designed by Beth Ann Williams and flanged binding.

Happy Halloween!

Finishing Spree – Take Wing, Foundation Piecing, & Mixing Quilting Methods

A quick note: my fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all. 🙂

And now to the topic at hand – foundation piecing (also called foundation paper piecing) is a great technique for achieving precise piecing and sharp points even with tiny pieces and fabric edges that are not on-grain. For this method, the pattern is printed (or traced) onto foundation paper. This paper acts as both a stabilizer and a stitching guide while the block is being constructed. When all of the pieced sections of the design have been joined together, the paper is carefully torn away from the underside of the quilt top.

New to foundation piecing? We All Sew has a great FREE foundation pieced block tutorial that provides a good starting point. Don’t worry if you don’t have the same kind of machine used in the tutorial – most any machine with a basic straight stitch should do just fine

LINK LOVE – FREE Foundation Pieced block pattern & tutorial from We All Sew

Although I generally don’t do a lot of foundation paper piecing, I fell in love with the Take Wing pattern by Lillyella Stitchery when I came across it on Instagram. Just beautiful!

Take Wing foundation paper pieced pattern – available in the Lillyella Stitchery shop on Etsy

I purchased the pattern right away, but then had to set it aside for a bit because I already had too many irons in the fire.  But when the August Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts arrived, I knew immediately just what I wanted to make! Continue Reading…