Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quick Bias Binding Tutorial

The old saying what happens at retreat stays at retreat is a wonderful saying and at times a necessary unspoken rule, especially when one stays up until the wee hours to work on a project and may be prone to saying or doing silly things that would be potentially embarrassing if fellow retreaters shared said events on their blogs...

As true as this may be, some things gleaned from retreats just needs to be shared! Take for example this really quick and easy method of making bias binding...

Trust me, its fast and simple! Much faster than the time it has taken to upload the photos to blogger that's for sure! So are you ready to learn something new?

Whoa-up for a moment....I neglected to discuss the fine merits of bias binding and why I've embraced this new method....

First of all, I love stripes. Don't know why, but I gravitate towards fabric that is striped. I don't care how wild it is, actually the wilder the better....I love the way it adds movement to my quilts when used in piecing and I love love love the way a striped binding finishes off my quilt.

Because of this I had to learn how to do bias binding. Ugh. I personally like the ease of straight binding, it's a no brainer to cut strips selvage to selvage to join the edges for my binding, and I tend to do this a lot....but gee, it just doesn't have the barber pole effect that I can get with stripes (once I found some fabric that had the stripe printed on the bias and I thought I'd passed on to quilter's heaven, the look of bias without the trouble!).

Okay, so I pulled out all the books on binding, all the magazines that had tips and such and I tried to make that tube-thingie that is somehow suppose to end up as continuous bias binding. All the drawing of lines, cutting with scissors, it wiggled, it didn't look like the photo, I gave up. (Hate to admit defeat, but hang on, this has a happy ending - pun intended!). So my stripe fabric stash increased for a while as I figured I just needed a little more experience under my belt, or someone to hold my hand while I attempted this method again....

Enter Houston International Quilt Festival....the quilter's shopping delight for all sorts of marvelous gadgets all under one big roof - better than a circus! I don't remember the year, but I found a gadget that solved my challenges of tubing to make bias binding - a ruler that allowed you to cut strips on the 45 degree angle from the fabric coming right off the bolt! Wonders of all wonders!

After a few trials and errors of cutting double folded fabric and ending up with stripes going opposite directions I had mastered bias binding and added my barber pole effect to many of my personal quilts.

Okay, so you are saying that you can understand the need for bias when using a pretty stripe, and we all know about the need for bias for curved quilts....So why a new method you say? If it ain't broke why fix it? you ask...because I'm proving that an old quilter can learn new tricks! And I've not only learned a new method but I've learned a why.

I like it when things are explained to me in a logical manner, one that I can wrap my brain around. I've now discovered that bias binding is truly better on any and all quilts. WHAT? Yes, that's what I said, bias is better and now with this new method I'll be making bias for all my quilts, regardless of fabric (striped or not) and regardless of scallops or straight edges.

Several of my grandmother's quilts that were made in the 1930's (and earlier) have had their bindings replaced, some circa the 70's based on the fabric...this is because the binding wore out. We've always heard that the binding is the first to wear on a quilt, and I always assumed it was because the quilt was much loved (as in drug around by a kid who didn't know any better) or perhaps because it was always being tugged to pull up closer on those cold winter's nights. Well, that's part of the reason...

The true culprit, most likely, was the binding was either folded over from the back (a lot of my grandmother's were) and/or they were straight of grain bindings. The theory is the added stress caused on the fibers due to them running parallel to the quilt - exposing sometimes a single thread (indeed, they become thread bare). As the quilt is used, loved, laundered, it wears along that edge and you are left with a gapping split necessitating replacement A bias binding, on the other hand, has the fibers running cross-ways, or on the diagonal, and that makes it stronger, especially when double folded as most of us like to make our binding. No single thread line to wear out. It also stretches (which is why we use it on curves) and that little bit of give helps with the wearing, or lack of wearing out. It's enough to make me think twice about ALL my personal quilts having bias binding stripe or not...

Okay. Ready for this new adventure? It's a twist on the tubing method but was modified at retreat as we collaborated on finding a way to make this easy easy easy...easy enough to want to use it all the time...

Start with a half a yard of your binding material ( or any size if you just want to practice).

Lay the fabric right sides together folding selvage to selvage. Square up the two cut sides as well as remove the selvages. Leave it folded in this manner and move to your sewing machine. Sew a quarter inch seam allowance on the three open edges, do not sew through the fold. (One big U shaped continuous seam - sew cut edge, turn corner, sew selvage edge, turn corner, sew other cut edge, stop, do not sew across fold).

For photo purposes I've marked the corner where I turned so you can see the edges. It does help if you do this too so you have a visual for the next step. You can use a blue wash-away marker or a sharpie, it doesn't matter, it won't end up in your finished product. Trust me. Make it easy on yourself, none of those pale pencil lines that you struggle to see (or at least my eyes have a hard time seeing them).

I also marked the folded edge (photo below) These got a little out of order... Above you can see where I'm lining up my ruler to go between the 90 degree angle made by my quarter inch seam.

And I've lined up the ruler with the corner that was made with the folded edge and my quarter inch seam.. Draw a line from these two points. Go ahead, use that sharpie, I promise it's okay.

Now here comes the tricky part - you know, where you have to hold your mouth just right to do it. Pick up the piece by the bottom two corners and flip it to the other side (turn it over). Then mark your corners as above and draw another diagonal line.

If you are chicken to use the sharpie before fully understanding if you indeed held your mouth just right and flipped the correct way, then take a gander at the next photo...

To double check to see if your drawn lines are going the correct way, when you take a peak at the other side the line will be going the opposite direction - where if you were to hold it up to the light you would see that the two lines make an X. Does that make sense? See, it's easy, and trust me, that's the hardest part of this entire tutorial. So be encouraged!

Next you are going to take a pair of scissors and lift up the top layer, make a little nip on the line to be able to insert the blade of the scissors and cut through ONE LAYER ONLY on that drawn line (see, told ya' the sharpie wouldn't be in the finished product).

For now, just sorta ignore those corners. Don't clip through them, just up to them... It should look something like this:

Next flip it over and repeat the process, making a slit to insert your scissors and making sure you only cut through one layer.

When finished it will look like this, sorta crazy, but trust me, this works.

Start to give it a little shake...

Pick it up and you'll discover you have one of those tube-ie things.... but wait! This method truly is different. You've made it this far, keep reading!

Shake, tug, pull, or do whatever to make it lay out like this on your cutting table. Yep, it's a tube alright, a bias tube...would ya looka there!

Time to do a little ironing. Rolling around as necessary (the tube, not you silly) press open the seams.

It's going to get a little strange when you come to those corners that you didn't quite know what to do with when cutting the diagonal line.. I don't quite know what to tell you to do with them here either...don't worry, this is okay. Just press your best around it (and ignore the goofy part, it too will all work out in the end).

Once the seams are pressed open, again lay out the tube on the cutting mat.

It's now time to square up the edge and begin to cut the bias binding... (ah ha! this is where those goofy corners get trimmed off and they shall bother you no more!)

Okay, up until now you're thinking This is just making a tube, maybe a little different than other ways but come on, what's so new about this... and perhaps you are right. Well, right on it being a tube that is. The difference really happens from here on out. There are folks much smarter than I who can tell you how to cut this where the bias is one continual strip,drawing lines and such, but that's not this method. This is where the retreat brain-storming came in... we did it a little different and a little less confusing... ready?

After squaring up the edge and making sure the tube is laying flat, you are now going to cut strips just like you do for straight edge binding. Yep. That's what I said. Cut strips. All the way from the bottom to the top. Just like strip cutting for piecing or straight edge binding.

I cut my 2 1/4 inches but you can cut yours whatever your favorite binding width is.. when you are done, it will look like this:

And when you open one up, you have a circle of bias binding. Amazing. And totally not what you expected, or what you need to bind your quilt. Hold your horses, there's more. (but wait! there's more!)

Now it's time to do a little unsewing, or frogging (rip it rip it). I know, it's not a quilter's favorite thing to do, but it works. Trust me. Find one seam on the circle and open it up.

Oh joy! You now have a bias strip with the ends cut at the 45 degree angle making it easy to join to all the other little circles of bias that you will be unsewing...are you beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel? I promise it's not a train!

See, this looks familiar now doesn't it? Simply take the ends of these strips, join them together and you now have continuous bias binding from a tube without all the confusion of drawing lines to make it come out right...

How easy is that? Okay, here's my disclaimer... you will end up with a strip or two that will have these goofy looking seams (see below). That may or may not bother you...

If it does, then simply cut the offending section out, using a 45 degree ruler...

Making sure to cut both sides with the same direction on the ruler and not the direction of the seam - otherwise they don't want to sew together nicely (voice of experience speaking).

And for those of you who really hate to frog (unsew) you could actually cheat and cut across the seam and none of us would be the wiser (what happens in the studio stays in the studio). Much faster to cut than rip...the choice is truly yours.

Occasionally there are little flaws in a well laid plan. Not even going to worry my busy little brain over trying to figure this one out, but gee, the angles are going the wrong way and I can't sew them together nicely... what to do, what to do?

Whack it off and make it play nice! After all, you are the boss!

Just make sure that both sides are going the same direction and you can continue to piece your merry little heart away.

Oh, and did I mention that these little cut off parts make great additions to your stash collection? Little triangles of stripe make for interesting conversation pieces in your next scrap quilt. Waste not, want not..

By the time you have sewn all the parts and pieces back together you have this wonderful pile of bias binding that's just itchin' to get you stitchin' this luscious bias binding on your beautiful quilt!

Even with my little trimming boo-boos I still ended up with over 350 inches of usable bias binding from my half yard of fabric. ( Actual length varies upon the width of the strips) It was quick, painless, you didn't have to worry with drawing lines on some tube to make it continuous, and you were able to make quick use of a rotary cutter to make the strips all the same size...and with a little pressing and folding I ended up with the roll of beautiful candy-striped bias binding that you saw at the beginning of this long winded ramble.

See, I told you it was quick and easy. Much faster than the time it took to tell about it! I hope you enjoy my sharing the secrets of discovery from my last quilting retreat. Thanks to my group "Quilters Autonomous" for being so giving, creative, and sew much fun!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Freight Trucks, Friends, Family & Furniture!

So, what's the deal here? Freight trucks? I'm kidding, right?

Friends and Family is easy to figure, but Furniture?

What's the common denominator here? It had better be quilt related you say...

Well....get comfy at your computer, pour yourself that second cup of coffee, perhaps nibble on a (healthy) snack for a bit - sit back, relax, and reflect with me on the happenin's in the life of this Quilt Rambler...

Okay, so you saw the truck..but you'll have to wait a tad to see what was inside. The above photo is the friends part and you'll have to wait on that part too if I'm going to tell this tale in chronological order..

And before anyone wonders, here's Pixxie - my blog/life wouldn't be complete without including a photo of my favorite pup preforming her job as a Professional Quilt Model (thanks Dot for understanding that she's just got to pose, I hope there wasn't any Pixxie dust on your beautiful quilt)...but this too is out of let's move on to FAMILY!

Here's my girls, and my guys --- I just love it when we can all get together and enjoy our favorite local establishment...A night out at LaBrisa is always a night to remember! We started the month of April off in style!

Yeah, yeah, that's part of the family part, but the big news this month was getting all of us together ( my guys and gals) along with my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, nephew's girlfriend to celebrate my mother's 75th birthday.

And yes, I can publicly declare that mom's a cute 75 - in our family we've always been proud of our age, counting each year as a special blessing from the Lord. No one denying all those years of His grace. Mom loves the Astros - when she and dad lived in the Houston area they would go to a lot of the home games, especially around her it was only fitting.....

Now you have to know, we are known for being cheap dates and don't mind at all sitting in the nose bleed section...hate to admit the stairs took a little longer to navigate, but exercise keeps one young, right?! Up until this date the Astros were on a losing streak...they must have got the memo that it was mom's birthday celebration and they rewarded her with a fine win! It was truly a good birthday celebration (love those Super Pretzels!)

Adding to an already busy month, on Tuesday April 12th we celebrated our 31st Anniversary with a lunch date at Joe's Crab Shack in Kemah on the boardwalk. My how time flies when you are having fun!

And yes, that's my hubby cleaning the carpet in my studio....what a guy! The story behind this photo had to do with some clean up due to my precious pup's few rough days of tummy upset....Nuff said (and yes, she's back to normal, thank you for asking). Of course, if furniture gets moved for any reason it's my excuse to move more!

You guessed it, this is where the furniture part of this ramble comes in.

Time to re-arrange the studio...below is just one of many messed up studio photos. My youngest never understood why I messed up to clean up...but that's how I operate. Move everything to the center of the room, find a new place for it and before you put it up sort through to organize, discard, rearrange, etc. Spring cleaning at it's best...

Ah, but I'm not telling the whole story behind the rearranging...that's where the freight truck enters back in....This is one of several rather large crates that arrived this past week...can you guess what's inside this 10+ foot crate???

My new longarm! Actually my Second A1 - yep, I love my machine so much that I bought a second one (grin). This one is 10 feet whereas the first one is 12 feet... And how convenient that my studio is right off the carport....

My fellows must love me.

My youngest has been wanting to go on a set up with us to learn how we put together the longarm tables...well, he got his training this week by being his dad's helper. I got the day off (yea, right - that studio was all tore up remember?)

Oh, and did I mention that I have guests coming so the machine has to be put together AND the studio all put back the next day!! ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself again (grin)

Normally the Professional Favorites package with A1 comes with our patented Eurgo-Lift hydrolic system already installed on the table - since I special ordered a 10 foot table instead of a 12 foot and since the company just happened to have one already crated without the Eurgo-Lift installed and since we are dealers......well, we had a extra step, a good learning experience on how to install the Eurgo-Lift to the table, something that is normally done at the factory....It wasn't hard, but took more time that normal so it made for a long day...

Oh! I neglected to mention why a second machine....
drum roll please....

For several because my husband would like to join me in the quilting adventure (above is his "training" on how to load a quilt)...other reasons include work load - having one longarm for all over/edge to edge quilting and the other one for custom quilting - this allows me to have two waiting lists - since all over quilting is typically faster that line will move faster, where as custom quilts can sometimes tie up the frame for idea of working more efficiently which will reflect in a better turn around time for my customers...

AND! One of the exciting reasons - to be able to offer more open studio days for demos to those inquiring about longarms and offering longarm classes here in the studio! Two machines means more hands on time for students. Plans are to begin this summer. (If you are interested in either a demo or classes please visit my website and let me know of your interest).

So, back to my narration... by the time the machine was together, the studio cleaned it was well into the night. But there was still a little time to train on using the panto (edge to edge) side of the machine...other lessons will follow. By the way, he was a good student (grin).

Here's a look at the new studio red0....less than 24 hours old as of this writing - and subject to rearranging as I live, work, and settle into a new layout....

The above view is at the doorway coming from the kitchen entering the studio. The first machine is the 10 footer with the 12 footer behind.

If you were to look directly right as you entered the room you'd be at the sewing side of the room...this is a temporary arrangement as the wall behind the tables will "come tumbling down" soon as we enlarge the room to take in the laundry room behind it. For now, a little crowded, but it will do (grin).

Standing at the edge of the sewing side (by the laundry room door) you have the view above of the larger longarm - again, still some work to do - I've got to rearrange the quilts on the wall too!
The photo below shows what's behind the "tunes", necessary fan (this is hot humid Houston remember), and plenty of fun fabrics to encourage me to finish up my work so I can take time to sew!

Here's another view from the laundry room vantage point that shows both my machines. There's a love seat/sleeper sofa at the window which is fondly called "Pixxie's perch" - she loves to look out the window, so when shopping for a new couch we had to audition the back to make sure it was wide enough for my precious pup.

Here's a peek behind the new longarm - the top shelf is loaded with my personal quilts (and batting) with part of the lower shelf housing finished quilts as well as my personal "quilts in waiting" - again, a visual reminder that I want to finish what I've started...don't want my kids inheriting unquilted tops...but then again, they'd at least inherit the machines to finish them (grin). The drawers behind are my thread drawers - the same ones that used to be behind the original longarm (see photo where the carpet is being cleaned for reference).

Okay, here's a look at the unfinished area. The door to the right with the lilac trim leads into the kitchen and the door to the back is the wall that will come "tumbling down" (I keep thinking about Jericho and the song I learned back in vacation Bible school as a kid). Needless to say, this is a work in progress. But hey, never let it be said I hold anything back! I show the good, the bad, and the ugly - er - potential!!

Whew, if you've hung on this long through my ramble you are to be commended! Now comes the friends part....getting the studio back together last night was well worth is as the Bayshore Longarm Quilters joined me this morning for our quarterly gathering.

Not everyone that came is in the photo....a couple of gals had to leave early and if you'll refer back to the photo above you'll notice that two of us "switched places" to take the photo (grin).

A little history...I founded this group as a gathering of like minded folks who wanted to be "community instead of competition" And we are true to our motto! We gather, share, encourage, laugh, talk, breath quilts! My favorite part is show and tell....I'll let the photos speak for themselves of the many talents of our group - many driving well over an hour to attend!

Show and tell includes "how would you quilt this? (above)

(This pattern of Texas above is an original of Mary pictured below - if you are interested email me karen@quiltsnkaboodle . com and I'll put you in touch with Mary to purchase the pattern)

Some of us really get into sharing our show and tell (grin)

After show and tell we moved to the studio and several were able to play on my new machine...yes, my mom taught me, "it's nice to share".

I realized today, and not for the first time, how truly blessed I am. I'm blessed with a fabulous network of friends and family who love me, support me, encourage me, and sometimes "set me straight" (grin). It's truly amazing how many things have come together just recently for me to see a light on the path I'm on. Sometimes things haven't been as clear...but all God asks is for us to trust Him one step at a time. It's my goal to continue to grow - in my skills as a quilter, as a quilting teacher, as a person, and in my faith. I like the way Paul put it in Philippians 3:12-13.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended BUT RATHER - I forget those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

Truly the days ahead are full of unending joy - because I walk with the Lord and am grateful for the precious gifts He's given me. The gift of life and enjoying His creation!