Tutorial: Cartwheel Quilting Motif

backofquilt

I got lots of questions about the quilting detail on the 100th Post Giveaway mini quilt. Some thought it was a simple square motif. However, you can see from the illustration above that it is a bit more complex than that. The shape is almost like a 4-leafed clover, with intersection-points in the center of each cartwheel. You can start at any point on the motif and quilt in a continuous line until you reach that point again.

Here’s the view from the front.

cartwheelfronton

The mini-quilt was machine quilted, but I think this motif would work equally well with hand-quilting.

Stay tuned! The winner of this mini-quilt will be announced tomorrow.

Tutorial: Invisible Ladder Stitch for Quilt Binding

Mal | Media,Quilting,Resources,Sewing,Tutorials | Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Update: Apparently this stitch is called the Ladder Stitch. Personally, I prefer my title for it: Invisible Mamma-Jamma Stitch. While ladder stitch is common to embroidery, applique, and closing up stuffed plush dolls, apparently very few people have applied it to quilt binding. Let me know if you try it!

I mentioned before that my mom had taught me a stitch for quilt binding that was so simple and obvious yet so wonderful that I wanted to share it with you.

Quilt binding with whip stitch

The photo above shows the back of my rough draft quilt.

Whip-stitched bindign in action

Following the many tutorials and demonstrations online, I whip-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt.

Whip Stitched Bindings

But, as you can see in my photo and the ones above, whip-stitching can leave a very visible line of tiny stitches. In addition to being sort of unsightly, I worried a bit about the stitches getting caught and, God forbid, ripped.

Creative binding solutions

Some people go to great (and creative!) lengths to machine stitch their binding, as seen above. I imagine that at least some of them are frustrated (as I was) with the result of the whip-stitching and looking for alternatives.

When it came time to bind my friend’s baby quilt, I whip stitched the entire thing and hated it. On the phone with my mom (sewing consultant extraordinaire), she said there was a better way and that if I would be willing to re-do it, she would teach me. It only took me 3 evenings to unpick all that stitching, and 3 weeks for her to arrive in town with thread and scissors in hand.

Mom proceeded to teach me the ladder stitch — a stitch that is easy, fast, and nearly invisible! She uses it for both quilt binding and hand applique. I think it would work for any application requiring joining of two fabrics where at least one of them involves a fold.

The basic idea is to think of the shape of a castle wall.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch Illustration 1

(I work mine from right to left, because I am right-handed. Lefties may wish to mirror-image the process.)

When you tighten up the thread of the castle wall, the bits that were visible disappear into the fabric like this:

Tutorial: Blind Stitch Illustration 2

So that all that’s left visible on the outside of the fabrics is a tiny dot of thread where the needle has passed from one side to the other. In my experience, you have to really hunt if you want to see that thread. Awesome.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch Illustration 3

After my brother’s wedding, I took some action shots of my mom teaching the stitch. Hopefully you’ll find it useful!

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 1

Start off with the Mamma Jamma knot I already taught you. Then, insert the needle on the back side of the binding to hide the knot. Only go through one layer of the binding, as the goal here is invisibility, man.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 2

When the needle comes out, it should be between the two layers of binding fabric and smack dab in the middle of the crease of the binding’s fold. If you felt like popping the knot through the fabric to bury it, nestling it right into the inside of the binding’s fold, you can do that. My mom didn’t do that, though — you can see the knot poking out on the right if you look at the image below.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 3

Make sure the exit point is directly parallel from where you want to insert your needle into the quilt. Check the diagram above — you shouldn’t have too much diagonal or angled anything while working this stitch. In this case, mom started about a quarter of an inch from the previous stitches, since that’s about how far she spaces this stitch. For my part, I space them a little closer.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 4

Then stitch down straight across from that exit point. Make your stitch just above (on the quilt side, not the edge side) of your line of basting stitches.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 5

Come back into the binding fabric directly across from the previous exit point. You want to stitch right in the fold of the binding, because the thread will ultimately nestle there, perfectly parallel to the fold.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 6

Alternate stitches between the quilt and the binding, always inserting your needle directly across from your previous exit point. Again, refer to the diagram above if you have questions.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 7

When you’ve done a few stitches, gently tighten up the thread. As you do, the stitches will disappear and the whole thing will be held together by thread which is tucked neatly out of sight, buried inside your work. Be careful, though, not to tighten too much — if the quilt stretches more than your stitches, your stitches will break and your binding will come undone.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 8

And voila! The stitches are now only visible if you go looking for them.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 9

Continue along this way until you reach the end of your thread.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 10

To finish off, take a couple of stitches in the quilt, between the basting stitches and the raw edge.

Tutorial: Blind Stitch 11

Mom likes to finish hers off by bringing the end of the thread through the loop before tightening the last back stitch to secure it.

And there you have it! If you try this stitch, if something doesn’t make sense and you need more/better explanation, or if you dispute the name of this stitch, please leave it in the comments!

Tutorial: Quilter’s Knot

Mal | Media,Quilting,Sewing,Tutorials | Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

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I’ve been gone for the past week attending my brother’s wedding. (You probably only noticed if you sent me an email and are waiting for a response!)

Because I was with my mom again, I convinced her to let me take photos of a few of the techniques she’s recently taught me. The first I wanted to share is called the “quilter’s knot” and it makes a much tidier knot than the one I’m used to. Normally, I lick my finger, wrap around and around, and twist it off. The resulting bird’s nest of a knot is unpredictable and, well, ugly.

Not so with this tidy quilter’s knot. Enjoy these photos of my mom’s demonstration.

 Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 1

To begin, hold the needle and the end of the thread so that they are pointing toward each other.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 2

Bring them together to form a cross, then

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 3

holding the end of the thread against the needle,

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 4

begin wrapping the thread around the shaft of the needle.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 5

Wrap the thread around the needle 3-6 times.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 6

Grasp the wrapped threads snugly between your thumb and forefinger.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 7

Pull the needle through the coil of wrapped threads with your other hand.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 8

You’re still holding the coil between your thumb and forefinger as you pull.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 9

And pull…

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot 10

And pull, all the way to the end of the thread. When you reach the end, give a good sharp tug to tighten the knot.

Tutorial: Quilter's Knot Final

And, voila! A tidy little knot will be left there in your hand and you can begin hand sewing with ease.

Band Sampler: French Knot

Mal | Band Sampler,Media,Resources,Sewing,Stitching,Tutorials | Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Band Sampler: French Knot

I completed the French Knot portion of my band sampler last week.

 

 

 

 One of the things I do with my clients a lot is give them a little distance from their artwork. I hold up a painting far from their face, which provides a new perspective and sometimes facilitates insight.

Band Sampler: French Knot (closeup)

Looking at these photos of the section (a form of distance) lends itself to some funny realizations. For instance, I see how some of my confusion and consternation from last week may have seeped into the work.

I had originally intended to do some sort of starburst or circular pattern with the knots, but this image kept coming back to me. Almost like molecules or birds rushing toward some intended end but running into an invisible barrier. Ideas and thoughts and scenarios getting backed up — stopped up and hung up — to impede any progress at all. People rushing for an exit, in danger of being trampled. Something that seriously needs to get unstuck.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at french knot, here are some tutorials:

Pushing toward hexagons

Mal | Quilting,Resources,Sewing,Tutorials,Works in Progress | Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Pink hexagons

Yup. I’ve started on a hexagon project of my own.

When I posted inspirational mages of hexagon quilts last week, Christine asked:

Hi, I’m planning to do a part-hexagon quilt soon. I was hoping to be able to do it by machine, but if it needs to be by hand, so be it. In your searching, did you come across any instructions/tips and tricks for hexagon quilts?

I’ve had a few other emails about it, so I thought I’d post some of the great tutorials I’ve found to get me going.

While I’m at it, here is one more mosaic of inspirational hexagon projects I’ve found since my original posting. Click through for more info on the artists.

More hexagon inspiration

Tutorial Roundup: Non-quilt Patchwork

Mal | Quilting,Sewing,Tutorials | Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

 Patchwork, but not quilts

This week I’ve also enjoyed seeing lots of projects made from patched-together fabrics which weren’t necessarily for quilts. I guess once you realize that patchwork can be used anywhere that plain fabric can, there’s no stopping you!

Below, I’ve linked to some tutorial sites if you’d like directions on how to make non-quilt patchwork projects.

 Have you made a non-quilt patchwork project? Please share!

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