Sunday, March 31, 2019

Successful Mitered Corners

Taking the tricky out of mitered corners on quilts.

 by Linda Thielfoldt
Many times either the quilt or the fabric determines when to use a mitered corner on a quilt border and today I want to share with you a sure fire trick for perfection when it comes getting the corner square and the pattern match as close to perfect as you can.

While working on this quilt I decided to use this border stripe fabric I found in my stash. I knew I didn't want to add any corner blocks, nor did I like the idea of having the stripe dead end into the side of the opposing border. Straight pieced border corners  just were not an option.

Where to begin

This border fabric is directional and I decided to make the border follow one direction around the quilt. Some fabrics don't require this planning ahead, but this particular one did.  After I decided on the direction and starting point I carefully pinned the border on the quilt, extending the ends well beyond the width of the border yet to be added.  In this case the stripe fabric border pieces were 6.5" wide so I knew I had to leave at least 8" or more on each end past the sides of the quilt. 

There are some key steps to follow:

1) The key to starting is to start the border seam 1/4" away from the edge of the quilt, if you know anything about the process, that is standard procedure. If you are not sure or cannot eyeball that then measure and mark the starting point.  This measurement is critical! Do not sew to the end as you see here in the photo.

2) Be sure to use a small stitch - for my machine that is a 2.0.

3) BACKSTITCH.  Do not skip this step.  

For this quilt I added the borders in a clockwise fashion, working my way around so as to keep the pattern going in the right direction. I mitered each corner as I went around. On normal fabric this may not be an issue, you could conceivably add two long sides and then two short sides and then do the miters all at once.

The process for each border is the same. Pin, sew, leave 1/4" unsewn at each end. Essentially what you end up with is something that looks like this photo. You can see that the border fabrics on both borders in this view extend beyond the width of the opposing border - make sure you don't cut them too short to begin with.

Carefully fold one of the border strips back and under as shown in the photo. To know you have the correct 45° the two border strips should lay nicely one on top of the other, right sides facing and have both edges aligned. Once you have the strip laid out and the match looks perfect press that fold.
Normally you would fold the border that is on the bottom of the quilt in this pic up and away from you and sew on the fold line you just pressed.  However, the tricky part is to keep that position exactly as you laid it out. Getting it pinned perfectly with all the flipping required can be really challenging, even with multiple pins. So what to do?  I needed the white stripe in the fabric to match up exactly as I knew that would be the most obvious point where a bad match would be highly visible.

Ta dah!  1/4" sticky iron-on tape to the rescue! 

There are several brands of this available but I bought this giant roll online.  It is peel and stick but also fusible. And as a bonus it washes out.

So essentially you cut a piece the size to fit that pressed mitered seam, stick it on the fabric, peel off the carrier, fold back over, check alignment and then press.  

 Here is a link to the one I bought but there are others:

1/4" iron on tape

I also use this tape when doing decorative pillows with piping, it helps keep the piping in place so you don't need pins which can be unwieldy.  Plus there are a ton of other uses as well.

Bingo - perfectly matched mitered corner.  For extra security and perfection, I always pin the border fabric that extends as well as the seam I pressed.  Drag the quilt to the machine and sew that seam. 
I prefer to start sewing at the outside of the border and sew toward the inside corner.  I find that an open toe foot is very helpful for this task as you can to be able to clearly see what you are doing when you get near the beginning of the border seam. Again I prefer to back stitch.  Keep in mind you need to fold the quilt border out of the way to get to that Y seam point. Do not sew past the intersection of the border seam you sewed previously.
Open up the seam and check your match, if good to go you can press and then trim to 1/4".

Pretty pleased with the match! Just need to trim the seam.  Once you do that you can opt to press to one side OR you can press that seam open, I usually do what gives me the best results. 

Hope this helps you the next time you need to put a strip or mitered corner on a quilt.



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Getting Things Done

This is the year I clear out my UFO pile. For Good!

...said no quilter ever.


Seriously though after moving last year into my dream studio I was forced to look at (and pack and move) all my quilt and crafty stuff and ask myself what do I really want to create, spend time on and above all complete.


My husband and I are using this awesome book and the GTD program to help us in our time management of both work, home and volunteering and there are some awesome ideas and strategies to help us meet our goals. He went to an all day workshop his company put together and there were some really awesome tools that the book didn't have. I'm going to see if I can find one and attend at some point in the future. We have set aside time each week to "hold each other accountable" and it has been fun to have a productivity partner. 


My office is already seeing the benefit of this GTD mindset and now I'm incorporating it into my quilt life. After six months my studio is finally organized from our move to a point where I can really function and find things and I'm loving how clearing out the clutter has inspired me to be more creative and productive.

I recently came up with a couple of forms that will help me track progress of my quilting creations and project elements which will be a HUGE help when writing patterns.

The Log

This is the form I use for all projects that have been started. This is not a Want To Do list but rather for things that are already underway. I decided I needed to see where I was in the process for each project and I can put a date in the box under the steps as well as a deadline. This info can be helpful when scheduling my week and how I plan to get to my goal.  This is what I used when I wrote my book and my calendar had items blocked out by the headers.  Example on Tuesday morning I'm doing the binding on X quilt. I had to do that in order to meet my deadline. The form prints on 11 x 17 and I love having that option on my Brother printer/ tech money I ever spent. (Model MFC J6920DW)



Quilt Project Worksheet


 I do mostly my own designs when making quilts. In the past I would just figure things out as I go and write down block or math details on whatever paper I had handy.  This is problematic if you ever want to go back and write a pattern after the fact.  This happened to me frequently. I would make a quilt, take it on the road and share in my lecture and I would get asked for the pattern.  So much so that I would go back and write the pattern from often sketchy notes. This is a tool that I can use to help keep track of the details and the math on every quilt and I'm very excited to incorporate it into my creative process. 

Both the log and the project sheets are kept in a binder and when I start a project I grab a worksheet and keep it with the project until completion. I printed them on heavier paper so they can hold up well to being handled a bunch as I work my way through the process.


I hope this gives you some inspiration as to how you can GTD in your creative life....I'll keep you posted.





Friday, December 28, 2018

Procraftinating: The art of doing fun stuff when you should be doing other things!

What an amazing year it's been.

A new house, a new studio and OMW moving!!!

A couple of decades in the same house and putting everything  you own in a box is a huge process and quite frankly a shock. Sorting through all your things and deciding what to keep and what to part with can be overwhelming. Sometimes you need a break in the process and that's where the Procraftinating comes in!
I love using ordinary things in a new and cute way and this waste bin is the perfect way to upcycle something that might have otherwise ended up in the trash.  Those holiday popcorn tins are popular and we enjoy the contents but did you know with a little spray paint, a little quilt theme decoupage and you have the perfect waste bin for your sewing room?  

 First make sure it's clean inside and out. Then break out the spray paint.  My absolute favorite is Rust-oleum Universal. It's paint and primer in one and comes in many colors but the one I used the most for decoupage is the Matte French Cream. I love the way the paint goes on and my hand never tires while painting like it can when using traditional style spray paint.  The can has a spray pattern more like a professional paint sprayer and I love how evenly it goes on.  (No endorsement deal here, just about 50 or so cans of the stuff under my belt.) I don't seem to get any runs with this paint and I can't say that about others I've tried.

Several years ago I found these nifty spray paint helpers.  They are little plastic pyramid triangles that keep the item you are painting (in this photo a vintage weathervane) off the cardboard or drop cloth so you can keep all the edges nice and neat. I swear by these.  Found them at Ace hardware.

 Next gather the images you want to use for the decoupage. These can be things you have cut out of quilt magazines or images you find online.  I have a ton of vintage sewing theme graphics on my Pinterest page and they can be printed out and used for this project. Text images from magazines are a nice touch that I placed on top of the quilt images.  Just remember that if you use an ink jet printer to print your images, the ink can smear unless you seal them first with a clear spray sealer and let them dry completely. If you use a laser printer you can decoupage without any sealer.

 I just pick a spot and start gluing the images to the popcorn tin.  I mix up the sizes and they are placed randomly with some images overlapping others. I try to keep smaller size images handy to fill in gaps. It's all pretty random.

Boxes can be up-cycled too.

Shoe boxes!  Who doesn't have shoe boxes?  My favorite are the ones that Clarks come in as they seem to be pretty sturdy and hold up well over time. Oh and there is the fact that I love wearing them and have a gazillion pairs so I have easy access to plenty of them.  Anyway I just found cute tissue paper (wrapping tissue) and glued it to the box and cover using Mod Podge.  To really seal it I added a coat of Minwax Polycrylic and because I like to know what is in the box I added some metal label holders on the end of the box. I found them in the scrap booking section of my local Joann's store.  Punch a hole in the cardboard and use the little brads to hold them in place. 
A cheap and easy way to add some fun storage to your sewing space (or anywhere really!)

I've gotten in the habit of making the binding (or at least cutting the strips) for any quilt I make at the time the top is completed.  This way no matter what decade the quilt is completed in, I have the fabric/binding to match. Clearly, since both these "binding" boxes are full, I need to spend a bit more time machine quilting!

A while ago I found some cool boxes at IKEA.  They are white plain and a bit larger than a shoe box. TJENA is the name and  I bought a few of them and covered them as well.  They are the perfect size for supplies.  I have purse hardware in a couple of them currently. 

The one thing I do like about using the TJENA boxes is the fact that they are all the same size. That keeps my Type A personality pretty happy when I see them all stacked neatly in my closet. 

As we head into a new year with a list of goals or resolutions, be sure to keep in mind that "Procraftinating" can be a good thing! Since I still have plenty of unboxing and organizing to do in my new studio, you can be sure there will be more procraftinating in my future!



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We All Have Hangups....

Yep!  If you are a quilter you have hangups....or you need them!

I'm talking about hanging quilts on the walls. 


When I first started quilting over 4 decades ago very few people made quilts for walls.  In the early years of my quilting adventure quilts were for beds, couches, picnics, table tops and babies.  Rarely did you make a quilt just for the wall.

Now most of the quilts in my home are on the wall or on a ladder leaning against the wall. So this can present a tricky situation if you want to change them out and display different sized quilts in the same area on the wall plus you need to figure out a way to get the quilt safely on the wall with as little damage to both the quilt and the wall. 

For years I used a shelf/rod combo.  Worked well for the most part, but if the quilt was bigger I was out of luck, and if the quilt was smaller it looked kind of funny. Plus they are not inexpensive.

Many of you have probably tried some of the options that have been out there for a while.  You may remember the little blocks that were mounted to the wall that grabbed the top of your quilt.  

They were OK for small quilts but a large quilt could be damaged by uneven weight distribution. Honestly I'm not sure they even make them anymore.

There are also a wide range of compression type hangers but the ones I had were tricky to load and so I found I rarely changed out the quilt. Those too seemed to have fallen by the wayside.

I am fortunate to have two quilt ladders that are nice to hang lots of quilts on, the only downside is you don't get to see much of the quilt and of course Winnie is fond of going to the top and then

crying to get help getting down. In reality I think it is just a ploy for attention because if I ignore him he gets down just fine.  

Several years ago we did a major custom entertainment wall in our family room.  

One of my requirements was that within the cabinet(s) there be room to display some of my award winning quilts.  I designed the wall unit and our amazing contractor built exactly what I wanted.  

The quilts are inside a cabinet with a built in ladder and there is a glass door to help keep the dust down.  I love this and can change them out easily.   

Honestly not everyone has the space or the resources to have a custom quilt display cabinet built as part of your entertainment wall, so while this is wonderful, it's probably not going to be something everyone can do. 

Some of you may live in a home that has a stair case with a railing.  Mine is constantly changing and I love having this space for displaying my quilts.

However I realize that not every home has these types of spaces so the quest continues for the perfect hanger for everyone and every home.

Changing things up

The décor in my home has changed over the years and if you are like me you want to change out your quilts with ease.  One problem I ran into is the fact that they are often different widths and utilizing the same hanger can be problematic. There were often holes in the wall where the bar or holder had been hung or the rod or hanger was too large or too small.

In my back hallway I wanted the quilt to hug the wall due to the traffic, so I purchased a 2.5” x 5/16” piece of trim molding from the lumber yard, drilled a couple of holes in the ends and put a nail in the wall and just hung the board over the nails.  This worked but I’m pretty much stuck with the size of the board and then there are those pesky holes.  Additionally, this only works if the quilt is not real heavy.

After the wood trim boards I started using curtain rods.  They were adjustable, could be hung on the brackets or close to the wall with a screw or nail and were relatively inexpensive.  I have several of these around my home. There are issues with these as well. The curtain rod finials can mar the wall paint on the flush mounted ones (hung by just resting the rod on a couple of larger nails behind the quilt so it does not show) when I change them out or take quilts up and down for trunk shows. The ones I have mounted using the brackets that came with the rod can also be an issue because the quilt hangs a couple of inches away from the wall as you can see in the photo above.

Several years ago I discovered a new product that I thought was just brilliant.  Magnetic Invisible Quilt Hangers by the Magnificent Quilt Company. The system allows for easy hanging of most any size quilt utilizing a separately purchased metal bar along with the kit containing magnets, mounting plates and Command™ strips. I was excited and purchased several sets. A trip to the hardware store, the purchase of two steel bars and within no time my large, heavy, embroidered quilt was on the wall all for around $70.  Not inexpensive.

That embroidered large quilt hung on this system flat and tucked nicely against the wall for a couple of years but then the magnets started slipping off the metal hanging pieces and the quilt appeared to be too heavy for the hangers to hold in spite of following the recommended spacing and number of hangers for the size of my quilt. The Command strips held well but the magnets seemingly lost their power. 

This system did have several advantages; it’s easy to install, it provides flexibility, you can’t see the hanger and it does not mark or damage the wall.  The only downside is the one I described but that is easily remedied with stronger magnets, however this adds to the cost. As purchased it is perfect for “normal” quilts that don’t weigh as much as a small child.  A quick search on the internet and I purchased some rare earth magnet disks and trust me the metal rod and hanging plates are stuck together just fine now.  But again the new magnets added to the cost to hang this large and heavy quilt. The search continued...

The PERFECT Solution...


As the window décor in my home changed over the years I ended up with quite a few of the wider continental style curtain rods and one day at the hardware store I spied a type of Command™ holder made for hanging pictures and thought hey that just might work with all those rods I have in the basement. 

The metal rods have sort of a flange feature on both edges that sets down nicely on the post of the metal or plastic Command picture hanging plate as it is mounted on the wall much like the wire on the back of a picture. The beauty of this solution is I don’t have to purchase flat bar stock, the curtain rods are adjustable and the command strips mean there is no marking of the wall when I take them down and change the size.  The command picture hangers only  have to be purchased one time as you can buy refills of the hanging strips.
The price can’t be beat either since I already owned the rods and the Command™ strips were less than $10.  For larger quilts I have even put several of the hangers in the middle of the quilt and just let the sleeve get tucked in the rod as I hung them on the picture hangers. Overall a great solution.  I do use clear packing tape to tape the rods together to the correct length before hanging them and if I change the quilt to a different size I just adjust the rod to length and re-tape.  

Recently I purchased a larger rod for a bigger quilt and it ran me less than $15 at a local home goods store.  I also love that the quilt hangs tight to the wall and is very secure.  The metal curtain rods are much lighter than the ones I purchased for the magnetic system above which helps for larger quilts.  

So next time you have a hangup you might want to consider this inexpensive and very flexible option - it might just be the one that works best for you too.


Linda T.

This original design scrap quilt hangs in my bathroom.


Kanaby Builders, Bad Axe, MI