My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Single fold mitred quilt binding

I've posted a photo on Instagram of a little art quilt with a single-fold mitred binding in progress and asked whether people wanted to see process photographs to explain how I do it. The answer was yes, so I'm writing it out here (hello blog! Long time, no see!) to gather my thoughts. And typing is waaaay easier on a keyboard rather than a phone screen 😁

So here's the original photo, I was feeling smugly satisfied at how tidy it was looking:

Onwards! Here's how to do a narrow, single thickness (or single-fold) mitred quilt binding:

First, cut your strips. I've cut mine 1 and 1/4 inches. Which makes it a nice flat 1/4 inch on the front. You could try 1 inch for something even narrower if you liked.

Cut enough strips to enclose the circumferance of your quilt with a good overlap of the strips ends by about 5 inches. Join your strips with mitred joins. Open the seams and press flat.

Sew the binding strip to the front your quilt, right side of strip to the front of your quilt. Start (with a couple of backstitches) in the middle of one side of your quilt and leave a free hanging tail on the binding strip of about 5 inches, just like using a traditional double fold binding. I use a slightly narrower than 1/4 inch seam allowance, using the markings on my walking foot to line it up. If you cut your strip less than 1 and 1/4 inches wide, you'll have to sew even narrower. 

Stop sewing before you reach the end of the side (see pic above). How far away to stop depends on the width of your seam allowance, if you are sewing with 1/4 inch, then stop 1/4 inch away from the end. If you're sewing a 1/8 inch seam allowance, stop 1/8 inch away. If you don't want to measure, the easiest way to eyeball it is to fold the binding strip up at a 90 degree angle, crease it, unfold it and then stop at the 45 degree crease, backstitch a couple of stitches.

Take your quilt out from under the needle, fold binding strip up at a 90 degree, then fold it back down along the next side to stitch. Like the photo below. This forms your mitred corners when you fold it round to the back, so keep them as neat and precise as you can (no wine, it's too early to celebrate yet!)

Finger press it flat and neat. Then stick it back under the machine.

Start stitching right from the edge and carry on down that edge. In the pic above you can see I'm lining up my quilt edge and my binding strip edge with the inner edge of the inner 'prong' of my walking foot, not using the 1/4 inch marking as that would be too wide. 

Once again, stop before you reach the end of that side and repeat the steps above. Rinse and repeat four more times, until you are heading back down the same side you started on.

Stop sewing about 5 inches from where you started and take a few backstitches. Now, if you have a foolproof method of joining binding strips on your usual double fold binding, go for it, it should work for single fold as much as it does for double fold. 

If not and you want to learn my no-measure way, pay attention! And maybe zoom in on that pic above 😉

Pinch your strips together like in the pic and use a sharp pin to take a couple threads in each strip, right about where the seam allowance would hit (look at where my thumb is.)

Once you have a couple of threads with the pin joining the strips together, you should be able to bunch the quilt up a bit and twist the strips out sideways so they cross right sides together at an angle. This is why you can only take a couple of threads with the pin, or the strips won't pivot nicely.

Stich the strips where they cross, from the point of the top angle to the bottom point, remove the pin before you hit it, as your stitching line should go right through where it catches the fabric. It might help to use your 1/4 inch foot, not your bulky walking foot to do this.

Once you've sewn the strips together, you should be able to pivot them back against the edge of your quilt. Check that they lie smooth and flat and then trim them (as the pic below) and press the seam open. In the pic below you can see that I have a strip join seam quite close to the end join. Not ideal, if you can cut your strips a little shorter or longer to avoid this it would look better (but I ain't perfect...!)

Sew the last bit of the seam to meet up with where you began, backstitching at the beginning the end.

And here's what it should look like now. All neatly sewn in one continuous strip to the front of your quilt, with mitred corners, all ready to turn to the back. 

Press your strip out from the front of your quilt. 

Then flip the quilt over (right side down) and fold the raw edge of the strip in towards the quilt (but not OVER the quilt) and press. You won't really be able to do the corners quite yet. 

When you have done the sides, working as close to the corners as you can, slide your finger along the strip towards the corner, folding in the raw edge as you go, and then into the corner. The binding strip will kinda stand up and form around the corner. You will then be able to fold one side over one edge of the quilt, then the other side over the other edge of the quilt and make a nice neat mitred corner, covering the machine stitching lines as you go.  

The following sequence of pics show the process ( I really should make a video of this!)

Please don't judge the state of my pressing surface....😝

Slide finger along, folding in raw edge as you go towards the corner.

Hit the corner and the binding strip stands up.

Fold one side of the strip over the edge of the quilt, covering the machine stitching lines.

Fold the other side of the strip over the other side of the quilt and form a nice mitre in the corner

And that's it! Now you can press again, pin, and hand-stitch the binding neatly (or messily as you prefer) to the back of your quilt. 

Above is with the binding just pinned, not stitched. It lies flatter and neater when the stitching is done.

And here's me hand-stitching it with a hem stitch to the back. I take a couple of stitches at the corners too, just for added neatness and security (and because the quilt police once told me I should.) You can see that it is slightly wider at the back, which means it neatly covers the line of machine sewing from sewing it onto the front.

I hope this makes sense. Please ask any question that you need to for clarification.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Thoughts and Stitches from my Studio

Hello neglected blog readers! 

I have some big news that some of you may not have heard, the family and I are moving to the South Island. I wrote an email newsletter and in it I tell a bit more about what's happening.

If you'd like to read it, click here.

The reason this poor blog has been neglected for so long is many fold. One of them is that I intend to (finally! Talk about procrastination!) get my own website up and running, and then I'll have a blog on there. So anything I write here, I keep thinking I should save it and write there, it's just that there hasn't happened quite yet. So in the meantime, I'll be writing a monthly email newsletter with thoughts and stitches (rambling words and a few pretty pictures of my work) from my studio. I'd love you to join me in the conversation, you can sign up to receive my email newsletter by clicking here

The next big thing on my calendar is presenting at the SAQA virtual conference in about 10 days time.

I'm part of a panel presentation and discussion called 'Art from Oceania'. So if you are a SAQA member, and have signed up for the conference, I'd love to see you there!

And then the NEXT big thing for me is the Great New Zealand Quilt Show, being organised by Aotearoa Quilters. I'm on the committee so have been working away to help bring you this in-person, in-real-life, fingers-crossed-covid-stays-away, three day quilt show. If you are in NZ, you should try and get along, it'll be awesome!

 So that's it for me today. I better get back to packing up my studio. Happy stitching!

PS - Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Lint is a fact of life.

I've just come back from a quick tour of New Zealand with the BERNINA team, launching the new Q16 sit-down longarm quilting machine. One of our frequent topics of discussion was lint and machine cleaning.

Before we would run a class or a demo for the dealers, we would clean and oil the machines, change the needles, load full bobbins, and test sew the machines. I took a photo of the inside of the bobbin area just after doing that. Looks beautiful, right? Those two big white things are the double BERNINA stitch regulators.

Something I've heard are comments like, "Gosh that thread is linty, I'm not going to use it." Or, "Yuck, that batting is so linty." 

But lint is a fact of life! We are textile artists, we work with fibres, no matter what batting, what thread, what fabric we use, we are going to get lint! And yes, some are more linty than others, but that shouldn't stop us from using them if they are giving us the effect we want in our quilt.

So here's a picture of the inside of the bobbin area after a three hour class. The stitch plate isn't on, that's why it's brighter. But check out the lint! And we were using good quality batting, fabrics and threads.

Lint is a fact of life! When you sew with fibres, especially on a high-speed machine, you are going to get lint. Your job isn't to try and find the least linty products to use, your job to clean your machine.

Make it part of your sewing routine. Sit down to sew, pop open your machine and give it a quick swipe with your lint brush. The more often you do it, the less time it will take. And while you are there, give it a drop of oil as per your instruction manual. You really should be giving it an oil every 4-8 hours of sewing time. 

And I guess now is a good time to remind you to change your needle too. Every eight hours of sewing!

Your time is valuable, set yourself up for a good days sewing. You've spent plenty of money on your machine and on your fabrics, you've given up your valuable time to your project, so don't skimp on those couple of minutes it will take to clean and oil your machine so that you can have a well-running machine that will be a joy to sew with. 

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Whangarei Quilt Exhibition 2020

Whangarei holds a quilt exhibition every second year. Luckily, 2020's exhibition was scheduled for later in the year, and managed to avoid the worst of NZ's Covid lockdown. We were still in Level 2, which meant limiting the number of people in the hall at any one time, but everyone was just so happy to get out and see a quilt show, I don't think anyone minded.

The club held a Hundertwasser themed quilt challenge and here are two of my favourite quilts from that.

'The Letterbox' by Sheila Ujdur. Quilts had to be A3 size, portrait or landscape orientation was allowed, and the quilt had to be inspired by artist Friedrich Hundertwasser's work, without copying his work directly.

'Among Trees' by Helen Barron, which won a second place in the silver section (entered a challenge before but not had a placing.)

Unfortunately I didn't win the raffle quilt, but I loved the colours and the design, so I took a quick pic. Isn't it lovely? The winner would be very pleased to have that lovely quilt to snuggle under.

Rikki Going started this quilt, 'Stoned with Karen' in a Karen Stone workshop. I loved the colour combination and the regular grid work combined with these snippets of irregular colour. Very interesting to look at.

And another of Rikki Going's quilts. 'Desert Blooms' inspired by a Laura Heine design. It was just so different from anything else in the show. Full of life!

'Daisy, Daisy' by Maria New was made from a Deborah Louie pattern and the good use of black and white fabrics combined with the heavily petalled flowers worked really well. It won viewers choice from the club members and I can understand why.

I snapped a shot of this little house quilt by Jan Silvester because I have a thing for house quilts. I've never actually made one! Funnily enough, there seemed to be others who have the same feelings as you'll see several more house quilts as you read, the show was well populated with houses!

I've seen this tree design before and it always appeals. This was made by Rikki Going, it's called 'Forest from the Trees' and it's from a pattern in the Simply Moderne magazine.

What's not to love about a good plus quilt? This is 'Black and White Plus Colour' made by Rosslee Baker, quilted by KR Quilting. 

And equally, what's not to love about a good scrap quilt? I love stars too and I love the different blues around each star that then combine to make a quarter square triangle secondary block in the background. This is called 'Rikki's Stars' made by Maria New.

This is called 'Mini Sampler' by Sheila Ujdur and it was just a sweet little quilt. Something you'd find on a cozy log cabin wall. Nice workmanship too.

This quilt was called 'Autumn' and was made by Janet Greeks. I was excited to see this piece as Janet had taken part in the Aotearoa Quilters 100 Days Project that I had organised earlier this year and this was her project. She had made a study of using different embellishment techniques and the pieces looked fabulous up on the wall.

This was 'Bed Warmer' by Terri Mills. Unusual in shape, construction and colour, it would be sure to brighten up the foot of any bed! I just had to grab a shot. 

This was a true crowd pleaser! 'Bench Seat' by Donna Rowan was made as a block of the month project through Apple Basket Quilts and these are all Sue Spargo designs. Doesn't it look so tempting to sit on, despite the sign?!

Here's another of the house quilts. 'Hobsonville Point' was made by Anne Groufsky and quilted by Leanne Hopper. Anne made this from a quilt kit purchased from All Things Bernina. The sharp triangles in the second border give a lot of life and energy to this neighbourhood.

I don't think I'd ever have the patience or precision to make such a lovely job of sashiko so this also needed to be in my photo collection. 'Kiwi Sashiko' by Sheila Udjur. 

And one more for the house quilt collection. 'Houses for Kirstin and Rob' was made by Margo Wakelin from a book 'Quilt with Tula and Angela'. The quilt was quilted by Leeanne Hopper. I love the topsy turvy houses with the large fabric prints as feature walls.

'Stitching Bee' by Beryl McDowell. This was made as a block of the month project through The Country Yard shop. And it's a very sweet, subtle and homely quilt with the combination of small print fabrics and stitcheries.

The club also had the Aotearoa Quilters travelling exhibition 'Journey' on display. They made a great mini exhibition in the back room. And you can see my quilt, 'Soul Bird', in amongst them.

Had to get a pic standing next to it of course! And it was pointed out to me that I was awfully colour coordinated - not planned at all...

These are two of my favourites from the Journey collection. I think they look so good next to each other and the quilting on each is superb. Left is 'Journey to the Pyramids' by Margaret Rogerson and right is 'Road Trip' by Shirley Sparks.

In the back room there was also Aotearoa Quilter member Sonya Prchal with her solo exhibit. I couldn't get close to say hello to her as she had a mesmerised crowd watching her demo her thread painting techniques. But I did manage to get a snap of part of the display. These are some of her smaller works. Always such stunning work!

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I helped support a few of the merchants by treating myself to a few goodies, and I drove home inspired and happy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Teaching Tour - the new BERNINA Q16

In my last blog post I hinted that there was an upcoming teaching tour with BERNINA. It's all confirmed so now I can give you all the deets and make it all official and stuff. 

BERNINA have released a brand new machine. It's another sit down long-arm with all the great features of the BERNINA Q20 but it's just a little smaller. Welcome to the new BERNINA Q16! This is perfect for those quilters who need more throat space than a domestic to make quilting their quilts a breeze, but don't have quite enough sewing room space for the larger machines. It's also just a bit easier on the budget. 

And I'm so excited to be able to help BERNINA introduce it to New Zealand!

BERNINA  asked me to design a fabric panel specifically for this class. I've used my own hand-dyed fabrics and put together a design that isn't too complicated but still has plenty of scope to get creative with the quilting designs. Rebecca Owen from BERNINA worked her digital magic and put the squared border around it and has got a panel printed for every workshop participant. 

You'll be able to try out free-motion and ruler quilting on the beautiful Q16 machine and will get to take your very own ruler home with you - as well as your quilted sample of course. The panel will be sandwiched, the machines will be threaded, all you have to do is sit down and have a creatively fun time with me and the BERNINA crew!

It's a great opportunity to have a really good try out session with the Q16. I know it can be a bit overwhelming at a show with everyone watching and other people waiting to have their turn too. At this workshop every class participant will have their own machine and during the three hours I'll be able to guide you through some beautiful free-motion and ruler quilting designs, which you can combine to really make the panel your own.

If you are interested in joining us, please get in touch with your local BERNINA dealer. I look forward to seeing you there, it's going to be so much fun!

Edited to add the timetable: