Now, we've got a quilt top finished and this is where loads of people (myself included) get stalled out. Don't get yourself down, though, this is something you can finish.
At this point you've hopefully procured a backing for your quilt. This can be a single piece of fabric wide enough and long enough to accommodate your top, or a pieced back. Buying fabric that is 54" or wider makes this very simple. I was able to get a piece of flannel just wide enough for the finished top-- you want your back to be a couple of inches wider and longer than your top.
Here's a nice overview of the pros and cons of piecing your quilt back, as well as this post showcasing different ways to arrive at the desired backing size. I usually have to piece the back, and it's a great way to use up stashed fabric or showcase large scale prints. If you're going to seam this quilt back, you'll need two pieces of fabric 1 3/8'-1 1/2' each. Square or true up each piece. Seam your pieces with selvedges together.
Elizabeth has a detailed explanation (along with pictures of a sweet quilt) of the entire Quilt Sandwich process here. I do essentially the same thing with a few variations:
First off, take your quilt backing and lay it right side down on your super clean floor. Stretch it flat and tape it to your floor (or use heavy books around the edges). Then, take your batting, (which might be a bit wrinkly) and smooth it down on top of your backing. Take your sheers and trim the batting so that it's slightly (an inch or less) smaller than your backing. Tape it down in several places. Finally, take your beautiful top and lay it down right side up on top of the batting.
You are going to have to get down on the floor and work to smooth everything out as best you can. Start in the middle and smooth your top out towards the edges of your batting and backing. You may have to readjust the tape or your heavy books.
In order to move to the next stage, quilting, you need to make sure everything is going to stay put. I prefer to use safety pins attached through all three layers every six inches or so. You may also use a needle and thread, making loooong stitches through all the layers and anchored off with knots at either end. I know that the blocks look a little bit wrinkled in these photos. They are mostly shadow creases that will not affect the finished project. If you've pressed everything really well, and you're still ending up with slightly creased fabric, don't worry!
If you are new to quilting, I'm going to suggest you stick with a straight line approach, using your seams as a guide and making your quilt lines 2-3" apart. A walking foot is very, very helpful and cuts down on any kind of bunching (but it's not necessary). You may mark your quilt lines using a ruler and water soluble pen, tailors chalk, or masking tape. Roll your quilt up at each end like a scroll, with each roll meeting in the middle. Starting in the middle of your quilt, right side up, begin quilting along your marked line. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. If you're having trouble, with tension or bunching increase your stitch length slightly and change your needle. You may also need to re-thread your bobbin.
I quilted this top using a walking foot and straight lines.
There are a lot of great binding tutorials floating around out there. I think this one by Heather Bailey does a great job of addressing the corners. I use a straight grain (selvedge to selvedge, not cut on the bias) binding pieced together with leftovers from the quilt. Sometimes at the end of a project like this, it's very tempting to just top stitch that binding down. I will tell you that even though it takes a little longer to hand sew that final bit down, IT IS WORTH IT.
It's time to throw it in the wash (cold, gentle) and then tumble dry your masterpiece. You did it. You made a quilt.
This was one of the most all-together beautiful and varied shipments of textiles that has come through the store lately, and it is all from the Japanese company, Yuwa. First off, there's something for everyone: sateen, lawn, midweight cotton, cotton/linen blend, barkcloth, and quilt weight prints! Secondly, the prints run the gamut of painterly florals to cutesy novelty. So again, something for everyone. I had seen a lot of these in Kim's coverage from Quilt Market, but there is definitely something lost between the photo and seeing them in person. (More photos on flickr, including something SO GOOD from Lecien.)
**The Sewn patterns are here! This is a brand new pattern company under the arm of Lorraine Torrence Designs. I have the Upline Coat (long version) and the Skirt Smarts pattern on my list.
**The good folks at Colette Patterns are at it again-- they've launched a very inspiring Spring Palette Challenge in their new forums. The personalized palettes are gorgeous and are kicking the apparel sewing parts of my brain into gear.
**We have a brand new, very full Fabric Sale Section. Some of my favourite prints are in there, including Japanese prints and Marimekko. Make sure to check in the Sale patterns bin as well.
Part 1, here!
Last we left this, we were piecing our rows together. At this point we have 10 finished rows, 40+ inches long. Fantastic! The next step is really important:
Pressing a piece of patchwork is different than ironing-- you don't want to move or stretch the fabric around under your pressing tool. You want to lift your iron, literally press it down on your seam, then lift it up again to move it. I almost always press my seams open when doing patchwork. The conventional wisdom has always been to press ones seams to one side of the other, and in some complicated patchwork this is advisable. Pressing your seams open cuts down on bulk, makes it a little easier to match points, and makes pressing a snap. So. Get your iron hot (but turn off the steam), use your finger to open up the seam and press it flat slightly ("finger pressing"), and then follow it up with the hot iron. I keep a pair of snips on my ironing board to clip off thread tails which will get in the way of nice seams.
Press all your seams open.
True and Trim
Now you can see what you have. This is the right time to measure the width of your rows and make sure they are lined up correctly and trim accordingly. If you started with an accurate measurement (in our case 5 1/4"), you can probably skip this step. Lay out the all the rows in order and make sure they are all more or less around the same length. It doesn't have to be exactly the same, since we'll do one more trim. If you have a row coming up way too short, go ahead and sew on an extra strip.
Taking row one and two, place them right sides together and sew them together, keeping a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seam open flat. Take row three and four and repeat. Piece them together in twos until you've finished all 10 rows. Now, those rows together in order, pressing each seam open.
Flip the top over and behold! (Trim up any misfit too-long rows and do a final right side up pressing. This is also a good time to snip away fly away threads.)
YOU HAVE A QUILT TOP!
You are pretty close now, but we still have a bit of work to do... Part Three is going to wrap this little project up.