Have a go at this beautiful quilt using log cabin piecing.
This project can be found in our May/Jun 16 Issue 154
Binding the Quilt
Now that your quilt sandwich is machine-quilted (or tied), you’re ready to prepare it for binding!
- Pin around the perimeter of the quilt top, catching all 3 layers, and press if necessary.
- Machine-stitch around the perimeter ¼” from the edge of your quilt top, using a long basting stitch. (You can also do this step after squaring up.)
- Then square up the quilt top, placing your quilting ruler along the quilt top’s edge, aligning it with seams, and the cutting mat under the section you are working on. Use your rotary cutter to trim away excess batting and backing, making your edges neat and straight. This is a very liberating feeling—your quilt is shedding its shaggy overhang to become neat and beautiful.
Finally, it’s time to bind your quilt! You can use purchased bias or binding tape, or make your own binding with fabrics that match, contrast, or complement your quilt design. I love making my own binding and highly recommend that route if you’re up for it.
Add new or vintage buttons to your patchwork projects for a bit of sparkle! You can sew them onto a block before you assemble, baste, and quilt (as in the photo-transfer and printed squares on the Anniversary Quilt, page 95), or cover machine-ties or hand-ties with them as an extra embellishment (like the Modern Crosses Quilt, page 65). They can also be part of a closure (as for the Charming Camera Case, page 138 and Red Cross Bag, page 151) or just decoration for any part of a project you’d like to highlight.
Hand-stitch your buttons down very securely and make sure that they are washable, if you plan to wash your patchwork. And be very cautious about adding them to a project for a small child. The Modern Crosses Quilt will be ready for my daughter, Pearl, when she’s old enough not to put those colorful, tempting buttons in her mouth!
A very efficient and time-saving piecing method for a project with many similar blocks is chain-piecing. In this technique, multiple centers are stitched to one long strip of log fabric, cut apart, and stitched to the next long strip of log fabric. Chain-piecing is a more efficient technique than traditional piecing because it requires fewer stops and starts and uses less thread.
- First, put a center square on a long log strip, right sides together. Stitch the pieces together just as you would in regular piecing. Then, when you’re near the end of the seam, place another center, and sew. You can keep adding more center squares until you have the number you need, or the strip runs out.
- Using a rotary cutter and ruler, carefully cut the joined pieces apart between the blocks and press the seams in the appropriate direction. Set up your second log strip, and place a joined center/log piece over it, right sides together. Stitch as before, adding joined center/log pieces the same way.
- Continue in the same manner to build the third and fourth logs onto your blocks. When you reach the end of the first tier of logs, press all seams well. Your block will look just like one that was individually pieced.
- Continue chain-piecing additional tiers to the block as necessary for your log cabin pattern. The piecing will become more challenging as the seams (and logs) get longer, but gently hold them in place and slow or stop your sewing if necessary to align the seams neatly. If chain-piecing large tiers becomes too unwieldy for you, simply sew the remaining logs following the Building a Block strategy, page 28.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SEAM
The standard ¼” piecing allowance works well for quilting cottons and other light- and medium-weight fabrics and for closely pieced designs. However, for some fabrics, or for truly large-scale piecing, I recommend a 3/8″ or ½” piecing allowance. For heavy fabric like denim, a 3/8″ allowance lets the pressed seam lie flat a little more easily. For joining very large pieces, such as those in the Winter Woolens Quilt (page 49), a ½” allowance provides much-needed support. A ½” seam allowance is also ideal when piecing knits, such as T-shirt jersey material, to accommodate the stretch and the tendency of the edges to roll. As always, the width you lose in your seams will factor into your final measurements, so plan for the seam allowance when cutting (page 27).
Machine Tie Quilt
To machine-tie a quilt:
- Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch and adjust the length and width of the stitch to 0. Place your needle over the first place you want to tie, and make several stitches in place.
- While sewing, adjust your width upward to a wide setting and stitch at that setting for 5–10 seconds, or 10 or so stitches, and then adjust the width right back down to 0 for the last few stitches. You can move your quilt around to machine-tie multiple spots without cutting the threads in between, if you like. I “tie” about ten spots before stopping, cutting and trimming my threads, and moving to a different section of the quilt. To dress up the look of the machine ties, sew buttons over the stitches, as shown in the Modern Crosses Quilt (page 65).
The simplest method of joining blocks is two- and four-way joining. To use this method, simply line up two blocks, matching edges and seams with right sides facing, and stitch them together with a ¼” seam allowance. Press them on the back and the front. I generally don’t use pins to sew the length of a single block, but you may find it helpful.
Joined pairs of blocks can be sewn into larger squares (as in the Modern Crosses Quilt, page 65). Simply align the pairs along a long unfinished side, right sides together, matching edges and seams.
Pin the blocks where the seams meet to prevent the blocks from shifting during sewing. Stitch the pairs together with a ¼” seam allowance.