This is the first summer in three years that I haven’t spent heavily involved in writing, making quilts for, or preparing to promote a new quilt book. Co-authoring and releasing two books in back-to-back years–A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue in spring 2011 and Cuddle Me Quick: 11 Baby-Quilt Designs in autumn 2012–was a challenge, but it was also lots of fun, especially since I shared the experience with my friend, Christine Porter.
After editing dozens and dozens of quilt books over the years, I’m well aware that quilters love tips, and (encouraged by our publisher, Martingale & Company) Chris and I were determined to add lots of tips to our books. In this post, I share five of my favorites. Some relate to technique, some to design. Hopefully, you’ll find a “little nugget” here to enrich your next quilting experience.
Tip #1: Flip It! Sometimes the “right” side is the “wrong” side. If a fabric you’re considering doesn’t provide the proper degree of contrast, flip it over and consider the reverse side. Often the value (or the blurred motif) on the back of a print is just different enough to make it the perfect choice.
I know that some quilters worry that showing the “wrong” side of the fabric will be too obvious, but I’ve never found this to be so. I used the wrong sides of many blue prints to achieve the subtle gradation in value essential to the overall design of my quilt, Woodlands. Can you spot them in this photo?
Those small pieces of “flipped” fabrics are hard to identify, even with close scrutiny.
Does this help?
Tip # 2: Lose the Static! If your quilt is made of repeating blocks that “aim in one direction,” try reversing the direction of a few blocks. By interrupting the expected flow of the pattern, you’ll add movement to what might otherwise be a static design.
I used the same design trick in my quilt, Rubber Duckies, which you can see by clicking here. Fun!
Tip #3: No-Fuss Finishing! You’ll love Chris’s technique for finishing your bindings without the fuss of pins or clips. Sew the binding to the front of the quilt as usual, and then use a medium-hot iron to press the binding away from the quilt center. Turn the quilt over and adhere 1/4″-wide fusible tape (we both favor Lite Steam-A-Seam2 Double Stick fusible tape) within the seam allowance on the back of the quilt. Remove the protective paper from the tape, fold the binding to the back of the quilt, and press, mitering the corners. Finish by hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.
Think “Outside the Box!” Seam lines are arbitrary. Experiment with allowing an applique shape or motif to extend slightly beyond the block or quilt-center boundaries. With just this one simple adjustment, you’ll create unity between adjacent elements and add immediacy and “life” to your quilt.
Tip #5: Bargain Backings! Check out the sales bins for bargains when visiting your local quilt shop. The remnants of theme and novelty fabrics often turn up there at deeply discounted prices.
Here’s one more tip, and this one doesn’t come from any book. It comes, instead, straight from Laura, Jennifer, and me to you . . .
Tip #6: Don’t Miss This! If you haven’t already, please take time to check out the very inventive, four-line ditties submitted so far as entries in the Winner-Takes-All mega giveaway in our June 28 post. (You’ll find them by clicking on the link above, scrolling to the bottom of the post, and then clicking on Comments.) Good news: There’s still time to enter! The deadline is Thursday, July 11, noon (PDT), with the winner to be announced on Friday, July 12. Who knows? Your words could be winners!