Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 Free Motion Quilt Along - Part I Pieced Borders

Hello fellow quilters and welcome to the first Redbird Quilt Co. Free Motion
Quilt Along!
I'm so excited that you're joining in the fun -- thanks for your patience and honest feedback while I work my way through this new adventure! 

If you missed the Introductory Post for the Free Motion Quilt Along -- click here to review it. It's never too late to join

If you missed the Supplies Post -- click here.

To learn more about our awesome sponsors (Aurifil, Quilter's Dream Batting, World of Susybee, Creekside Fabrics, Quilts and Yarns, Sew It Is Quilt Shop & Quilty Pleasures Quilt Shop) and the fantastic products they've provided for the Quilt Along Giveaways click here.

FMQAL Part I:  Pieced Borders

We're going to run right though getting the simple borders on this unit so we can move along to basting and quilting next week -- So let's do this!

For Part I of the Free Motion Quilt Along (FMQAL) we're going to add the pieced borders to the whimsical Susybee Lewe's Balloons Growth Chart.
Get those fabrics ready!!

As outlined in detail on the Supplies page, for piecing you'll need:

*  1 Lewe's Balloons Growth Chart Panel
*  1/2 yard of Black Dot fabric for Border 1 (& Binding)
*  1/4 yard of Yellow fabric for Border 2
*  1/2 yard of Green fabric for Border 3
    Also on the Supplies page I've recommended several different colors of Aurifil 50Wt thread.

    Choose your favorite neutral Aurifil 50Wt color for piecing. #2105, 2600, 2024
    I encourage you to try 50Wt Aurifil thread during the FMQAL for piecing AND quilting!

    This fine, yet strong, 100% Egyptian Cotton thread keeps seam bulk minimized - it helps with accurate piecing by not adding bulk with thread.

    Below are some of the colors that go wonderfully with Lewe's Balloons...
    If you're planning to use Aurifil thread for your quilting and you haven't picked it up yet and/or can't find it at your local quilt shop -- Checkout the current sale at the Bear Creek Quilting Company.
    Aurifil thread is currently 25% off!
    That's a great deal.
    Last I looked they had all the colors I outlined above.
    On sale now through 1/31/16  Click here!

    Prepping the fabric - some notes...

    I do not pre-wash my fabrics.
    If you decide to pre-wash yours be mindful that your quilt measurements may differ from what is specified. 

    Also, I love to press with steam!
    Others prefer to use a dry iron.
    Either way, when pressing, try to avoid stretching or distorting the fabric.
    Before cutting WOF (Width of Fabric) strips I normally leave the fabric folded in half and press through both layers (on both sides).  Then I open up the fold and press it flat.

    Additionally, I didn't starch these fabrics.  Starching has become a very popular method to stabilize fabric for cutting and piecing -- but for our simple borders we can scoot-by without.   

    Lastly, all seams were finished with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.
    You can use this method to test your seam allowance.

    Now lets get cutting!

    The Free Lewe's Balloons Growth Chart with Borders Pattern Page 2 specifies the exact cuts necessary for your border fabrics:
    Download and print Page 2 by clicking here.

    I included the cutting requirements (highlighted) in 2 images (below):

    We'll begin with the Lewe's Balloons Growth Chart panel.
    Press it well -- anticipating you'll trim it to 17.75" wide by 42"long.

    When working with panels it's sometimes a challenge to square them up.  If you feel your panel is twisted or NOT square you could consider using starch and steam iron to "persuade" it into shape.
    NOTE: All subsequent cuts are dependent on the panel being trimmed to 17.75" x 42".
     If your panel is a different size, adjust accordingly.

    Cutting requirements highlighted and enlarged:

    How to read the format used above:
    Border 1: Black Dot - Cut (3) 1" x WOF
    For Border 1 you will cut 3 strips that are 1" wide by the Width of the Fabric.

    The Width of Fabric is the distance between the fabric selvages.

    I assume a 42" usable strip after trimming selvages.

    Continuing... following the directions above, cut the Growth Chart and WOF strips for Borders 1, 2 and 3.
    Once the WOF strips for the borders are cut you will piece and/or sub-cut to achieve desired lengths for left/right and top/bottom strips as specified below:

    NOTE:  Border 2-C may need to be pieced to achieve a 43" length
    Border 3-E will need to be pieced to achieve the 45.5" length.
    All other pieces will be sub-cut to achieve the desired length.

    When I am piecing non-binding strips together, I use a straight seam (not mitered).

    Need help cutting long strips?
    See my tip for cutting long strips on the Family Tree Quilted Envelope Pillow tutorial I created for the Moda Bake Shop ==>  Family Tree Pillow   Scroll a few pages into the tutorial to find the Cutting Tip.

    Soooo.... once you have all the pieced or sub-cut lengths prepared you can begin to attach them to the growth chart panel.

    The quilt construction diagram on Page 2 of the free Pattern is labelled alphabetically indicating which strips should be pieced first, second, etc.
    Free Pattern Page 2 - Construction Diagram
    When I piece long strips I like to use this method:

    1. Fold The growth chart in half lengthwise and finger press to mark the center spot with a crease.  (Just along the left/right and top/bottom edges).
    2. Now fold the border strip the same, in half and finger press a crease at the center.
    3. Now align the center marks (creases) right sides together and pin at the crease.
    4. Next, ease and pin the remaining border fabric to the chart.
    If your measurements are correct this should lay flat

    Stitch with a complementary thread using a scant 1/4" seam allowance.

    Continuing... referencing the Page 2 construction diagram (above)

    Begin with:
     Border 1 "A" strips -- attach both.
    After attaching both, 
    Press once to set the seam, and
    press seams toward the outside.

    Attach Border 1 "B" strips.
    Repeat the process through Border 2 and 3 as specified.

    Eventually you'll have a quilt top ready to be paired with batting and backing!
    The Big Picture!
    At this stage I normally choose my thread and backing for the project by laying the thread on the quilt top and unwinding a few lengths.

    What's next ?

    You'll have about a week to get the borders pieced on the Lewe's Balloons Growth Chart at which time we'll be layering, pin basting and discussing "How To Quilt That".

    In preparation for the next steps I'll share a post about my favorite quilty tools -- but if you want a sneak peak of the tools I LOVE to quilt with visit this post ==> Do You FMQ? The Process

    Don't Forget The Batting

      For this project I recommend using Quilter's Dream ~ Dream Wool batting.

    Dream Wool is 100% wool made with scoured and super washed domestic and fine merino wool.

    It adds beautiful texture to your quilting, is washable without shrinkage and truly does "Quilt like a Dream".

    I hope you get a chance to try it out.  You can find it at your local quilt shop in pre-cut sizes or off the roll.  You'll be amazed at the tension issues that are helped with a higher loft batting.

    Thread, Thread, Thread

     -- as I mentioned above, you'll want a variety of fine weight threads for quilting.
    I share with you what I've been successful with -- and I adore using Aurifil brand 100% cotton thread.  If you missed it above:

    If you're planning to use Aurifil thread for your quilting and you can't find it at your Local Quilt Shop -- Checkout this sale at the Bear Creek Quilting Company.
    Aurifil thread is currently 25% off!
    That's a great deal.
    Last I looked they had all the colors I recommended for the QAL.
    On sale now through 1/31/16  Click here!

    We're off and running -- now be sure to leave your questions here on the blog and check back here for my responses.  Sometime I cannot reply via email as blogger does not track addresses for everyone.

    Yippee -- I can't wait to Quilt with You!
    Have a blessed weekend - stay warm (or cool).


    1. Bet you will all have a lot of fun! Your instructions are so comprehensive, well done :-)

    2. Great! I just finished sewing on the borders, too cute! Can't wait to get more into this, since this is my first piecing/FMQing project with coaching!

      1. Woohoo! You go Kelly - happy to have you joining in the fun! You're FAST!

    3. Looks sooooo darn cute! Your quilting will make it sing.

    4. Delightful! Thank you for this quilt along.

    5. Your corners look mitered but your directions appear to be for not mitered? Is that the case?

      1. JK - you have a keen eye... I played with mitered borders on my version but didn't want to complicate or frustrate others with that method. If your comfortable with it either method is fine - you just need a little extra fabric to miter. Welcome again - glad you ladies are joining us!

      2. I've never mitred before, do you have a good tutorial you use?

    6. Just finished my borders am sooooo excited for the next part!

    7. Just finishing the borders. Is that the time to stop?