Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Short Mitered Border Tutorial

Mitered Borders: A Short Tutorial

I always enjoy the look of mitered borders on quilts. This week I applied mitered borders to the small 9-patch quilt I've been working on, and took photographs of the process for a short tutorial. If you want a more precise length on borders before attaching, use your Pythagorean theorem to figure the length . I like mine to be plenty long for the miter.

  1. Measure and jot down your quilt's length and width.

  2. Decide how many strips will make up your borders and choose your fabrics. My quilt has three strips per border: two are my hand-dyed fabric, and the other is the black fabric.

  3. Borders are applied, one at a time, on each of the 4 sides of the quilt. The length of each border = (the length or width of the quilt top) + (3 x the width of your full border) + 10" more. Your borders will be quite long, but you don't want to make them too short. **If you skimp on the length, you will not have enough fabric to sew your miters.

  4. If you are using more than one strip in your border, sew the strips together and press; then cut to length. (You'll need 4 of these borders, of course, if your quilt has 4 sides.)

  5. Now fold your border in half to find its center, and finger press to mark it. Mark the center on that side of your quilt.

  6. Place your quilt on top of your border, right sides together, matching the center of the border to the center of your quilt edge, and pin.

  7. Begin sewing 1/4" in from the edge of the quilt and back tack there, then sew until you are 1/4" from the other edge of the quilt; back tack again.

  8. Attach the remaining three borders in the same way.

  9. When all 4 borders are attached, and their ends are free, fold your quilt in half, diagonally (see photo).

  10. Now, line up your two border strips perfectly and pin to keep them in line, as in the photo. Click on the photo for a larger view.

  11. Make sure that your quilt is folded on the diagonal from end to end, then lay a ruler down to continue the diagonal line to the border you're about to sew. Mark that line with a soap sliver or chalk, and pin again for sewing.

  12. Sew this line with a basting stitch first, if desired (I baste first). Sew on that line from the outside edge, right up to, but not passing, the place where your borders are sewn to the quilt.

  13. Lay it open and see how it turned out. If it doesn't look good, tear out the seam, straighten your lines, pin and try again.

  14. When the corner is mitered the way you like it, trim your seam to about 5/8" and press it out, up to where all the corner seams meet. Now press the corner of your quilt flat over it. You'll understand when you see it on your quilt. The corner of my 9-patch pressed flat right over my pressed-open seam. It's all in the math.

  15. Beautiful!

  16. Now do it three more times.

The more you do mitered borders, the easier it will get. The first time I sewed a mitered border it turned out fine. There's always one that isn't perfect that I have to pull out and re-do, but it's not the end of the world, and it looks great when finished. I nearly always baste my seam first to check them.

Good luck!

Here's to Agnes

My wonderful friend Agnes A. from the Pensacola Quilters Guild taught me (and many other lucky guild members) how to make string pieced blocks. I no longer live near Pensacola, but Agnes is often on my mind as string piecing has taken over much of my creative thinking when it comes to quilts.

This small Chinese Coin quilt, which you have seen in progress in previous blogs, is a reproduction of Agnes' miniature Chinese Coin quilts. I've seen other Chinese Coin quilts made with strings, but these miniatures are a thing of beauty. Mine is currently 12" x 12 1/2", but I may trim it down before sandwiching and quilting it. There seems to be a little too much border right now. It also will need some metallic thread quilting because the black batik's mottled look is not distinct enough and looks more like a flat black. Maybe I'll add some beads or something new to this little quilt...miniature fused applique? Humm. We'll see.
Here's the continuation of my string blocks. I now have 24 blocks and will add at least 12 more , maybe 24 more, before the top is the way I want it to be. Each block is 3 1/2" and will finish to a little less than 3". I think this will make a fine wall hanging for a long and narrow wall.
Another blog, which is a quick tutorial on mitered borders, is on the way.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Recently I stumbled upon a wonderful blog with colorful photos and wool felting ideas. The address is blog.betzwhite.com . Betz has written a book on felting and has wonderful free tutorials on her blog.

Here is my first wool pincushion made from two felted sweaters (well, 1-1/2" strips from the felted sweaters). Isn't it adorable? I followed Betz's directions for felting the sweaters and used some of her jellyroll pincushion directions plus some of my own ideas. Here are the Clover tools which can be found at Hobby Lobby and other arts/crafts outlets. Be sure to keep your fingers away from the needle ends, and lock your tool when not in use.

  1. I cut 1-1/2" strips from my felted sweaters and then laid them across my felting brush, one on top of the other, and needle felted them together so that they would not move as I rolled them. For some reason, I couldn't felt the red "into" the cream, but the cream felted fine into the red (cream on top). Humm.

  2. With a needle and thread ready to secure the rolled pieces, I tightly rolled the two together with the red on the "outside" (underside when rolling).

  3. When the two became one jellyroll piece, I trimmed the white raw edge by about 1/8", sewed the red raw edge to the body of the jellyroll, and stitched several times through the body of the newly formed pincushion.

  4. Finally, I needle felted the top and bottom a little so that they wouldn't separate with use.

Voila! Easy and fun.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn is Here!

This evening we decided to sit out on the patio to enjoy the cool weather and to try out our new fire bowl. I've been wanting one of these for a while, and Bill bought this one for us last week. It seemed like a good way to burn up all of the dead fall in the yard and then be able to put the ashes into the gardens.

Well, look at that...a quilt art idea in the fire! Look at how the burning leaves have a bright glow around the edges. Aren't they pretty? I can do that with Lumiere paint! Four or five times I had Bill throw a sprig of leaves onto the fire to catch this photograph, ha ha.

Here are the aforementioned gardens. They are raised because we have that beautiful red Georgia clay... which is a bear to garden in. It's as hard as a brick in mid-summer if there's no rain. We just planted radishes and salad greens, and having grown this pepper plant for the last five months, we may actually get a pepper out of it. How, you ask? Fishing line around the garden to keep the deer from eating it! It actually does have a pepper that's about 1" long--our first of the year.

This is our herb garden, with two kinds of cilantro, two mint plants, some defunct basil seeds, and some surprise bush cucumber plants. The cucumber seeds were from 2007 and we didn't expect them to come up, but they did!

This third garden is eagerly awaiting its planting of garlic seed (cloves). We've turned under good topsoil, leaves, and about four months worth of kitchen scraps to get this baby ready. Last year's crop didn't do well because it was only topsoil over red clay (we had just moved in).

I love the South and fall gardens that last throughout the winter!

Hand Dyes are Heaven

Last week Bill made a wonderful display piece which I'll use when I have a booth or area in which to sell my work. It's on a small hill in our yard in the photo, so it looks tilted here. The bottom of the stand is the base of a tall fan. The top is PVC pipe into which he drilled holes for dowels. The fabric is pinned on with clothespins, and it can hold 24 lengths of fabric or more. Isn't it beautiful?
Bill has another idea brewing...he'll use a small white night stand, which is currently unused and in our garage and will add a T-pipe to the back which can hold fabrics like the one above but on a smaller scale. The night stand has a drawer for small items and a flat area for a basket or two. Voila! a compact art/craft display. That's my man!

The new Quilting Arts Alliance

This is a photo from the first meeting of the Quilting Arts Alliance in Athens. We met this week at the main Athens-Clarke County library on Baxter St. for an organizational meeting. There were six of us this time, with more promised to join us next month. Gloria, Sylvia, Diane and Marilyn are in the photo. Suzanne and I were also there. We decided to have a Shiva Paintstik demo next month (I'll do the demo) and made a list of other programs we'd be interested in having. Diane will also give an upcoming program for us. Here's to a good year!

Monday, September 22, 2008


It was a busy weekend at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, GA. On Saturday morning the LH had its Gypsy Artist's Market on the lawn, and in the afternoon we demonstrated quiltmaking at the Art Expo. Each group who meets at the LH was asked to supply members who would demonstrate their art.

Mary (left) hand beaded a piece and marked a quilt for demo. She also brought her beautiful hand-quilted and appliqued quilt which received a lot of attention.

Diane (center) worked on a new tote bag project which had a beautiful Lumiere painted front.

Terri (right) sold her colorful tie-dyed t-shirts, showed her beaded art piece and hand appliqued a block.

We were so busy talking and enjoying the afternoon as visitors browsed and watched that I nearly forgot about my camera! Bill made a wonderful display rack for my hand-dyed fabrics--it looked like a rainbow clothesline...and I forgot to take a photo of it! Oy. I'll have to put it together again this week for a photo op. It's just too beautiful to ignore.

That's my display board, in the far left-hand corner of the photo, with the projects I demonstrated. The Quilt Guild's quilt assembly display is on the countertop. Fun was had by all!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Using Tiny Scraps

This week I had an opportunity to help teach three art classes at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School in Athens, GA. Their teacher, Miss Bridges, and I decided to teach the teens how to embellish on fabric using Shiva Paintstiks. The students stenciled with commercial stencils, made some of their own, and then made torn paper mountains for stenciling. They also made rubbings using rubbing plates and stamps. Because Paintstiks are oil based they can be pretty messy...and a lot of creative fun.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the students' work, but suffice it to say that Miss Bridges' classes did a fine job!

Today I'm working on pieces that are similar to those in the last blog. I'm using up scraps that came from the 9-patch and string pieced blocks and I'm making a tiny Chinese Coin piece. By sewing together some of the smaller scrap pieces, I'll be able to make another small wall hanging. Now I have to figure out how to put them together in a cohesive layout.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The best laid plans...

The best laid plans...sometimes change. I had planned to combine the string piece blocks with the 9-patch blocks, but they looked like a floral explosion together. Instead, the 9-patch blocks work quite well with the hand-dyed fabric, and I have 12, 3" string blocks which are the start of another small quilt. Not a bad compromise.
I would never have put these colors together myself (black, blush peach, fuchsia, and purple), but Kaffe Fassett had it right...they are beautiful together!
Still working on my online class for Dreamweaver (website building and manipulation) so that I can update my site all by myself. I'm having to dig out those college brain cells, but, surprise, surprise, they still work pretty well.
Tomorrow I'm announcing the start of a new Quilting Arts Alliance (or Art Quilt Alliance) group in Athens. We've all been talking about it (haha) for a year, so I'm jumping in and will announce the first meeting at the Cotton Patch Quilt Guild meeting tomorrow night. It will be based on the philosophy of the Fiber Arts Alliance in Asheville, NC. Basically, we all have groups in which we volunteer, take jobs, create for charity, etc. which are worthy of our time, but this group will be a once-a-month, low-stress group for art/contemporary quilters, hopefully with only three or four jobs: meeting leader, note taker, membership list keeper, leader for group shows. In this way, we'll be able to enjoy our time together and have an open forum for sharing information and ideas.
Best laid plans...hum. I hope I'm not the only one who wants it this way, haha. We'll find out.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Bry Quilt

Our son flew back to his Army base in Germany last weekend, but on the way to the airport we stopped in at an art show and fair where my quilt was hanging. It was the first quilt art piece this show had ever hung, so I was pleased. This is a photo of Bry, ever the tough guy (no smiling allowed) next to the quilt with his photo.

Look for this quilt if you visit the Houston Int'l. Quilt Festival this year. It will have the honor of hanging in the Quilts of Valor Foundation booth for the duration of the show. Sure wish I could go!


Holiday Market Items

I'm hard at work making items to sell at the OCAF, http://www.myocaf.org/, Holiday Market in December, so hopefully my booth will be juried in, haha. I should know by the end of September. Anyway, here are some items I've made in the last two days. They will eventually be potholders. I'll sandwich and quilt them all at once in the next week or so.

With the leftover fabric from these fat quarters I made 3" 9-patch blocks that will become a small wall quilt or table art. This grouping is what I have so far. I'll also look into sewing them on point, but the "missing" blocks will be simple string blocks with similar colors and fabrics for a dramatic look. More on this piece later.

Like a good Athens, GA resident (who's really a yankee, but loves the south), my football weekend chant is "Go Dawgs!"