Monday, September 25, 2006

Putting a Quilt Together

By Brandi M. Seals

Putting your quilt together is probably the most difficult step in making a quilt aside from the actual quilting. Once you have your quilt top exactly the way you want it, you will want to start working on the backing.

The quilt back is typically very easy to make. More often than not the quilt back is just one type of fabric; however it generally takes two or three pieces of material to make it. You will want to minimize the seams needed in the back. Typically if you will be making a queen size or smaller, you will have one seam. For example, a typical queen sized quilt is 86 inches wide and fabric usually comes in a standard 45 inch width. For that reason it works best to buy your material twice the length you need. Then you can divide it into two pieces that are the same length. Sew those two together (trimming to fit the exact width of your quilt) to create the backing. If your quilt will be larger, it would probably be cheaper and easier if the material seams run horizontally.

With both the front and back done, you can now get started on the hard part. The key thing is to get everything to lie out evenly. That can be a challenge when you add in the batting. It can also be difficult to conceptualize what should go where so that when you turn it out the right way; everything is in the right spot.

You will want to start by laying out the batting on a large flat surface. Spread it all out, being sure to remove any bumps or ripples. Next comes the backing. You will want to lay it out so that the side that will be inside the finished quilt (the side with the seam) is facing the batting. The side facing up should be the one that will appear on the outside of the quilt. Get this all spread out evenly; again remove any wrinkles or bumps.

Finally, bring out the quilt top. The quilt top will be placed face down on the backing. The side that faces out in the finished quilt should be facing the quilt bottom. The seamed side should face outward. Again, remove any imperfections so that the quilt is completely flat.

Now it is time to pin the entire perimeter of the quilt. Remember to leave about a 10 inch opening on one side so that you can pull the quilt through. Do not put this opening on a corner as it can throw off the shape of the quilt. Use lots of pins, you do not want the layers to separate and throw the whole thing off.

If your quilt does not line up perfectly you have a few options. You could figure out what is off and fix it. Or, you can realize that this is a homemade craft and part of its charm is that it is not perfect. Especially since fixing the mistake may involve ripping out several seams on the quilt top. If your quilt is off drastically you may have to do this extra work, however it is common for quilts to be off by a little. A quarter inch or so difference really is not going to matter in the scheme of things. Just make sure your seam is sewn straight and that you use the shorter piece as a guide (otherwise you risk dropping it if it varies too much from the larger piece).

Using your sewing machine, do a straight stitch around the quilt. Reinforce the seams at the corners and near the opening. Do this by back stitching the area after you have already straight stitched it. It will give a little more stability to the quilt.

Pull the quilt through the opening. Pay special attention to pop the corners out. Use your finger or some narrow object to pop them out. Now you can sew up the opening. You will need to hand stitch the area. Keep the stitches even and close together. Also, use a thread color that will blend into the area being stitched up.

The majority of the work on the quilt is done. All that is left is tying it together or quilting it together. Choose whichever method works best for you and your quilt.

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