We spent a bit of each week in January working through the Mariposa quilt. If you are here and you haven’t started this quilt yet, be sure to check out every week of the quilt along. There are video tutorials for working through the quilt. If you’ve never made a quilt before, or are still at a beginner, I’ve packed each week with lots of helpful tips. I think these posts will answer the majority of questions you might have.
Before you start making decisions and moving through the next parts of your quilt and ESPECIALLY if you are a beginner, push all the worries away! Your quilt doesn’t have to be perfect, and nobody else’s is either. And if you keep at this quilt making, you are going to get better and better. So let yourself be and let yourself make the mistakes. Doing so will make you better!
You’d much rather be snuggling under an imperfect quilt than having it sit unfinished in a closet.
Now that we have a finished quilt top (aka a flimsy), it’s time to start thinking about our finished quilt. We still have some steps to work through before we are cuddling up under it or gifting it to someone we love.
We need to choose a backing first! The size you need for your backing will be located within the pattern. You have options here. You can decide to piece your backing or purchase a wide back fabric.
If I can find a wide back to match my quilt top, I almost always go with that option. I mean why not? There’s no piecing! But occasionally, I won’t be able to find anything and I’ll resort to piecing one. If you flip to near the end of your book, there’s a whole section on pieced backing. The book gives you the easiest of easy pieces to get this job done, but if you are sitting on a large stash and want to use many different fabrics, you can make this as complicated and frugal as you want to.
One thing to remember: My patterns will always direct you to cut your backing and batting 6″ wider and longer. You MAY want to check with your longarmer if you are planning to use one before you complete this step. Many times, they’ll have specifics for what they prefer. But MOST of the time 6″ will get this done.
Next, you’ll get your batting cut. I LOVE Warm & Natural! I like that it comes so flat and in perfect shape. I’ve tried a lot of different battings and even some very popular ones have those pockets or bowls happening to them. I’ve never had that problem with Warm & Natural.
Big Tip: If you make a lot of quilts, you’re cheapest option for batting might be to buy a roll of it. I used to do that even before I had a fabric shop. AND it will solve all your “waste” problems if you have been buying batting by the yard or package.
I’m pretty sure basting is a task we’d all prefer fairies to come and do for us, but it has to get done and fairies don’t exist. So take a deep breath, put something entertaining on in your ears and put your head down and work your way through it. Fun is at the end of this step!
The majority of quilters will pin baste on the floor or on the table. When I first started quilting, I used to use painters tape and tape my backing right side down to the floor, then add batting and the top and get to pinning.
For the last ten years or so, I’ve spray basted. I do this on an empty wall. It’s still a chore and I’m up and down a step ladder, but my knees sure do thank me. I have a video tutorial on spray basting here. I prefer this spray far and above any other brands and I’ve probably tried them all. You can also spray baste on the floor or table if you don’t have access to a wall. Be sure that you spray THE BATTING ONLY, and not the backing or quilt top.
You need to plan this out! Kick things around a little bit and think it through. Don’t go willy nilly and just begin. I don’t want you having to unpick and stitches with regrets.
If you are a beginner, the EASIEST way to quilt is using straight lines. You can make straight lines in the ditch of all your piecing or make a grid on your quilt. Put the walking foot on your machine (if you have one, it’s okay if you don’t) and work your way over the quilt. Spread this out over a few days or a week. There’s no need to rush!
I do want to encourage you to free motion quilt. I know there is a smidgen of a learning curve if you’ve never done it and it REALLY depends on what machine you are using at how easy it is, BUT it’s quicker and WAY MORE FUN than just going with straight lines.
If you are a complete beginner, give the meander (or stipple) a go FIRST! I have a video tutorial for it here. You’ll get lovely crinkles after you get it washed.
If you are feeling more advanced, I have more free motion tutorials here.
One last option! If you are feeling like you want to get your SLOW work on and spend a bit more time with your quilt, I have a video tutorial for chunky hand quilting right here. I’m picturing stitches echoing around the outside and inside of those butterflies!
Now’s the time to label your quilt. We have Mariposa labels for sale right here!
Choosing a binding is always such a decision for me. I’m always back and forth on it. The majority of the time I’ll lay my quilt out on the floor and put fabric beside it over and over until I finally choose one. Auditions!
If you choose a dark fabric, and many quilters love that best, it will frame your quilt and draw the eye. If you choose a lighter or medium color fabric, your binding won’t steal the show.
Think hard about what’s on your fabric. Large prints are wasted on binding. I like to keep it to a small print because of this. I tend to almost always go with geometric prints or even solids. You can never go wrong with a good stripe!
I have two methods of binding that I like best: The Ditch Machine method or Chunky Hand Method. You’ll find video tutorials for both of them here.
On March 2, we will kick off the Lulu Louise quilt along! That’s the second quilt pattern in the A Life With Quilts book. If you are/were signed up for Mariposa, you don’t need to do anything else, you are already signed up! If not, do get signed up here, and get yourself a copy of the book. I’ll be sending out an email very soon showing you all the new Lulu bundles and getting things organized.