Dragons Defeated and Tip the Fourth

27 Oct

I have finished the last dragon in my dragonathon. They are all now ready to be incorporated into the quilt.

When planning an applique one little trick that I find pays off is to cut the background pieces  slightly bigger than they need to be when finished.  When an applique is stitched the background fabric sometimes becomes distorted. How badly will depend on various factors including how good your applique technique is and how tight the stitches are. If you allow even an extra 1″ around it means that you can trim it to straighten up the block. I usually allow about two inches  extra – that is if the piece needs to be 10″ x 10″ I cut it 12″ x 12″.  This will obviously be dictated to a certain extent by the amount of fabric  available. When I have done the applique I then cut it down using my cutting board and rotary cutter. I don’t necessarily cut 1″ off each side. I look at the finished picture and decide if I need to take more off one side than the other. Cut one side then use that now straightened side placed along one of the cutting mat lines to cut the other side. Then use these two straight sides against cutting  lines to square up the other two sides.

Trimming with rotary cutter and ruler.

Trimmed to provide nice straight edges.

You will now have a beautifully squared up block to help you achieve a beautifully squared up quilt. This means that when you come to add wadding and backing and quilt it you will not be struggling with an uneven quilt top. This means your will to live will be preserved for longer.

Having achieved a straight edge ready for a perfect quilt cut each piece as you need it, checking all measurements before cutting. Never blindly follow measurements given to you in a pattern. The pattern designer may have worked out what the measurements should be but they have calculated without knowing how accurate your seams are. I use an overlocker to sew my seams so they are not always a perfect 1/4″. This does not matter as long as I make all my seams the same and measure every piece accurately before cutting. If you have to start stretching seams to fit your quilt top is going to be warped and you will be an unhappy quilter. The point of my telling you these little tips is so that you are a happy quilter. Ergo, I will also be unhappy as I will have failed. So to keep us all happy and chirruping along MEASURE TWICE AND CUT ONCE.

If you look at the finished quilt top you will see that the next stage is the sashing. This is the narrow strip of fabric between the blocks, shown here in green.

The finished top

Look carefully at the quilt top and you will see that you can work out which order to do the sashing in. The orange and purple dragons on the left have one strip between them. The middle dragons have a strip between them. Join these two pairs and then cut a strip to join them together into the block of four. The two dragons at the top left should then be joined and then that strip joined to the bottom four.That then just leaves the three on the right to join together and then join to the six block. You need to be able to work out how to do this as sometimes patterns are not clear. You may think you know what it means but it is only when you have cut your precious fabric that you realise you didn’t fully understand. If you take some time to understand the finished top you will be able to check at each point.

Next the borders. Often the fabric width is not enough to stretch the whole side of a border. One little trick to make it look as if you did it on purpose rather than just joining two bits of fabric is to put a contrast fabric on the join.

Hiding the Join

This is how it would look.


You may not mind a seam showing and want the whole border the same colour. If this is the case I would recommend that you cut the  border strips so that the join is in the middle or, if you are trying to save fabric, cut in such a way that the seam is in roughly the same place on each edge. In other words, make it look as if it is part of the design, not that the piece of fabric wasn’t long enough. Little things like that make it look as if you know what you are doing. Although it is simple it is the sort of thing that doesn’t occur to you until it is too late.

Another way of doing this is to make a diagonal seam.

Place the strips of border fabric at rightangles to each other and pin or draw an accurate line from corner to corner. The line MUST go into the corners to make sure your border pieces are level.

Stitch along the line and trim the seam

Press (preferably better than I have on this one.)

Voila! A nice neat diagonal seam. If you choose matching bits of fabric it will be almost invisible.

Thinking outside the box you could get rid of the problem altogether by using fabric from the quilt to cut small squares and make a scrappy border instead.

The quilt sandwich for quilting and the finishing binding are not difficult to understand from any quilting book. I will cover them when I come to do this quilt but meanwhile there are lots of sources out there if you are in a hurry.

Hopefully we now have lots of machine applique experts out there. Just practice and you will get there.

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2 Responses to “Dragons Defeated and Tip the Fourth”

  1. Karen October 28, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Love the way the dragons are looking. A great quilt top. Thanks again for the sewing tips!

    • quiltaholic October 28, 2011 at 7:33 am #

      Glad to be of assistance. Just got to do my ‘favourite’ part now.

      I have started one with similar embroideries as well. I will post some photos. They are very well digitised which means they look good and I can do some multi-tasking whilst they are sewing.

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