Pin Your Borders, or Not All Shortcuts Work

This week, I'm off at Road to California Quilter's Conference and Showcase in Ontario, CA. I go to this annual event every year, taking several all-day long arm quilting classes. For me, this is my yearly continuing education. It's a great opportunity for me to meet and learn from some of the rock stars of the quilting world. I'll do a post about this event later in the week. Also, Road to California means long arm technicians are in the So Cal area, and that means a new piece of machinery for my own long arm which I can hardly wait to share with you later.

In the meantime, my friend Lisa Redmond is going to do a guest blog post. Take it away Lisa....

Hi everyone in blogland. Tanya has written about me before in her blog, most recently about the Harley Quilt we did together. I'm very flattered by the nice and wonderful things she says about me and my quilts, yet I recently made a big gigantic boo boo that I'd like to share.

I just took up sewing and quilting 23 months ago. I'm self taught, with most thanks going to the YouTube Channel tutorials of the Missouri Star Quilt Company. However, Tanya did teach me how to use a rotary cutter! While I was learning, I felt it was important to learn how to do sewing/quilting methods the proper way. As I've become more confident in my skills, I've learned where I can take shortcuts for time and labor savings. BUT, not all shortcuts work.

I recently agreed to help a friend visiting from Mexico finish sewing a quilt. My friend's quilt only needed the borders attached before we could take it to Tanya for long arm quilting. So I just grabbed the borders and quickly sewed them on, without measuring or pinning, just thinking that if I leave a little extra at the top and bottom, we can just trim to square up. My friend even mentioned, "I notice you're not pinning your borders." I confidently said it would be fine. Boy was I wrong!

When we brought the quilt top to Tanya for her to do her magic to it, she said to me, "It's all good? No floppy borders?" She had never said that to me before, so my natural response to her was "Huh?" She explained borders that are not measured to size and properly pinned have a tendency to get wavy or floppy as she quilts out to the edges of the quilt. I had to sheepishly admit that Yep, I did not measure or pin and that was a distinct possibility. OOPS. I had just been schooled.

A few hours later, she emailed me this picture with the subject "Floppy Borders":

She hadn't even started quilting yet and the floppy borders were very obvious. Lesson learned. This is one shortcut that cannot be made! I recently noticed that Tanya does have a Quilt Preparation page on her site with a nice list of ways to ensure your quilt top is ready for her to quilt. I know from experience the better the quilt top is made ready for her, the better job she can do.

So quilters of the world, MEASURE TO FIT AND PIN YOUR BORDERS!!!

The Harley Quilt

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the new year. For me, it's been back to work and busy since January 2. I want to share a quilt that was completed and delivered to the customer at the end of last month. 

I received a call from Jim wanting a quilt made from his Harley Davidson t-shirts. As a Harley rider, each shirt holds a special memory for him of road trips and friendships. I had no time to piece a quilt, in addition to the quilting, with three active teenagers at home, including the twins who are getting ready to go to college. So I called Lisa Redmond (who I've blog-mentioned here, here and here) to partner with me on this quilt. I think Lisa is an extremely talented quilter and I've enjoyed partnering with her on projects. She constantly amazes me with the ideas she comes up with for quilts.

We used fabric from Tula Pink's Halloween-themed Nightshade line, more specifically the Spider Blossom and Raven Lace patterns. Even better, it was post-Halloween on sale at Sew Modern. The Nightshade fabrics were an ideal choice for the themed quilt. The dark grays and muted lavendar of the Eveningshade colorway, and the pattern designs with subtle skulls and crossbones, lightning bolts and cobwebs were perfect for a masculine Harley quilt, yet not over the top like a giant tattoo. We also included a Michael Miller print, Tiny Houndstooth in grey. The houndstooth gave the quilt a little retro Route 66 feeling. And the last fabric we used was from Aneela Hoey's "a walk in the woods" collection for Moda. It is a coral-colored near solid with little dashed white circles. This fabric picked up, and was nearly the same, as the Harley orange.


Lisa used every part of the shirt, from sleeve graphics to pockets. She even loved the woven labels and appliqued them to the front of the shirts. The difficulty Lisa ran into when piecing the quilt is the art/designs for Harley t-shirts are large and take up a lot of landscape opposed to other t-shirts. So in order for Lisa to get the amount of blocks/shirts in the quilt and maintain the promised queen-size for the customer, little room was left for sashing, and abosolutly no room left for borders. Although Lisa is a modern quilter and prefers no borders, her concern was that the quilt felt like it needed at least a little something to frame it more than just the binding. Lisa solved the problem by using the bias binding foot on her sewing maching and adding a little binding edge to her binding. I think it is fantastic!

I custom quilted each block based on the graphic found in each shirt. In some areas, I went around individual letters allowing them to pop in almost a trapunto-type of fashion. I used a wavy loop pattern for all the sashing. I had to be careful not to go into some of the actual graphics due the heavy layer of silk screening as I was afraid it would be like quilting into a thick rubber ball. Polyester batting was used because of the weight from the jersey fabric of the t-shirts.

One last picture... the happy customer with his Harley quilt on his Harley!