I have a friend who does lovely embroidered panels. When we got together for a week last year, she had 22 redwork panels that she wanted made into a quilt. I have made her art into quilts in the past (see Sunbonnet Sue below), so
when she asked for another quilt, I thought I would convince her that she didn’t need yet another quilt…..
Instead of another quilt… and because I was being
lazy…and because she is a talented scrap booker…I thought I talked her into making scrap book pages with her 22 redwork panels. We worked out complementary framing and I sent the fabric and panels home with her. So went 2011’s visit.
But…along came 2012 and another get together with my friend, her (now) 35 redwork panels, no intention of scrap booking them, and another request for a quilt! This time, I said yes and began designing.
As with any design, the first determination is size of panel. A uniform 9 inch square appeared to be a good choice for utilizing all 35 panels. By setting the
blocks in rows of 5 blocks by 7 blocks, a generous twin sized quilt could be constructed utilizing a 3 inch sash. An old fashioned 9 patch pattern for the sash was chosen to complement the blocks.
When the center was completed, I decided to do a four part border to finish the quilt. Although I could have put additional nine patches in the corners of the border, I decided that a mitred corner would be more in keeping with the vintage feel of the quilt.
When you are doing multi-level borders with mitred corners, the best approach is to sew all the borders to each other prior to sewing the entire units onto the body of the quilt. It is important to remember to allow enough excess on each border to form the mitre. The net result is four staggered strip sets…one for each border…the outside of which measures 2-3 inches in excess of the finished quilt.
The quilt was measured for border application. In this case, the block piecing was symmetrical enough that the final measurement was “as advertised” at 63 1/2 inches (five 9 inch blocks and six 3 inch sashes plus seam allowance) by 87 1/2 inches (seven blocks by 8 sashes). So, I determined that the staggered border strip sets should measure 66 inches by 86 inches for the two shorter strips and 84 inches by 112 for the two longer strip sets. The inner edge of each border should be precisely measured to the desired length (63 1/2 and 87 1/2) and marked on each end, the middle and each quarter section. The quilt top should be marked at middle and quarter as well. Match up the marks and PIN. You may have to ease the seam at this point, but it is important that they are the same length on each side. This keeps the quilt square and prevents “wavy” borders. Sew the border strip sets onto body of the quilt, butting the perpendicular sides together with no space between. This is done by sewing all but the last 1/4 inch of the seam and using that mark to start the seam on the adjoining border at it’s 1/4 inch mark…there should be no space left between the two borders and they should form a 90 degree angle where joined.
I have found that the easiest way to form a perfect border angle is to fold the entire quilt to 45 degrees at the corner. The outside edges of the adjoining borders are then aligned and the stripes matched. A 45 degree ruler is used and a sewing line marked on the inside of the top border which is then trimmed.
When the top border is trimmed within 1/2 inch of the marked sewing line, it becomes easier to align the matching stripes. This step is crucial to matching the stripes into the mitre along the sewn corner seam. Once you have matched the stripes, be sure to secure the aligned borders with multiple pins prior to sewing.
Begin your corner seam at the point where the borders have been butted together and sewn onto the center of the quilt. By folding back the side seams, you should be able to see the stitching where the two borders butt up against each other. This is the point at which you place your needle. Start your seam by tacking down your thread with two or three stitches in the same space before you begin sewing along the marked angle toward the outer edge of the border. Mitring corners takes some practice, but the result is worth the time spent; especially with quilts requiring a vintage look. I have pieced a back with a sewn-in label and the quilt is ready to be mounted on my Gammill. When I have completed the machine quilting, I probably will scallop the outer border to give the quilt a more feminine look.
My friend now informs me that she has more completed panels….maybe there will be enough fabric left to make pillows. More to follow…though this is the last planned redwork panel quilt.