Monday, July 24, 2017

Bear Paw Progress: Mitered Borders

Hello, cyberworld -- did you miss me?  I left my teenagers home with my husband and snuck off to the mountains for Music Week sleepaway camp with other grownups.  After a week of worship, unplugging from technology and singing my heart out, I feel so refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way!  And that includes mitered quilt borders:  

Bear Paw Progress: Mitered Borders
I used my main sewbaby 'Nina (my Bernina 750QEE) to sew the white inner borders to my quilt top, but then I dropped that machine off at at my Bernina dealer for her annual Well Baby visit while I was out of town.  When I got back, I had to enlist Bette (my 1934 Singer Featherweight 221) to sew the mitered borders onto my bear paw quilt. 

Attaching Second Border
The Featherweight is ideal for mitered corners anyway, since she reverses direction immediately and reliably when I flick that switch.  My experience with computerized machine models has been that they sometimes -- but not always -- will take an addition forward stitch before reversing, which is extremely annoying when mitering or sewing Y-seams or inset seams that need to be stitched right up to -- but not THROUGH -- the adjacent seam line.

Back Stitching Just to the Line Marking 1/4" from the Edge of the Quilt Top
One of my main purposes in writing this blog is to create a permanent, searchable record of my project notes.  I don't trust myself to remember what worked and what didn't the next time I want to do a mitered border, and I can never find the handwritten notes I used to scribble on whatever scrap of paper was handy at the time.  So, next time I want to put a mitered border on a quilt and can't remember how to do it, I'll be referring back to this post.

My border strips are precut to their exact length, the length of the quilt top edge (measured through the CENTER of the quilt top) + the finished width of the border.  I've seen a lot of instructions for mitered borders where they have you cut the border strips extra long and trim the excess after stitching the miters, but I think that's a recipe for a wavy border disaster.  I've marked the border strips and the quilt top corners 1/4" in, where the miter seam begins.

End of First Border Strip Pinned Out of the Way; Pinning Second Border Strip for Stitching
All four border strips are sewn to the quilt top before any pressing is done, simply folding the previously stitched border strip out of the way as I pin the next strip in place.  I have carefully matched the center of each strip to the center of the quilt top, as well as the marks indicating where the side seams end and the miters begin at every corner.

Stitching Begins at Chalk Line and Pin Marking 1/4" from Edge of Quilt Top
Once all four borders were sewn to the quilt top, I folded each corner diagonally with the quilt top WST (Wrong Sides Together) and used the 45 degree angle line on my ruler to draw the miter seamline.  I'm using a Frixxion pen for this, so the marks will disappear when I press the seam after stitching. 

Note that these markings are all on the WRONG SIDE of my quilt -- I do not use Frixxion pens to mark anything on the right side because sometimes the mark is still visible as a white "ghost" line after ironing.  I have also heard of the lines reappearing when the finished quilt is exposed to cold temperatures, and the manufacturer of these pens has told us that chemicals remain in the fabric even after the marks disappear.  All of my quilts get washed upon completion so I'm not terribly worried about Frixxion pen chemicals eating through my mitered corner seams in 50 years, but that is a possibility.  

45 Degree Angle Line from Side Stitching to Corner of Border Strips

Perfect 45 Degree Angle Line Should Go from End of Side Stitching Right to Strip Corner

Pinned In Place and Ready to Stitch

Don't cut off those triangles yet!  Stitch the seam first, open it up and finger press it to check that the miter is perfect.  Trim away 1/4" from the seam line only after you're happy with the corner miter.

Stitching the Miter Along the Drawn Seam Line
I had my 'Nina 750 back by the time I was sewing the miters.

View from the Back
Once I trimmed the excess fabric from the miter seam allowances, I pressed the corner seams open from the back side of the quilt top.  Finally, once all of the corners were done, I pressed all of the border seams away from the center of the quilt top.  I'm really pleased with the way this border turned out.

I Love This Corner!
Yes, I know I stretched that corner a little when I pressed it open.  I'll fix that before I add the next border, but don't the stripes look NIFTY coming together in that mitered corner?!  Happy, happy, joy JOY!!  The butted white inner border was much faster to sew and not worth mitering, in my opinion, and mine is the only opinion that matters since this is my quilt.  ;-)  There is probably a rule somewhere that says that if one border is mitered on a quilt, ALL the borders should be mitered, but I make my own rules...

This Border Makes Me HAPPY!!!!!
So now I want to add a final wide outer border in solid white, but unfortunately I goofed AGAIN when I ordered more Kona Snow border fabric.  I forgot that the quilt top gets bigger after each successive border is attached (duh!) so I do not have a long enough piece of continuous yardage to cut those outer border strips without having to piece them.  Grrr...  When will I learn that I always, ALWAYS need more fabric than I think I do?!  It's not like I'll never find a use for any leftover solid white fabric or anything...  

Another 3 yards of Kona Snow are on order and will show up in my mailbox by the end of the week.  In the meanwhile, now that I've got my 'Nina back from the shop, it's time to finish up that class sample with some walking foot quilting.

Happy Monday and Happy Stitching, everyone!

I'm linking up with:
·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I bet you will love to be done with this quilt!! yes the strip border looks great

Alison V. said...

This is sooooo gorgeous! I love your step-by-step process for mitered borders. I haven't done a lot of mitered borders BUT a stripey border like yours definitely deserves special treatment!

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I DID miss ya! What a wonderfully rejuvenating week!! Soooo happy for you.

straythreads said...

love the stars and nicely done on the miter!!!

jann said...

What a great border! I've bookmarked this page so I can refer back to your very clear photos and instructions. Hopefully, it will also serve to get me to finish my 3/4 done bear claw. Yours is beautiful!

Shar said...

When I need a mitered corner on multiple borders, I often sew all the borders together so I'm treating it as only one border. Then I attach the whole thing to the quilt like you do and then miter corners. I think there is less stretching of the bias parts and less chance for missing the angle since the wider width is easier to work with. And all the border joinings match.

Julie said...

I keep looking at how you've used the fabrics and colors in this quilt, and it's just so fun how the wild border pulls it all together. It has so much energy, but the white background keeps it grounded. I have the same or a similar hand dyed fabric as in your border, and am curious to see what fabrics in my stash it might work with now.

Mitered corners with stripes are a smashing success, but mine have never matched up like yours do. I realized finally it's because this quilt is square, and added another little fact to my notebook. Thank you for all the inspiration today, and keep it coming. It's good stuff!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Julie! Although I did do some cheating to get the corners to align that way. I didn’t just cut my striped batik and use it as-is; I pieced it with other stripey batik and hand marbled fabric scraps that I had used in my quilt top to make it coordinate better, and that allowed me control over which color section landed on each corner. The piecing seams in the border disappear into the stripe, yet this way you can get the corner exactly the way you want it even with a rectangular quilt—you would just start with what you want a the corners and then piece in whatever between them you need to make your borders long enough. Hope that makes sense!

em's scrapbag said...

Your mitered border looks great! Thanks for sharing your process.

Jill said...

Thanks, Julie, for mentioning the reverse stitch in the different sewing machines. I have been thinking that I was doing something wrong when I reversed stitched on my computerized Bernina 430. A kindly suggestion for your faithful FW is the use of a thread stand made for FWs. It makes for smoothier thread flow from the modern spools vs the vintage thread spools of yesteryear. I purchased mine online.

Kate said...

Congrats on those perfect mitered corners. I love those rainbow stripes you used for the border.

Churn Dash said...

I'm trying to work out how you got all four corners to match - is the fabric a batik?

I remember Jinny Beyer saying that the border ought to be planned first. I seem to remember she adjusts her borders from the centre so that the corners match.

Your corners look perfect, and I love the quilt.