Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Joy of Mitered Stripe Borders, With a Little Help From Donna Lynn Thomas

My Jingle BOM project is starting to come together, FINALLY!  I dragged the cutting and seaming of these striped borders for weeks, and then procrastinated actually attaching them to the center applique medallion of this quilt because I had to be in the right frame of mind for it.  Actually, I just had to be fully awake and "sharp" for it, because I didn't have any more of the border fabrics I was using and I did NOT want to spend hours carefully cutting those stripes in single layer..  No math errors, and no cutting errors!  It wasn't brain surgery, but it wasn't "mindless sewing," either.  I'm glad I waited until I was awake, fully caffeinated, and had plenty of time so I wouldn't be rushing.  

Inner Borders Attached and Mitered!  Woo Hoo!
I think this is only the second time I've mitered corners on a border before, and I've never done it before where I was matching stripes at the miter.  I referred to one of my favorite reference books by Donna Lynn Thomas, Quiltmaking Essentials 2: Settings and Borders, Backings and Bindings, and just followed Donna's clear instructions step by step, and those borders came out pretty near perfect!




I have Donna's companion book to this one, too (Quiltmaking Essentials 1: Cutting and Piecing Skills) and I recommend that one, too.  What I like about these two books is that they are thin, quick reads initially, but packed full of useful information at a very low price point.  There are no projects in either book, but these two books are like the instruction manual that tell you everything you need to know for any pattern you got from a magazine or dreamed up in your head.  The information on how and why to create a pressing plan in the first book goes way beyond the old adage of "press to the dark side" and made a huge difference for me between perfect points and points blunted or chopped at the seam -- who knew?  But I digress.

It Fits!
After all of that waffling back and forth, hemming and hawing, I really do like these borders.  The green herringbone was a random quarter yard piece in my stash that I don't remember ever buying, and all of that careful cutting along the border stripe paid off because it looks exactly like I wanted it to look -- like an ornate picture frame and the green fabric is like the mat.  Best of all, the center medallion with borders attached is actually the size it needs to be to connect to the pieced diagonal set block borders that I spent, oh, just a few years on...  
Yes!
That corner is square -- it looks funny because I took the picture at an angle when I was pressing the border on my ironing board.  I was so worried about the stripes not meeting up perfectly at the miter!

I Love My Borders!
Now I can't imagine this quilt any other way than with my happy little border stripes around the center medallion.

Alright, I don't think you need to see pictures of all four corners, do you?  But there are a couple of other detours I'm contemplating.  

I Was SO PLEASED With This Fussy-Cut Tree...
For instance, when I pieced this particular block 5 years ago, I worked so hard with my fussy-cutting and wanting all the points to be perfect, and did not realize until the block was finished that because of the diagonal setting, my little Christmas tree in the center of the block is leaning like the Tower of Pisa:
Do I Fix That Crooked Christmas Tree?
So...  Do I fix that or leave it alone?  The thing is, I'm NOT willing to take the block apart, remake a new one from scratch, or even remove it from the setting triangles.  Since the block is nicely starched and crisply pressed, I think I'd carefully remove the center patch with the crooked tree, glue-baste a new piece of fabric behind the hole, and then reverse applique it in place.  

Should I Embroider Label Info On the Front of This Quilt?
Also, as I was looking at this up on the design wall, I kept seeing embroidered dates in that birdie-wreath block in the center of the bottom border.  So I'm thinking of embroidering 2013-2019 in the center of that block, like you see in some of the old Baltimore album quilts.  My husband the quilt expert (not!) doesn't like that idea.  He doesn't understand why I would put that on the front instead of just putting the dates on the label on the back of the quilt, but it's kind of like when they put a date on the cornerstone of a building.  It adds historical interest.  Also, it answers that question people always ask "Oh my gosh you MADE THIS?!!  How long did it TAKE?!!!"  And perhaps when people see that it took me 6 years to finish this quilt, they won't even ask the follow up question "Will you make one for ME?!"  Hah!

This quilt is destined for a wall in my family room where I'm planning to display it throughout Advent and Christmas each year.  No one is ever going to be looking at the label on the back of this quilt.  

My Son, Anders, Posing With His Roman Square Blocks in 2013
And someday my son Anders gets this quilt, because he was hanging out with me in my sewing room a lot back when I first made the blocks in 2013, and making a quilt of his own.  We watched Tom & Jerry cartoons and Fraser reruns, and I loved listening to him laugh.  It's hard to believe that was six whole years ago until I look at the pictures and see how small he was back then.  Now he's almost 16 years old, and he is towering over me at about 5'10' or 5'11"!  

Six Years Later...  Anders' High School Orchestra Concert
Ah, my sweet little boy is turning into a handsome young man, and these abandoned blocks are finally turning into a quilt!  Anders also gets this Jingle quilt someday because he has been relentlessly nagging me to finish it all these years -- but for now, it's mine!

I had planned to finish assembling this quilt top with the remaining borders today, but I was so tired when I got home from church that I decided to just lay down for a nap -- and ended up sleeping most of the day!  Very disorienting when I woke up and it was already getting dark outside, but my body must have needed the rest.  Well, there's always tomorrow for borders and things...  And by "things," I mean embroidering dates and fixing crooked Christmas trees.  Or not.  What do you think?  I'm still undecided.

I'm linking up with:

19 comments:

Ramona said...

Your mitered border is GORGEOUS! It is perfect for the medallion and the surrounding blocks. I would add the dates in the lower block, but I think I would leave the tree as is. It adds a little whimsy to your quilt. It's almost a finished top! Wooohooo!!

Gretchen Weaver said...

BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! The corners look lovely! You've done an excellent job. I think the idea of changing the Christmas tree is a good one if that is what you want to do. I don't think it would bother me. I do like the idea of the embroidered dates on the center of the other block. Have a wonderful stitching week!

Beth@IHaveANotion.com said...

I think I am with your husband on the dates... while significant, they are for you, (and maybe your son). If you think the block needs something, what about a heart? It can signify many things all at once. How much you like the quilt (the reason it got finished), that you appreciate the time with the son, your love of the season... on and on! It can be a solid fabric like the birds or a fussy cut...one. Glad to see that you stuck with the frame. It really sells the center!

Frog Quilter said...

First your quilt is beautiful. And second I vote to leave the tree the way it is. It shows character and makes the quilt uniquely yours. Hugs.

Marty Stanchi said...

Maybe embroider just your initials?

chrisknits said...

If the tree bothers you, change it. It's just the one square. If you want the date on the front, do it! It will be like a badge of honor. In honor of procrastination or perseverance is all in the eye of the beholder. LOL!! I think it is spectacular however you finish it.

The Colorful Fabriholic said...

Lovely! Congratulations on your beautiful mitered stripe borders! Maybe you could embroider just your initials in the birdie-wreath block and save the date info for the actual label on the back. The label documents the quilt for posterity; works of art are usually signed by the artist somewhere on the front.

CreationsbyPaulaMu said...

I love this project and have followed your progress for awhile now, through your trials and errors, perservence and diligence, it is just stunning! The borders add that perfect frame and your mitered corners came out perfect! Good thing to wait until you were alert! As for the tree . . . Let it be part of the story and history of the work of art. I know it will drive you crazy, but that craziness will conjure up awesome memories! As for the date, put it on the front! I feel it would work well with your birds and like you said, no one will see the back tag! Happy sewing . . .

Jenny K Lyon said...

Oh what beautiful work! Those miters are dead on perfect. Wow. And soooo pretty!

Katie said...

Congrats on that perfect border! Is there an outer border on the quilt as well?

The tree would bother me too. But I'm a bit more lax about these things than I used to be. Must be age. Sigh. ;-)

Chris said...

That quilt is so beautiful!! I'm in awe. You'll love it forever, and then Anders will. I love the whole story!

Vivian said...

I love border prints for just this reason -- they make the best looking mitered borders! That fabric you used just finishes this album sampler perfectly! When you mentioned putting the dates in the wreath I was like "oooh, yeah!" but I can also see your husband's point. Can you split the difference? Just put the finish year there, that's also perfectly in line with what was done on album quilts. Yeah, you'll then still have to make the "how long?" explanation for the casual lookers but quilters will still look for the detailed stuff on the label on the back (or you'll put that info on the quilt card when you hang this in a show -- hint, hint). That border print would also have made a great One-Fabric quilt.

Chris said...

From experience I k now it is finicky and challenging to miter those stripy corners and you have done a magnificent job. It looks like a fancy dancy picture frame.

Julie said...

Your mitered border is amazing! I have been quilting for 30 years and rarely do a mitered corner. Great job and the whole quilt is so amazing. I like your embroidered date idea. I am currently getting more quilt tops ready for machine quilting and some of them are at least 15 years old! Time to get them done.

Louise said...

You have every right to be proud of those borders. They are perfect! I love the idea of embroidering the dates right onto the front, too :)

Jennifer said...

I know you asked for opinions on these decisions, I have found that going with my own gut works best for me. Your quilt is gorgeous and your borders look like frames at the art museum! So far, your choices have been spot on! I vote for your thoughts! Both on the name/date on the front and for whatever you decide about the tree! What a beautiful heirloom!

dq said...

It is stunningly beautiful, and your mitered corners are perfect! I will be receiving a round robin quilt soon where I will have to fussy cut and miter corners on the border. I hope mine looks as good as yours when I'm done.

MissPat said...

Your mitered corners are wonderful and the framing of the medallion really makes this piece. I would leave the tilted tree (most people will never notice it unless you point it out) and I would add the dates to the wreath block. It's your quilt after all.
Pat

Lynette said...

Rebecca, this is AMAZING!!!! That framing fabric for the center is exquisitely beautiful - makes the entire quilt sing. You did a wonderful job with the mitering, too. I'm in awe of the result. I really wouldn't worry at all about the tree. :)

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