Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Backing Seamed, Borders In Progress, and a Mismatched Pattern Lament

First of all, I want to thank those of you who reached out to me with words of encouragement, commiseration, empathy, and scripture after my last dispirited post.  As burdensome as this forced isolation is, it would be so much worse without technology and the Internet as a lifeline of connection.  I love all of you so much!

Spirit Song Quilt Top on Wall, Backing Fabric on Ironing Board
Okay, so I only actually sewed ONE seam on Monday, but at least it's something that is crossed off the list now, right?  It took me over an hour to clear off everything from my cutting table, finding homes for everything rather than just shifting piles from one surface to another.  Then I had to change my needle, wind a bobbin, thread the machine with matching thread, tear my fabric edges along the grain line, snip and tear at the center point, press both lengths of fabric, pin them together, sew the seam, and then press the seam open.  Whew!!  Just TYPING all of that is exhausting!  ;-)

I Sewed a Seam Yesterday!
You who know be best will understand that it PAINS ME to post this photo on the Internet, flaunting the mismatched pattern repeat for all the world to see.  Am I doing this as an exercise in humility, or as an act of self-flagellation?  Either way, it had to be done -- I have nothing else to show for myself, and no one wants to read a rambling blog post without any pictures!

See? I AM Perfectly Capable of Pattern Matching!
I know the lighting is awful in that photo, but there is a vertical seam running straight down the center of the photo that you can only see because the seam allowance creates a white "stripe" where the dark table doesn't show through.  I would have loved to be able to match the pattern like that on my quilt backing, even though I would have had to purchase additional fabric and even though it would have taken me more time.  Note to quilting fabric manufacturers: I love your beautiful fabrics, but I wish you guys were better about ensuring that large scale repeats could be matched just within the selvages, and I wish you published the horizontal and vertical repeats for your prints the way home dec fabric manufacturers do.  The drapery fabric shown above is a 54" wide drapery weight linen from Robert Allen (Eleria pattern in Graphite, but this project was 7 years ago so the fabric may be discontinued by now).  The large scale print has a horizontal repeat of 54" (the full fabric width) and a 27 3/4" vertical repeat that matches up approximately 1/2" to 3/4" inside the selvages, and that's typical for home dec fabrics marketed for interior design use.  So, because the repeat information is on the memo samples, web site, and every fabric bolt, you (or your interior designer/workroom) can easily calculate how much additional yardage needs to be purchased in order to match up every seam perfectly like the one in the photo above.  

Yes, There Are Two vertical Seams in This Window Treatment

Even with the variety of extra-wide quilt backing fabrics that we have today, I still find myself frequently falling in love with a 44" wide fabric print for a quilt backing.  

In Flight, color Indigo, from Free Spirit Fabrics
With this particular fabric (pattern "In Flight," color Indigo, from Murmur collection by Valori Wells for Free Spirit Fabrics, available from various etsy sellers here), I believe I'd have lost a good 10-12" of fabric width if I'd brought that seam all the way in to where the patterns would match, and of course I would have needed additional yardage to do that, too, which I did not remember when purchasing the fabric...  It might have been possible for me to achieve a pattern match with this fabric if I'd purchased additional yardage, but the entire state of North Carolina is under lockdown now due to COVID-19 and our governor and health officials do not understand that stores that sell fabric are essential businesses supporting the mental health of quilters!  And so, we make do.  I know; it's just the backing, but for the hundreds of hours that go into designing and crafting a quilt, I really would like to be able to match my patterns on my backing seams!  So: 


NOTE TO SELF FOR NEXT TIME: When considering a large scale print backing fabric, VERIFY & MEASURE PATTERN REPEAT AT THE QUILT SHOP and increase yardage to accommodate pattern matching!


That's a note to quilt shops as well, by the way.  If shop associates who are working at your cutting table ask customers what their intended use is for large scale patterned fabric and offer to help calculate how much extra would be needed to match the pattern repeat for a quilt backing, it's a win-win.  Happy customer with invisible pattern matched seam on the back of his or her quilt, and happy shop that is selling more fabric!  Whatever -- it's done, it's nice and flat and square, measuring 94" x 87" so it's plenty big enough for my Spirit Song quilt top, and it's ready to load on my longarm frame.  

And so I moved on to my borders.  The 1" FW (finished width) inner border for this quilt is from the same fabric collection (Dots in Blue, Murmur Collection by Valori Wells for Free Spirit Fabrics, available from Etsy sellers here).  

Dots in Blue, Free Spirit Fabrics
As you can see, this fabric has dots arranged in a subtle stripe pattern that runs parallel to the selvages.  I briefly considered cutting my borders on the cross grain to display the striped effect, but decided that my quilt top had enough going on already.  And so, to avoid that blue stripe from showing up randomly in one or two borders but not in all of them, I cut the lengthwise borders one at a time, single layer, avoiding the area where the dots are spaced farther apart.  

1.5 Inch CW Blue Borders and 5 Inch CW Floral Borders
The wider outer border fabric went faster, since I was able to cut those strips with the fabric folded and let the blossoms land wherever they wanted.  That's another one from Free Spirit Fabrics, by the way -- they seem to be my current favorite quilt fabric company!

Painted Daisy in Magenta, Kaffe Fassett Collective for Free Spirit Fabrics
In case you're as smitten with this fabric as I am, I should warn you that it's an older, non-reorderable pattern.  However, as of this writing there are some Etsy sellers who still have some Painted Daisy fabric here.  

First Border Pinned, Ready to Stitch!
So far I've attached two of the skinny blue borders to the long sides of my quilt.  Hopefully today I will get ALL of the remaining borders sewn to the quilt top, and maybe even get Spirit Song loaded on the longarm frame!  

SEW...  Time to revisit last week's sewing goals:

Last Week's To-Do List for March 25-31


  1. Procure batting for my Spirit Song quilt
  2. Add borders to Spirit Song to complete quilt top.
  3. Piece Spirit Song backing
  4. Make Spirit Song binding and set aside
  5. Load SOMETHING on my frame -- either a practice piece, a charity top, or the Spirit Song quilt -- and START QUILTING!

Well, I accomplished two out of five and the third is in progress.  Looking at that list again today, I realize that I should have put down "Clean up studio, clear off cutting table" on the list as well, because that needed to be done before I could accurately measure, cut, or pin large pieces of fabric and I always underestimate how long those "housekeeping" tasks will take.  Getting my workspace organized and set up for what I want to do next should definitely count towards productivity, don't you think?  With that in mind, here's what I hope to accomplish in the studio this week:

Tuesday's To-Do List (on Wednesday!) for April 1-7

  1. Attach remaining borders to Spirit Song to complete quilt top
  2. Set up longarm machine for quilting: Clean and oil machine, new size 3.5 needle, thread with monofilament in needle and either So Fine or Bottom Line in the bobbin.  Test tension and do some "warmup practice stitching" 
  3. Load Spirit Song on longarm frame
  4. Begin SID (Stitch In the Ditch) quilting with monofilament thread
And of course, my One Monthly Goal for April is to get Spirit Song completely quilted!  If I could have it labeled and bound by the end of the month, too, that would just be the icing on the cake.  Wish me luck!

I'm linking today's post with:


·       One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts: Elm Street Quilts  
·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon
·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us
·       Let’s Do Some Ruler Work at The Quilt Yarn
·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
·       Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  
(I'm not actually linking up with the Ruler Work linky today, just visiting the other links since I didn't quite get to any ruler quilting yet.  But I'll be visiting the other link partiers for inspiration, and hope to link up some ruler quilting later this week since Karen's link party runs for a full week).

Stay home, stay safe, and HAPPY STITCHING!

9 comments:

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

glad to see you are maybe feeling a little bit better? I hope so - it will take awhile for us all to get used to this new normal.

Susan said...

Stressing over a pattern match for the backing is just too much for me. It is what it is - I'd move on. Unless of course, this quilt is for a big name show, then I might consider it!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! Look at you, sharing your April OMG project already. I guess I should figure out something for myself, huh?! I think you did a great job on your last week's to-do list, Here's to another productive week ahead. Thanks for linking up this week. ~smile~ Roseanne

Lynette said...

I totally get it about wanting to match the seam for a large print!! Last year I just couldn't bring myself to seam it offset for something, and Scott so easily popped up with a solution - "why don't you just put a strip of a plain complimentary color between the two sides?" I was so focused on not having enough fabric to match the seam, that I never even began to think of that on my own. Maybe it wouldn't work for what you're wanting on this, though.

piecefulwendy said...

Well, the idea of figuring extra yardage to match things up makes my brain hurt, but I sure enjoyed reading this post. Glad you are back to sewing and pondering that. That blue dot fabric and the painted daisy fabric - so pretty!

Shar said...

I want to make a comment here about directional fabrics. The blue inner border has a subtle directional feel. And you were careful to cut straight. Quilt judges are trained to look at these kinds of things and this is on an international basis. So be aware of that when choosing borders. Take the time to match and straighten - particularly if you plan to exhibit your quilt.

Frédérique said...

Great advice about checking the large prints, it's something I would not notice. I have some large prints in my stash, but I don't really know how to use them. They are from Tahiti, so they are very precious to me, and cutting them is just... difficult ;)

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

When I feel that I'm not checking off enough things on my to do list, I add the things I am doing and check those off! It really helps me feel better. Hope you're feeling better soon too. Love your quilt. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

Patty said...

Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and good luck with your project.

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