Importance of Quilt Backing Size

I have touched on this before, but I thought I would show more clearly how/why this can be an issue if the backing for your quilt is not larger than the top. Most quilters will request anywhere from 3-6 inches on EACH side of extra fabric. Here is why:

The extra fabric on the top and bottom of the backing are used to pin the material to the canvas rolled at each end of the longarm machine, ‘right’ side facing downward. After both ends are pinned to the canvas, the quilter rolls the fabric under so the top edge of the backing is within the quilting space. Then the quilter lays the batting on top of the backing, and lays the quilt top over the batting. There’s your quilt sandwich.

If the top of the quilt is the same size as the backing, your quilt will end up short, because the backing is pinned to the canvas, the backing is now about an inch shorter than the top.

The sides need extra material so we can ensure all the wrinkles (not everyone irons their backing material…) are pulled out and that when the quilter moves from one side to the other, that they don’t push or pull the fabric and create folds on the back. This is most likely to happen at the edges.

The way a quilter can get around that issue is to drive the longarm quilting machine with one hand and hold the edge of the material taught with the other, but this can affect the quilting quality.

So please, my quilt making friends, please leave extra material on the sides and ends of your quilt for the quilter of your choice. You will make her (or him) happy and you will end up with better results. Happy quilting!

Quilts of Valor Flag Quilt

Participating in the QOV (Quilts of Valor) program gives me pleasure. I know that I am an integral part of a chain of people that gives beauty, comfort and warmth to someone in need. Someone that is or has served in the military. No matter your political views or feelings about the military deployments, giving something from your heart to someone who risked their life and way of life to preserve yours.

This quilt was sent to me from a few ladies in Dallas and I was eager to get started. I decided to quilt it in a style known as Cool Water. It is a great look for quilts with water, but since this was a flag blowing in the wind, it worked just as well.

I used varietaged blue thread on the backside in the blue areas and a light blue thread on the front. Over the flag area of the quilt I used variegated red, white and blue thread on front and back. I couldn’t imagine using any other quilt.

I hope the soldier fortunate enough to receive this quilt feels the love that was put into it from the creators and quilter. Happy quilting my friends!

My Patriot Child and Me

Amy’s class had an assignment related to 9/11/01, each student being responsible for writing a poem. At the same time I had an appointment in Dallas, requiring me to drive the freeway. On my way south I noticed one of the huge flags I often see flying above car dealerships – they seem so disproportionately large I can’t help but notice them. They way those majestic symbols are carried by the breeze, appearing to vacillate in slow motion, rippling beautifully as if they have nothing else to do but appease my gaze.

So I thought I would post on these two intertwined topics. Amy’s poem amazed me and I told her I’d post it, and holding true to a mother’s word here is my 10 year old budding poet’s first piece:

“The Twin Tower’s stood tall and straight / When Osama Bin Laden crashed one with hate. While everyone stood and stared / At 10:28 it collapsed with despair. / Then when he crashed all the passengers were dying / Families just started sobbing and crying. / When he crashed the other Twin Tower / The day just kept getting more and more sour. / Then a few hours later when the second one collapsed / They were getting suspicious that this was an attack perhaps.”

By: Amy Davis

Her words fill me with great sadness from the memories, and great pride in my country. The view I had that day of the flags flying high, after our day of national mourning made me feel very strongly how great it is to be an American.

Coincidentally (or maybe not?) one of my Facebook friends posted an article from the Smithsonian’s website a day or so later, which I very much enjoyed reading. I’ve posted the link HERE for anyone who might enjoy reading up on a little history of our star spangled banner.

And I nearly forgot to include this picture of the front and back of a QOV quilt I just received. This quilt was made for a veteran and will be given through the Quilts of Valor program once I finish quilting it. 🙂

Happy day of freedom my friends!

Preparing the Binding and Binding Your Quilt

There are a number of ways to finish a quilt = binding tape, knife edge, fold over from front to back (or vice versa) or an applied binding. Binding tapes were used in the first half of the 19th century, often referred to as Trenton Tape, the primary manufacturer. These selvage tapes are coming back around again. Knife edge is what you see on a decorative pillow, for example, when the item was either turned inside out when the edges were sewn together, or the edges were turned into each other and sewn down from the outside. Fold over bindings incur the use of excess top or usually backing material, that is folded over the opposite side of the quilt and stitched down. From those I have seen, the fold over binding is usually fluffier, less tight than an applied or tape binding.

The binding I’m detailing here is a double-fold applied binding, machine stitched front and back with mitered corners. It’s much easier than you might think, and takes MUCH less time (and finger blisters) than hand stitching. But if you prefer to finish the binding by hand, I will address that as well.


1. Picking binding fabric – you can either choose a fabric that complements the quilt and draws out certain colors from the quilt top, use the same fabric as the backing or use the same color or fabric as the outer border on the top. I tend to use the same or similar color fabric on the back as I use for the outer border on the top, so I usually use my extra backing fabric as my binding fabric. This makes thread choice easier, as you can use same color top and bobbin to ensure you hide your seam as best you can.

2. How much binding do you need? Well, start with your quilt circumference. Add in 4″ for each seam (that depends on the length of your strips) and another 3″ or so for each corner of your quilt. So in the case of using my extra fabric from the backing, if my quilt was square, I’d presume to need 5 strips of the length of that backing to make my binding.  That’s the kind of math I like! 

You can see my extra binding bin just awaiting use in some scrappy quilt.



3. Cut your binding strips Cut strips of the fabric you’ve chosen. I use 2 1/4″ wide strips, but some quilters prefer a 2 1/2″ binding. If you are uncertain, start with 2 1/2″ and if you find you don’t need that much fabric to get a nice closure around your sides just go with less the next time around.

You don’t have to use bias strips (diagonal across your fabric). I always hated how that left my material scraps wonky.



4. Sew your binding strips – The strips need to be sewn at a diagonal to each other, so there won’t be any thick seams to sew through upon attaching the binding to your quilt. This is easier with patterned fabric versus solids that are reversible. Trust me on this one. 

Place two strip ends at a 90 degree angle to one another, right side together and sew at a diagonal.

When opened this should create a continuous strip.

Sew all your ends together to create one long strip.

Ensure your seams are all to one side of the fabric, and then trim the excess triangular pieces from the seamed ends to leave just your 1/4″ seam allowance.






5. I hate ironing. Yep, I’ve said it before, and it’s true. But its the one part of my job I don’t love, and it’s necessary, so let’s just get on with it.

The binding must be folded over and ironed along the entire length.

When you come to the diagonal seams, press them open and continue along your strip until the entirety is folded over and ironed in place.

Your binding is now complete and ready to be attached to your quilt.


A. Attaching the binding to your quilt – if you have decided you will hand stitch the back of the binding, ensure you attach the binding by machine to THE FRONT of the quilt. Otherwise, we will first attach the binding to THE BACK SIDE of the quilt.

Leave yourself about a foot of binding above where you begin to attach it to the quilt.

Starting more than halfway down one side of the quilt, align the open edge of the binding to the edge of the quilt and sew down the length of your quilt.









B. Corners – Don’t be afraid, this is really easy and they will come out square.

Sew up to 1/4″ from the bottom edge in the direction you have been sewing. 

You’ll know where that is because the thread from sewing the binding on the back will be your guide!

Lift your needle and move the quilt to the side a bit.

Pull the binding up to create a fold that is triangular, and when you bring the binding back down it is squared on top.

Move your corner back under your sewing machine and lower your needle in the corner 1/4″ in from the corner.

Begin to sew in the direction perpendicular to the previous seam. 

Continue down the length of the quilt until you reach the next corner and repeat.



C. Finishing the binding ends – you could very easily sew down one end of the binding and sew the remaining end over it, but it can leave a rough edge if you don’t fold the end under, and an unsightly bump if you do. Instead, try this method: once you round your final corner, stop sewing the binding to the quilt when you have about 2 feet between that spot and your starting point.

Cut your thread and lay the part of the quilt flat on the table where the binding is not sewn.

Flatten the binding from the start onto the quilt, and lay the end of the binding over it, so they are on top of one another.

Take the very end of the binding, open it up and lay it upon the overlap of the two bindings, about 1/4″ in from where the beginning of the binding starts.

Give a 1/4″ seam allowance on the other side of the end of the binding and cut it. This will give an overlap of about 2 3/4″ (if you’re using 2 1/4″ binding).

Open each binding end and place them right sides together, ensuring neither side is twisted.

Turn one end so they are perpendicular and sew on the diagonal, just as you did in preparing the binding strip.

Before trimming the inside of your seam, ensure your binding is of correct length and with no twists – lay it flat on the quilt and ensure there are no puckers in the quilt and no excess binding. If either of those occur, pull out your seams and either loosen or tighten by sewing just inside or outside your previous seam.

You can finger press (wet your fingers and press down the seam allowance to either side) the seam and fold it over to match the ironed binding.



D. Finish the first side by placing the quilt and binding back under your needle, ensuring to overlap from where you left off just a bit, and sew the rest of the binding to the quilt, overlapping your seam at the end as well, just to ensure it is secure.


If you have the time and patience, you could slip stitch by hand, maybe while you are watching the news or a movie with family on the couch. If you don’t, follow along!

1. Turn your quilt so the front side is up.  Starting on any side of the quilt, towards the top of that length, fold the binding over towards the front of your quilt and put your needle down through the layers. 

Sew carefully so you keep your seam as close to the edge of the binding as possible, without missing the binding. If you do miss it or are unsure, reverse your stitch and stitch over that area again.

2. Corners – when you get to a corner, stop about 1-2″ before you get there. 

Take the binding material from the next length and fold it up, which will give you a mitered corner.

Slowly proceed with your machine to ensure you keep the binding in place as you approach the corner point.

Once you reach the intersection of both bindings, leave your needle down, bring your foot up and turn your quilt.

Sew down the next length until your next corner and repeat.






3. The finish! Once you round your final corner, sew past where you began to attach the binding to ensure you have a secure seam. Trim your threads and YOU ARE DONE!

Now wasn’t that easy? 😉 Happy quilting my friends!

Planting the Fall Garden

I knew this day was coming. It was inevitable, creeping up behind me like a ghost in my dreams, leaving me desperately trying to scream out, but ultimately unable to let out one peep in retort. OK well it’s not quite that scary, but you get the idea.

I went out Monday to pick the okra that had grown wildly out of control (seriously, some of the pods were a FOOT LONG, so tough they were unusable at that point), then filtering through the pods to see what I could keep. I saw the ghostly shadows of my summer garden peeking over the fading cedar boards, glaring at me for leaving the grassy weeds to suck the life from the soil, stealing it from their own roots.

So I planned the day. I knew that today was going to be the morning that I would enjoy the sunshine warming my back while I weeded and plucked the lifeless remnants from the dry brown earth. I started with the cucumbers that so bitterly disappointed me upon harvest (literally, they were REALLY bitter).

I really tried tilling the soil, but I was so exhausted by that time, it was very clear to me how terribly out of shape I have become. I did manage to get enough turned over to plant some new seeds, which I decided would suffice, along with some organic fertilizer and soil nutrients.

My intention was to clear out those old vines and weeds and plant fall crops. I did succeed in that mission. I managed to plant winter squashes of 3 varieties, pumpkins, beets, carrots, radishes, cabbage, kohlrabi, beets, kale and spinach (those in the containers below).  

I also managed to plant the herb seeds I had left, although I have very minimal expectations for those pots, since they’ve been troublesome since the spring trial. I was too tired to get the bulbs in today.

I do still have the excitement and anticipation of watermelon and cantaloupe ripening. I need to do my research on how to know when they will be ripe, exactly, but they’re coming along nicely. See how many you can find amongst the green vines growing EVERYWHERE! I think there’s 5 melons in there!!!

And I know that next year I will have an amazing crop of asparagus, considering those leafy fronds that have graced my garden box ALL SUMMER LONG.

And as you can see, my okra is doing just fine. Happy gardening my friends!

Taking a Mental Moment

This is my term for taking a break = removal of self from a circumstance or situation that you are currently immersed in and feel the need to break free from. We don’t always have the opportunity to escape from the office, or just run out the front door when the kids are driving you batty, but taking that moment can really be as simple as locking yourself in the bathroom, turning the light off and the fan on and sniffing at the lavender candle on the toilet tank until you feel calm.

My favorite place to take my mental moment is nearby the house, and I can (actually have to) incorporate some exercise with my jaunt down the path. It offers everything that queues my brain to relax, which in turn makes the rest of me relax, and breathe easier. I find that by the end of the path, I have been breathing slow and deep, I have a slight smile and a positive attitude. My worries turn into action items on my list. It’s as if this short escape completely transforms my persona and outlook for the rest of the day. And believe it or not, it’s just a path within a little greenbelt area between housing communities.

So of course I am including pictures to share with you my little slice of serenity. Unfortunately the babbling brook (well not now, due to our drought), rustling leaves and chirping birds are not included. Nor is the smell of fresh grass and blooming trees and flowers, or the water trickling under the wood bridge.

But maybe, if you look at the pictures, you can close your eyes and imagine your own version of where your perfect mental escape would take place. Then take a deep breath, and return to the world around you ready to conquer all.

Peace my friends!

The Joy of Quizzes

No worries kids, this isn’t pop quiz time from school that you very clearly remember dreading, as the whole class moaned in disgust… or distress. No! This is the fun kind! The kind YOU get to tell the world (or just your close friends, whatever you choose, really) ALL ABOUT YOU!

I hope you enjoy this little post, and think about, or even post your own answers to these questions. I have to give credit for this unique idea to Dana Stenholtz, as guest blogger on my favorite blog ChinDeep (you really must follow her; I love reading her everyday)!! Click here and here to see quiz results from some of my wonderful friends!

So, without further ado, here are my exciting answers to these nail-biting questions:

Color: RED, the darker the better

Type of music: everything except Reggae. My latest obsession is country music

Band: Queen

Singer:  Freddie Mercury (Queen lead) and Monserrat Caballe (opera). They sing together on Barcelona, such a great CD.

Romantic movie: Don Juan De Marco (sigh)

Scary movie: Labyrinth. I watched Dawn of the Dead at my 13th BD party sleepover and really haven’t been able to stomach anything scary since. So to me, this is about as scary as it gets (ya, muppets are SO scary!)

Dramatic movie: The Saint

Funny movie: The Jerk

Animated movie: Disney’s Robin Hood (the one with the foxy fox)

All time favorite movie: Tie between Real Genius and Armageddon. Real Genius has a very handsome and quirky young Val Kilmer, while Armageddon has romance, humor and the best song ever. I do really like To Kill a Mockingbird too…

TV Show (past or present): My daughter got me sort of hooked on Pretty Little Liars, but I’m a Chopped fan through and through.

Cartoon: The Tick was my favorite. He’s just not on anymore 😦

Talk show: none. I’ve never really had a thing for them, or soaps, which leaves significant portions of my day open for other things.

Food: yes. no meat tho. Thai fixation has lasted quite sometime now…

Dessert: mint carob chip Rice Dream. It’s super good!

RICE DREAM Mint Carob Chip Pint

Pizza topping: MUSHROOMS

Fruit: cantaloupe

Veggie: potatoes, asparagus, brussels sprouts

Drink: wine, just not too dry and never blush

Cereal: good steel cut oatmeal, cinnamon or peanut butter Puffins (organic), cinnamon Cheerios are pretty good too.

Store: Quilt Country (seriously, I am not brown-nosing). I could literally THOUSANDS of dollars in that store. If I ever come into some money, this will be my first spree 🙂 (see earlier post on material obsession).

Book: While I agree with my quiz predecessors about the sheer unfairness of this question, because there are just too many amazing reads to list, I think I can narrow it down to a few for the purpose of this task. I love to read anything Ayn Rand, but Atlas Shrugged is my favorite of hers. Tom Robbins uses the most amazing illustrative phraseology, and my favorite of his is Jitterbug Perfume. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is another favorite, but the movie DOES NOT do it justice.

Magazine: Cooks Illustrated

Wild animal: polar bears

Pet: if I was living alone I’d have about 28 cats in here. But Fred, in particular, is my fave.

Month: November

Day of week: Thursday is THE best! I was born on a Thursday AND… Thursday is sooooo close to the weekend that you have the excitement and anticipation of the weekend, but it’s not yet there, so you don’t have the stress of not having plans yet!

Time of day: sunset

Season: Autumn

Holiday: Thanksgiving – there’s just so much good stuff!!! Family gets together, fall weather and sweaters, football to make us howl like crazies, food to make us sleep on the couch…

Flower:  sunflowers

Letter: Well, if I was playing Scrabble it would be S!

Number: 38

Finger: I guess pinkies, cuz those are the smallest and my nails never seem to break on those fingers!

Insect: ladybugs

Country: America!!!!!!!

State: Washington – I really miss living there…

City: OOOHhh, this is the tough one for me. I’m not a city girl, but I’ve been to a variety of them and I have loved certain aspects of each. Montreal took my breath as being so big city metropolitan and multi-cultural/lingual. San Francisco has it’s own elegant seaside beauty, Seattle has so much to offer and see and do, and Olympia will always be my granola city ;), with the most amazing farmers market, hilly residential streets and great restaurants and pubs. Fort Worth has a wonderful cowboy charm, East Coast cities each have their own historic tale and Chicago is so busy, with so many stores and people and the river running through it. I also really loved my summer visit to Red Wing, MN.

Shape: square,     cuz it’s all even and stuff. 😀

Sport to play: I like to run and swim

Board game: Scrabble

What do you think? Copy and re-post your answers here