Americana – Making the Quilt Sandwich

Isn’t this supposed to be the easy part? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fun part, but it’s not usually difficult, with the exception of how my knees feel after crawling around on a wood floor basting the layers together. Note to self, be sure to include a gigantic table in my imaginary/dream quilting studio plans…

Well, I found a way to make even this part complicated. Here’s what happened…I found a great deal on some fabric that I loved for the quilt backing, so I bought it…but I didn’t have the dimensions…so I guessed. You know that old saying, measure twice, cut once? What do you think happens if you don’t measure twice, or once, or at all. I’ll tell you what happens, you end up about 1/4 yd short on fabric. I couldn’t believe it.

However, by this time I was convinced that this fabric should be the backing for the quilt. Luckily I had just watched/read up on pieced quilt backs. And, though it wasn’t ideal, I thought that might be a solution. I decided that by incorporating a fabric from the front I would bring some consistency and make things look more intentional. I opted for the border fabric because: 1. I had some left, and 2. I liked the red contrast with the blue back. In stepping back from the backing fabric, I realized that the tan polka dots were reminiscent of the stars on the flag, which made me think – light bulb – maybe I can add the red element in a way that looks a bit like the stripes on the flag.

So, I took to the trusty paper and pencil and tried to puzzle out how to piece the back in a way that wouldn’t cause people to think “oh man, this girl didn’t buy enough fabric for the backing, huh?” I tried a few designs and eventually opted for splicing two large sections of the blue backing with red and cream (from my stash) stripes made with a series of half square triangles.

A quick note about half square triangles. If you haven’t tired this method before, I definitely recommend it.

Stack 2 squares of fabric on top of each other and draw a line on the diagonal.

Sew a line 1/4″ on each side of the line you just drew and then
Use your rotary cutter to cut on the line you drew.

Open each side. Press open and cut off the “dog ears” on the corners (not pictured).

After piecing the squares, I pinned the resulting strip to the first section of the backing, being careful to try and keep it square to the backing fabric, and stitched it in place. I did the same for the other side of the backing fabric, then pressed and wah-lah – finally a complete quilt backing.

Now, on to basting. I’m trying Mountaing Mist cotton batting, mostly because it was 60% off. Plus, I haven’t used enough battings to develop a favorite just yet. Batting is another item that comes with a lot of varying opinion in the quilting world. After reading through a lot of articles about different options, I decided I would just try different things until I found what I liked best. In the past I have pinned my sandwhich together, but I hate working around all of the pins. Also, because I quilt on a domestic machine, I feel like it’s harder to keep tucks out of the layers when you just baste with pins. So, this time I tried spray basting (essentially putting the layers together with a spray adhesive). One of the challenges to this approach is figuring out where to do it. I opted for the garage, laying a couple of $1 table cloths down first. I’ve read differing opinions about to which layers to apply the basting spray. So, I opted for using it between the background and batting AND between the batting and top.

After crawling around on the garage floor for…let’s just say awhile…I came to the conclusion that basting between the bottom two layers was an unnecessary hassle. I still had to pin the quilt, so I’m not sure that the spray was worth using at all. However, because of all of the piecing seams in the top i think it is more apt to shift around, so I will probably try it again, using the spray basting between just those layers.

Alternately, I’d like to try fusible batting in the future, but for now I went with the budget buy regular cotton.

At the end of the day, the quilt sandwich was complete, which was the goal for this weekend. Next up…a little FMQ and then the binding. Stay tuned!!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Kathryn Beale says:

    What a creative solution! Perseverance is the secret to success!


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