Sunday, May 22, 2016

Checkers Top Finished

Hi all -

We had a beautiful weekend so I didn't get as much quilting done as I had hoped, but I did get the borders pieced and added to the Checkers top, so the top is finished now:

Since borders are on my mind, I thought I'd talk a little bit about them. The generally accepted process for borders is to piece the inside of the quilt, then measure for the borders to account for inexact seam allowances. And if you are piecing a border, like I did for this quilt, you would really want to make the pieced borders, measure the quilt and the pieced borders and calculate the correct sizes for the plain borders to make everything fit. This has just never worked for me.

Even though my seam allowances aren't perfect, they must be pretty close, because my borders work best if I cut them to the size you would expect based on the pattern. If I try to measure the quilt to calculate the border lengths, I always end up with wavy borders indicating that they were cut too long. I think what happens is that the quilt gets a little stretched as I try to lay it out flat and measure it carefully. I hadn't really thought about why this might be until I was putting the borders on this quilt. When I added the pieced border to the narrow inner border, the pieced border was longer than the plain border, but only by a small amount (maybe 1/8" to 1/4") so I evenly distributed the extra and it looked perfect after pressing. Then I started adding the outer plain border and suddenly the pieced border seemed to be more like 1" too long. How could that be? If everything is measured right, shouldn't it be off by about the same amount as it was on the other side? So I remeasured the outside plain border piece and it was the right length. It was getting late on Friday night at that point, so I figured the best course of action was to put it aside and try again when I was fresh.

So I came back to it today. The outer plain border was still shorter than the pieced border, but I decided to go ahead with it. This has always worked for me so I wanted to stick with it. I really didn't want wavy borders! As I was pinning the border on, I realized that everything was okay. Each time I halved the border and the quilt to put in a pin, the excess in the pieced border was also halved until there was very little to be eased in. And after sewing and pressing, everything looked perfect!

What I think is going on here is that all of the seams in the pieced border provide some elasticity to the quilt. If I cut the plain borders to fit what I measure, the quilt shrinks back and my borders get wavy. If my plain borders are instead slightly shorter than the pieced parts, then they tame the piecing and keep it in place. That's how it works for me, but that doesn't mean that it will work for others. But I thought I'd share since I found it interesting.

Since the quilt top was finished, I decided to go ahead and prepare the binding so I don't have to worry about not having the fabric when I get around to quilting this baby:

I like to wind my prepared binding around an empty spool to keep it neat. It's then stored in a little plastic bag inside the bag where I put the quilt top. And when the backing is finished, it'll be added to the bag, too. Since I was working on bindings, I decided to prepare the binding for my chevron quilt, too:

This one also still needs a backing.

Next weekend I hope to get back to the Hoffman Challenge quilt. I have until June 30 to get that one finished, so it's not time to get nervous yet, but it will be soon. But it's okay since I have a good idea of how I will quilt it.

On the knitting front, I started a new project yesterday:

It's not much now, but in the end it will be a pair of fingerless mitts that just go to the wrist, which will hopefully be a pair for me to keep. This is the finest yarn and the smallest needles I've used so far, but it's going amazingly well. I'm actually using size 2 needles instead of the suggested size 1 since I don't have size 1 circular needles, but I think that'll be okay since there's not much difference between these needles and I have large hands anyway.



  1. Thanks for your analysis of the border problem. It sounds right to me. You always accomplish SO much. Good for you! Love the quilt tops.
    kfstitcher Karen Fitzpatrick

    1. Thanks! I just added another new project to my list so hopefully I'll make progress on things!

  2. I like your pieced borders for your checkers quilt. I too like to cut and ready my binding as I finish the top so that when I'm finished quilting, I can just go to the next step! I agree with you about wavy borders. . .not a good to encounter!

    1. Thanks! I have several old quilt tops that I wish I had prepared the bindings for. Hopefully I can find a good binding fabric when I get to those!