December 2009

Finishing your quilt top!

Have you been keeping up with the rows, month by month? If you have, then now comes the fun of sewing your rows together.

Because everyone's rows may be different in little ways from mine -- I encouraged deviating from the norm at every step -- you'll want to measure each row.

Here's the list of the blocks in the order we made them and how big MINE were when finished -- make your own list somewhat similar to this:

3" Quarter Squares
6" Baskets
12" Houses and Trees
12" Castle Wall/Stars
4" Seminole strip
6" Ribbon Star
4" Friendship Chain
6" Vines and Flowers
12" Prairie Queen
6" Nine Patch Variations

Total inches: 71

When I made my ribbon star, I wanted the blocks to float, so I had cut 1½ strips of the brown background fabric and added them to the top and bottom, making one inch (finished) sashings on that row, like this:

That made MY ribbon star row now eight inches wide, not six. If you're keeping up with the math, that makes my quilt 73 inches long.

The friendship chain row I also did on a dark background, and I want it to float too... so I cut a strip 1½ wide to add to the top and bottom of THAT row too... finishing at 1 inch, that adds another two inches and brings my quilt to 75 inches in length.

Now it's time to think about your bed size... or what you really want to do with your quilt. Here's a quilt chart with the different sizes:

Twin 68" x 90"
Double 80" x 90"
Queen 90" x 108"
King 110" x 110"
Dual King 120" x 120"

I'm planning on using mine as a couch throw, but I also want to be able to use it on a twin bed ... so I'm aiming for 68 x 90. If I wanted a pillow tuck, I could make it even longer - but 90 inches for a couch throw is pretty long already.

To take the 60 inch wide quilt to 68 inches wide, I'll need to add 4 inches border on each side. I'm thinking a 1 inch inner border (cut strips 1½ wide) then a 3 inch outer border (cut strips 3½ inches wide.) That's what I drew on the EQ design above.

I want the top and bottom borders to match the side borders ... so a 4 inch border on top and bottom means 75 +4 +4 = 83 inches long.

Now if I want to make it 90 inches long, I've got 7 inches of sashing that I can add between my rows. In the picture above, I put a 2 inch sashing on top and bottom of my castle wall/star row (cut 2½ strips, finish at 2 inches) for a total of 4 inches added -- 83 + 4 = 87. Only three inches left to use ....

I may add a strip of the background cream along the top of the baskets so the handles aren't so close to the row above. OR I could add a strip as a 'table' on the bottom of the basket row ... or a strip on either side of the Seminole row, to make it wider. I chose leaves as my last row, because they fit the brown/green/cream color selection I have used. Maybe it would look nicest to add a strip of cream between the leaves and the bottom border of the quilt?

I hung my quilt strips and sashing strips off my fireplace mantel and shifted them around to figure out where I wanted to position them. (My cats had great fun running along behind the strips and hiding and pouncing each other. After they'd pulled the third strip down, they got banished to the bathroom where their litterbox is kept. The sounds of Siamese protesting coming from behind the door were quite horrific.)

Decide how wide you want your borders to be. Do you want borders top and bottom AND on right and left sides? On a strip quilt, you don't have to have borders at all, if you don't want to. My borders are little, at a total of 4 inches on each side. Do you want wider borders?

The EQ drawing above is one arrangement that could be used. YOUR arrangement will depend on what you used as a background color for each strip and block, what colors you used in the rows, and what looks nice beside the next strip. Figure out your length now, then decide on the end length you want the quilt to be. Add sashing strips where you decide an extra band of color might be good, or where you think extra background color might set your blocks apart.

Will I see YOU at the guild meeting with a finished quilt top?

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