Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quilt Binding 101

Last winter, when we were snowed in for a few days, I decided to get to work on a quilt.  The fabric had been sitting on my sewing table for quite a while and I really had no plans for it, so a quilt seemed like a good choice.  I wanted something simple and mindless.  I wasn't in the mood to think too hard about measurements and fabric placement.  I just wanted to sew.  I came up with a VERY simple quilt top, which I figured I'd try free motion quilting on.  I wasn't too excited about the free motion quilting part of that idea, so the quilt tops sat there for about half of the year.  Last week I decided it was time to get these quilts out of the craft room and into the family room.  While I was at it, I took pictures of the quilt binding process.

If you've ever wanted to learn to bind a quilt, here's the step by step tutorial.  If you really don't care, please don't waste your time reading this, because it's very picture heavy.

I use 2 1/2 inch strips when I make quilt bindings.  I use a cutting mat, rotary cutter, and quilting ruler to make sure my strips are perfect.

Once the strips are cut, it's time to join them together.  I place two pieces (right sides together) and sew from corner to corner.  I overlapped a little on the ends of each piece because I knew I'd cut that part off.  You can draw a line to follow if you'd like, but I just eyeball it.

Cut off the extra fabric.

When you open in up, it looks like this.  Press the seams to one side and then keep adding more strips in the same way.

Next, you need to iron your fabric.  In the past I would fold my fabric, wrong sides together, finger press it down, and then iron it.  It's not hard and it's not too time consuming, but then I spotted this cool contraption on a quilting show on PBS. (There I go again, admitting that I spend my spare time watching sewing shows on public television. Nerd alert!)  This is a binding maker from Singer.  It is so cool! It folds, presses, and spits out perfect quilt binding in about 2 minutes. 

It comes out of the machine perfectly pressed.  That little piece on the end is the iron. It has a little roller in it so everything is automatic.  If you sew, you know how cool this is!  It even makes piping, although I haven't tried that yet.  Ok, so if you don't have this cool machine, just fold the fabric in half and iron.  That's the way I have made it for the past 15 years and it works just fine. 

Just one more picture of my fun new toy doing its thing.

Ok, maybe just one more.  See how it fold the fabric for you before going into the iron.  You can get that tip in other sizes too.  It's "sew" much fun!

When you're done pressing, you'll have a pile of quilt binding.  Get ready to sew.

The first thing I do is trim my starting edge at an angle.

Then I open it up and fold it back.

When you close the fabric back up, it gives you a clean edge.

To start binding my quilts, I usually don't start at a corner.  I just pick somewhere in the middle, at the bottom, and line my binding fabric up.  You'll notice that I have the raw edge of my quilt lined up with the raw edge of my binding fabric. The over hanging fabric is my quilt batting, and you can't see it but the backing fabric is there too.

Line the presser foot up along the edge of the fabric, backtack a few stitches and then start sewing a straight line.

When you get just about to the end, maybe a quarter of an inch away, backstitch about an inch.

Pull the binding fabric back on top of itself, so it folds into a 45 degree angle.

Then, fold it back on top of itself, lining the edge up with the next side you need to sew.

I know that's kind of tricky.  Let's try that one more time.  I'm close to the edge.

Backstitch an inch.


Fold and line up with the new side.

Then, you can lift your presser foot, turn your quilt, and get ready to sew the next side.

When you get to the end, turn the fabric under again, like you did at the beginning.  That gives it a nice clean edge.

Finish sewing the binding down. 

Hey, look at that!  Someone got a pretty new cutting mat!  I really needed a new cutting mat and found this one in red.  I've never seen a red cutting mat before, but I'm loving it!

I use my ruler and rotary cutter to remove the extra batting and backing fabric.  I line the quilt ruler up along the edge of the binding fabric and cut.  This still leaves that 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Don't cut that off, because it's what makes the binding fluffly.

When you're done trimming, the quilt will look like this.

Flip the quilt to the back side, roll the fabric around the edge and pin.  I really hate pinning, so I only do it when I really have to.  The first couple of times you bind a quilt, you'll want to pin.  After that, just hold it with your fingers and go for it.

When you are sewing the binding down, you want to get REALLY close to the edge.  See how my needle is right next to the edge of the binding fabric.  I want to go right along that edge.  It takes some practice.

When you get to a corner, you'll need to fold the fabric.

It makes a nice mitered corner. When you get to the point, put the needle down into the fabric, and turn the quilt so you can keep sewing.

Keep going all the way around the quilt.

Here's my finished quilt.  I can't say I'm in love with it.  I love the fabrics, but I'm a little bored with the finished product.  I guess that's what happens when you do a project that you don't really want to think about and can't get out of the house to buy the supplies you are wishing for.

I did get to try my hand at machine quilting.  I made the swirly patterns in the big squares, which is something I've never done before.

I made two of these quilts and put them over the chairs in my family room.  They add a little color and I'm happy about that.  If you're working on a quilt of your own, I'd love to see it.  You can email me a picture at homeiswheremystorybegins@gmail.com.
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kindergarten Readiness

As many of you know, I'm a kindergarten teacher.  I didn't realize how much I loved kindergarten until I had the opportunity to volunteer in my son's kindergarten class.  He had a fabulous teacher, who made kindergarten seem like the greatest place on Earth.  Well, I have to say, kindergarten really is best place on Earth.  I packed up my teaching materials and moved from second grade to kindergarten, and I've never looked back.

There are so many things I wish I would have known before sending my own kids off to kindergarten.  In my ebook, I'll share my kids' stories and help you prepare your child for kindergarten.  Yes, your child does need to know their letters, sounds, how to write their name, and how to zip up their own coat, but there is SO MUCH MORE to kindergarten readiness. 

The link to download my book, on the side of my blog, isn't behaving properly.  I'm working on fixing the problem.  Meanwhile, here's an easy way to read the book.  Just, click on the document below.  I love technology... when it works!

Happy reading!

Are We Ready - final

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Dreary Day Treasure

Summer weather has been slow to start around here.  Last week, on one of the dreary days, my mom decided to clean her garage.  My sister and I have learned that when my mom cleans her garage, we will be the recipients of the treasures.  Sometimes they are true treasures and sometime they are "treasures" (said with a very sarcastic tone).  I'm kind of liking the treasure she brought for me this time.  It's an old typewriter that my grandparents used.

It's not super old, like the one my sister has, but I think it's pretty cool.

What do you think?  Is it a keeper?
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Friday, July 27, 2012

My Dyson Dusting Attachment

Warning:  This is one of those posts that most of you will be thinking, "Do I really care about her new vacuum attachment and is it really life changing?"  For those of you who do care, feel free to keep reading.

I absolutely hate dusting.  It's my least favorite household chore.  The other day, I was watching QVC's Dyson vacuum hour.  (I swear, everyday I'm revealing some dorky new activity to you guys. I don't actually buy things on QVC, but I like watching the channel because they have great tips, recipes, and ideas on how to use the products I already have in my home.  I use it as a learning channel.  See, I told you... totally dorky.) So, anyway, I was watching the QVC Dyson hour and one of the vacuums they had came with a dusting attachment.  I perked up a bit because, as I mentioned, I hate dusting.  I figured that the Dyson website probably sold the attachment to the vacuum I own, so I decided to check it out.  I needed to purchase a replacement hose, which I knew would be available on the website, and sure enough, the dusting attachment was there too.

Yes, I know, that was kind of a long story just to tell you that I can dust my house.  I warned you! This post isn't for everyone.

(I'm going to act like the QVC hosts now.)
See how the Dyson dusting attachment picks up all of the yucky old dust and can even reach into those tight, hard to reach, spaces?  Ooooh, I just love this, and that red strip acts just like a pet hair magnet!  (You have to read this with an unusually perky tone of voice in order to get the full effect.)

(Resume perky voice) With the Dyson extension wand, you can even reach that cob web that has been driving you crazy when you sit down to watch tv and relax!  You don't have to worry about scratching the walls because the Dyson dusting attachment is incredibly soft.

Use it to dust your lampshades!

Of course, it's great for hard surfaces like tabletops too.

The brush is great for hard to reach spaces like the vents in a fireplace insert.  Look at those gross vents and then take a look at how the Dyson dusting attachments cleans them with ease.

Maybe I should go to work for QVC, because that perky tone seemed to come naturally to me as I was writing.  I'm sure your vacuum has a similar attachment, and it's worth checking in to.  Honestly, I didn't even know this was available for purchase.  They also have a pet grooming attachment, which sounds pretty cool.

By the way, I'm not connected with QVC or Dyson in any way.  I just thought this was a cool product and wanted to pass it along.
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