Previously: Sewing It Together & Basting
Now that the quilt has been basted and safety-pinned, it is time to quilt it. (Careful basting beforehand is absolutely crucial in keeping the layers in place.) Quilting is a fancy word that means sewing all the layers together. There are a number of ways to quilt your masterpiece.
If you want something decorative like a freehand swirl design, check out my Freehand Machine Quilting Tutorial. A darning foot is required for this method, so make sure your machine has one. Also, I would only recommend this method if you are using cotton or flannel fabric for the back. Anything thicker tends to be a little more problematic. Not impossible, just problematic, especially for a beginner.
Because I am using a soft minky material, I am going to insert little invisible stitches throughout the quilt. (My quilt's thickness demands a method more practical than decorative.) If yours is thick like mine, I recommend my Invisible Quilting Tutorial. As the name implies, the quilting is hard to see--it's merely functional. Can you spot any of the dimples?
If you have a walking foot, you can quilt straight lines--though once again, I wouldn't recommend if you are using a soft and thick backing.
Finally, if you do not want to quilt it yourself, you could pay a professional to do it for you. Just check with a local quilt shop and ask who they recommend.
Finally, let's finish the quilt with a binding. To get started, I first trim all the excess batting and back-fabric to line up with the quilt-top perimeter. Then, retrieve the binding fabric and begin cutting 3" strips across the WOF (width of fabric) until you have five total.
Next, connect the strips at a bias, which basically means at a diagonal. This is done by overlapping one strip perpendicular to another, right sides together. (I let the selvages overlap since I don't want them showing but could have just as easily trimmed them off first.) Using a ruler and pencil, draw a diagonal line as indicated.
Pin in place and stitch along the diagonal line.
Trim the excess and iron open the seam. See how the seam runs diagonally?
Repeat to sew all strips together end-to-end at a bias. Fold the resulting long strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and iron it flat.
Lay the starting end of the strip in the middle of a side of the quilt so that the raw edges of the strip and quilt line up. Lower the presser foot onto the strip and stitch using 3/8" seam allowance, leaving the first eight inches of the strip unstitched.
Keep sewing down that side and stop 3/8" before the end.
Pull the quilt out from the machine and trim the threads.
Fold the binding upward so it is in a straight line with the quilt.
Bring the binding back down and line up its raw edge with the quilt's side.
Begin sewing down the new side using the same 3/8" seam allowance. Keep sewing to the end of that side and repeat the steps above to pivot at the corner.
Stop once you are a couple of feet away from the starting-end of the strip. Measure and trim the tails so that they overlap by exactly 3 1/4". (If you are using a different strip thickness, the overlap is just whatever the thickness is plus 1/4".)
Unfold the strip-ends and bring them together at a bias, right sides together, overlapping slightly by approximately 1/8". (You may have to bunch up the quilt to be able to get them to overlap.)
Using a ruler and pencil, draw a diagonal line as indicated. Pin in place, sew along the line, and trim the excess.
Fold the binding back in half lengthwise and pin it onto the quilt (it should be an exact fit).
Resume stitching the binding in place.
Turn the quilt over and fold the binding up and over to the back, pinning in place.
Miter the corners.
Stitch the binding in place by hand. The easiest way to do this is double-thread a needle and tie a knot at the end. Bring the needle through the back material and into the binding at an angle. For the next stitch, repeat but bring the needle up through the back directly below where it came up through the binding on the last stitch. Bring it up through the binding at an angle. Repeat around the quilt perimeter. (Secretly, I love this part because I can kick up my feet and watch TV while I sew.)
Then, admire your handiwork!!
I love how it turned out! Truthfully, I want to keep it for Olive, but how many quilts does Olive really need?!?