Today we're going to talk about finishing touches and, drum roll please, here's a look at my finished Merry and Bright quilt!
I have to be honest—I adore this quilt! The color palette is so cheery and I love the combination of the simple, graphic blocks and the sweet, pretty embroidery. This one is definitely one of my faves!
On to the finishing:
Basting Backing Fabric to Quilt Top/Batting Sandwich:
The next step in the process is to layer your quilt top/batting sandwich with a backing fabric panel measuring at least 34" x 40". Once again, I chose to use spray basting adhesive to baste the backing fabric to my quilt sandwich. I smoothed the backing fabric out on a flat surface with the wrong side up and used masking tape to hold it taut. Then I lightly sprayed the surface with the basting spray, placed the quilt top/batting sandwich on top of it with the batting side down, and smoothed it out, starting in the center and working outwards. Then I pulled up the tape, flipped all three layers of the quilt sandwich over, and made sure it was nice and smooth on the back side.
If you'd like to use a different method of basting your quilt, please feel free to do so! One way or the other, it's time to baste the backing to the back of your quilt sandwich.
Quilting Inner Border:
I quilted my inner background fabric border using two colors of embroidery floss and a big running stitch. This method matches the look of the embroidery that we used on the sashing strips, but it is actually quilting because we're stitching through all three layers now. This helps to hold the layers of the quilt together and because it's a running stitch, it looks just fine on the back of your quilt.
After placing my quilt sandwich in a quilting hoop (basically a big embroidery hoop), I used two strands of floss and the same needle that I used for all of my embroidery to do the big stitch quilting. I stitched ¼" inside the background fabric inner border seams. You can mark your lines prior to stitching if you like, but I could actually see the shadow of my seam allowances through the background fabric and just ran my stitching along those lines. Easy peasy!
Your stitches should measure between ⅛" and ¼", but really the stitch length matters less than keeping them consistent. And finally, as in regular quilting, bury your knots between the layers of your quilt.
The last thing I did before binding my quilt, was to machine quilt in the ditch on either side of the 4 embroidered sashing strips with a walking foot and white thread to match my background fabric. This quilting doesn't really show up much, but I added it to help hold the layers of the quilt together. Then I decided that because my quilt was sufficiently stabilized and charmingly embellished, it was (finally!!) time to bind!
If you'd like to further quilt or embellish your quilt, please do so! My mom is thinking of adding a star button to the top of one or more of her Christmas trees and for a while contemplated decorating the trees with additional embroidery (if you choose to add more embroidery, make sure you do it before you layer the backing onto your quilt). You could also use quilting to add texture to the trees, the ornaments or even the house roofs. The options are many and an opportunity for you to further personalize your quilt. Or maybe, like me, you'll step back and think "that'll do!"
So that wraps up my 2016 Merry and Bright Quilt-along! (please excuse the little Christmas pun, but I've been waiting all month to write that!!) I have truly enjoyed sharing this project with you all and I've especially loved connecting with you via email, Facebook and Instagram! What a treat to be able to see your progress and to know that we were actually quilting along together!
I'd love to see pictures of your quilts when they're finished! You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or please tag me @jendalyquilts when you post your pics on Instagram or Facebook.
In the meantime, thank you all so much for following along with this year's quilt-along! Happy Holidays and may all your days be Merry and Bright!