Attach quilt sleeve entirely by machine & other finishing techniques – 2017.11.29

My favorite parts of making art quilts are the design process, selecting the fabrics and constructing the quilt top.

My least favorite parts are the finishing – burying threads, applying facings, and attaching the hanging sleeve and label.  By the time I get to the finishing stage, I’m eager to start on the next quilt project, so a quick and efficient method of finishing quilts is right up my alley.

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a variety of methods to speed up the finishing process.

1. Fuse the backing fabric after quilting is completed

Recently for my art quilts, I’ve been constructing them differently than more traditional quilts.  Instead of quilting through all the layers, I’ve been doing all the quilting before adding the backing fabric. (Note: do not use this method if you are planning to submit your quilt to a show that requires the quilting stitches to be visible on the back.  Many juried shows no longer have this requirement for art quilts, but still do for traditional and modern quilts.)

This technique allows me to easily add additional quilting at any time, without any concern of how messy it might look on the back.  It also eliminates the need to bury all of the thread ends. When I’m finished quilting, I fuse the backing fabric in place, catching all the thread ends.

I used this method for ‘Bridge of Many Colors‘, ‘Into the Arctic Wilderness‘ and ‘W and the 3 Bridges‘.  If you click on the links, you can see photos of the back of these quilts before I fused on the backing fabric.  (And it just occurred to me that I used the same technique in 2014 for ‘Baby‘ because I needed different quilting on the front and on the back.)



2. Attach the hanging sleeve and label entirely by machine

It occurred to me that if I am fusing the backing fabric after all the quilting is completed, I should be able to attach the sleeve and label by machine to the backing before fusing it onto the quilt.  After a little thought and experimentation, I have a technique I’m happy with.  (Note: a machine-applied sleeve would be difficult to remove later.  If a different size sleeve or different spacing from the top edge was required for a specific show, I would just hand-sew a temporary sleeve over this one.)

These are the steps I followed for a recently finished art quilt (not yet revealed to the public).  The art quilt is 16″ wide, and requires a 2″ finished sleeve, positioned 1″ from each side edge, and 1″ from the top edge.

  1. I cut the backing fabric to the size of the finished quilt – 16″ x 16″ – without any seam allowance, because the facings will cover the raw edges.
  2. The finished size of the sleeve is 14″ long by 2” high, so I cut the sleeve fabric to 15″ x 5.25”.
  3. Turn ends in ¼” and then ¼” again. Sew close to folded edges.
  4. Press sleeve lengthwise, so one section is ½” deeper than the other.
  5. Position the sleeve on the back so it is ¾” from the top edge, and 1” from the side edges (photo 1).
  6. Stitch around the top section as shown in red in photo 2
  7. Fold the bottom edge up to meet the top edge as in photo 3 (there will be a gap to accommodate a hanging rod)
  8. Sew the top edges through all 3 layers as shown in red in photo 4.
  9. The sleeve should look like photo 5. I like my sleeves to be a bit deeper than required, so made it 2 ¼” rather than the required 2”
  10. The top facing will cover the top ¼’ of the sleeve. The side facings will butt up to the side edges of the sleeve.
  11. At this point, you could also machine stitch the label in place.


3. Fuse the edges of the facings to the back of the quilt

I’ve also started fusing the edges of the facings to the back of the quilt, instead of hand-sewing them.  (See the post about ‘W and the 3 Bridges‘ for photos of how I do this).  This is much easier than hand-sewing through a fused backing fabric, and is much quicker.


So there you have it, my three techniques to speed up the finishing process.  I hope that all makes sense.  If not, please post a comment and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.


Thanks for stopping by.  Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative and inspirational projects.

   Esther’s Blog    Sew Fresh Quilts  grab button for Quiltfabrication


Send to Kindle

New facing technique – even easier corners – 2016.06.12

‘Wildfire’ is almost finished.  The facings are sewn, and just need to be hand-stitched to the back.

I experimented with a new technique and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  Instead of cutting the batting larger than the quilt top, I cut the batting to exactly the size I wanted the finished size to be.  I made the quilt top and back about 1″ bigger on each side than the finished size.  I machine basted the batting to the backing just inside the edge of the batting, as seen below (excuse the over-exposed photo).

basting batting to back

Then I basted the quilt top to the back as close as I could to the edge of the batting, but without actually sewing through the batting.  I couldn’t see where the edge of the batting was, but I could feel it through the top.

Once the quilting was finished, I trimmed the top and back to about 1/2″ from the machine basting, then attached the facings as usual.  When I pressed the facings to the back, the fold was right at the edge of the batting, which made for a nice straight edge.  And because there was no batting in the seam allowance, there was no excess bulk and it was much easier to turn.  The facings cover the basting holding the batting in place.  And the basting on the top can be easily removed.

And the corners are very square, without having to trim batting away!  I’m planning to update my tutorial on facings, and I will include this technique as an option.

bottom-front bottom-back


Here’s a photo of the almost finished quilt.  It doesn’t look ‘square’ in the photo – but only because I can’t seem to take a good photo today.

TerryAske-Wildfire-with facings


Thanks for stopping by.  Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative and inspirational projects.

Creations by Nina-Marie    Confessions of a Fabric Addict


Send to Kindle

Another change in direction – 2016.05.04

I hate it when I forget to follow my own advice!

In all my workshop handouts, the final section is about Selecting fabrics.  This is what it says:

  • Value is more important than color – if all your fabrics are the same value, from a distance your design will be almost invisible.  You need a wide range of light to dark fabrics for an effective design – unless you’re going for a low volume look, in which case you want similar values.
  • Pin your fabrics to a design wall and view them from a distance to ensure you have good value differences
  • Optional – take a photo of your fabrics on the design wall, and convert it to black & white.  This will show the difference in your values.
  • Use the design wall to evaluate your decisions re value, color, composition
  • Make all design decisions before starting construction [Now is the time to experiment with different fabric choices; it’s much easier to change a fabric now than after you have started fusing and/or sewing.] 

I’m not sure why, but with my two recent attempts with the Riley Blake solids, I totally forgot to pay attention to value.

TV test pattern 1Not enough value

Jessica made a great suggestion on my last post, which I will definitely consider. “Maybe the problem is that they’re just too thin after sewing, so the graphic effect of the black & white is getting lost? What would happen if you used somewhat wider strips, and maybe sewed some of them together, but offset to break apart the original pattern? Would that go somewhere interesting?”

But I’m putting this whole project away for now.  I’ll let my subconscious work on it, and maybe I’ll come up with a workable concept before the May 31 deadline.


Right now, I’m going to start a new project with lots of value contrast.  It will be the fourth quilt in my current Tree Series.   The theme is a forest fire.  (The timing seems a little weird given the Fort McMurray wildfire, but it’s a theme I’ve been planning for at least a year.)

Here are some of the fabrics I’ve picked out.  I think I have enough value contrast, but you can bet I’ll be following all of my own advice as I put this one together!

Wildfire fabrics    Wildfire fabrics value


Thanks for stopping by.  Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative projects to inspire you.

   Esther’s Blog   Sew Fresh Quilts


Send to Kindle

Off my design wall – another circle quilt – 2015.08.19

Another week, another circle quilt!

Although it looks finished, this quilt can still be considered a WiP because it doesn’t yet have a label, a hanging sleeve – or a title.  (If you’re interested in titles for quilts – or other artwork, for that matter – come back on Friday for a blog post on that subject.  And if you have an idea for a title for this quilt, please let me know.)

TerryAske-circle quilt


This quilt started with a design I made with MS Paint, and some fabrics I thought would work well together.    I decided to offset the vertical seams in the circle, rather than have them line up with the seams in the negative space around the circle.   Because I tend to have smaller pieces of fabric in my collection, I was forced to rearrange the colors from my original design.  For example, I had wanted to use a lot more of the yellow fabric, but I just didn’t have enough of it.   But that’s part of the challenge – working with the fabric I have.  Sometimes I find that frustrating, but in this case, I’m happy with the final result.

Stripes    TerryAske_CirclewithMagenta


I quilted straight vertical lines mostly 1/2″ apart, using a variety of thread colors, matching them to the fabrics in the circle section.   I particularly like the effect of the pink thread on the chartreuse fabric.

TerryAske-circle quilt-detail


I finished it with a facing, using my usual technique to reduce bulk in the corners.  This time, I planned ahead and before quilting the last couple of inches on each side, I squared and trimmed the quilt, and cut out the corners of the batting.  Then I quilted the last few vertical lines.  This way the quilting went right to the edges and I didn’t have to worry about it when I applied the facings.

TerryAske-reducing bulk in corners


Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative projects to inspire you.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced     Esther’s Blog   Sew Fresh Quilts



Send to Kindle

A finished art quilt and updated tutorial – 2015.08.16

When I showed the progress on ‘Circular Thinking’ a couple of weeks ago, it was quilted and just waiting to be faced.  I had quilted the right side with horizontal straight lines, and the left side with vertical lines.  I decided to add vertical quilting in the chartreuse portion of the circle, so that section now has a grid of quilting.  I’m really happy with the effect!

I’ve submitted to a show that I’ve never entered before, Quilts=Art=Quilts (QAQ), an international juried quilt exhibition at the Schweinfurth Art Center.



When I was applying the facing to this quilt, I decided to change my technique for reducing bulk in the corners.  I cut a 1″ square out of the batting in each corner.  I’ve updated my facing technique tutorial with this information.

DSCN5043    DSCN5041


Thanks for stopping by.  Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many creative and inspirational projects.

   Creations by Nina-Marie   Confessions of a Fabric Addict


Send to Kindle