Dealing with inside Prairie Points

Sometimes when we’re making a quilt top, inside prairie points are just the detail we need to set off the center of the quilt.  But what do you do when it’s time to quilt it?

As a longarm quilter, the fewer pins I can put into a customer quilt, the better.  Pins equal risk of stabbing myself, which increases the risk of bleeding.  NO BLOOD ON CUSTOMER QUILTS…..seriously, they don’t need my DNA!   ;>)

So, how do I get each and every Prairie Point out of the way and minimuze the pins?  I resort to one of my favourite quilting tools, PAINTERS TAPE.

Here’s what it looks like on the longarm as I’m in the process of controlling the points:

This is what the points look like before I start, no way do I want to move each one out of the way as I get to it, and I certainly don’t want that many pins!

Step one, attach painters tape to the backside of the Prairie Points:

Step Two, turn the points to the inside, add another layer of painters tape so you are well beyond the size of the point, and place a few (key word FEW) pins to help hold the tape from coming loose:

You now have the entire border free to quilt and when you release the Prairie Points they will play peek-a-boo with the quilting underneath as they are meant to on this quilt.

I hope this helps the next time a customer, or you yourself, add prairie points to the inside of the quilt.  Remember painters tape is your best friend some days!

Piecing border strips on the diagonal

So often, to save fabric expense, we purchase our border fabric intending to piece strips.  I find myself doing this more often now that I’ve learned how to do it successfully.

What does “successfully” mean?  To me that means the end border strip lies flat and square, without bulk in the seams, or waves along it’s path.  It’s not hard to do, but you have to pay attention to detail to attain results (but then what doesn’t that apply to?).

I thought I’d share with you, my readers, my method for piecing border strips on the diagonal.  I am sure it is not the only method, and if you are right handed,  you may need to work in the opposite direction, as I am left-handed and my instructions will be left-handed.  Yes, I can wield a rotary cutter right-handed, but I can’t hold a marking tool right-handed!

The first thing you must do is to press your fabric before you start.  If you wish to use sizing or starch to add some stiffness to your fabric (this is on the diagonal) you can, but these photos were taken on fabric that has been pre-washed and has not had sizing added to it.

After you press your fabric, cut your strips.  For this quilt, I wanted a 4″ finished border, so I cut 4-1’2″ strips.  Note, I did not cut them to exact length, but full WOF (width of fabric) cuts.  I will cut the pieced border down to size when I am ready to apply it to the quilt.  This tutorial is only on piecing the strips.

Your next step is to align the fabric strips RST (right sides together).  To do this, I use the markings on my cutting mat to place my strips at perfectly square alignment.  (this is really important, if your strips are not exactly perpendicular to each other, your border WILL have a wave in it).

Notice, both horizontally and vertically the fabric strips are aligned along inch markings on my mat.

I then PIN these pieces together.  I have found that by putting pins in all 4 sides the fabric doesn’t shift when I am either marking it or stitching on it.

I do put my pins with the heads in the corners I will not be stitching by.  That keeps me from accidentally running over a pinhead while I am stitching. (not that I’d ever do that, but sometimes…………)

I then use my ruler to mark my stitching line.

Align the ruler on the diagonal, lining up the corners.  Use the 45degree line on your ruler to make sure you have a 45degree diagonal stitching line.  This is also extremely important, if your stitching line isn’t 45 degrees, you will be adding excess fabric to your border, making it either wave or full and not flat.

I use an air-erasable marker to mark my stitch line along the ruler’s edge:

Now we will move to the sewing machine to sew our diagonal seam.  When I am sewing the diagonal seam, I align my needle with the side of the line that was ALONG THE RULER EDGE.  I do not sew in the center of the line, but along the edge of the line.

My stitching line, notice my pins have not yet been removed.  My stitching line is on the diagonal and doesn’t wobble.

Next I trim my seam allowance to 1/4″, removing the pins before I cut.

At this point, I like to trim off the dog ears on my corners.

Open your border and press your seam allowance:

Notice how you have no bulk, or dog-ears in the seam allowance:

If you follow these steps, your diagonally pieced borders will lie straight and square, and flat.  Cutting them to length is another post, for another day.

These steps don’t take long to do, it took me longer to write this tutorial than it took to make all 4 of my borders this morning while taking pics of each step.  And I promise you, if you take the time to line up, pin, mark and sew, you will be happy with your border strips.

A little bit of cheer

Thought I’d share a little bit of colorful cheeriness today. At this time of the year, when the days are short, and the nights long, I am finding myself drawn more and more to bright, cheerful colors. Thoughts of springtime start to fill my head, sunshine and flowers, warm days….all good thoughts.

And in that vein, I am working on a bright cheery quilt. Made out of nickels and noodles (a quilting term for 5″ squares and 2-1/2″ strips), this is the result of playing and thinking “what if”.


I’ll be posting instructions for this later in the week on the new tutorials and patterns page! Hope you enjoy this touch of springtime cheer!!!