This is the final part of my “making of” series for Terrace Tiles. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and are inspired to make your own version! See below for info about these quilts and the previous progress posts.
Terrace Tiles Finished Quilt Stats
Finished sizes: Amethyst and Citron 38″ x 57″; Breeze 57″ x 76″
Today I’m excited to share some machine quilting tips and videos for all 3 versions of my Terrace Tiles quilts. My thought is why make one quilt when you can make 3 in almost the same amount of time, right?? LOL!!
Choosing Thread colors
The variegated thread color above is actually a combo of red, white and blue but it looks pink and purple when quilted on the Amethyst quilt!
Because these quilts are so bright and colorful, I decided to quilt them using 3 different colors from my Aurifil Variegated Thread Collection. I’ve really been enjoying quilting with them because they add a bit of whimsy and sparkle to my busy quilts! Whenever I pick colors, I audition the thread by placing the spool on top of the fabrics to see how it will blend in.
Variegated thread on the Breeze colorway in progress!
It’s often surprising how well a thread will blend in even if the colors aren’t an exact match to the fabric. I normally use the same color it top and bobbin and don’t worry about whether or not the same colors will line up perfectly – that’s an impossible task. But with the variegated colors, any imperfections are hard to see and that makes for stress free quilting!
The black and white will add an extra dimension to this modern color palette!
Choosing the Quilting Designs
Because I was in a hurry to make these quilts for quilt market last fall, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to finish them. I pride myself on quilting my own quilts because (1) that’s my favorite part and (2) I’m a little bit of a control freak. So I knew I had to choose designs that would look great and wouldn’t take too much time.
Swirls in progress on the Amethyst colorway. Don’t stress about the imperfections!
Also, I wanted these quilts to do double duty. Not only do they showcase my Gridwork fabric and Terrace Tiles quilt pattern, they also are examples of 3 different motifs I teach in my machine quilting workshops: Swirls on the Amethsyt colorway, Boxes on the Breeze colorway, and Jagged Stipple on the Citron colorway.
Boxes on the Breeze colorway is one of my favorite modern machine quilting designs.
The fastest and easiest way to finish a quilt with free motion is to choose one design and quilt it from edge to edge across the quilt regardless of the pieced quilt design. It’s also a forgiving way to hide wonky or irregular seams. Just focus on one block at a time, and before you know it, the whole thing is finished! Another way to speed up the process is to quilt the motifs on a larger scale, because that takes up more space in less time.
Jagged stipple is my modern, angular version of it’s traditional cousin, smooth curving stipple.
Just to give you an idea of how fast these designs are to stitch out, it took me about 3 hours to quit swirls on the baby size Amethyst version, 5 hours to quilt boxes on the throw-sized Breeze version, and 2 hours to quilt jagged stipple on the baby sized Citron version. Although the Citron quilt is the same size as the Amethyst, jagged stipple is a much looser design than swirls, so it was a bit faster.
Scrunching and Smooshing the Quilt
Because I do everything on a sit down machine, it’s important to control the weight and bulk of the quilt. I still have yet to find the perfect quilting table, so this is what my hacked together set up looks like below:
I got this table for a song 20+ years ago and sadly I don’t even remember the brand!
My sewing machine is flush with the bed of the table so it can hold most of the weight. It’s pushed against the wall so the quilt won’t fall off the back of the table. Most of the bulk is to my left, and I’ve placed a TV tray forming an L shape to hold more of the quilt as I scrunch and smoosh it through the machine. I also have a comfortable ergonomic chair that I can roll around easily.
A larger throat space on my machine makes a huge difference when managing the bulk!
On a bright sunny day I like to look out the window which gives me lots of natural light while I’m sewing and quilting! When the quilt falls into my lap, I just scrunch and smoosh it out of the way as needed while I quilt.
I hope this helps you overcome your fear of free motion when choosing and allover textural design like this. The key is to fill in all the spaces, so your eye doesn’t notice any of the imperfections.
See it on Video!
Here’s a YouTube video I made showing me actually fee motion quilting each quilt. The video is just under 8 minutes and it’s packed with tips as I quilt each of the 3 quilts shown above. I’m stitching in real time with the volume on my machine so you can see and hear what it looks like “in real life.” Notice how much I stop and reposition my hands:
Sew the leftovers together randomly for a fun, scrappy binding!
I love a scrappy binding, especially when making quilts from fat quarters. For Terrace Tiles, you just use up the leftovers and piece them together randomly to carry the colorful chaos all the way to the edges of the quilt.
You can join the ends on an angle or edge to edge!
I prefer to cut my binding strips 2″ wide so they finish nice and narrow and are even on both sides. I press each of the seams open to reduce bulk and make sure the binding is long enough to go around the entire quilt with a few inches extra.
Another great thing about scrappy binding is you can always add more strips!
Although I prefer the look of hand binding, machine binding is a great way to finish fast! Here are my two favorite ways to bind, either by hand or machine:
My Terrace Tiles quilt pattern is quickly becoming a favorite because it is so fast and fun to make!! Last week I shared some tips on piecing the quilt blocks. Now it’s time to finish the quilt tops and get them ready for quilting.
Terrace Tiles in Gridwork Citron Colorway
You can either arrange all the blocks on a design wall or other flat space; or you can sew them together into larger sets of 4 blocks like I did to speed up the process. I’m not worrying about block placement at this point. The more random the better!
I’ll take a little bit of time to arrange them in a pleasing order, but I won’t overthink it.
Terrace Tiles in Gridwork Amethyst Colorway
I don’t worry too much if the blocks get a little wrinkly at this point. I’ve used spray starch on the fabric before I cut it which gives the blocks a tendency to wrinkle when handled. But that’s ok – once the top is sewn up and basted they won’t be as flimsy or prone to wrinkling. I also press each seam as I go to keep my blocks as flat as possible.
Terrace Tiles in Gridwork Breeze Colorway
I made the Amethyst and Citron quilts in the smaller crib size. For the Breeze colorway, I wanted to make it in the bigger throw size with more blocks.
Once the blocks are assembled into the quilt top, I take what’s called a “Victory lap:” I sew about 1/8″ around the edges with a longer stitch length to secure the edge seams from splitting open. If the quilt has borders, then you don’t need to worry about that step.
Prepping the Backing
The crib size calls for 2 yards of backing so that you can piece part of it if needed. However, you can get away with less fabric if you measure and baste carefully. As long as the backing is a couple of inches bigger than the quilt top on all sides, you’ll be ok. Below the backing just barely covers the finished quilt top on the left and right, but it’s still enough, thank goodness!
I’ll make sure to pull up the backing from the floor so that it covers the entire quilt top; then I’ll trim off the extra fabric, and press it with starch before I baste.
I also like to take a picture of the batting with the quilt I so I can remember which one I used.
Basting the Quilt
I like to set up a table in my back yard and apply 505 basting spray to the wrong side of the top and backing. It’s much easier to spray the top and backing separately and it uses less spray than spraying the batting instead. Below I’m basting the throw sized quilt so it requires a larger backing.
After spraying outside, I bring the top and backing inside and assemble them on my design wall, one layer at a time.
Below, you can see how I pieced the backing for the throw size in the Breeze Colorway: two 2-yard pieces of the blue Hourglass fabric with a horizontal seam in the middle. Don’t worry too much about the small wrinkles – those will get ironed out at the end once the layers are assembled.
I prefer to work with Hobbs batting on a roll so I’ll roll out just enough batting to cover the top plus a few inches, then cut if off the roll and trim off the extra after it’s all basted. I smooth out one layer at a time on my design wall: backing, then batting, then quilt top.
A long acrylic ruler is handy to smooth out each layer. I use a separate one just for basting, since it tends to get sticky from the basting spray.
Above is the Amethyst quilt after basting. I’ll trim off the extra batting and backing fabric so that there’s only about 1″ sticking out on all sides for quilting. That way the excess won’t accidentally get tucked under itself while quilting!!
The final step (not shown) is to iron the front and back of the basted quilt with a hot dry iron. This presses out any wrinkles and helps set the glue so things don’t shift while quilting.
Next week I’ll share some pics and videos the machine quilting I did for each quilt, so stay tuned!
The quilt blocks for Terrace Tiles sew up really fast! This is by far one of the quickest quilts you can make, which was good for me since I sewed all 3 of them in a hurry for quilt market last fall. I could have just made one version of the quilt, but I really wanted to showcase all 3 colorways of my Gridwork fabric line. So 3 quilts it is!!
For the making of this quilt I wanted to share piecing tips just as much as quilting tips. Because I make all of my own quits from start to finish, the piecing can really impact the quilting and I like to make things as easy as possible so I can enjoy the entire process from start to finish.
When you use a smaller stitch length it does two things: (1) It secures the seams so that there’s less of a chance that the edges will split apart while handling. (2) It also helps hide the thread so that you don’t see it poking through the seams. The default stitch length on my BERNINA is 2.5 so I turn the stitch length down to 2.0 whenever I’m piecing blocks for a quilt.
Pairing up fabrics in each block is half the fun!!
Tip #2 Sew with the Long Skinny Strip on Top
Any time you are working with pieces that are longer than a few inches, they have a chance to bow or warp out of shape as you stitch because of the action of your sewing machine and the feed dogs. So if you can sew each set of units in opposite directions, this will help compensate and ensure that your blocks stay nice and square.
An easy way to automatically switch sewing directions is to sew with the skinny center rectangle on top when you are making the Terrace Tiles blocks. It’s also easier to handle the cut pieces this way, too.
Seams pressed open = flatter blocks!!
Tip #3 Press Seams Open
I press the seams open so that the blocks will lie as flat as possible. This is super important especially when quilting on a home sewing machine because it will help eliminate friction and drag on the quilt while shoving it through the machine.
The less bulky you make your seam joins, the easier time you’ll have when your machine easily glides over the block intersections. And contrary to popular myth, you CAN still stitch in the ditch. In fact, it’s much easier to actually stay in the ditch and see what you are doing when your seams are pressed open.
The more fun prints, the better!!
Tip #4 Sew Blocks into Larger Chunks
To keep things random, I like to sew all of the blocks together into pairs and chain piece as I go. The only rule is I try to make sure each pair has 4 different fabrics. I like to press my seams as I sew each pair, so there’s less to press later and everything stays nice, flat and square.
Pairs of blocks from the Amethyst and Breeze colorways.
Once all the pairs are sewn, you can choose to sew them into rows, or sew together into sets of 4 and then into larger rows. Because this is supposed to be a scrappy looking quilt, I don’t overthink it. I try to not have the same fabrics touch each other, but there will usually be a repeat of the print in the larger 4 patch design and that’s ok with me.
Citron Terrace Tiles Blocks
Tip #5 Pin and press for success!
I press every seam as I go, and pin generously whenever I’m sewing together two pieces of fabric. It helps prevent the pieces from stretching and I especially pin where the seams come together. I get better joins this way, and of course I remove the pins as I sew.
Below is how I pin: with the pins perpendicular to the fabric. I pin next to each intersection on both sides rather than right where it’s sewn (so it doesn’t split apart). This is also the orientation in which I feed the blocks under the machine:
In the next post, I’ll show how I assembled these finished blocks into the quilt tops and prepped the quilts for machine quilting, so stay tuned! And honestly, it’s not much more work to make 3 quilts than it is to make 1 and I enjoy every step of it!
Now that my Gridwork fabric line has started arriving in quilt shops, I want to share more about the quilts I made from it. Over the next 4 weeks I’ll share some detailed progress pics of the three Terrace Tiles Quilts I made in three different colors.
Terrace Tiles Quilts were first shown at Fall 2019 Quilt Market in Houston Texas
With 27 different fabrics in this collection, I wanted to make it easier to work with so I organized Gridwork into 3 distinct colorways with 9 fabrics each: Amethyst, Breeze, and Citron.
I love designing fat quarter friendly quilts, and wanted to sew up some sample quilts that would effectively showcase the different Gridwork colorways. I also wanted to offer a quick and easy quilt that could be made entirely from any of the Gridwork fat quarter bundles.
The quilt sizes included in the pattern are Crib (1 FQ bundle), Throw (2 FQ bundles) and Twin/Full (3 FQ bundles). Each quilt size is completely made from fat quarters, including the scrappy binding. You can mix and match any of the fat quarters from the line to make a scrappy looking quilt, or you can use multiple bundles from the same color group for a more coordinated look. The choice is up to you!
Because I wanted to show off this fun design in all 3 colorways, I decided to make three quilts: two of them are Crib size using one bundle each of Amethyst and Citron; and the third one is Throw size using two fat quarter bundles (or half yards) of the Breeze colorway. Here are all my yummy pieces, cut and ready to sew!
Cutting tip: I love to assembly line cut and piece so I’ll usually stack 4 fat quarters on top of each other for speedy cutting. When making the scrappy binding, I’ll go ahead and cut one strip from each fat quarter at the same time I’m cutting the block units.
Stay tuned for next time when I show what the blocks look like when they are all sewn!