Category Archives: mitered corners

Design Dilemma

Earlier this week my twin sister Diane called me with a home dec design dilemma. The small chest that sat between two red leather chairs in her living room was so narrow that people sitting in the chairs couldn’t see each other around the lamp at the back of the chest. Her solution was a clever one: she claimed a matching chest from another room and placed it back to back with the first one. Then she had a piece of glass made to fit the top. The only problem was that you could see under the glass where the two chests met in the middle.

Could she commission me to make a table runner to cover the middle section? Of course she could. She wanted something very simple — no piecing required, just a rectangle about 9″ wide and long enough to extend down both sides of the chest. We talked about colors to match her living room — deep red, tan, forest green. I was ready to charge off to a fabric store to look at home dec fabrics.

Diane was incredulous. “Don’t you have some fabric in your stash that will work?” she asked. Well, of course I did. A little stash diving resulted in this group of fabrics sent from Portland to Atlanta via iPhone for Diane’s inspection:

fabric choices

She liked the print in the center of the photo — the one with the red flowers and vines on a tan background — and the red and tan toile on the right side. No need to choose between them. By making the table runner reversible, we could use both fabrics.

I pulled a red leaf print from my stash for the binding:

the winning combo
The only thing I needed to buy was topstitching thread. It had to be just the right color to look good on both fabrics, as the backgrounds are similar but definitely not the same. In no time at all my quilt sandwich was ready. I decided to quilt a diagonal 1″ grid across the surface of the table runner, using my walking foot and this light taupe rayon thread by Madeira that has a beautiful sheen:

topstitching thread
I cut the binding strips on the bias, by the way, because I knew the leaf print would look better that way. Here is the runner quilted and ready to bind:

ready to bind
Notice that the table runner isn’t just a rectangle? It wouldn’t be much more work, I reasoned, to make the ends pointed, and it would be so much more elegant. It didn’t occur to me until later that I would have six corners to miter and that four of those corners would be angles greater than 90 degrees. No worries, though. Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has an excellent tutorial on her blog, Trends and Traditions, that shows how to bind outside corners greater than 90 degrees.

Once the binding was stitched on, I tacked it down on the other side using Steam-a-Seam 2, a double stick fusible webbing. At the top of the photo you can see how the webbing is positioned right along the folded edge of the binding:

fusing the binding

(Steam-a-Seam 2 comes in ¼”-wide rolls. All I had on hand was ½”-wide. Easy enough to cut it in half to make ¼”-wide strips.) The fusible webbing made short work of finishing the binding. All that was left was tacking down the mitered corners by hand. I was on the last miter when I noticed I had missed three rows of quilting:

tacking down the binding (2)
Now doesn’t this look better?

stitching corrected
Here is Diane’s reversible table runner (measuring 9-3/8″ x 41″), ready to be boxed and mailed:

runner completed

This little project was a pleasant diversion from binding Toile Story. I do enjoy binding quilts by hand but was ready for a little break. Diane said she wasn’t in a hurry to receive this but was hoping to get it before she hosts a cocktail party later this month. She’ll be very surprised to get this in the mail so soon — unless she sees this post first.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, mitered corners, update | 3 Comments

Back Home Again

“Hey, it’s good to be Back Home Again.” Do you remember the song by John Denver? It came out in 1974, so you have to be Of a Certain Age to know it. We are indeed home after a delightful two-week stay in Atlanta with my sister Diane and her husband, made even more delightful by the arrival of our sister Reigh and her husband a couple days before Thanksgiving.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of little sewing projects for my sisters the last week I was there. Reigh said she would love to have a runner for the pub table in the dining area off her kitchen, and Diane said she would love a new set of pillowcases for the guest room on the main floor. My arm didn’t have to be twisted:  it meant a trip to a local quilt shop!

Off we went to InTown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, where both Diane and Reigh selected batiks for their projects. Reigh has a lot of brown and blue in her kitchen and dining area, with touches of yellow and gold. The colors in this simple table runner should go very well with her décor:

Reigh's table runner and napkins

Reigh bought enough fabric for me to make two sets of napkins, four in each set.

Because the design of the runner is so simple — just a rectangle of fabric with four borders — I mitered the corners to give it a little something extra:

Reigh's table runner, detail

I used low-loft batting and did some very basic topstitching to finish it. Reigh has promised to send me a photo of the table runner when she gets back home so I can show you how it looks in its designated spot.

Here are the pillowcases I made for Diane’s guest room:

Diane's new pillowcases

Here’s another view that includes the pleated bedskirt I made last year during my annual Thanksgiving visit:

Diane's new pillowcases en suite

I love the way the gold fabric in the pillowcase picks up the gold in the bedskirt.

Reigh and Diane joke about shackling me to the sewing machine when we are all together but the truth is I am in my element when creating something with fabric.

 

 

 

Posted in bedskirt, family, home dec, mitered corners, roll-it-up pillowcases, table napkins, update | 6 Comments

Day for Night

Another UFO bites the dust! That’s right, I have a finished quilt to present to you: Day for Night, begun in June 2012, finished today.

2013-9, Day for Night, front
Day for Night, 56″ x 69″

I made the top in a couple of afternoons last year, when I was in the mood for something fast and fun. You can read about it here.

Why did it take so long to finish? One reason is that I hadn’t decided what to put on the back. I often use leftover blocks and strips on my quilt backs but in this case I had given them to one of my nieces for a sewing project. This summer I finally pulled a whimsical black-and-white print from my stash, pairing it with a dotted fuchsia for a jolt of color:

2013-09-16 02.24.22
Back of Day for Night

That’s the label you see in the lower right-hand corner. I fused it to a square of the fuchsia fabric and set it on point to echo some of the blocks on the front.

Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting quilted a swirly edge-to-edge design that blends in perfectly on the front and complements the whimsy of the backing fabric. Here’s a close-up of the back:

2013-9, Day for Night, back, quilting detail

Did you happen to notice that the binding is two different fabrics? I wanted to play with the black-white/positive-negative theme by binding the quilt with fabric that’s the reverse of the fabric right next to it. This was a fun challenge because I had to figure out how to miter the corners where the black and white fabrics meet:

2013-9, Day for Night, binding detail

With double-fold binding (also known as French binding), quilters make it a point to avoid having a seam in a mitered corner but in this case it was deliberate.

I expected that the seam joining the black and white fabrics would be on the diagonal. Turns out the seam needs to be on the straight of grain. Not only that, when the binding strip is folded on the quilt edge to form the miter, the seam needs to be exactly on the edge that is even with the raw edges of the quilt:

Camera Uploads22

I trimmed the seams to 1/8″. There’s a little extra bulk in the corners but it wasn’t a problem. In fact, now that I know how to do it, I may make another quilt in the future in which the binding fabric changes at the mitered corners.

All in good time, though. I have a few other UFOs and WIPs to tackle first.

 

 

 

 

Posted in mitered corners, update | 7 Comments

Make Mine Mitered: A Tutorial on Table Napkins

This tutorial is for a 19″ square napkin with a ¼”-wide hem and mitered corners. Here’s a look at the corners from both sides:

For two napkins, you’ll need ⅝ yard cotton fabric 42-44″ wide. Wash and iron fabric.

Supplies
acrylic ruler with 45° angle marking
sewing stiletto (I use a bamboo skewer)
removable marking pen or pencil (I like the Frixion pens)

1. Trim selvages from fabric. Cut a 20″ square.

First Light Designs tip: trim ¼” from one of the sides that is parallel to the selvage. This reduces the crosswise width by a quarter inch. Why this step? The crosswise grain has more give than the lengthwise grain. With repeated use and washing, the napkin will relax along the crosswise grain. Trimming the fabric at the beginning compensates for that bit of stretch. To identify the crosswise and lengthwise grains, give the square a gentle tug in both directions; you should be able to tell immediately which side has more give. (Of course, you can cut the napkins 19¾” x 20″ initially but somehow I find trimming a 20″ square easier.)

2. At the ironing board, align 45º marking on ruler with top right edge of napkin as shown below. With a removable marking pen or pencil make a mark 1½” in from the edge of the napkin (not the edge of the ruler):

See the pink dot I made with the Frixion pen? It’s exactly an inch and a half in from the corner.

3. Bring point of fabric in to meet the mark and press:

4. Fold raw edges ½” down and press all the way around. The pressed edges form a miter at each corner:


5. Bring the raw edge in to meet the fold and press about 2″ in from the corner:


6. Fold again, forming a ¼”-inch miter. Press fold in place, again about 2″ in from the corner. Repeat for all corners. Do not press all the way around. Do not insert any pins yet.


7. Open up folds at each corner and trim a ¼”-square from the point of fabric. (You don’t need to use pins to hold the folds open before trimming; I did it here for photography purposes only.)


8. Place a pin at each corner to hold the miters in place:


9. Starting in the middle of any side, bring raw edge in to meet fold, fold again to form ¼”-inch fold, and finger press in place. The finger-pressed area is at the left edge of the photo:


10. Move to the sewing machine. Set stitch length at about 12 stitches to the inch (2.4 on computerized machine). Insert needle right next to the fold and begin stitching. Stop every couple of inches to make the two folds that form the quarter-inch hem.


11. As you approach the corner, remove the pin and use the point of a stiletto to hold the fold in place as you stitch toward the corner. Pivot when the needle is at the point the two folds meet. Remove second pin and continue stitching. When you get to the starting point, change stitch length to almost zero. Stitch three or four tiny stitches. Bring threads to the back and cut close to the line of stitching. Give the napkin a final press to set the stitches.


Add a pretty napkin ring, and you’re ready to set the table!

 

 

 

 

Posted in mitered corners, table napkins, tutorial, update | 4 Comments