I will try to keep this post brief because I didn’t get any response to my question as to whether a post on this subject would be useful, so I’m guessing that maybe most people would rather figure out something as they go. But, just in case these tips are useful to someone, I am going to post them anyway. Here are a few potential problems and a few possible solutions:
Shock Horror, a Hole!
- You have through your fabric by mistake and make a small hole. This is most likely to happen when you are preparing to add binding. You cut away your batting to the quilt size and accidentally snip through the backing fabric. It feels like you have ruined everything. The backing fabric is quilted on and can’t be removed. You can’t face unpicking it all and starting again. You don’t want to waste all the backing fabric for one tiny hole, but if you try to mend it, it will show. What do you do?
First you mend the hole so it is secure. Then you find a creative way to cover it. Of course it depends where the hole is, but you can usually find a way to embroider, appliqué or patch over it in a way that is no longer visible. Then repeat this decoration in other areas of your quilt, so that it looks like this was the intended pattern all along. Here is a my ‘Tulips and Roses’ quilt where I made a very tiny snip in the backing fabric but the mend still showed like a small slub.
To get around that I used the same fabric that was in each nine patch to add a small chequered ‘brackets’ across the binding to cover it, and then repeated this with one each edge and beneath my label. Here is the back of the quilt (below). Can you see the chequered brackets? Strangely, I think I like it better with these additions.
Help! Some of the Pattern has been Gobbled up!
2. You have fussy cut images around the edges of your quilt, or added embroideries that need to be seen whole. You haven’t thought ahead to the binding and then, when you start to add it you realise that this will chop off a part of your pattern and spoil the overall look.
The solution is to add more quilt to your edges. Add a border right the way around, a couple of borders, a pieced edge, or a frame. You can use four narrow strips as I did, or a series of narrow rectangles sewn together. You can make these EPP shapes in the usual way and attach them with your preferred way of stitching, to the quilt edges. Then you can quilt stitch over them or leave them plain. If you have enough backing material you can bring the backing to the front to serve as binding, but if not, you may have to add pieces to your backing fabric to make it larger. Alternatively you can add a separate binding to the raw edges. When I was making ‘Dog Log’ (below) I had to add four new
grey strips around the edges to prevent my backing fabric covering up the images.
Oh No! One Block is Wonky!
3. You have completed your quilt top and removed the papers around the centre and then noticed that one piece is not straight and has gone unnoticed before. This often happens when you use stripes or squares and find that one block’s stripes are not straight or the checks are uneven at the edges. Do you leave it even though it bothers you every time you look at it? How do you fix it?
The answer is that you remove the piece and redo it. First you must stabilise the area around the piece you want to remove. Put the papers back into all the pieces that surround it and baste them to secure them. I would even sew through the papers in this case to make sure they are really stable (I always sew through my papers but I know a lot of people don’t). Then remove the problem piece, starch it if you want, iron it, re baste it around a new piece of paper, check that the block now looks the way you want on the front and re-insert it into the quilt, stitching it in the usual way to all the surrounding pieces. Remove the paper in that piece and then in all the pieces that surround it. This happened to me with my ‘Whitley’ Bay quilt below:
The darker, large check piece next to the upper right of the yacht in the centre shows more of a blue line of checks at one end than the other (yes I know it’s only a little but I hated it), so I removed the whole piece and reinstated it so that the top and bottom edges both finished on a line of white squares.
A Piece is Too Small or Too Short!
4. You are joining pieces together in a quilt and somehow you have cut a piece too short. This often happens when making a log cabin quilt and you have lots of long pieces, which have a habit of not meeting where we want them to. You don’t want to have to cut more pieces or maybe you don’t have any more fabric the same. What can you do?
When we learn to make quilts we are told to leave a 1/4 seam allowance around our shapes and a little more around EPP shapes. Actually, you can leave up to half an inch for safety and cut it off later if you want to. I find this extra seam allowance gives body to the finished quilt and it doesn’t show. I always allow extra when making log cabin blocks, because it means there is a little more fabric at either end of each ‘log’ to extend you piece by the small amount you may need, without causing a problem. The wonderful thing about EPP is that pieces can be adjusted easily and re sewn, provided you have enough seam allowance to allow small changes in length or direction. In ‘Tiny Dancer’ (below), my two outer cream pieces were cut too short and I didn’t have any more fabric the same. However, I had just enough seam allowance to fix the problem.
Arrgh! All the right pieces are in place but they don’t fit together!
5. This is an odd thing about EPP. You often have to sew the blocks in a certain direction. So if you have this problem check out another way of sewing it together. This is a common problem when piecing 6 and 8 point Stars and adding tiny squares all the way around a larger square. You find that once you get to the end, the whole thing is lopsided (or in the case of the stars, the points don’t meet). You might have the same number of squares on each side but on the final side it looks as if you have more and you can’t understand why. I had this problem with ‘Into the Woods’ (below) and you can see (at the bottom right) that I tried to extend the centre square to make it fit but that made it worse. The square was already the right size.
The solution was to remove the strips of squares and rectangles on each side and sew them back on in a different order, the top and bottom first and then the two sides. This keeps the centre balanced and prevents one side moving out of kilter.
I hate those sticky out ‘ear’s on my triangles and diamonds and I want to chop them off!
6. Well, I know how you feel. ~You get this urge to snip them away, even just a bit, because it’s annoying trying to manipulate them into place and tidy them away.
The answer is don’t. In regular quilting you can chop all sorts of bits off to reduce bulk. With EPP you need to live with these ‘ears’ and learn ways to tuck them in because to chop them off, at worst makes holes and at best weakens the points where they meet other pieces, and risks them coming away from each other in time. You can learn to nest them neatly on the while the ones at your quilt edges will be covered by borders or binding. They are a necessary part of EPP so learn to take care of them!
I am late in posting because we seem to have had a long bout of bad luck. My husband is ill, I have a knee injury, one of my ducks flew away and has not returned, another duck is lame, with a foot infection and the constant heavy rain, and lack of light that accompanies it, makes everything more difficult and dreary.
I began well, trying to finish my series of armchairs but life has got in the way and I have only been able to finish one more, though I have made decent headway on the others.
After a while I added a cat but have not sewn it down yet as I am not sure I like it.
I think I have put too many scattered embroidery stitches on it.
I hope to have more to show you in my next post. Goodness, it will almost Christmas by then!
Till next time…..