Triangle Quilt: Thread-basting the Quilt Sandwich

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Step 4: Baste three layers of quilt sandwich

When you have the quilt back and the quilt top done, there's an obvious next step: QUILT SANDWICH.

I've written considerably more detail here, when I made the hexagon quilt and the process is fairly similar this time around. Although, I will note that thread-basting may not be the method of choice when machine quilting, as the sewing feet have a tendency to get caught up in the basted stitches. If you're mindful of that, it should be okay.

  1. You'll need: quilt top, quilt back, batting, safety pins, needle, thread, scissors, masking/packing tape, and most importantly: a large enough space to work. Be sure you don't mind if a sewing needle hits your work surface hundreds of times!
    Step 0: Gather Materials & Clear Space
  2. Iron & starch the quilt back.
  3. Mark the middle of all four sides with safety pins.
  4. Lay backing right side down in the middle of a large enough surface (very important).
  5. Tape in place with masking or packing tape, making sure to gently pull the fabric so it is completely flat. Do not stretch too much!
    Step 1: Lay Quilt Back Down, Right Side Down
  6. Iron quilt batting if necessary.
  7. Mark the middle of all four sides with safety pins.
  8. Center batting on top of back fabric, using safety pins as a guide.
  9. Ensure the batting is completely flat. I do this by picking up an edge and lifting up and down in quick, "parachuting" movements.
    Step 2: Center Batting Over Quilt Back
  10. Iron & starch quilt top.
  11. Mark the middle of all four sides with safety pins.
  12. Center quilt top on batting right side up, using safety pins as a guide.
  13. Ensure the quilt top is completely flat, as before.
    Step 3: Center Quilt Top Over Batting, Right Side Up
  14. Baste three layers of quilt sandwich.
    • Start in the center, and do one quadrant at a time.
    • Each line of basting should be about 12" apart.
    • Stitches should be about 1.5" long.
    • Always secure the end of the thread off the quilt top on the batting. This'll make the stitches easier to remove.
    • Baste both horizontally and vertically.
    • Baste near the edges of the quilt, too. You'll be thankful when you attach the binding.
    1.5 Inch Stitches
    Please ignore how imperfect my triangles are.
  15. When done, flip quilt over and fix any large wrinkles you may have basted in.
    Step 5: Check Back for Puckers

It turns out that you can also baste with safety pins or using a spray adhesive. I just keep thread basting for some unknown reason. Maybe I like the blisters. Maybe I feel it's a little more secure when stitched together? Who knows.

Dizzy Enjoys the Triangle Quilt Sandwich

Success: Earl Grey Tea Marshmallows

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Earl Grey Marshmallows

I originally made these marshmallows based off a recipe from JoyTheBaker. I've made them in their standard honey version 2 or 3 times. They are the best things to take camping! But for my birthday I wanted a special twist. So I swapped a cold cup of cream earl grey tea for the cold water in the recipe. It's a very subtle bergamot flavoring. If I wanted it stronger, I would have had to grind up some tea leaves and throw in a tablespoon of those.

In summary, the modifications:
  • I didn't use any corn starch, just confectioner's sugar
  • I used a strong cup of cold cream earl grey tea instead of the cold water
  • No vanilla beans, but 1 Tbsp of homemade vanilla extract
  • Raw honey
Always very, very tasty.

Earl Grey Marshmallows
Earl Grey Marshmallows

Bowling Sundaze

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arsenal Lanes

There's a fantastically retro bowling alley in Pittsburgh called Arsenal Lanes. And by retro, I mean, they've been maintaining their decor from the 70s nicely. 'Sure beats your average 90s neon bowling alley. And the bar is lovely. Even lovelier when they host children's birthday parties in it, ahahahahahaha.

We took advantage of their Sunday "Sundaze" special to host a birthday party. $36 per lane, and only 50 cents for shoes, hot dogs, sodas, and games. When I announced that I'd be providing homemade hot dog toppings everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but they went over swimmingly.

Homemade Hot Dog Toppings
I brought zucchini pepper relish, quick pickled onions, bacon pieces, crumbled Fritos, and a jar of salsa. Oh, and some dilly beans but they went fairly untouched. Hostess tip - always open jars (and leave the lids off) of food you'd like people to eat. I also may've labeled every jar with a stamp of my face so our guests could know which food is ours, and which belonged to the neighboring kids' tables.

It's nice to be surrounded by all your people.

Bowling at Arsenal Lanes
Bowling at Arsenal Lanes
Cupcakes from Vanilla & Earl Grey Marshmallows
Arsenal Lanes
Mr. Russell's Hairpieces bowling shirt

Success: Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake
TheKitchn called this Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake from Diethood a "Pinterest miracle". But it looks a little more like a Pinterest Fail. The taste, however, is really fantastic. So only a partial-Pinterest-fail.

Next time, I would remember to slide a butter knife around the edge of the cake before flipping...and maybe use medium-low heat for the foster sauce as recommended (I think I overheated it to a soft-ball stage which means the sauce hardens as it cools, although it fixes itself after baking).

Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake
Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake

How To: Sew Freeform Waves in Large Scale

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Completed Quilt Back in Its Natural Habitat

I wanted a wibbly wobbly timey wimey backdrop for my TARDIS applique for the back of the triangle quilt. And for the longest time, I was scared of digging into this rather difficult project. My fright was not misplaced as sewing freeform waves at such a large scale is really super tricky. It also didn't help that I spent months calling Jo Ann Fabrics in the area to see if they had the shades of grey that I needed. They did not. But it's just the back of a quilt, so...that's life sometimes.

Lily's Quilts tutorial does a really lovely job of explaining how to do freeform waves while sewing smaller projects. However, after ripping out my first wave seam six times I have a few lessons to share for those attempting largescale freeform waves:
  1. Use marks or pins to indicate where the mountains and valleys should line up.
  2. If marks/pins get misaligned by over one inch, flip the project over and sew left-handed until it fixes itself. Misalignment is often caused by unequal tensions of the top & bottom fabrics.
  3. Equal tension of the fabrics while sewing is difficult - be extra forceful when guiding the bottom fabric.
  4. Steeper waves are more difficult to sew while shallow waves look more haphazard/sloppy. The sweet spot is a gradual slope with plenty of depth.
  5. Work on a large enough surface and don't bother with the rotary cutter.
  6. Let go of perfection.

Nonetheless, I've still pretty much accepted that my quilt back will likely have wrinkles sewn into it when it's all said and done. Dizzy doesn't seem to mind.


Dizzy Helps with the Sewing Dizzy Helps with the Sewing

Step 0 - Gather Materials
See if you have enough materials for this largescale freeform waves sewing project. I set up this Excel spreadsheet which basically showed me that if I want strips of approximately equal width, they can't be much more than 11 inches (44/4). It also helped me play with how much of an overlap I should do.

The strip width formula is as follows: (quiltLength/numStrips)+(inseamAmt*2)+(overlapAmt)

Aside from fabric and thread (and a sewing machine), you'll also need a fabric marking utensil, a ruler, pins, scissors, and an iron.
Step 0 - Gather Materials


Step 1 - Line Up and Center the Fabric Strips, Right Sides Up
Life is easier if you iron your strips before lining them up with each other, right sides up.

Step 1 - Line Up and Center the Fabric Strips, Right Sides Up

Step 2 - Mark Overlap Length from Edges of Both Strips
Here you can see I'm using a 3 inch overlap, and marking three inches from the edge on both fabrics. The overlap determines how deep/high your waves can be.

Continue to mark from the edge of each fabric the entire length of the strips. No need to measure more than every 6 inches or so. Instead of a disappearing ink fabric marker you can use a white fabric pencil or whatever else you typically use to mark fabric (non-permanently!!)
Step 2 - Mark Overlap Length from Edges of Both Strips
Step 2 - Continue to Mark Overlap Length from Edges of Both Strips

Step 3 - Pull One Strip On Top of Other, Lining Up On Previous Marks
Pull the fabrics on top of each other, based on aligning the top fabric with the overlap marks on the bottom fabric. This will give you the measured overlap (in my case, 3 inches).
Step 3 - Pull One Strip On Top of Other, Lining Up On Previous Marks Step 3 - Continue to Pull One Strip On Top of Other, Lining Up On Previous Marks

Step 4 - Cut Freeform Wavy Lines Between Overlap Marks
Using the edge of the top fabric, and the overlap marks (3 inches from the edge) also on the top fabric, cut a wavy line with maximum height/depth of your overlap measurement (here: 3 inches). The gentler the wave, the easier it will be to sew. The shallower the wave, the sloppier it will look.
Step 4 - Cut Freeform Wavy Lines Between Overlap Marks Step 4 - Continue to Cut Freeform Wavy Lines Between Overlap Marks

Step 5 - Remove Cut Scraps from on Top and Underneath
There should be curvy cut pieces on top of the bottom strip and underneath the top strip, as shown. Remove them!
Step 5 - Remove Cut Scraps from on top and underneath
Step 5 - Remove Cut Scraps from on top and underneath

Step 6 - Pull Strips Away from Each Other Slightly
Step 6 - Pull Strips Away from Each Other Slightly

Step 7 - Pin to Mark Where Edge Starts
If your strips are the exact same length, then the edges should line up perfectly and you don't need to do this step!
Step 7 - Pin to Mark Where Edge Starts

Step 8 - Pin Either Side of Strips at Humps
The pins in this case work as markers to indicate to you how the fabric should be aligning as you sew, and if you're going off course. I like to put my pins on the wrong-sides (currently: underside), but this is optional. One pin for each strip, lining up perfectly. Do not pin the strips together!

Other tutorials for sewing freeform waves in smaller projects do not mark or pin where the fabric aligns. You will regret it if you skip this step for larger projects. Longer fabric = more space for imperfections that build on each other!

Step 8 - Pin Either Side of Strips at Humps
Step 8 - Continue to Pin Either Side of Strips at Humps

Step 9 - Flip One Strip Over So Right Sides Face Each Other
Flip one strip over so that the right sides of the strips face each other. You'll notice that the mountains of one strip peek over the valleys of another strip. This is why sewing flat curves is so tricky!

Do not worry about aligning the edges of both strips. Just line up the first inch or so that you'll be sewing.
Step 9 - Flip One Strip Over So Right Sides Face Each Other Step 9 - Flip One Strip Over So Right Sides Face Each Other

Step 10 - Line Up First Inch (at beginning of strips)
Line up the first inch or so of the strips that you'll be sewing together. Don't worry too much about what the rest of the fabric does, just so long as your edges meet.

Sometimes I pin the two strips together at this step...but this is the only time I pin both fabrics together.
Step 10 - Line Up First Inch (at beginning of strips)

Step 11 - Sew Together
Use your right hand to guide the bottom fabric under the sewing foot, and your left hand to guide the top fabric. Try to keep the bottom fabric parallel with the sewing foot as you go, and make sure the tension on either strip is about equal. Line the top strip up with the bottom strip only a few inches away from the sewing foot. If you need to stop, move the needle into the fabric, release the foot, and fix what you can. Try to avoid sewing in pleats and puckers.

Other tutorials give some more in-depth explanation of this process (with photos) for smaller projects: Lily's Quilts, Red Pepper Quilts, and a video from FromBlankPages.
Step 11 - Sew Together
Make sure your pins are coming together as you sew. If you get more than an inch off, this is likely due to differences in the fabric tension. Try pushing the tighter fabric more with your hands.

If all else fails, flip the strips to the right side into your sewing machine harp and sew left-handed until the pins align again. This sewing part takes *a lot* of practice.
Step 11 - Sew Together

Step 12 - As You Remove Pins, Check for 1/4" Inseam
If you spot an inseam that is smaller than 1/4", it is often best to hand-sew in an 1/4" inseam (if you use a machine, the fabric has a tendency to bunch and cause serious problems). Alternatively, you could just douse the short seams with a bit of Fray Check.
Step 12 - As You Remove Pins, Check for 1/4" Inseam

Step 13 - Iron Wrong Sides of Strips
Iron the seam on the wrong sides, ironing the lighter fabric in the direction of the darker fabric.
Step 13 - Iron Wrong Sides of Strips

Step 14 - Iron the Right Sides Flat
I also like to iron the right sides of the fabric, being careful not to iron any puckers or pleats. It can get tricky, so sometimes I iron the seams at a perpendicular angle.
Step 14 - Iron the Right Sides Flat

Step 15 - One Strip Sewn to Another Strip, Completed!
Step 15 - One Strip Sewn to Another Strip, Completed!
You may notice what looks like pleats in the seams. If stretched/ironed properly, these pleats will go away...it's even less of an issue if your fabric is unwashed as the shrinking in the wash will make these pseudo-puckers melt into the background of shrinking puckers.
Step 15 - One Strip Sewn to Another Strip, Completed!

Step 16 - Sew More Strips Together
Keep sewing strips together! They get a little unwieldy after four strips or so (depending on their width), so I like to sew them together in chunks. And then sew the chunks together at the end.
Step 16 - Sew More Strips Together

Step 17 - Done!
Freeform Waves Quilt Back Finished
Dizzy Enjoys the New Quilt Back
Sewing Freeform Waves in Largescale Close Up Dizzy Helps with the Sewing

  1. How To: Cut Isosceles Triangles Without Templates 10/13/2013
  2. How To: Assemble an Isosceles Triangle Quilt Top 10/16/2013
  3. Step 1: Isosceles Triangle Quilt Top Completed 10/18/13
  4. TARDIS Applique 10/27/13
  5. Coordinating Pillowcases for the Isosceles Triangle Quilt 11/6/13
  6. Step 2: Isosceles Triangle Quilt Backing Assembly 3/18/15
  7. Step 3: Isosceles Triangle Quilt Sandwich-ing
  8. Attaching the TARDIS Applique
  9. Step 4: Machine Quilting the Isosceles Triangle Quilt
  10. Step 5: Binding the Isosceles Triangle Quilt
  11. A Review of the Isosceles Triangle Quilt

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