I have been building a repertoire of finishing touches over the 34 years I have been quilting. They will never be set in stone. New tools, techniques and my personal adaptations seem destined to result in at least one tweak every single time I reach the finishing phase of my current project.
It’s ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings. In the case of a quilt, I never square it up until the final quilting is complete and all embellishments have been affixed. Why this finishing touch? Simple, stitching distorts the quilt. So, my last step before turning my attention to the facing was to attach the bat (Putin) to the quilt with a narrow, very narrow satin stitch.
Time to Add the Facing
Raw edges must be covered. Whether they are concealed with a binding, stitching or facing depends on the purpose and aesthetic of the quilt. I choose to face most of my art quilts, since bindings and stitching have a framing effect and my work lends itself to not being contained visually. I used to add facing to all four sides of the quilt at once. However, this time I am experimenting with adding and securing the sides before I move on to the top and bottom facings.
Facing Tip #1
Although facings are turned to the back side of the quilt and are therefore technically not seen from the front, they might be glimpsed if you look closely at the edge. Hence my side facings are red on top to match the sky and yellow on bottom to match the village.
More Facing Tips
Once the facing is sewn to the front of the quilt (right side to the right side) the facing is “flipped” towards the outside of the quilt and the resulting crease is ironed. Next stay stitch the facing in place. This simple finishing touch pays dividends, since it creates a professional finish and helps avoid distortion and rippling along the edge. I also notch my corners to remove bulk.
Take Your Time
Tempting as it is to rush when you are so close to the finish, take your time. This is particularly true when turning the facing to the back side of the quilt and pinning and then stitching it in place. Iron as you turn, just a few inches at a time. Be vigilant. The quilt is multi-layered and the facing is a single layer of fabric. The result, they handle differently. It is easy to stretch the facing or turn more or less of the quilt to the back. Be patient. Those extra few moments make a huge difference.
Not Finished Yet
It is time to start hand stitching. Personally, I find this a treat. I like to use a ladder stitch. Although technically the ladder stitch is a way to invisibly sew a seam, if you think of the edge of the facing and the backside of the quilt right where it meets the edge of the facing, as two sides of a seam, that is how my stitches are nearly invisible. Now that’s a finishing touch.
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