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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Thank you, Angie.
What a beautiful piece and I love the name of the bat!
Thank you, Lin. The bat got’s in name because Putin and his invasion of Ukraine is the subject of the quilt.
thanks for the tips! your block is looking great!
Thank you, Pat. Kind of you to say.
Love that orange block and the pieces made from scraps 🙂
I do lovey to work with scraps.One of my mottos is why use one green, when 20 will do. I love how different fabrics combine to create a pointillist perspective.
Great tutorial for facing a quilt. Haven’t done that in awhile, and while I like the look, it always gave me a little trouble. I will follow your suggestions the next time. And I love your bat! So well done.
I wasn’t a fan of facing for years. I’m a stickler for 90 degree corners versus dog ears and couldn’t achieve them with facing, the way I could with binding. Taking that nip out of the corners reduces the bulk and allows for crisp corners. I also had to learn not to pull the facing too tight towards the back to avoid bowing or buckling. Like machine quilting, facing can feel daunting, but with practice it does get easier.
In some ways I have Barb McKie to thank for the bat. She was a pro at thread painting photographs she took of wildlife. I wouldn’t attempt something on her scale, but I enjoy working on thread paintings that fit easily in the harp of my Bernina. Very soothing, methodical work.
Thank you, Maggie.
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