Friday, August 12, 2016

Finishing Techniques

For this lesson, I'd like to show several ways to finish a fused quilt. The size of the quilt can make a difference in how it is finished, but for now let's just look at small works, and how to quickly make them ready to hang on the wall. Yes. Hang on the wall. These fused pieces are not washable, or functional in terms of being handled often. So we will be treating them like the artworks that they are.
  With this quilt that we copied last week, I hand quilted and embroidered around the tree and a little in the horizontal and vertical lines. I used hand embroidery thread, three threads in the needle and tried to make it look like little bumps. The hand work was done only on the top and the batting, no backing fabric was added at that time.

When I was finished with the hand work I used the Escape Hatch Finish for the little piece and then machine quilted it through all three layers. Here is an example of a quilt that used the Escape Hatch Finish:

But that is only one way to finish a small work like this and not one I use much these days.

Nowadays I like to machine and hand quilt before I put the backing on. In fact I like to cut my batting about a half inch smaller on all sides, fuse it to the quilt top and then I sew off the edges of the piece which later makes the finish so much nicer, in my humble opinion.
Here's how to do this finish:
Place a layer of batting under the quilt top and cut it to the exact size and shape of the top. 
Nice and neat.
 Remove the batting and cut off a good half inch from one vertical and one horizontal edge. Then replace the batting so that the edges of the fused top are visible from under the batt, about a 1/4" or more.
Carefully fuse the top to the batting, on your pressing sheet or release paper, not the work surface! You are ready to quilt, no backing fabric is necessary. For this lesson we'll just skip the hand work.
Machine stitch next to, but not on top of the shape, usually on the underneath piece. I use a self threading needle to pull the thread through to the back. I am using my regular open toed foot, not my walking foot, or darning foot, and the feed dogs are up. I do loosen the pressure on the presser foot so the quilt moves through freely.

The machine quilting is done, and you can see the threads hanging off the edge, but none are visible on the face of the quilt itself.

 OK I admit this is a mess, but never fear, no one will ever see this. It's our little secret.
Next, snip off a square from each corner of the quilt right up to the edge of the batt.
 All four corners have been snipped and the edge is ready to fold back and fuse to the batting.
Folded and fused. Still looks pretty awful but just wait...
 Cut a piece of fused fabric the same size exactly as the quilted piece. Trim away a good 1/4" from two sides.
Cover the back and fuse into place. A small edge of the folded top is visible but all the threads are secured on the back.
The finished work. No messy threads, and best of all, no binding to sew!
 It looks better to sew off the edges and fold them back so that the quilting doesn't have to stop short. 

I like to hang my small works on wood panels that I buy either from Cheap Joes or Dick Blick. I paint just the edges of the board so that the quilt itself covers the unpainted parts. See this post for further instructions on how this is done.
If you'd rather not use paint, fused fabric works great with these wooden panels. Just wrap and press to the back with a hot iron, and it stays stuck. Really. I've tried to remove that fabric and it is just a struggle.
Another way to finish a piece which you may have quilted through all three layers is to fuse on a binding:
 These two quilts were bound with strips cut with the rotary cutter wavy blade. Cut a strip about 1.75" wide and trim one edge with the wavy blade (or not). Finger press the length of the strip in half. Encase the edge and fuse, repeating on all sides.
The strips could be cut to form mitered corners, if you like. The labels were also fused.

One more way to finish a quilt is to face it. See this post for the complete tutorial.


  1. Wow...that's a lot of great information. Thanks Melody!

  2. Great instructions Melody, thank you.

  3. OK! Clever on that edge technique! Will give it a go!

  4. What a great class! So much information! Am looking forward to using the finishing techniques you described.
    Thank you so much, Melody for sharing your talent!

  5. Thank you! We are flooding here in Loiuisiana so I hope to have some time this weekend to catch up, can't do much else and we still have electricity!w


Comment or ask your questions here so I can clear up any confusion.