Get Out of that Box … The Sequel

This week we’re continuing our discussion dealing with “Think Outside of the Box” quilting.  Due to some of the questions that have been asked, I need to define the “Box” a bit more clearly.  Primarily, I consider the “Box” to be the directions that come with the pattern, or any quilting “rules” that you think can’t be broken. 

There.  With the “Box” defined, let’s think about some other ways to get outside of it.

To me, one of the most obvious ways to get really creative with your quilt is the borders.  A lot of quilt patterns just put the borders on as plain strips of fabric – completely unadorned and not planned out at all.  Consider those long, plain strips of fabric your canvas and you are Michael Angelo.  Those borders are the blank ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  You can throw in cornerstones.  You can add applique.  You can piece them.  As long as the borders fit properly around the quilt center, the sky is the limit.  Don’t ever let plain borders be the last defining factor on your quilt.  If you read my 2018 blogs on borders, you know how I feel about that – plain borders are merely an afterthought.  A period on your quilt statement that deserves an exclamation point. 

Bindings fall into this “out of the box” category, too.  Most of the time we (myself included here), cut that 2 ¼-inch to 2 ½-inch strip of fabric, fold it, press it, sew it on the quilt and call it a day.  But if desired, there are other edge finishes out there, as also discussed in my 2018 blogs.  You can do a knife-edge finish, prairie points, or throw some piping or a flange on that top.  There are quite a few ways to spice up that piping if you want to. 

As we wrap up these “Thinking Outside the Quilt Box” blogs I want to reassure you of a few things.  First, you have the ability to make changes in your quilt.  The pattern is truly just the GPS suggestion to get to from point A to the finish line of your quilt.  You may choose the most direct path by following the directions to the letter from start to finish.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Sometimes that’s all a quilt needs or all you desire.  But every once in a while, you may want to take the scenic route to get to your destination.  Take a trip off the beaten path.  That’s when you use the directions as merely a suggestion – how much fabric to purchase, how big the blocks should be once constructed, etc.  Then turn the GPS off and take the back roads to get to where you’re going.

And the back road is where your creativity and ability as a quilt artist will shine.  And the more you do this, the brighter the shine.  So, in this year of Quilting with Passion, I would like to challenge you – and myself – to change at least one thing in every quilt you make.  It doesn’t have to be a big change.  Small changes count – from how you make half-square triangles to adding cornerstones to a border.  Small changes can lead to big changes.  And yes, you’re going to make mistakes (remind me to tell you about my spray basting fiasco), but we learn from every mistake we make.  That’s how our quilts teach us.  And thankfully, most of those mistakes stay between us and our quilts.  But these small changes will lead to big changes.  And pretty soon, all those quilts we make will be truly ours in every sense of the word. 


So, about my spray basting fiasco…

I do have a long arm.  Her name is Loretta.  And I do use her a lot.  However, on small quilting projects – especially those using straight-line quilting – I will throw those on Big Red. 

I do this for a couple of reasons.  First, I’ve learned loading a small project on my long arm takes twice as long as loading a large project on my long arm.  And second, with straight-line quilting on a small piece, it’s just easier on Big Red than on Loretta.  This particular piece has tight crosshatching in the background, with the lines ½-inch apart.

You may remember that when you quilt on a long arm, you don’t have to baste or pin your quilt.  The long arm keeps the quilt sandwich in place.  On a domestic machine, you have use safety pins, thread baste, or basting spray to hold everything together or else some part of the quilt sandwich will shift. 

I remembered that.  And since it was a small piece (roughly 15” x 17”), I decided I would just use a shot of spray baste to keep everything together.  What I didn’t remember was how long it had been since I used my can of Quilt Basting Spray.  I layered everything, shook the can, and pushed the button on the top….

What a mess!

To have this happen.  It sputtered and left large drops everywhere.  All over the background fabric and batting.  I tried everything to get it out – peroxide, Awesome, even my Norwex cleaning towels.  Nada.  I set it aside, went to bed, and prayed for a miracle – that I would wake up the next morning and the drops of basting spray would all be gone.


 I am re-making this small project.  However, this time I will pin the darn thing.  I dropped kicked that can of spray baste into the trashcan.  Moral of the story – if you use spray baste, check the nozzle before applying.  If it’s caked with the adhesive, run it under hot water to clean it and then proceed.

The upside is this allowed me an additional opportunity to try a different thread in the crosshatching.  I think I like this thread better.  So, the situation wasn’t all bad.  There was a thread rainbow behind the clouds. 

So, until next week, Quilt with Passion!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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