Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Arrow Tail Quilt Tutorial - Finishing Your Quilt

Me again! : )  Hope your quilt cutting and piecing is moving along.  I haven't heard from anyone having any problems, so I assume everyone is just swimming along.  The coolest thing happened.  Mark's Aunt (Hi, Sheila!) emailed me and told me she was following along with the tutorial and shared pictures of her progress.  I had no idea she even sewed.  I loved that!  She assured me that at least the cutting instructions were clear and easy follow.

Now that I've covered all of the steps to make your quilt top, I thought I'd share some of my favorite resources for finishing your quilt, including basting, quilting, and binding.  As I said, I learned how to quilt from the fabulous resources others have offered up here on the internet.  There are SO many different resources out there, and of course there is no right method (well, there is certainly a wrong method, but you know what I mean!).  It's all just a matter of personal preference.  I've tried lots of different ways to do things and I'm slowly finding what works best for me.  When I first learned to quilt, I probably referred to these two sites the most:

:: Crazy Mom Quilts  - Amanda has a wonderful section with a series of posts on Quilt Making Basics.  She is also the co-author of  Sunday Morning Quilts, which I must get soon!
:: Oh, Fransson! - Elizabeth also has a great Basics section with many tutorials.  And, her book The Practical Guide to Patchwork has it ALL along with a 12 great projects. 

:: Basting Your Quilt :: 

Basting a quilt involves making a quilt sandwich with the quilt top, batting, and backing and temporarily securing these layers together so that you can quilt them.  Make sure that your batting and backing are at least a couple of inches bigger on all sides than your quilt top.  Most people do this on a big, clean floor, but I often baste my quilts on the countertop and I actually think it works better for me. 

Countertop Quilt Basting

I generally use one of two methods to baste my quilt: basting pins or spray.  I prefer pin basting as I think my quilts turn out better when I pin - less shifting and puckering.  But, basting with spray can be very quick and easy, so I use that method on occasion.  Here are some tutorials for both.
Crazy Mom Quilts has this great tutorial on basting a quilt using pins.
Film in the Fridge shares this quick how to on using spray adhesive for basting. 

:: Quilting ::

This step can be a can of worms - do you want to machine or handstitch your quilt?  Do you want to do free-motion or straight-line quilting?  Do you have the proper sewing machine feet for the quilting method you've chosen?  What color and type of thread do you use? Etc, etc, etc.


For the Arrow Tail Quilt, I really like the look of straight line quilting as it accentuates the design.  That said, choose whatever design you're comfortable with and feel would work well with your fabric choices.  Both of the blogs mentioned above have fantastic tutorials on free-motion quilting.  For straight-line quilting I found this blog post by Canoe Ridge Creations to be very comprehensive.

I mentioned that I will be hand tying my quilt and one reader asked what that meant.  Tying a quilt involves using a needle to insert a heavier weight thread (embroidery floss or pearl cotton) or yarn through all layers of the quilt, bringing the thread back up to the top and tying a knot.  That's it!  It's does not add the texture and stability that quilt stitches will, but it is quick and results in a nice floppy quilt (at least that's what I read). : )  I happen to have Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration by Denyse Schmidt, in which she covers the how-to of tying a quilt.  You can also find a number of tutorials online - this video by Mary Fons is great and entertaining.   

:: Binding Your Quilt ::

Guess what?  Also, lots of different ways to bind your quilt, but they generally fall into the hand-stitching or machine stitching categories.  I have tried several different methods but I definitely prefer hand-stitching.  There is something about finishing a quilt by hand that I love and find relaxing.  This tutorial by Oh, Fransson! gives every detail of cutting and sewing binding and I love the detailed photos in this tutorial by Amy's Creative Side for hand-stitching your binding on your quilt.
Little Folks Quilt - Zigzag Binding
I have tried two different machine binding methods that have both worked well for me.  The first is zig-zag binding by Rachel of Stitched In Color.  I used this on my Little Folks Quilt.  I really like this method especially for "busier" patchwork quilts.  I also recently tried the popular machine binding method by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts when I made my patchwork chair cushions.  This also worked fairly well.  I think with more practice I would probably use both of these methods more, but again, I just enjoy the hand-stitching method.

So, I think that wraps up my tutorial.  Yeehaw!  I loved sharing it with you and I loved putting together this list of resources (now I have something to refer to).  If you make an Arrow Tail Quilt, please, pretty please share it with my flickr group or by email.  I'd love to see it!  Thanks for following along! 


  1. I've got my pieces all cut and about halfway through sewing the top!

  2. wow these quilts are so beautiful. i just love them.

  3. I found your cute blog via pinterest. I just love your tutorial for your Arrow Tail quilt. It is definitely on my list of quilts I want to make! Such a great pattern, and I love your fabric choices. Thanks for sharing!