the grape thieves l PROJECT 48 52 with the point of the centre block. The plain strip will be slightly longer. Stitch and press seams towards the sashing strip. Using the longest ruler you have, trim the long raw edges of the columns – lay the ruler along the raw edges ¼in away from the points; try to connect at least two (2) points at once to keep the edge as straight as possible. If you have to adjust slightly, try not to go closer than ¼in or you’ll lose your points. Leave the top and bottom short edges for now. Trim the top and bottom edges straight across ¼in from the block points. If you need to adjust for uneven blocks, allow a bit extra rather than cutting off the points. As the blocks are floating, the slight difference won’t be noticeable (a benefit of floating blocks!) 50 Now finger press/mark the other edge of the sashing strips in line with each of the other block points as well. This will help you align all your ‘ floating’ blocks horizontally. 53 Measure the quilt width through the centre and cut two (2) of the 2½in cream border strips to this length. Fold them in half to mark the centre, then pin them to the top and bottom of the quilt, matching the mark with the point of the centre column and easing to fit if necessary. Stitch and press seams towards the borders. Assembling the quilt top 51 Pin one of these strips to one side of the centre column, aligning your marks with the points of the blocks in the centre column. Ease to fit if necessary. Stitch and press seams towards the sashing strip. Repeat on the other side with the second strip. 49 Fold each 10½in sashing strip of cream background in half and finger press or mark the centre – make sure you can remove the mark later! Pin a sashing strip to each side column, matching the centre mark APPLIQUÉ NOTES There’s also no need to backstitch/ lockstitch and cut the threads every time you move from one piece to the next (especially in the grapes!) – just lift the needle and ‘jump’ to the next piece and start stitching. Working appliqué on the whole quilt top rather than individual blocks also means you have to be more careful about the order in which you work and how you handle the top in progress, so bear in mind the following: – Work the appliqué in batches in the order listed, fusing and stitching down each batch before moving on to the next; don’t try to fuse everything in place and then stitch it all down – the handling and manipulation will loosen and fray pieces. – If you have trouble peeling off the paper backing, score it with a pin across the middle so you can fold it back and peel from there instead of the edge. – Use the seams of the columns and blocks as well as points to help you align pieces horizontally and vertically before fusing; a long ruler helps, especially if you are working flat on a table and can’t stand back to see from a distance. You can use any stitch you like on the raw- edge appliqué, but because the shapes are complex, requiring you to change direction frequently, and you’re working on the whole quilt top, Fi strongly suggests you either free machine or hand- stitch your appliqué. Any stitch using the feed dogs is going to mean you’re continually manipulating the whole top under the harp of your machine, a recipe for either tears or swearing, neither of which we want to be the cause of! Q Q Q Once you finish each batch of stitching down, finish the loose threads: snip the thread joins on the front, then flip over and use the bobbin threads to pull the top threads through to the back; tie off those that are long enough and leave the ones that are too short to tie alone. Any top threads that won’t come through to the back with a gentle tug have already been stitched over and they’re not going anywhere – snip them close to the surface of the quilt and move on; you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. ( This is Fi’s completely non quilt- police approved method of dealing with lots of stitching with ‘ jumps’ in it; She has been doing it this way for twenty years and nothing’s come apart yet.) Q Even if you haven’t done a lot of free machining, why not give it a go? Use a straight stitch and darning foot and drop your feed dogs. Practise on scrap fabric to get used to moving the fabric in all directions and remember that the fabric only moves when you do. Go around each shape a couple of times (or even three) for a loose, sketchy look that makes any wobbles into features rather than mistakes! Don’t try to stitch directly on top of your previous line and don’t worry if it’s not perfect – remember that we’re celebrating the uniqueness of hand-made items, not trying to be machine- perfect. Q When free machine stitching, you don’t need to turn the top – you can stitch in any direction – so keep the bulk of the top off to the left out of the way when you can. Q 58 Join us at www.gathered.how/todaysquilter
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