Quilting the Heart Quilt

I showed this heart quilt recently on a post to show what was coming up next. Last time it had just been loaded, and I hadn’t begun the quilting yet. The quilt is a group of hearts, each one depicting an aspect of the maker’s daughter’s life – her interests, her family, and her activities. Such a clever idea!

The client selected a pantograph that has a suggestion of a heart in it. It is called Je t’aime by Urban Elementz.

The quilting is done in white Glide on top, and Natural White Bottom Line in the bobbin.

The white color adds texture in the sashing, while allowing the hearts to shine.

But the black border around every block, along with a sashing containing three strips started to show a bit of excess fabric on the sides. I suspect the final grey border was a slap and sew.

By the time I got to the bottom, the amount of excess fabric was really beginning to be a problem.

Oh, my, by the time I had it rolled so the bottom edge of the quilt was ready to be quilted, the consequences of inaccurate sashing and slap-and-sew borders was clear. If you’ve never heard of slap-and-sew borders, and why it is important to measure and cut, see my tutorial on Borders, Understanding the Why. I take you through the reasons why it is important to do this the right way, and what happens when you don’t.

The corner is also off, no longer a nice straight line with a right angle to the bottom.

OK, so I do the best I know how to fix this. First, I align the sashing straight, and pin it to the backing in the border.

Then I distribute the excess across the block area, and the same part of the border, and pin every couple of inches.

I do the same thing on the corners. At this point, the decision has to be made between making it square or making it flat. I choose flat, as making it square instead will result in pleats and puckers on the top.

You can see, there is still considerable waviness and excess fabric on the border.

So, next, I spritz liberally with a solution of 50% Best Press Unscented and 50% water.

Then, steam it until it shrinks up a bit.

Now, the corner is behaving a bit better.

And so is the bottom border. There are still some ripples in the green sashing, so I hit it with a bit more steam.

While it is laying nice and flat, I edge-stitch the edge, remove the pins, and resteam the pin holes closed. There is still waviness in the green border, but it is greatly reduced and I hope the quilting will take up the remainder without puckers.

Then, before it can wake up again, I quickly finish the quilting. The corner came out nice and flat, with only minor puckering near the red triangle. The corner isn’t straight anymore, but that can be cut off now if the client wants it to be a precise right angle. My suspicion is that she will just bind it as it is, as it is a quilt destined for heavy use.

The bottom edge of border, along with the ripples in the sashing above are now nicely quilted too.

All done! Overall it came out nicely.

Her choice of white for the thread means the white background stays in the background, allowing the texture to show in the sashing and hearts. This is such a great idea for a quilt.

My customer was thrilled. And a happy quilter is a lovely thing. What are you sewing this week?

29 thoughts on “Quilting the Heart Quilt

  1. Julie

    I second the first comment, I’m always amazed on how much 100% cotton fabric changes shape. And wool, but that a whole different animal, pun intended. As my piecing technique improved so did my machine quilting. I don’t think there were as many issues when you hand quilted but I’m more than willing to hear otherwise from hand quilters since I’ve only done 3 & they came out ok although I know my sashing & borders were slap-dash since I hadn’t been educated.

  2. Mary Ed Williams

    Hi, Carole,
    Hope you escaped the bad weather yesterday. I am still wrestling with an Augusta Cole scrap quilt – it has several thousand HST’s, or it seems like that many. Rain, rain, rain all day, so lots of HST wrestling. Thanks for the great emails!
    Mary Ed


    I so enjoy seeing how you problem solve this issues! Amazing! Thanks for sharing! The quilt looks great!

  4. Rheanna

    A very good reminder on slap and sew borders. I got lazy on my most recent quilt and tried sewing one border as slap and sew. I instantly knew it wasn’t going to work so so will be ripping that out and trying again. It pays to take a few extra minutes to do it right.

  5. Donna

    Carole, great work getting that waviness out! Where did you learn that trick? I am getting a long arm at the end of the year, hopefully they will teach these tricks when I take my long arm lessons!

  6. June Neigum

    I really appreciate your problem solving techniques. I hope you educated your customer on border sewing.

  7. Keysha

    Hi Carole! Thanks for sharing your quilting tips for wonky borders. Excellent explanation! I am finally back to working on a lap sized quilt from the late Di Ford-Hall. What’s interesting is this is all being quilted on my new sit down Bernina Q16 long arm and I am using quilting rulers. I’m just taking my time so I can do it right.

  8. kathyinozarks

    Wow it is a good thing you knew how to remedy this. never thought allot of steam could do that-awesome job. Pretty quilt too

  9. CarolE

    Fortunately for me, one of my very first quilt instructors stressed the importance of measuring your quilt borders. You did an excellent job fixing the problem!

  10. That’s a great quilt – so meaningful! But frustrating for you to have to deal with those wavy borders. It’s great that you have strategies that work to tame them! Did you talk to your client about how to avoid that next time?

  11. Patricia Evans

    Several have already asked my question already, which is do you gently educate your client on the wavy border issue to prevent future occurrences? I think I learned to measure my borders fairly early on. Fortunately most of my quilts were for kids and usually no more than lap size, so the problem was never extreme. It’s always good to revisit your suggestions occasionally since you have new readers all the time.

  12. Such a lovely idea for a family members quilt showing her interests. I could see baseball and chickens, and no doubt there were all sorts of interesting heart blocks in this quilt. Thanks for showing how you tamed those wavy edges.

  13. Thanks for the step by step (from the long armer’s perspective) on the reasons to measure borders correctly before just slapping them on a quilt top. Always a good reminder, even for seasoned quilters. The quilt is very charming. Great idea with the hearts. Glad the customer was pleased.

  14. Jo Anne Seccurra

    Your pictures capture the challenges you faced with border rippling and waving. The extra time and effort you put in to remedy the challenges and your caring approach set you apart! .Thank you for sharing this!

    I’ll be finishing quilts destined for kidney transplant patients. As COVID eases, the hospitals have more capacity for transplants…a good thing!

  15. Melanie

    Great job, Carole. I don’t know of many long-arm quilters who would go to the lengths that you do! The pieced hearts are a good idea, and nice that the customer appreciated your work! :o)

  16. Joan Sheppard

    Thanks you for reminding us of the border. It can be such a heartbreak. I have taken off a goodly number myself when I hang it up for a final “fitting” before going to the quilter. Sometimes it’s a wave, sometimes just the tiniest of curl at the corner – back it goes for one more remake. Sometimes it feels like I have sewn a quilt twice (or 3 times) over but I’ll take it out as many times as I need to avoid a bubble or ripple. You go over and above any quilter I have ever met. Thanks.

  17. Linda B

    Well done Carole! I am always interested in what is the best method for doing things…when I first started making quilts, I read you measured three times and took the average to cut the borders. Now I am hearing to just measure down the middle and cut the borders that length. I mostly do small quilts, so don’t have the cumulative impact of wrong choices that a larger quilt can produce. Thanks for showing us all the importance of accurate methods!

  18. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    Great job on making those borders work for quilting! I have received a few like this and even one who stitched long borders together on an angle. That was fun too! In the beginning of quilting I had no clue to measure, average and then cut and stitch the borders on, but I learned quickly. Something I was very happy to have learned at our last quiltfest show a couple of years ago, when the judge would take the bottom and turn up the sides to see how square the quilt was!! I’m know you are pleased with the customer’s response!

  19. Sherrill

    WOW, after all of your fixes, you can’t even tell that it was that wavy to begin with!! So nice that you took the extra care with it to have it come out so nice. It’s a very cute quilt and I’m sure the recipient will love it.

  20. Joyce

    Thanks for the comment about the white thread and keeping the background in the background. I am almost finished with the “You are My Sunshine” quilt panel and cannot decide about the thread color for quilting. The panel is black background and the borders are black and (mostly) yellow. Suggestions?

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