6 steps to add lettering to your quilt sashings

Hello again! Isn’t that flange in the binding from yesterday’s post just the best? I love the look and it’s pretty simple to do.

I’m back today with the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC to show you how easy it is to add some lettering to your quilts.

It’s exciting to walk you through the process, so let’s get started.

So there you have it. Major is a bulky weight, core-spun, variegated, marled, acrylic yarn. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll talk more about the “acrylic” part. Join me!

Step 1 – Choose the sashing

While it’s important to choose the right color of fabric for the sashing, it’s even more important if you’re adding lettering.

I like my lettering to be legible, but I don’t want the words to dominate the quilt.

Here’s my stack of blocks that I’m working with. There are 111 blocks in total and I’m including all the blocks in one large quilt. The blocks are all different with various colors on the outer edges of the blocks. I need to find one fabric that’ll work with all the blocks.

Quilt blocks that will be sashed and made into a quilt.

I went through my stash and found four possible fabrics to use for the sashing.

I eliminated the one on the left. It’s a very busy print and the wording won’t show up at all. The two colors in the print are working nicely together and if I were to add something else, it would be too much.

I eliminated the burgundy one as well. Why? The pattern is very spread out and my sashings will finish at 1″ x 6″. The pattern in the sashing will vary too much and the words won’t show up as well as they could. Let’s not forget that the sashing is to provide a framework for the blocks. The burgundy fabric will not provide a cohesive look.

That leaves me with the gold and the green. Both of which are fairly monochromatic. Let’s audition each with the blocks and see what happens.

Four different fabrics that could work for the sashing.

I grabbed some random blocks. Hmm – that gold is not doing anything for me or the blocks. The blocks just seem to fade into the sashing. This’ll make for a ho-hum quilt considering that it’s going to be a very large quilt.

The blocks appear to blend right into the sashing.

I also tried some of the darker blocks on the gold sashing and while they look better than the previous ones did, blocks with darker outsides are in the minority. I think I’m going to eliminate the gold for the sashing.

Blocks with dark outer edges pop on the gold fabric

Let’s see how the dark green works. I placed the same blocks on the green and look how they pop off that fabric. I want the blocks to be the star of the quilt, not the sashing.

The blocks become the focal point, not the sashing.

Even the blocks with dark outer edge seem to look better on the green than they did on the gold.

It looks like I’ve made my decision.

The other thing to consider is how much fabric you have. Since I had equal amounts of the green and the gold, that wasn’t a factor in my decision.

Fabrics with dark outer edges still stand out on the green fabric.

Step 2 – Choosing the thread color

I want the words to be subtle yet I want people to be able to read the words if they want. I don’t want the words to be visible unless you’re looking for them.

I went to my thread box and pulled out a couple of spools of embroidery thread that somewhat matched the green fabric. The bottom three were very light – too light for what I wanted so I eliminated them.

It was a bit of a tough decision between the top two, but I finally settled on the top thread. See how the second from the top blends in so much that we can barely see the thread. The top thread, however, has a slightly lighter value than the fabric and also a slightly different hue of green. Looks good to me. Remember how I try to pick the BEST match with what I have, rather than the EXACT match.

Choosing between five different thread colors

Step 3 – Setting up the Designer EPIC

I swapped out the Straight Stitch plate for the Zigzag Stitch plate. I think it’s pretty obvious why I had to do that. The needle will be moving to the left and right and I need an opening in the stitch plate to allow that to happen. Even though this stitch plate is large, there’s a handy spot to store it in the bottom of the accessory box.

The Zigzag stitch plate on top and the Straight Stitch plate on the bottom

One of the great features of the Designer EPIC is the Stitch Width Safety. When the Straight Stitch Plate is in use, the stitch width safety features kicks in. You cannot move the needle to the right or the left so there’s no danger of choosing a zigzag stitch when you have the Straight Stitch Plate installed.

After I removed the Straight Stitch Plate, I got this popup message. It’s a handy reminder. Just because you’ve removed the Straight Stitch Plate, you can still run into problems if you haven’t changed to the appropriate foot or other accessories.

Let’s say that you were piecing with the Quilter’s ¼” Piecing Foot. There’s no room for the needle to move out of center position so this popup is a good reminder to remove the foot and any other accessories that may damage or break needles on the sewing machine.

Popup message regarding the Stitch Width Safety

As per the Exclusive Sewing Advisor, I’ve attached the B foot. The B foot is perfect for stitching the lettering. There’s a channel on the underside of the B foot. This allows the height of the stitching to move smoothly beneath the foot with no jamming.

The B foot with a channel on the underside to prevent raised stitches from jamming

I’m using one of the five built-in fonts. There’s a separate menu for the fonts which you can reach by touching the green tab in the photo below.

If you’re not sure how the letters will look when stitched out, do a sample of each. Try the upper case, try the lower case, try the special symbols or the numbers to see the style of the fonts.

I chose Block alphabet because it’s simple to read and this is important when the thread will be closely matched to the fabric.

Font menu with five built-in fonts

Step 4 – Prepping the fabric

My sashings will be 1″ x 6″ finished. I don’t want the hassle of centering the lettering on a 6½” wide strip so I cut the strip about 8″ to have some room to center the lettering when I cut the sashings apart.

I used a choc-o-liner and a ruler and marked a line every 2″ on the fabric. This will be the guideline for the stitching.

The fabric is marked every two inches with chalk for stitching guidelines.

The lettering is too dense to stitch on the single layer of fabric by itself. I’ll need to use a stabilizer as well. I’m using a stitch and tear product. Rather than cut one large piece to put on the backing, I used some smaller strips that were leftover from another project.

This step is very important, otherwise, you’ll get a lot of puckering which won’t look nice.

A narrow strip of stitch n tear stabilizer to stabilize the line of stitching

While it’s hard to see in the photo below (as I said – I wanted these words to be very subtle), you can see the puckering at the beginning of the word BUZZARD in the top row of stitching. That’s because when I inserted the stabilizer, it didn’t go all the way to the beginning of where I was going to stitch. Lesson learned – make the strips a bit longer!

In the second row of stitching, you can see that there’s no puckering.

Puckering at the beginning of the lettering where there was no stabilizer

Step 5 – Stitching out the wording

In the photo below, you can see that the Block Alphabet is highlighted. This is the one that I’m using and I’ve typed in the block name (Basket). I used all uppercase letters because that’s what I wanted.

The keyboard on the bottom of the screen is very easy to use and extremely responsive. That’s very important. I also programmed a FIX which will tie off the threads at the end of the stitch sequence – in this case, at the end of the word Basket. I’ve also included a STOP function. This will tell the Designer EPIC to stop stitching once it reaches the end of the word. If the STOP function was not programmed into this sequence, the machine would keep stitching the same word over and over again, which is not what I want.

There’s lots of information on this screen. I’m also seeing that the length of the word (the program) is 48mm. Since I’m not good with millimeters (mm), it was very handy to have the imperial and metric rulers along the bottom front edge of the sewing machine and also along the edge of the extension table. For some things, I only use metric, for others I only use imperial and for others, I’m good with both. For small measurements – I use inches and I can’t seem to visualize millimeters in my head.

The stitch sequence has been programmed including a FIX and a STOP.

One of the block titles was too long to fit within my 6″ parameters. I tried the block name using small letters and it was still too long. Fortunately, I’m able to shrink the words by playing around with the program length. Originally it was something like 190mm and I’ve shrunk it down to 128.3mm which will fit within my 6″ sashing. I only shrunk those that did not fit. Everything else, I kept at the original size. But how handy is that? No need to truncate the block name, just shrink it a wee bit.

Trying to shorten the length of this program by using lowercase letters

Here you can see where I’ve shrunk down the block name so it would fit within the sashing perimeter.

Yes – I know it’s hard to see the lettering. It does show up a little easier in real life. But the top version was too long, so I used the program length to shorten the block name until it fit in the 6″ sashing.

The bottom line of stitching has been shrunk to fit the 6″ sashing.

Based on the length of the word in mm, I guessed where the stitching should start. When I cut the sashings apart, I’ll center the words and if it can’t be centered exactly, it’ll be close enough. These words are NOT obvious so no one will notice it it’s a wee bit off center.

Before hitting START/STOP, make sure you slip your strip of stabilizer under the fabric and center it along that chalk line.

Start the stitching process by touching the START/STOP function that’s conveniently placed right above the needle on the function panel. No need to use the foot pedal for this.

The function panel of the Designer EPIC

It’s VERY important that as the sewing machine stitches the lettering that you keep your hands on the fabric to ensure that the center red mark on the B foot is centered on the chalk line.

Keep the center line of the B Foot centered on the chalk line

This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to that line. I started off with the word centered on the chalk line and then – oops – the word went wonky. You need to have your hands on the fabric at all times to guide it.

The speed of the Designer EPIC means that each row of stitching went very fast so it wasn’t a big deal to pay attention for that short period of time.

Oops – didn’t follow the chalk line

Step 6 – Trim the sashing

Before you trim the sashing, carefully remove the stitch n tear stabilizer. It’s not necessary that all the bits be removed from the lettering. Get the bulk of it out. The rest will disintegrate when the quilt is washed.

Place the ¾” line of the ruler along the chalk line. Cut the excess away.

Turn the piece around and cut a 1½” strips with the lettering centered in the middle.

Place the 3/4″ line of the ruler on the chalk line to center the wording on the sashing

Then centering the word lengthwise, trim the strip so that it measures 6½”.

The sashing has been trimmed to 1½” x 6½”

I’m in the process of finishing the rest of the lettering in the sashing and until I can lay out all the blocks on the design wall, I won’t be able to start stitching the sashing to the blocks. It didn’t take long to stitch out the entire width of fabric (about 21 words per width), but it does take some time to trim them up since you want the words to be centered within the sashing.

I’ve done this with another quilt that had a large number of blocks in it.

Below you can see the name of the block (Tic-Tac-Toe) is stitched in the sashing which corresponds to the block that it’s sewn to.

The block name is stitched into the sashing.

This is a really fun way to dress up your quilt. I like to include elements that will draw the audience in to have a closer look. Once they realize that the block names are in the quilt, they begin searching to know the names of certain blocks.

Using the Husqvarna Viking Designer EPIC to perform this task was easy and fast. And that’s important when you have 111 block names to stitch out.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when I have another technique to show you with regards to putting letters on a quilt.

Have a great day!


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: 5 steps for adding a pop of color with a flange in the binding

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Quilting Jeannie Zimmerman September 28, 2018 - 3:09 pm
I hadn't thought of doing this, but I think I really like how it looks. Great way to personalize a quilt as well. Thanks.
Fred September 28, 2018 - 12:00 pm
I love the idea! Thanks for the tutorial!
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