Last month I started the holiday table runner. I made many quarter square triangles and put them together to make the star blocks, which make up the center of the runner. Then, I made more quarter square triangles and got as far as the borders. Today, we are going to choose the border layout and finish by quilting the holiday table runner.
Adding the border
There were a few border layouts to choose from and I decided to go with this one.
Sewing the quarter square triangles together isn’t easy as there are always seams to go over at the beginning or end of the pieces. This extra fabric can cause issues when starting or ending a line of stitching. When starting, the extra fabric can often be the cause of the pieces being pulled down into the machine through the needle hole in the needle plate. Especially if the needle plate has a large opening to accommodate decorative stitching. If this is occurring for you on your own machine, then you may want to try using a single hole needle plate rather than the large hole plate.
The extra fabric can also result in a not so perfect quarter inch seam at either end of the stitching line. If you’ve these issues on your machine, then you may want to consider using leaders and enders when sewing pieces together. What are leaders and enders? Check out my blog post on Quilts by Jen for more info on leaders and enders.
None of these issues occurred while I was sewing the blocks together on the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 sewing machine. I had the IDT system engaged to ensure an even feed of the fabric pieces over the feed dogs and under the foot.
Once the border squares were sewn together, I added them to either side of the star center along with another outside border of the green snowflake material. Everything went together well.
I sew with the border on top because I can see the seams, so the points on the quarter square triangles won’t be cut off.
I use the quarter inch foot to sew the pieces together. The occasional pin is used because the piece is 36 inches in length and I need it to stay in place. As well, many of the edges are bias edges. Excellent results all around!
With the borders added, it’s time to move on to quilting this great little piece.
Sandwiching and quilting the runner
I used a 100% cotton low loft batting between the backing and quilt top. There are several methods of basting the layers together, but my preferred method is to use curved safety pins.
After the basting was done, I chose my threads to use for the quilting — shiny rayon threads from Sulky in 30 weight. Thicker thread will stand out and be seen better on the quilt. Before starting to quilt, make sure to check your tension with the threads being used.
Quilting is usually done from the center of the piece out to the edges. To start, I quilted the green sections of the stars with straight stitching to echo the shape moving the quilting line a quarter inch in from the seam line. Next, I moved to the borders and did the same.
I use the Sewing Stars foot which has an open toe and a bar that sits a ¼″ in front of the needle. This worked great for knowing when to stop a quarter inch from the seam line. It’s also compatible with the IDT system, which is a must when working with layers of fabrics.
Thank goodness for needle down position on the Ambition, since I had to start and stop a lot to pivot and turn within the triangles!
The only thing I had to keep being reminded of is if the foot was up. I’d press the foot pedal to start sewing only to have the machine beep at me and remind me to put the presser foot down. I’m sure it gets tired of reminding me! Definitely a great feature to have as I’m sure many of us start sewing without the foot down only to find we’re going nowhere.
With the echo quilting complete, I changed the foot to the spring loaded free motion foot. For complete instructions on how to change the foot see my post in October on Quilting a Maple Leaf Mug Rug. It does require using the screw driver, which comes in the accessory kit, but it’s not complicated to do.
With the slide of a button at the back of the machine, the feed dogs go down and it’s time to do some free motion quilting. I decided to use a star motif interspersed between some meandering. This five pointed star is one that most of us doodled as children — some of us more successfully than others. I don’t think I was very good at drawing them with a pencil, but I seem to be pretty good with needle and thread! For complete instructions on how to make these free motion stars, check out my blog post, Quilting Free Motion Stars at Quilts by Jen.
Originally, I picked a rayon thread for the stippling, but decided to change to a plain white cotton thread so that it blends more with the fabric. The dense free motion quilting enhances the stars and makes them pop out. The triple lights really light up the work space making it easier to see the white on white. As a rule, one shouldn’t stitch over stippling, so a well lit work space on the machine is an asset to help see where you’re going and where you’ve been. The nice thing about using thread that blends into the back ground is you don’t see the oopses.
There’s also plenty of room between the needle and the machine to manoeuvre the quilt around. The throat space on the Ambition 1.0 is 8 inches!
Quilting complete, I can square off the runner and attach the cool binding I made from those repurposed strips last month. Once again, I can use the Perfect Quarter Inch foot with the guide to put on the binding. I love how it butts up to the edge of the fabric and keeps everything aligned.
The Holiday Table Runner
So here it is all bound and ready to adorn a table this holiday season! The great thing about this design is any number of stars can be used to increase or decrease the length of the runner. It depends on the size of the table it’s going to sit on. It can also be made in any color way for any season of the year.
A great little project to make for yourself or a friend this holiday season. I hope you have had as much fun as I did making and quilting the holiday table runner.