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Patriotic Stars Table Runner Problems and Fix

In my last post, “Patriotic Stars Release!” I mentioned that the heavy quilting in the center of my sample created some problems.  I thought it would be good if I explained what happened, and then tell you how I fixed it.  Unfortunately, I did not take photos, as I was going through a whole big argument with myself at the same time as chewing myself out for getting in a hurry and “you should have known better.”  Anyone else ever done that?  I am hoping by writing this post, I can either keep someone from doing what I did to begin with, or give hope that it can be fixed if someone is experiencing what I did.

So here is the story…

I pieced my table runner all together:  the three pieces that make up the center, the silver/white border, and the red border.  I then placed the stars from the “Patriotic Stars Scatterings Kit” on the center panel, and fused them down when I was happy with the layout.  I sandwiched it with two layers of cotton batting (so it could be used on the table to protect from hot dishes), and the blue fabric on the back.  So far, so good!

Then I sat down at my vintage Singer 201-2 (which I love dearly, and keep set up for free motion machine quilting at all times!) and quilted the center panel.  I was really happy with how it turned out, other than the fact that I had wanted to use silver metallic thread, but it kept shredding, so I switched to light gray rayon embroidery thread.  It sewed great, and looked good, although without the twinkle.

I then switched to my “modern” computerized machine with the walking foot on, and stitched in the ditch around the silver/white border, and added three rows of straight stitch to the red border.  I wanted to keep the borders simple, so that they did not take the eye away from the center panel.

I then made the binding, and started pinning it on, and realized that I had big problems. To be honest, I had noticed the problems earlier in the process, but I had hoped the straight stitching would pull it in and fix it.  (This was when the “you should have known better” argument with myself started.) The outside borders ruffled really badly.  The heavy quilting in the center had really pulled that center panel in, and the borders were just too long.  I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, but it really was, and I knew I would never be happy with it that way.  Not to mention that this table runner was the sample for the “Patriotic Stars” kit, and I wanted to photograph it and show it to quilt shop owners as a visual for the kit.    But the 4th of July was getting closer and closer…  Oh, well.  I don’t like shoddy workmanship and this was definitely that!

So…  I spent the time (yikes!) and ripped out the straight stitch quilting on both the red and the silver/white border.  Then, I ripped out the seams holding those eight pieces to the center panel, being careful not to mess the batting or the backing up.  I then pressed the pieces with sizing to see if the marks from the threads would come out, and they did.  I was prepared to have to cut new pieces, so that was good.

Then I measured the center panel as it laid flat.  I was quite relieved at this point to find that it really laid down as a rectangle.  Thank the Lord, the top and bottom were the same length as were the two ends!  Yay!  I wold like to emphasize that I did not measure the fabric of the panel, but how the panel laid.  The fabric was still the same length as it had been before I quilted it, but the quilting had pulled it in, so it no longer LAID at that length.  That meant that the borders were going to be smaller than the actual fabric in the quilted center panel.

I shortened the silver/white pieces to measure the same as what the center panel laid, and stitched them onto the panel, pinning closely together and easing the quilted center panel to match the border.  They were a bit over an inch too long!   No wonder I had ruffles!

I repeated the process with the end silver/white pieces, and then the long red pieces, and the end red pieces.  Now it laid flat!  Another YAY!

Adding Borders

I pinned the border pieces down really well, keeping my pins fairly close together (2 to 3 inches apart), and redid the straight stitch quilting in the ditch on the silver/white and the lines on the red.  And it laid flat again!  (Insert HUGE sigh of relief.)  I bound it, and now I don’t have to be embarrassed by it anymore!

So what did I learn?   First of all, if I am going to do heavy quilting like that, I need to match sashing or borders to the finished blocks after the quilting is completed.  Also, I need to slow down and take the time to fix things if they need fixed.  A couple of hours of time is a worthwhile investment in something you will be proud to use for years.  Not to mention, that it is a great kit, and we still have Labor Day and Veteran’s Day coming up this year!

Please, please, please!   Learn from MY mistake and avoid making one yourself!