Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Crochet tips + quilt binding for the lazy

I just wanted to tell you about a couple of techniques I’ve discovered recently, because you may find it helpful, although if you knew all these already you are very welcome to sit thinking, Good Lord and they let this woman have a bank account, or similar ;-).

First, crochet. Do you remember I bought a job lot of Sirdar DK to make a rainbow blanket? Well, I’ve started it off and done about 5 inches, and I began with 196 stitches to make it about 60” wide. Those of you who have ever started off a blanket with 196 stitches to make it 60” wide will know what I mean when I say that it is not absolutely the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Therefore I would like to share a couple of tips.
Any beginning crochet row which is not stained with blood and tears is a resounding success. Look at that subtle colour combination! Orange next!
I have said this before, but, DO NOT DO YOUR FOUNDATION ROW WITH CHAIN STITCH (yes, I do feel that strongly about it), do your first row using foundation single crochet, because it makes crocheting into the first row so much easier that for me it is the difference between managing it or giving up crochet and burning The Happy Hooker on the lawn while dancing skyclad and squawking. One of the (few) downsides of foundation single crochet is that it twists around (although it isn’t twisted when you have done a few rows, it gives a nice clean foundation), which makes it a bit difficult to count. It is difficult counting anyway when you are dealing with large numbers, because someone will always come and ask you where the parmesan is in the fridge, or want to discuss the state of your relationship, when you have got to 170, and will make you lose count.

To get round both of these problems (I mean, I can't help with the state of your relationship. The other problems. Although, I have always wanted to write a problem page, so if you do have any issues...;-) ).
  • sit with a box of small paperclips, and hook a paperclip into every 20th stitch (or whatever number is most convenient). This means you are only ever counting up to 20, and the paperclips do not slip out, so you can leave your big long boring hideous epic FSC chain and go off and do a bit of white water rafting/ atom splitting, and come back to it later.
I also discovered (and this is very obvious because I am dim, but I pass it on in case you hadn’t thought of it):
  • you can weigh your ball of yarn at the beginning and end of a row, and then you will know how much yarn is needed for each row and can check whether you have enough before you start (if you are anal about having rows in complete colours). You need a digital scale for this, but when you have bought a digital scale you can also make soap, so how exciting is that?
Now, quilting. How to bind a quilt for the lazy, and again, I am indebted for this technique to Denise of Knitting Kitties.

Most quilt binding instructions will tell you to make mitred corners and whipstitch your binding by hand to the back of the quilt, however, I am not wild on the look of mitred corners (although, if you are, there is a good tutorial here), and if I have managed to conquer perfectionism, self-doubt, exhaustion and having to change the bobbin 50 bloody times in a manner sufficient to actually get to the quilt binding stage, then I can assure you that I have nothing left within me for whipstitching for miles. So if you are lazy practical like me then try this alternative technique:

  • Cut 4 lengths of binding, for each side of your quilt + about 2 inches on either side (less is ok, but just to be safe), about 2.5” wide (if you have a cutter and board, just fold your fabric and cut through multiple layers at the raw edge). You will have to join lengths to make them long enough unless your quilt is small. You don’t have to be exact, as you can trim as you go.
  • Lay the binding’s top edge to the top edge of one side of the BACK OF the quilt, right sides together,with some binding protruding from each end. Sew with a 1/4” seam (or whatever standard quilting seam you are using. The exact size doesn’t matter, just be consistent throughout).
I didn't even iron it. That's how punk rock I am
    • Fold the binding up and over the raw edge of the quilt sandwich, turning under the bottom (unsewn) edge. The side edges are raw and scruffy – this is fine. Topstitch the folded-under, as-yet-unsewn edge to the FRONT of the quilt, just below the stitching line where you sewed the binding on to the back.
    • Repeat with the parallel side. Trim the excess binding at the edges so it is slightly shorter than the height of the binding (if that makes sense).
    • With the other two sides, you do exactly the same, but, you need to trap the binding that sticks out at the sides in the new binding. So, pin the binding to the back of the quilt on one of the two remaining parallel sides, but, fold the strip at the ends so it is level with the top of the binding you have just sewn. The raw edge of the previous binding will jut out just above it.
    Possibly some of you can sew without getting thread absolutely everywhere, I don't know
      • When you fold the new binding to the right side and sew, it will trap the raw edge of the binding on the adjacent side inside it. Sew to the end and then round the corner to secure (if you see what I mean).
      There you are, a square-bound quilt with all machine-sewn binding. It means you have an extra line of stitching on the front of your binding: but, look. It’s a quilt. There are lines of stitching all over it. Wouldn’t you prefer an extra one and to do it all by machine rather than have it unbound and useless, sitting in your cupboard looking at you reproachfully every time you take out a jumper? (Not that I speak from experience in any way).

      Do ask me in the comments if any of that doesn’t make sense, as sometimes people tell me I do not explain things clearly. Indeed more than once I have made grown men tremble when I have tried to tell them how to do things. And not in a good way. Binding I should be able to explain, though ;-).


      Tink said...

      I am a recent convert to foundation single crochet as well. So much easier!

      Denise said...

      Haven't tried foundation single crochet. Haven't even heard of it before now.

      You did a great job explaining the binding, I think. Thanks for linking me. I'm touched.

      Anonymous said...

      totally unrelated, but did you turn yellow from the turmeric soap?? Husband and I have been waiting to hear!

      Voie de Vie said...

      Fsc all the way! And, for those who have stitch markers, they work as well as the paper clips without the potential to pull one's yarn.

      I must admit, I count every twenty stitches - others count more, still others less. Just depends on how comfortable one is with balancing the counting with the interruptions. :)

      Susie said...

      Julia, I haven't tried it yet! I have to let it cure for a month. I think a month is nearly up so I will have a crack at it and let you know if I and the white bath remain our original colours ;-). Give husband my regards, that's nice he's interested!

      FSC all the way indeed! (And waves to Denise who is much more punk rock than me because she managed to hand quilt a quilt. More than once!).

      Denise said...

      I was in my 20's and 30's when I did all the hand quilting. Younger hands.

      In 1993, I cut, pieced and quilted a queen size quilt for a going away present for a close friend, in a shocking 2 and half months. Three young children. Looking back, I can't imagine how I did it. No internet, I guess. LOL She recently friended me on FB and there was a picture in her photos with it hanging on the wall nearly 20 years later.