SAL7 - Safeguarding The Edges!

Dear Ruthanna,


This is the sixth in the series of emails based on Ruth Grihalva's April Power Point presentation to the String-A-Long Quilt Guild in Porter County Indiana. The title was "Piecing Hints, Tips & Longarming Issues."

Her comments are based on our experience with over 10,000 longarmed quilts in our 20 year history. Additionally, Ruth has published over 160 patterns, three books, and two tools under the nom de plume of "Raggedy Ruth Designs."

However, these newsletters are written by me, her husband. I am writing these from Ruth's presentation notes. Nonetheless, I will be sprinkling my ideas in also.

SAL7 - Safeguarding The Edges!

Quilting is not sewing! In sewing you are always back-tacking and/or tying-off when you sew. It appears that there are quite a few quilters who do not back-tack and/or tie-off to safe-guard the integrity of the seams. Even quilting patterns don't tell you to back-tack or tie-off to safeguard the seams. However, at juried events, back-tacking and tie-offs may cost you points.

So what gives? The back-tacking and tie-offs that I will be discussing, as you can see on the illustrations in this newsletter, are placed so that they are hidden within the seams or binding. That way you have safeguarded seams and no visible back-tacking and tie-offs.

Even when they do back-tack / tie-off, in the process of trimming the quilt top for longarming and sharing, these safe-guards are often cut off from the quilt top. This leaves the seams' stitching weak or vulnerable to being pulled open.

No one purposefully pulls open the seams on the edges thereby creating fullness. They unknowingly do it to share their art with their friends, or the quilt club, or the quilt guild - even the"Show & Tell" portions of meeting are a culprit. Furthermore, you have most likely done it yourself!

You see, when you hold up your unquilted quilt top, a large amount of force is placed on those now, unprotected, edge-seams. They can now unravel under the pressure. Additionally, quilt tops brought in for longarming quite often have loose threads that need to be removed. Pets also love the quilt tops and get their hair all over them.

What comes next? Well, usually one picks at the threads to remove them. Pulling on one of the threads of an open seam, like that above, just makes matters even worse and opens the seam even more.

The solution is not to make really long back-tacks that cannot be trimmed off. The solution is "securing the edge seams." "Well, OK, but that doesn't say anything about what one does to secure the edge seams," you say.

In the table runner, to the right [#15], there are four circles. These circles highlight where the seams meet the edges. If you inspect those edge seams closely you will see stitching that is parallel to the edge. That stitching is about 1/8" in from the sides. It also crosses the seam to attach to both sides of fabric. I call that anchoring or securing the seam.

There can end up being numerous seams that go to the edge and need to be addressed. The one above, is the minimum. But, other quilts may have more seams that intersect the edge.

The quilt on the right [#17] is a good example. Note how each of the seam intersections is stitched 1/8" from the edge. This example emphasizes that concept because each intersection with the edge is, in fact, accomplished by two seams meeting at a point. The stitching is beyond the point so that it will be hidden in the seam allowance.

This also brings up a good point in that this technique can be used when creating blocks for assembly.

Sometimes edge-seams can go "nuts," as in the case of piano key borders. In this case, simply sew your support stitching 1/8" from the edge, completely around the entire quilt.

Ah, "piano key borders" brings up an entirely new subject...for next time.

What's Next?

The newsletter prefixed "SAL8" will be on "Full Piano Key Borders"! See you then!

If you would like to have Ruth give a presentation or workgroup to your organization, please let me know by email to [with your complete contact information, please] or by phone at 567.208.3572, my mobile.

Al Fin

I trust that this was of assistance or interest. If you have any questions that need to be answered, on this or other longarming or quilting topics, then please write to me at or call 219.255.8085.

Thank you for your time and interest.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
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