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Finish Your Quilt

Prepare the Quilt Top

Once the quilt top is assembled, stay-stitch the seams around the outside edge of the quilt at 1/8“ seam allowance. Stay-stitching is a straight stitch to hold the seams together so they don’t pull apart. For versions with a border you only need to make small stitches over seams, not sew along the whole border.

Trim excess threads on the back of the quilt. This prevents any stray threads showing through on lighter colors and any little thread lumps in the quilt.

Trim stray threads on the back of the quilt. This helps prevent stray threads, especially dark ones under light fabrics, from showing through on your finished quilt. It also helps prevent lumps and bumps from thread nests.


Prepare the Backing

A 4” overage is included in the backing yardage of all my patterns. Press the backing fabric. If it needs to be pieced (typical of any size over a baby quilt) you can follow my instructions here. Use a 1/2” seam and press seams open. Make sure to remove the selvage edges of the fabric. Stay stitch all seams around the outside edge of the backing to prevent seams pulling apart while quilting. You can also use fabric scraps or blocks on the back of the quilt. Shown is an example of that.


Note that longarmer quilters typically prefer to load the backing with the seam horizontal on the machine. Talk to your longarmer if you have directional fabric where you want a specific direction to the top.


You can choose from a large variety of battings.  My favorite is Quilter’s Dream 80/20. It's a Polyester/Cotton blend.Batting affects not only how the quilt hangs or drapes over one's body, but it also affects how the quilt breathes. That means depending on the material some battings are warmer, others cooler. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you start learning about all the options. I chose by feeling a few samples in shop, and eventually learned more about the different products as I made more quilts.

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Sandwich Layers

Do not sandwich the quilt if you are taking it to a longarm quilter. They have to load each layer separately on their machine. Instead, ask them for instructions on how they prefer you bring the quilt. I usually take mine folded and hanging on a extra-wide hanger, with the batting in a labeled bag.


Sandwich the quilt by placing your backing wrong side up on a flat surface. Smooth and secure the edges. Place the batting with the roughest side down on top of the backing, smoothing out the layer as you go. Finally, place the quilt top right side up on the batting and smooth it out, pulling tighter on edges as needed. Make sure that the top is as centered on the back and batting as possible, making sure that the backing and batting both go beyond the quilt edge all the way around.


Pin, spray baste or hand baste as desired. I prefer spray basting when I quilt at home. I prep the backing, spray one side of the batting outside, bring it inside to smooth onto the backing, then repeat spraying the back of the quilt top outside and bring it in to smooth onto the batting layer. Then I press both sides of the sandwich to make the glue adhere even better, making it even less likely to shift as you sew! For more detailed sandwiching instructions, visit my Quilt Sandwich post here.


Quilt as desired. Quilting can be as simple as lines or more detailed - like a pattern on each block. For more quilting instructions, visit my Basic Quilting post here. Pictured is an edge-to-edge pattern done by a longarmer.

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Trim Up

Trim off the excess backing and batting and square up the quilt if needed.


Assemble the pillow as desired or using my envelope method here or invisible zipper methods here.



 Join the binding strips together with diagonal seams. Trim and press seams open.

Once all of the strips are sewn together, fold the binding in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press flat. Sew the binding to your quilt by lining up the raw edges to the edge of the quilt. For more detailed binding instructions, visit my Quilt Binding post here.

After the binding is sewn onto one side of the quilt, fold it over to the other side and either machine stitch or whip-stitch the binding to attach it and finish off the edges of the quilt.

Wash and Care

After your quilt is complete it is normal to wash it before gifting. If you are planning to enter the quilt in a show, that is traditionally unwashed, however most shows accept washed quilts as well. If I am worried about a darker fabric running I will throw several color catchers into the wash with the quilt. I wash on a bulk cycle on my machine, specifically for quilts and other large items. I tumble dry at a regular heat. I love having a little bit of shrinkage to the quilt fabrics and batting to give it a cozy texture.

To store your quilts there are special ways to fold them to reduce getting creases from the folds. If you do get creases you can try steaming and pressing the quilt. 

Obviously, with us a quilt can wear out or stitching can come undone. The old addage holds true: "A stitch in time saves nine." Unpick until you have enough thread to tie off and then using a matching thread stitch the opening back up.

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