Three Workshop Minis

I finally got around to binding the other mini which was part of my personal goal for January, so here is the story that goes with them. They are very old UFOs, dating back to the mid-1990s when I did a lot of workshops and classes. These three are notable because they are all two-fers — that is, they served twice, first as piecing samples and then as machine quilting samples.

Miniature Rail Fence in green and pink
Miniature Rail Fence

The rail fence was from a strip piecing class. As usual, my fabric choices were mediocre but my piecing was quite good. In the quilting class this was used for free-form walking-foot quilting on cotton batting. It lay very flat, which I liked, so I bound it soon after the class and used it as a table topper for several years. Dimensions: 21″ x 30″ (53 cm x 76 cm)

small nine-patch quilt in orange and brown, with a green border
Brown 9-patch mini

The nine-patch/single Irish chain was another strip-piecing sample. It was quilted in straight diagonal lines with the walking foot, on wool batting. It was a little wavy and sat in a box until I decided in January to bind it and use it as a pet bed. Obviously I had none of the original fabrics left (I had used up all my ditsies in a couple of scrap projects in 1998-2000) and I had no solids that were compatible, so I chose a brown floral with a background shade very close to the dark brown in the nine-patches. Dimensions: 18″ (46 cm) square.

Miniature quilt exploded square design, in magenta and plum
Magenta mini

The magenta economy block was a foundation piecing sample. I was very pleased with the way the blocks turned out, and, as you can see, my fabric selection was much better than previous efforts (some of you may recognise the Rainbow Connection and Jinny Beyer fabrics). It was quilted in the ditch using monofilament thread on polyester batting. There are a few snarls on the back but they don’t show from the front. This also languished in a box, and when I was sorting through projects I noted that the batting was becoming very tattered from handling, which contributed to my decision to bind it and the accompanying nine-patch. I confess that I was rather surprised to note that condition of the polyester was so much worse than the wool, since they had been quilted on the same day and handling had been pretty much the same for both projects.

Magenta mini, showing cut in backing fabric
magenta mini tape
Magenta mini, showing repaired cut
magenta mini repaired
magenta mini, showing backing turned to front
magenta mini backing

This was almost a three-fer because I wanted to try bringing the backing over to use as binding. As I was trimming the front I noted two cuts in the backing fabric — I repaired them with fusible webbing and a scrap of cotton voile, but when I turned the backing to the front the colour clashed violently with the top so instead I trimmed it all off and chose a plum tone-on-tone to do a traditional binding. It’s a little narrower on the front than I normally do, but then the top is so small that my usual 3/8″ or 1/2″ binding would have looked much too big. In retrospect I should have used single layer binding rather than folded, but I guess that’s another learning opportunity (and I’m certainly not going to take it all off and replace it). Dimensions: 15″ (38 cm) square.

Lessons learned:
1. Finished is better than perfect, and definitely better than sitting in a project box.
2. Walking foot quilting doesn’t have to be all straight lines.
3. Cotton batting lies flattest.
4. Wool batting appears to be more resilient than polyester.
5. Minis may look better with single-layer binding rather than double.

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