Friendship Braid Quilt Complete

You might remember that I asked your advice several times about my Friendship Braid  quilt – what colour to do the border when there were so many different colours in the centre, whether I could (or should) use a vintage sheet for the border and possibly the backing and whether or not to use a professional quilting service for the first time.

As usual, I canvassed opinion and then wilfully ignored most of it.  I ended up going for a green and white gingham vintage sheet for the border whereas most of you suggested red and, having got your reassurance that I could probably use a sheet for the backing too, changed my mind and went for extra wide quilting cotton.

It was whilst searching for extra wide backing that I came across The Quilt Sandwich who have a wide range of backings in lots of different designs and at reasonable prices.  I also found, coincidentally, that they have a longarm quilting machine and offer a quilting service.

It was meant to be.

Fiona operates from The Royal Bridlington Hotel in Yorkshire and was very helpful when I asked for her advice on the particular shade of green for the backing and also for which quilting design to go for on a top with an already busy design.

 Once Fiona had received the quilt and could confirm that the shade of green matched those in the quilt I opted for a crosshatch patterned fabric and the quilting design I chose, again with Fiona’s guidance, is called ‘Twine’.

This is how it came back to me after quilting.  I wanted to ‘reconnect’ with it again myself so, although Fiona offers a binding service, I just asked her to cut it for me ready for binding and did it myself.

I decided to heed the advice I ignored last time and introduced some red.  It was supposed to be wider than this but I attached the double fold binding  by machine, as I would  have if I’d left some excess batting and backing – ie. with a 1/4 inch seam – and then realised I wouldn’t have had any filling in my binding.  Of course, with a wide border like this I should have attached the binding at half an inch and then taken in the batting and backing as it had been trimmed.  I’m so used to working with blocks lately that go right up to the edge that I’d forgotten.

So, I just folded the binding onto itself and then over to the back before handstitching it down which resulted in a skimpier binding than I’d intended but at least it wasn’t all floppy.  It did compromise my previously perfect  acceptable mitred corners a bit but it doesn’t really show.

What do you think?

Here’s the back in all it’s professionally quilted glory.

It’s a strange size at  60 x 66 inches (172 x 187 cm) so a topper for a small double bed or a generous single bed size.  The only single sized bed in the house is in the Bermuda Triangle otherwise known as Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s bedroom and, once it goes in there, I might never see it again.

So before it disappears from my life until at least the next re-decoration project I have flung it over a couple of surfaces so that I can at least look at the photos.

Funny lighting but it really shows the quilting up.


I thought long and hard about using a professional quilting service because I wondered whether it was ‘cheating’ on some sort of level.  Realistically, my skills – such as they are – are definitely in piecing and although I will continue doing quilt as you go where the quilt design allows and perhaps the smaller (much smaller) quilting projects, Fiona has done such a good job and the price was so reasonable that I would certainly go back to her if and when I make another large quilt that doesn’t lend itself to QAYG.  After all, I reasoned, if I had the space and the money for a longarm quilting machine and the patience to learn how to use one, or if I had a friend just down the road who had one, I would never ever quilt on a domestic machine again so what’s the difference?  It’s also something I’ve wanted to try and I’m very pleased I did.

If you are in the U.K. – or in France with a commuting husband willing to drag quilt tops and then completed quilts back and forth with him – or you just want to see a really good range of extra wide backings, go and have a look at Fiona’s site here .




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  1. #1 by craftycreeky on June 26, 2017 - 16:51

    Looks amazing, I love the colours. I’ve used a professional long arm quilter when it’s been too big for me to do on my domestic machine, it’s not cheating at all! Fiona also runs quilt retreats at Bridlington which I must admit I’m pretty tempted by! We’ve got a LAQ nearby but I met someone at the weekend who has one and says I can go down and use hers anytime, ok so she lives in the Cotswolds and there is a limit to how often you can do this, but I’m very tempted for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt 🙂

    • #2 by tialys on June 26, 2017 - 18:05

      It sounds like a good excuse for a long weekend in the Cotswolds to me!

  2. #3 by claire93 on June 26, 2017 - 16:57

    I think it looks gorgeous and nope, it’s not cheating. Fiona runs her business quilting other ladies quilts, so even if it were cheating, you’re not alone since she must have dozens of customers lol.

    • #4 by tialys on June 26, 2017 - 18:04

      I know it’s not ‘the done thing’ here (well, the U.K. but France even more so) as much as it is in the States and I wouldn’t want to do it every time but now I’ve tried the service and it’s turned out so well I would have no hesitation in doing it again if the quilt calls for it.

      • #5 by claire93 on June 26, 2017 - 19:26

        don’t you find that French patchworkers are rather “snobbish” about patchwork though? The ones I come in contact with believe it all has to be done by hand to qualify, and frown on any machine interference.

      • #6 by tialys on June 27, 2017 - 09:49

        Hmmm. Are they the older ones by any chance? When I first joined an ‘atelier’ here they were only interested in appliqué which isn’t my favourite thing and they didn’t seem to understand what a patchwork quilt is in the same way that I do. It is very ‘behind the times’ where I live but there is a fabric shop – mostly soft furnishings but he branched out into quilting fabrics and tools some years ago – and people are slowly coming to appreciate the benefits of rotary cutters, cutting mats and all the other paraphernalia associated with modern patchwork and quilting. My friend buys the patchwork magazines they have here and these are helping to move things forward but I think most of the books are still in English so a lot of the older people don’t have access to them. Having said all that, if I had the time and skills to make a white, wholecloth, hand quilted cover for my bed there’s no doubt they are beautiful things but there’s no shame in using modern technology to achieve results either – it’s what people have done throughout history isn’t it?

  3. #7 by katechiconi on June 26, 2017 - 17:06

    The finished quilt is lovely, very fresh and pretty. Forget about a visit from the Quilt Police, no-one is going to condemn you for ensuring the quilting is perfect on this labour of love. And personally, I’m becoming a big fan of slightly narrower bindings, so I can’t see anything at all wrong with that pretty red one on your quilt. For me, quilting my own work is a control issue; I just feel the need to be across what’s happening in a way I can’t if the quilt is away with someone else. Even if I don’t quilt it so well, the way it looks is all mine and I can change my mind halfway through if I want to!

    • #8 by tialys on June 26, 2017 - 18:02

      Luckily, I started off with a 2.5 inch band, folded in half for the binding so there was still quite a bit to play with. I know just what you mean about the control but, once I’d done a couple of rows of bad machine quilting across the width in a zig zaggy fashion I just couldn’t face the rest of it so, for me and for this particular quilt, it was definitely the right decision and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

  4. #9 by Kathy D on June 26, 2017 - 17:34

    I think it looks perfect! Like a garden has lots of foliage, so does your quilt with the bright pops of color for the flowers. I also like the narrow binding, it doesn’t take away from all the colors in your braids – it compliments them. Wonderful job!

  5. #11 by magpiesue on June 26, 2017 - 19:56

    I think that red for the binding was a good choice. I can see why you’d planned a wider binding (I run into that whole business of forgetting about seam allowances and bindings too) but I like just the pop of red on the edges of the quilt. What a fresh, cheerful thing this is! I’m especially glad you’re happy with the long arm quilting. It used to be frowned upon here in the States too. Some purists insisted on hand piecing for a quilt to be called a quilt! In my not so humble opinion I think it’s a good thing they’ve untied their knickers (or been forced to by the masses!). We see a lot more finished quilts these days as a result of long arm quilting! (Says the woman who would have no finished quilts without someone to do the dirty work for her.)

    • #12 by tialys on June 27, 2017 - 09:34

      Times move on and I’m sure – in those days when people made quilts out of necessity – they would have been delighted to have had the technology to make them more quickly and easily, and in many cases I’m sure, more neatly. If I were in your position Sue – with somebody willing and able to do this for me under my own roof – I wouldn’t even think about the ins and outs of it, I’d just make more quilts 😉

  6. #13 by Janice Marriott on June 26, 2017 - 20:28

    I likethe narrow binding,just enough to ‘refresh’ and not overpowering

    • #14 by tialys on June 27, 2017 - 09:30

      Thanks Jan – a happy accident then.

  7. #15 by PendleStitches on June 26, 2017 - 22:00

    The quilt is gorgeous.
    I’ve had two quilts professionally quilted and I’m converted! I think its a great investment in heirlooms for the children. The quilt snobs can sniff all they like!

  8. #17 by peggycooperquilts on June 26, 2017 - 23:13

    Lovely. The color choices are perfect.

    • #18 by tialys on June 27, 2017 - 09:28

      Thank you Peggy (and Sami) – it’s a much brighter quilt than I usually go for but I loved the Moda ‘Gypsy Girl’ jelly roll I had in my stash and it will definitely cheer up a space somewhere.

  9. #19 by sewchet on June 27, 2017 - 12:32

    Wow, the finished quilt is utterly beautiful and, no, professional quilting isn’t ‘cheating’, just a means to an end. Especially if doing it yourself would mean adding it to the UFO pile for eternity. Best get it done and enjoy using it.

    • #20 by tialys on June 27, 2017 - 17:32

      A woman after my own heart.

  10. #21 by Born To Organize on June 28, 2017 - 00:30

    I love your braided quilt, and all the fun comments that have followed. Although I don’t quilt (I wish I did) I would certainly take a finished top to a reliable shop for finishing. I’m really smitten with that scroll pattern. Your quilt is beautifully sewn and laid out so well. What a terrific accomplishment.

    • #22 by tialys on June 28, 2017 - 11:55

      Thank you Alys. Don’t you fancy a little bit of patchwork in your life – or have you enough on your plate?

      • #23 by Born To Organize on June 29, 2017 - 21:34

        Lots on my plate at the moment, I’m afraid, but one day I would love to jump in. It really looks like fun.

  11. #24 by KerryCan on June 29, 2017 - 12:46

    Didn’t that turn out great?? Wow–what a happy, happy quilt! And if having it machine quilted means you have time to do more creative work, then I say go for it! Here, in the US, machine quilting is FAR more prevalent than hand quilting these days. Save your hand quilting for the times that you want to do it and, remember, you’re helping Fiona make a living when you use her service!

    • #25 by tialys on June 29, 2017 - 17:40

      Thank you! I very rarely hand quilt – so practise has not made perfect I’m afraid! On smaller quilting projects, or ones where I can just do straight lines I have used my domestic sewing machine in the past but I wanted to give a professional quilting service a try and this seemed the perfect quilt to test it out on. I obviously chose a good service and I’m very happy with how it turned out and for larger quilts or ones where an all over design would look best, I’d definitely go back for more.

  12. #26 by Dartmoor Yarns on June 29, 2017 - 20:20

    Quilting is a pain in the bum and I applaud you fielding it out. My issue with fielding it out is that I would want it to be all my own work. Mind, how I’m going to stuff the quilt I’m making ATM under the arm of my sewing machine is a mystery to me.

    • #27 by tialys on June 30, 2017 - 08:55

      Well, stuffing the quilt under the arm of my sewing machine and attempting the first line of stitching in the ditch in a zig zag fashion across the width – and then having to undo it because it was crap- was my motivation for fielding it out. I do prefer to finish quilts myself – and usually do – but I can relax control a bit in the case of quilting as I don’t like doing it and am not that great at it. The making and putting on of the binding allowed me to ‘bond’ with it again so I’m glad I asked her to leave that stage to me.

  13. #28 by dezertsuz on June 30, 2017 - 00:34

    It came back looking great! I’m glad you had such a good experience and feel more comfortable with that process now. I think the red binding looks just fine skinny. Mine is always skinny on the front and slightly wider on the back. I must trim closer, too, because I always sew mine 1/4″ from the edge.

    • #29 by tialys on June 30, 2017 - 08:43

      I think I actually prefer binding to be slightly skinny, especially on the front otherwise it might be a bit overpowering. I suppose it depends on what else is happening on the front of the quilt.

  14. #30 by jendavismiller on July 3, 2017 - 14:28

    I like the skinny red border. It’s just a “hint” of red (my favorite as you know) and makes it more special. I so love quilts and admire quilters, but simply cannot imagine the patience and persistence required. Probably not going to find one in my sewing lineup, sad to say.

    • #31 by tialys on July 3, 2017 - 18:30

      I find dressmaking requires more patience and persistence to be honest. I get more stressed with it – probably because I’d have to actually wear the thing. I think you would enjoy it if you started off with something simple like squares or strips or rectangles – sometimes I like those better than the more complicated ones.

      • #32 by jendavismiller on July 4, 2017 - 02:28

        I’ve seen some “modern” strip quilts that are haphazardly arranged and sized on a solid background. Quite lovely! Something to think about….

  15. #33 by Kim on July 9, 2017 - 18:46

    Very pretty!

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