Fast Finish for Your Handmade Quilt Projects

Our new assistant editor for special projects, Lindsey Murray, has committed to giving several quilts as Christmas gifts this year. She started her projects in September, so when I was back in Massachusetts last week I asked her if she was finished.

She just laughed.

It seems like everyone I know is making at least some of their holiday gifts this year. And, like Lindsey, most of them are running a bit behind. So, I thought this would be a good time to offer some tips for giving your fiber art and quilting projects a fast finish.

Forgo the binding. Unless you’re making a quilt that will be washed, you can forgo a formal binding. Use a zigzag or decorative stitch to finish the edges, couch on a pretty trim, or leave them artfully ragged.

Hand stitch. Does your project need edge-to-edge free-motion stitching, or would some strategically placed seed stitches and French knots do the trick? Sure, hand stitching can take time, but you can do it while you do something else, like watch a holiday movie with your kids.

Reach for the paint. Instead of appliquéing, stitching, or fusing designs on your quilt or home dec project, paint. If freehand painting isn’t in your skill set, apply fabric or acrylic paint with a bold stamp for a quick and easy design solution. Or add a motif or pattern with oil sticks and a stencil or texture plate.

Scale back. It would be nice to give your sister-in-law a complete set of napkins and coasters with a matching table runner, but I bet she’d be just as happy with the coasters. Leave the other projects for her birthday.  

Keep it simple. Maybe one person gets a more elaborate quilt and the others get an easy-to-make project, like the Waterfall Scarves Diane Gloystein demonstrated for me on “Quilting Arts TV” Series 700.

Go easy on yourself. So, maybe you won’t be able to finish all the projects you had planned. Would it be so terrible if you picked up something handcrafted at the local artisan’s fair or from another artist’s website to give instead? If your loved one is a fiber artist, you could even give them a copy of “Quilting Arts TV” Series 700. Just a couple of clicks: you’re done and they’re happy!

There, now you can have everything wrapped and under the tree before Santa comes looking for his cookies.

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