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Bigfork, Montana, USA
Bigfork Bay Cotton Company is a full service, brick and mortar quilt shop, as well as a retail/wholesale pattern business. You can view our pattern line on our website, but on a more personal level, we'd like to invite you into our shop and share with you the joy of quilting in our corner of the world!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Please read through these directions completely before you begin to cut and sew!

Using the 1 1/2" LIGHT and 1 1/2" LIGHT/MEDIUM strips, make nine strip sets. Set five strip sets aside for later. Subcut the remaining four strip sets into 4 1/2" lengths. You will need 36.

Subcut the MEDIUM/DARK #2 strips into 2 1/2" squares. You will need 72.

Lay a MEDIUM/DARK square on one side of the above rectangle. Stitch diagonally, fold open, and press. If it helps you, draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the square. However, you can save time by eliminating this step and using a line marked on your sewing machine. See my previous blog post on binding for more details about this method. Whichever method you choose, it is helpful to sew at least one or two thread widths off the line, towards the edge of the rectangle. This gives you a little more room when you flip and press. It doesn't hurt to sew even further off the line....you will use the rectangle as your guide when you press.

Be sure to start stitching in the corner that covers the LIGHT/MEDIUM fabric.

See how the corner of the square just follows the line, but is just a tiny bit over?

(Oops! Blurry picture....sorry!)

Fold back the square, and line up with the corner of the rectangle and press.

Repeat for the other side of the rectangle.

If desired, trim out one or both inside layers to reduce bulk. I personally like to leave the rectangle intact....it keeps everything square and nice. Unless there is a shading issue, I do trim out the inside layer.

This is what your unit will look like. Take care to stitch so that the LIGHT/MEDIUM fabric is towards the point of the goose, and the LIGHT fabric is along the outside of the rectangle.

You will need 36 of these.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Please note: Because I like borders cut on the lengthwise grain, the focus fabric is cut along the length, that is, parallel to the selvedge. All the remaining fabrics are cut the traditional way...


Cut four strips on the lengthwise grain, (parallel to selvedge), 6 1/2" X length of fabric (These are border strips.)

Cut three strips, 2 1/2" X length of fabric

Cut one strip, 4 1/2" X length of fabric, from one end of this piece cut two squares 2 7/8"


Cut seventeen strips, 1 1/2" X width of fabric

Cut seven strips, 2 1/2" X width of fabric


Cut nine strips, 1 1/2" X width of fabric

Cut eight strips, 2 1/2" X width of fabric

Cut four strips, 3 1/2" X width of fabric

Cut one strip, 2 7/8" X width of fabric


Cut five strips, 2 1/2" X width of fabric

Cut six strips, 1 1/2" X width of fabric (These are border strips.)


Cut five strips, 2 1/2" X width of fabric


Cut eight strips, 2 1/2" X width of fabric (Seven of these are for binding.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Those of you that receive our newsletter already know that we are beginning a new mystery quilt on Saturday. Even if you cannot make it in to the shop, you can join us in solving this mystery! Each month, on the second Saturday, I will be posting a new step. This is a traditional, pieced quilt, finished size approximately 62" X 62".

Today, I am giving you your fabric requirements.

First, start with a Focus fabric. Just pick something you like....that's easy, right? You will need 2 yards. (This will include the outer border.)

The rest of the fabrics need to "get along with" the focus fabric, and with each other.

Light 1 1/2 yards (One and one half yards)

Light/Medium 1 3/4 yards (One and three quarter yards) This could be the same color as your light, with a value change, or a different color altogether!

Medium or Dark #1 3/4 yard (Three quarter yard) (This will include the inner border.)

Medium or Dark #2 1/2 yard (One half yard)

Medium/Dark #3 2/3 yard (Two thirds yard) (This will include binding.) Now....about this one....If you can pull a third color out of your focus fabric, great. That's what I did. But if you can't, don't worry.....you could also use your focus fabric or one of the other mediums, just be sure to add this amount to the yardage required above for the one you choose.

Although I used to be a stickler about prewashing and ironing fabric, since I've gotten busy with the business, I often bypass this step. Luckily, I have never had a problem. Certainly, if you use hand-dyed fabrics or suspect that a fabric might bleed, you will want to prewash.

I base all my yardage calculations on 40 inches of width. That allows for any shrinkage that happens when you prewash. It also means that those who don't prewash may eke out an extra cut or two out of a strip, perhaps meaning you may need a strip less than the directions indicate.... Don't worry if you have an extra strip....just throw it in your scraps!

Tomorrow I will post cutting instructions....and then on Saturday, STEP ONE!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When it was time to bind the last quilt I made, I thought I'd take some pics, step by step, and pass along to you how I do my bindings. I must have been quilting ten years before I learned how to join the ends of the binding without a struggle....

First, I will show you how to calculate how much binding fabric you need:
To calculate how much fabric you will need for your binding, you need to start by measuring the length and width of your quilt top. For this example we will calculate binding for a quilt that measures 68" X 78". You will need to add these two measurements together and multiply by two: 68 + 78=146 X 2=292 (inches of binding).

Now add 10 to this number to allow for overlap when finishing off the binding...now we are at 302. Since fabric is approximately 40 inches wide, I can guess that we are going to need 7 or 8 strips. Now, each time you seam a strip you will take up approximately 2 1/2", so multiply 2 1/2" X 8, which equals 20, and add that to your total. We are now at 322 inches. Divide this number by 40 (the approximate width of fabric) and you have the number of strips you need, in this case 8.05. Now, I rarely round down, but in this case I will, simply because I know you usually get more than 40 usable inches out of a strip of fabric. So I am going to cut 8 strips. If you cut your binding strips 2 1/4" you will simply multiply 2.25 X 8=18". If you cut your binding strips 2 1/2" X 8=20".

On to making and attaching binding:

When piecing your binding strips together, I suggest piecing on the bias to distribute the bulk. If you choose straight seams you may have a noticeable "bump" at each seam. To sew your strips together on the bias, lay two strips down at a 90 degree angle as shown.

Draw a line from corner to corner....or jump ahead to see a time-saving trick.

You will use this little time-saving trick again and again. Using a Sharpie or a piece of tape, make a line down the front of your machine even with the needle when it is centered. I started my line of tape after the little door for the bobbin. I drew on the bobbin door.

You will use this line over and over again....not just for binding strips but for half square triangles, flying geese, snowballs...any time that you used to have to draw lines.

Now, back to binding.....

If you drew a line, stitch on it. But if you decided to mark your machine, stitch as shown below. (Ignore the line....I want to show you that you don't really need it.)

Line up your fabric so that the needle is right in the intersection of the fabrics. Then line up the other intersection with the line on your sewing machine. Begin stitching, letting the intersection follow the line up to the needle.

Continue adding strips the same way.

When you have joined all your strips, head over to the ironing board. Trim off the first selvedge edge. Fold and press the strips lengthwise, wrong sides together. As you come to one of your seams, trim it to approximately 1/4" and press open, before continuing pressing.

Go back to the beginning of your binding strip, open up the strip, and press as shown. It doesn't really matter which way you make the angle, but I like it to be slanting the same direction as the bias seams I pieced. Press it back in half, keeping that little angle folded in.

Begin attaching the binding to your quilt top. Begin in the middle of a side or the bottom. Do not start close to an edge. Leave a tail of approximately 8" -10" before you start stitching.

Stop as you approach a corner and make a mark 1/4" from the edge of the quilt.
Continue stitching up to the mark and backstitch.

Rotate or pivot the quilt. Fold the binding strip up away from the quilt top as shown.

Now fold it back down, with the fold even with the edge of the quilt.

Beginning 1/4" in from the edge of the quilt, resume stitching the binding to the quilt. Backstitch when you start, but take care not to stitch closer than 1/4" from the edge.
You will turn each corner the same way. When you have turned the last corner, stop and take note of how far you are from the beginning of the first strip. You will want to stop approximately 8" or so before you come to the beginning of that strip. Backstitch and remove the quilt from under the machine.
Lay the quilt flat on the table in front of you. Smooth the beginning strip down along the quilt top edge and pin in place.

Lay the end piece of binding down over the beginning piece.

Fold this piece back, with the fold exactly lining up with the straight, raw edge of the beginning piece.

Cut on the fold.

Pick up the two ends of the binding pieces, and, without doing any fancy twisting or turning, join them together at right angles as shown:

Using several pins to keep things from shifting, stitch on the fold.

Now, before I trim the seam allowance, I lay the quilt top out flat and make sure it all lays flat.

Once I see that it does, indeed, lie flat, I trim the seam allowance and finger press it open. Then I return to the sewing machine to stitch that last bit of binding down.

It is now ready to hand finish!