How to finish a Quilt

Well now, this all depends on how far the quilt is finished.  I guess this question could be answered in a couple of ways.  Let me address those.

Finishing quilts for others.

I have finished many quilts for others.  When they ask me to finish their quilts, usually it’s a finished quilt top, but with no backing, batting and hand quilting.  Occasionally I add a border if the customer and I feel like it needs one to enlarge the quilt to a specific size, or just to make it look more complete. These quilts are usually left unfinished to the family by a grandmother or mother and therefore range anywhere from 40-80 years old.  They are usually all hand pieced and therefore the family wants to have it finished by hand quilting.  This is all in keeping it as much as possible the way the “grandmother”  would have finished it herself.


To finish the quilt, I get a backing, either a nice floral, or an unbleached muslin.    For the batting I usually use

Four boards, clamps and staple gun.

100% cotton, unbleached, since that is what was used in earlier years.  I then prepare the backing and batting by lightly ironing them so there are no wrinkles or folds in them. To hand quilt the quilt I have four boards and four clamps.  I make a frame the size

Stapling quilt to frame.

of the quilt, with a little of it overlapping onto the frame.  I then use a staple

Hand quilting frame clamped together.

gun and secure the backing on all four corners.  You need to make sure your backing and batting are at least an inch bigger all the way around, especially if it’s a full or queen size quilt.  Using a staple gun does leave small holes in the fabric, so you want to secure it as close to the edge as possible so the hole will come within the seam of the binding I assemble the quilt on the frame on the floor.  When it is attached all the way around, with a staple about every three inches, I then lift up my frame and set it on my four stands and I’m ready to pull up my chair and begin hand quilting. When you are finished quilting, take it all off the

frame and take quilt over to your ironing table.  I then iron one section of the edge of

Hand quilting frame on four stands.

the quilt, and then cut it evenly, so that the backing, batting, and quilt top are straight and even.  Usually I will then pin edges with pins, putting a pin in every three inches.  I do this on all the edges of the quilt.  When finished, attach your prepared binding.

Then again, maybe you don’t have a complete quilt top, but just some scattered blocks.   Well, if you have a bunch of blocks, just add some borders around them or between them, and then add a border on the outside and there is your finished quilt top. (picture of quilt with embroidered cars) This lady brought me a bunch of blocks but she divided them up and we just put a couple in each quilt so that more than one of the relatives got to have some of the blocks grandmother had made.  (picture of quilt with sunbonnet girl in middle)

My friend's quilt--J. Neely

A friend of mine brought me this quilt top, the edges were tattered, and some holes in the quilt top.  Then on the side she had a bunch of these flowers which might have been planned to be put into the quilt top eventually.  I patched up the holes in the quilt top, trimmed the edges and added borders.  For the two ends I attached a wider border.  I then just sewed on those leftover flower blocks on those wide borders and made her a lovely quilt she was really pleased with.