The Billboard Quilt-Along is open to anyone who wants to participate and has no set start or finish date. I’ve compiled a list of posts here.
Finishing your quilt will include three steps: sandwiching, quilting, and binding. This post will include some tips specific to the quilt-along. The links in the previous sentence will take you to more in-depth general tutorials on all three steps.
If you followed the tutorials to make your quilt top and back, you should have a quilt back that is 4" larger on all sides than your quilt top. If you haven't already, cut your batting to be about 2" larger on all sides than your quilt top. (You can do this by simply laying the batting on the floor, laying your quilt top on top of it and cutting around the edges with scissors.)
The graduated sizes will help you to sandwich the layers evenly. As you work, don't stress out about creating precisely 2" between each layer. It's just a guideline intended to make the sandwiching process easier. The important thing is to keep the sides of the layers parallel to one another. You should be able to see all three layers (like in the above photo) on all sides.
I usually trim some of the excess fabric away from the quilt back before I start quilting, but I always leave a couple of inches to account for any shifting that might happen during quilting.
Step Two: Machine Quilting
I prefer to quilt the entire surface of my quilts with a single pattern. In this case, that included quilting over the patchwork letters using a blocky, meandering pattern.
I used one of Modern Domestic's Bernina 440s for this quilt, and have also used my Viking Mega Quilter for similar projects. While those machines did fine quilting through the extra fusible layers, some machines may not be as successful. If you're thinking about free-motion quilting through your letters, I recommend making a practice sandwich with a fusible applique and trying it out on your machine before starting on your actual quilt. Use a 90/14 Quilting or Microtex/Sharp needle and, if you're seeing a lot of debris on the needle, use a drop of Sewer's Aid lubricant.
If you find that your machine isn't up to free-motion quilting through all of the layers, you still have other options! You could quilt with straight lines using a walking foot, or simply avoid quilting over the letters, instead filling in all of the background area around them.
Step Three: Making and Sewing Binding
I saved scraps from my patchwork letters and used them to make a scrappy binding. My quilt is 79" x 90", so I determined that I would need about 344" of binding (79" + 90" + 79" + 90" + 6" extra for corners and joining the ends). Note: Depending on how you attach your binding, you may or may not want to add more extra length.
I sewed my scrap pieces end-to-end (because I think the seams between the pieces look nicer this way) until I had a long enough piece of binding for my quilt.
Now, I just have to sew the binding onto the quilt! I'll show you photos of the finished project next week.