Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Blogger: Prepping fabric, Pressing Seams, and Trimming Blocks

Preparing Your fabric, Pressing Your Seams, and Trimming Your Blocks
By:  Connie Eicher, Award Winning Quilter

The quilting world is split in half on the subject of washing your fabrics before you make your quilt. I personally wash every fabric as it comes into the house and then when I get ready to use it I know it has already been washed.  I highly recommend using Spray Sizing when you press your fabric to cut it. It will give it some of that finish you love to handle when you buy it, and it will help prevent slippage of your rulers as you cut. If you want your quilt to appear more antique, and you are sure none of the fabric color will bleed when washed, then don’t wash your fabrics first. Your quilt will wrinkle a bit around the quilting stitches when you wash the completed project. This makes it appear more like antique quilts. Keep in mind that fabric that has not been washed will shrink some if you use steam when you iron. Here are some helpful tips for washing your fabrics.

1.     Sort the fabric by color, darks, reds, and lights separated.

2.     Unfold the fabric as you put it in the washer.

3.     Use a gentle cycle or just a rinse cycle.

4.     Use warm water.

5.     Trim off all large clumps of thread from the edges before you dry the fabric.

6.     Separate each piece of fabric as you move it to the dryer. Straighten it out and put it into the dryer one piece at a time.

7.     Don’t overload the dryer.

8.     Fold the fabric fresh out of the dryer, straightening it out with your hands.

Pressing your blocks is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Pressing is not the same as ironing. Pressing means laying your iron on your block and press down lightly. Then pick it up and press another area. Try not to slide the iron across the blocks as that may distort the pieces. Here are some helpful tips for pressing your blocks.

1.     I use steam when I press as I feel I get a much crisper crease.

2.     Press your seams closed first to set the stitches into the fabric. This will help prevent any distorting of the seam.

3.     Press your seams to one side on the back of the block. This will prevent any puckers or creases on your block.

4.     Then turn your block over and press the top carefully.

5.     Press borders to the quilt before you sew them down. Pressing will help the border stay in place.

6.     When you need to cut a stack of fabric never stack more than four layers and press those layers together before you cut. It will help them stick together and not slide.

Trimming your blocks can make or break the success of your project. Some patterns will give you measurements of each finished step. Measure to make sure you are keeping accurate seams. If your pattern does not have measurements for each step, but has measurements for the finished blocks, then I recommend you make one block and measure it to make sure it is the size it is supposed to be. Then continue with the remaining blocks, chain piecing if you like. Here are some helpful tips for trimming your blocks.

1.     Trim all dog ears.

2.     Pay close attention to the points on the block. You need ¼” seam allowance to insure the point will survive being sewn to the next block.

3.     Use a square up ruler whenever you can. Place the diagonal on the ruler on two opposite corners to make sure the block will be square when you trim it.

4.     If your block is just a bit too small, lay it on your ironing board, use a steam iron to gently maneuver the block into place. When you get the block squared pin it down until the steam dries.

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