Monday, October 29, 2007

Quilting & Blocking Tips

Even though I've been quilting for a long time, I still learn new things with each project. While quilting my latest quilt (back in May/June) I tried using several products that were new to me, and they really made a difference.

The first product is the Free Motion Slider. It's a teflon sheet that lays on the bed of the machine, and reduces friction between the quilt and the top of your table and machine. There's a hole in the sheet where the needle goes through. I loved it, and felt it really made all that free motion work easier.

I also tried using gloves specially made for quilting. I used several different brands, and they all cut down on hand fatigue. I don't use them for every situation, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they allowed me to grip with little effort.

I'd only used wool batting before for sample quilting. I wanted to use wool to showcase the quilting I planned to do. I love the look I achieved, especially on the quilted feathers, but a word of warning! Thorough basting is always important, but I found it to be even more so using the wool. Try it and see what you think.

Someone recently posted a question about blocking quilts to the quiltart list. I responded, and then realized that maybe some of you might also be interested. I do not block all of my quilts, especially if they are heavily fused, but some quilts benefit mightily from a good blocking. Here's what I posted to the list:

Here are two ways I've successfully blocked a quilt:
1. Soak the quilt in the washing machine in cold water, then spin dry. Lay the quilt flat on a carpeted floor covered with towels.Pull, push, and prod it until it's the shape you want it to be. If it has straight lines (like borders) try to make sure they're straight.Use a large t-square if you want the edges square, and measure the quilt from corner to corner on both diagonals - if you want thequilt to be square, both these measurements should be the same. Be sure when you're transporting the wet quilt that you supportit so that it doesn't strain the stitches. Once the quilt is the shape that you want, let it dry completely in place (flat) before moving it.The whole process is much easier if you have someone to help you!
2. Recently I blocked a quilt that was finished (including binding). I didn't want to immerse it in water so I used a different method.With a Sharpie draw the outline of the size you want the quilt to be on pink foam insulating board.Let the Sharpie dry completely.Put the quilt on the foam board and start pinning from one corner out both sides. Spritz the quilt with water as necessary while stretching the quilt to fit. When it is completely pinned make sure to spritz it well, then let it dry overnight. Having a fanblow on it helps. If you end up with little scallops where the pins are just remove the pins, leave the quilt flat where it is, respritz and straighten out those scallops, then let dry again.

Tomorrow I go to Houston - woohoo! The last time I saw the show was nine years ago so I'm totally psyched.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!!

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