Friday, March 19, 2021

No quilt police here - Some of my quilting go to’s

My quilting life pic
My quilting life has taught me many things. With over 25 years, some practices have become habit, and have provided some likes and dislikes. The door is always open though, for there is always more to learn, new experiences yet to have, and so many quilts I want to make.

One of the most asked questions of new quilters is whether or not to prewash fabric

I’ve read all the pros and cons, but I really do not like to prewash fabric. I think I did it once and when the fabric came out of the dryer, it was a tangled, wrinkled mess. I tamed it with the iron, but I can’t imagine doing that with everything I buy.

I also like working with fabric right off the bolt. I like the feel of it. But I especially like how it looks in a finished quilt that is washed for the first time.

Shout color catcher
Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but I’ve made many, many quilts now and never have I had a problem with fabric bleeding. Of course, one bad experience could change that, but so far, there have been none. I am a firm believer in Shout Color Catchers, which has for me, been sufficient. I have worked with rich colors in fabrics and even plenty of batiks in my quilts. I have never (knock on wood) had a problem with colors running into one another in my quilts. All this may change one day if I ever decide to work with hand-dyed fabrics or dye it myself which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve never had the space for that, but who knows what the future holds?

Yardage over pre-cuts

Fabric yardage
There seems to be a real trend toward buying fabrics already cut into strips, squares, bundles, charm packs, layer cakes, etc. I know this can be a real time-saver. It is can also be beneficial to have like colors and fabrics that go together pre-selected, but for me, that takes the fun out of it.   

One of the challenges I have undertaken in my quilting experience is to learn about colors and patterns, contrast and value in the fabric we use in our quilts. Matching fabrics is one of the first decisions in quilt making; it is one I never want to surrender to someone else. Choosing the right fabrics is part of the thrill of making a quilt. And each one is a learning experience.

Hand quilting versus free-motion machine quilting

Neither hand-quilting nor machine quilting is a preference for me because I enjoy both methods. I free-motion quilted my last quilt but I am currently hand-quilting my latest one. Both methods require practice. Each is enjoyable in its own way.

At the risk of sounding like a crazy woman, my experience has shown that the quilt will tell you what it needs. Quilting a quilt as well as the patterns to use, are the kind of decisions that make a quilt uniquely your own.

I’ve often said that I love every process in quilt making but that isn’t quite true

I do love most parts of making a quilt, from fabric selection, to cutting and sewing, to piecing and quilting, but there is one process I’m not fond of—sandwiching the quilt. Putting the completed quilt top, batting, and backing together and basting is not my favorite part. In fact, I rather dread it. I don’t really have a space for it. I’m too old to lay out a quilt on the floor, and at my house, that is a perfect invitation for cats to play on mom’s new quilt. So, rather grudgingly, I use my dining room table. I drag out the heavy leaf to make it as big as I can. And I set out to get the three pieces together without wrinkles as I do laps around the table many, many times. That works well enough, I suppose, but it is far from ideal.

The same is true for basting the quilt. I’ve tried thread basting, but don’t really like that since the quilt is always bigger, in both length and width, than my table. I’ve basted using curved safety pins and I’ve even tried the spray basting method. I have to admit that I was surprised at how well spray basting worked, but I just don’t have the trust in it, especially for a hand-quilting project that takes so long to complete. So, my go to is pin-basting. I rarely use as many pins as I should because I’m too impetuous and just want to get started quilting. And, I admit that one of my favorite quilts has a big wrinkle in the backing fabric. It isn’t obvious because it was densely machine quilted, and just looks like another seam, but I know it is there. And that is frustrating.

Hand or machine binding

I love binding my quilts by hand. Binding is one of my favorite things because when the binding is done, the quilt is done. There is nothing better than finishing a quilt.

Quilting is such an inspiration to me. It is one of the most fulfilling activities I have found. The best part for me, is the challenge it provides. I have no idea what quilt will be next, but I do know I will always be a quilter.

Please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your quilting go-to’s.

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