Friday, May 23, 2014

Blocking your Quilt

Blocked and drying

I finished the quilting and will show you how to block strip pieced quilts in this blog entry.  Usually I soak my quilts in the washer and spin out the excess water before I block it, however I didn't want to do this because of the bright and dark colored fabrics and BLEEDING. Yuck.  Even when working with quality red fabric prints I've had them bleed after washing! I was taking no chances with this one. 

 When blocking a quilt like this it is important to use a good carpenter's tool... luckily my husband has one and doesn't mind that it stays in my sewing room now, lol.  I use a carpeted floor and a clean sheet to lay my quilt out on.

First thing to do is measure it.  Are both sides the same width at the bottom, top and middle?  Is the distance from the bottom of the quilt to the top the same on the left side, the right side and the middle?  No?  Welcome to my world, lol.  Quilting these quilts primarily in long wavy horizontals take up a lot of the quilt's height and can take it up somewhat unevenly.

Pick a corner, use a T square, or whatever that L shaped thing is called and pin the corner right into the carpeting. Pin at an angle so the pin slides under the carpet pad too.  Then across the side, or the top or the bottom and pull and stretch and pin as necessary to create a quit with mostly square dimensions.  Use a measuring tape as needed.  Also use that T square lining it up with strips inside the quilt to keep making sure your strips are perfectly straight and run horizontally across your quilt top. You don't want them sliding down... you want a perfectly straight horizon line, etc.

Once the whole quilt top is pinned, use a press cloth and a LOT of steam to block it. A LOT of steam!
Steam thoroughly, use a press cloth
Blocked and drying
 Notice the bottom left edge? It bows out... sometimes despite my best efforts strips get warped during the quilting.  This is ok though, as long as the strips are running straight across the quilt, that corner can be trimmed off once the quilt is dry.

Let the quilt dry and leave it alone for 24 hours or so.  By the way, I use a cotton batting - Warm and Natural.  I quilted the piece using 40 wt polyester and rayon variegated threads. (Sulky and Superior). I used The Bottom Line in my bobbin and a 90/14 needle.  I somewhat match the color of my bobbin thread with my top thread so there is a nice 'picture' on the back of the quilt.

Quilting detail
 You can see I added little branches here and there, I just free motioned using a small zig zag stitch and sketched them in where ever I felt like it.  Remember all the loop da loos I did making the confetti?  All these little circles you see are not from my quilting. I just did enough to hold them in place on the quilt top and keep them from puffing out.

By the way  - it is HORRIBLE trying to see your quilting stitches when quilting with black thread over black thread.  The back my tree looks kind of messy... I don't think the quilt judges will like this, lol.

That means I'm coming up with a plan for the back of this quilt next.  Perhaps a sponge paint texture in a dark charcoal will help the back look neater and more dramatic.  For whatever stupid reason, I chose a deep yellow and lilac batik for the backing and it shows every flaw and non perfect stitch. I'm such a dummy at times!

Detail of the water quilting, I had fun sewing on reflections!
Comments welcome! 


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Denise! I'm hoping to finish it this week. I'm doing something interesting on the back and then I'll do a knife edge facing instead of a binding. (I'll be posting about it too...) :)

  2. Your work is really wonderful. The quilt police hmmm I have heard about them but I hope to never run into any of them. Design is in the eyes of the designer, and the master designer gave you this talent, I am pretty sure the ultimate Master knows what He is doing.