Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tips for Quilters

The "Scant" Quarter Inch Seam Allowance

When machine piecing a quilt block it is important to use a seam allowance slightly less than 1/4 inch. This is because a slight amount of fabric is taken up in the fold when the seam is pressed to one side. One sixteenth of an inch won't cause too much distortion when there's only one seam in a block, but if there are four seams, the completed block will be off by 1/4 inch! It is especially important to use the scant 1/4 inch seam allowance when using rotary cut strips and pieces. The rotary cutter is very accurate and doesn't leave a bit more fabric as cutting fabric with scissors does.

Cut the tangle when prewashing fabrics

If you prewash your fabrics by machine, you have probably suffered through the tangle of excess threads that sometimes pull away from the cut edges. Try this trick to help cut down on this problem--open the cut of fabric out flat and clip a small (1/2") triangle from each corner. Wash as usual, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised at the lack of tangled threads.

Trimming and squareing up your Quilt

After quilting, the sides of your quilt may be slightly different in length. You can equalize the difference by measuring through the middle of the quilt both horizontally and vertically, and using these measurements (plus seam allowances) when figuring the binding length on each side.

You may wish to trim the quilt until the sides are equal, but if the amount you’re trimming is significant, keep in mind that you may alter the proportion and balance of the borders. You may also alter the difference between the quilting motifs and the quilt edge from one border to the next.

To begin squaring up your quilt, it’s best to lay your project on a rotary-cutting mat on a flat surface. Position a large acrylic square ruler in one corner of the quilt, aligning adjacent edges of the ruler with adjacent edges of the quilt top. Place a long acrylic ruler above the square ruler, aligning the long edge with the quilt top edge. Using a rotary cutter, cut away the batting and backing that extend beyond the quilt top edge. Reposition the rulers and cutting mat as needed to trim around the entire quilt. If you do not wish to rotary-cut the excess batting and backing, mark the cutting line along the ruler edge, and then use scissors to trim on the line.

To restore old blocks/quilts, try the following recipe:

1 Gallon Water
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Soak quilt in mixture then wash in mild detergent. Your colors will return to their original brilliance.

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