Fabric Prewash or Not?

Fabric Pre-wash or Not?

By Mary Covey

Should I prewash my fabric or not? Nothing can stir up more heated debates with quilters than this subject. Every quilter has an opinion on the subject. And guess what? They are all correct. The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to the question. It is all up to the individual quilter. Each choice comes with some pros and cons that you will have to consider when deciding which you will do.

Those in favor of prewashing their fabric enjoy the idea that this will maintain the fabrics  colorfastness. Prewashing also preshrinks the fabric. These have certainly been valid concerns in the past. The fabric processing and dying procedures have seen many advancements over the past 10-15 years. So these two concerns are somewhat less valid. The biggest advantage to prewashing is in the pliability and feel of the fabric. Fabrics with heavy sizing and painted designs are difficult to quilt both by hand and machine.  A quick prewash can help eliminate some future problems.

On the other side of the debate are quilters who prefer not to prewash. They enjoy the crisp feel of the fabric fresh from the store. Many of these quilters believe the fabric is easier to cut and stitch with because the sizing helps the fabric retain its shape. The decision may also be based on the desire to have an old fashioned look for the quilt when it is completed. When the fabric and batting are not prewashed before quilting, then the finished quilt is washed, they all shrink together giving the quilt that crinkled old fashioned look.

As a machine quilter, I believe in both points of view. I love the look that a quilt gets when nothing has been prewashed until the quilt is finished. The quilt appears to have been around forever and has a soft, soothing feel.  But not prewashing fabric can cause lots of tension issues and skipped stitches because of heavy sizing or painted designs on the fabric.  When fabric is prewashed it is much easier to quilt both by hand and machine, giving you a nice tight stitch.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Pick the look you want and get busy quilting.

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Hiring a Professional Long Arm Machine Quilter

7 Tips for Hiring a Long Arm Machine Quilter

By Mary Covey

Over the past several years, long arm machine quilting has become both a popular and beautiful way to finish projects. It is also a great business opportunity for many quilters. So, hiring a professional who uses a long arm machine is always an option for getting your projects completed. If you do decide to use a professional quilting service, keep these tips in mind:

  • Ask for references from other customers or from local quilt shops.
  • Ask to see samples of the quilter’s most recent work. Most professionals will have a web page or Facebook page with pictures of their most current work.
  • Check out the quilter’s policies and pricing. A quilter may charge by the square yard or by the square inch. Always ask what is included in the price. My price includes the thread and the labor. Another quilter may include thread, labor, and batting in their price.
  • Agree up front on the quilting design, batting, thread color, completion date, and finished quilting price. Binding your quilt is usually a completely separate price.
  • Be clear about what you expect to receive in exchange for the quoted price. Long arm quilters are just like other professionals (mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc.), they will be happy to put a quote in writing.
  • Be willing to leave a deposit if it is requested. Just like the plumber, full payment is due when the quilting is competed.
  • Look over your quilt when you pick it up. If you have any questions or concerns about your quilt ask the quilter right then. Any business owner will want to hear your comments and address them immediately.

Because we know how much time and energy you put into making your quilt top, professional long arm quilters take pride in doing a good job for their customers. It is especially gratifying when the customer is pleased with your work. Don’t hide your quilt tops away in the closet. Get them finished by a long arm quilting professtional.

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Quilter’s Dream

By Mary Covey

Quilters Dream Quilt Store

Every quilter I know loves to visit quilt shops when they travel and I am no exception. Recently while I was in Texas I had the opportunity to visit Quilter’s Dream located in Colleyville just outside Grapevine. The shop was established in 1997 and is owned by Beverly Ingram.

Quilters Dream Quilt Store

Quilters Dream Quilt Store, Colleyville, TX

When you step in the door you are made to feel right at home by the friendly staff.

Quilter's Dream Owner Beverly Ingram

Beverly Ingram, Owner of Quilter’s Dream

The shop features a wide variety of fabrics, books, and patterns. Beverly told me that they write many of their own patterns. Their best known and most popular pattern is called Magic Nine patch. They have also created eight different block of the month programs.  As I rambled through the store, I visited three separate classrooms with students working on projects. I also had the pleasure of visiting with a long arm quilter who works from the shop. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
If you are every in the area, give Quilter’s Dream a visit. If you can’t go in person you can always visit them on line at www.quiltersdreamtx.com.

 

 

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Machine Quilting Tips (part 3)

By Mary Covey

3 Must Know Tips to Machine Quilting

Whither you are machine quilting your quilt yourself or sending it to a machine quilter to quilt for you, there are a few tips that will help your quilt have a better finished look.

1.  Check your borders to make sure that they are flat, the seams are straight, and the corners are square. The quilt below (made by Elsie Ridgley quilted by me) is a great example of this.

IMG_3231elephant side

2.  It is important for the back of your quilt to lay flat also. First be sure to have a straight and even seam. Trimming the selvage and pressing the seam open before quilting will help keep the back from puckering.

IMG_3976selvage      This is an example of an uneven seam that has untrimmed selvages and has not been pressed.

IMG_3237rightseam

       This is an example of a good even seam that has trimmed selvages and pressed seams.

3.  Finally, use good quality thread and batting. I prefer 100% cotton thread like Aurifil or Signature. The same is true for batting choose a good quality natural fiber batting like Warm & Natural. If you prefer a light weight batting Hobbs Heirloom is 80% cotton/20%polyester. Both battings will withstand the test of time.

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