Quilting the Quilt (part one)

By Mary Covey

jflower4

When planning a quilt, most quilters know there are three elements to keep in mind – design, color, and texture. There is no denying that we are drawn to a quilt by the beauty of the design and by the color combinations that dazzle. But what about the texture – the actual quilting itself?

The quilts of yesteryear required a great deal of close quilting to keep the batting from shifting and lumping. This is not true for today’s quilts because of the numerous choices available in batting, more focus can be put on a quilting design that compliments both the design and color of the quilt.

The beautiful applique’ quilt block above was hand appliqued by Jane Green. Her attention to detail in the flowers deserves to be enhanced by machine quilting that does not distract from her work. Using matching thread colors helps keep your eye on the design of the block. Echoing each of the shapes both inside and outside creates equal density while still maintaining the beauty of the block design. Echo quilting is like ripples in a pond – they start out close in a perfect ring and get larger  the further away from the center they get.  After several passes around a shape swirls, leaves, hearts, and other designs can be added(see example below) to make those blank corners of the block beautiful.

Dorothy Smith's Quilt

Semi Feathers

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Buy Local

by Mary Covey

There is a huge movement happening in the food industry right now – “locally grown”,” locally operated”, “locally owned”. I hear and see these words constantly as I am food shopping. It is important to me to support my community by buying my groceries from a farmers market or fruit from a locally owned farm whenever possible. The grocery store and pharmacy where I shop are both local, employee owned businesses where they know me by my first name.

It is just as important for me to buy local when it comes to my quilting needs. Locally owned and operated quilt shops are vital to the quilter and the quilting community. Local shop owners are the backbone of the quilting community. Studies have shown that non-profit organizations (like our guilds, stitch groups, retreats, sewing for charities ) receive an average of 250% more support from smaller locally owned businesses than they do from large businesses.

Local quilt shops employ local quilters who have a knowledge and better understanding of products quilters use. They take more time to get to know the customers and their needs. If they do not carry a product, most are willing to order it for you if they can. If there is a class you are interested in most local shop owners will help accommodate your request (within reason of course). Fabrics, rulers, threads, needles, patterns, books, they have it all.

Local shop owners are selecting products not based on a national sales program, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers. Every local shop has its own unique style and personality. These shop owners have made a huge investment in our community, financially and emotionally. Their shops are more than just a place to buy. A sense of community, support, encouragement, and knowledge can all be found at these wonderful shops.

    Support your local quilt shop! Think local! Buy local!

 

 

 

 

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Prewashing Fabric for Quilting

By Mary Covey

Fabric Pre-wash or Not?

To prewash fabric or not to prewash was the subject of my last post. It’s pretty easy if you decide not to prewash your fabric – you just cut and sew. But what if you decide to prewash? Are there any tips that can make prewashing results better? Here are just a few tips that I have learned that have helped me.

  1. Separate fabrics into lights, mediums, and darks just like your regular laundry.
  2. Before washing a color group, make a few small (1/4″) snips along the selvage edges of each piece of fabric. This will keep the selvage from shrinking up tighter than the rest of the fabric.
  3. Wash fabric in small loads, using a mild detergent that has no bleach additives.
  4. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These will make it difficult for the fabric to accept other processes easily such as fusible webbing or fusible interfacing.
  5. If you are worried about a dark-colored fabric bleeding even after you have washed it, it might be wise to do a colorfastness test before using that fabric. To do the test, cut a 2″ square of the dark fabric and place it on a bowl of hot water along with a 2″ square of light-colored fabric and swish. Check the light-colored fabric. If the light fabric picks up the darker color, you will need to wash the dark fabric repeatedly until the water runs clear.
  6. There are professional products that help set the dyes in fabric. They are usually sold at your local quilt shop or fabric store. If a fabric continues to bleed after using one of these products it would be wise not to use it in your project.
  7. Dry fabric on low heat. Neatly fold the fabric immediately out of the dryer. There is no need to press the fabric at this point. Place the fabric in your stash. The fabric can be pressed when you are ready to use.

These are just a few tips that have helped me prewash my fabric. I would enjoy hearing your tips. Happy quilting.

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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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