Friday, February 23, 2007

Blockhead

I'm blocking my quilt today. I learned this method from Kathy Sandbach, machine quilter extraordinaire. Here's how I do it.



I prepare the area by clearing a large space on the rug in the bedroom and spreading out an old flannel sheet. The carpeting works because I can pin down into the carpet pad, and I use the bedroom because I can close the door and prevent the cats from strolling around on the quilt while it's being blocked.
The sheet helps to protect the rug from getting wet, although the quilt never gets wet enough to soak through to the flannel anyway. (Plus this way I can save my favorite old sheet with the little sheep on it.)

I also assemble various straight edge tools and my biggest square cutting ruler for squaring the corners, a tape measure, a box of T-pins (I've used the larger glass-head pins too... but fine ones with thin shafts aren't strong enough), and a spray bottle full of water set to mist.

Here's how bad and warped this thing looked before blocking. Usually my quilts aren't THIS distorted, but the linear pattern I used seem to really distort things badly. Never fear. It'll fix right up.



Basically, I spray the whole quilt liberally and then start smushing it around (that's the technical term), pinning, straightening, pulling, spraying more, smushing more, pinning more, spreading, unpinnining, spreading, smushing, and pinning. You crawl around on the damp quilt a lot so you end up with damp knees. You get the idea. Smush, pin, measure, unpin, smush, pin... until it's the way you want it. It usually takes me pinning one side, straightening up from there, then working across the quilt to smush things in line several times before it's the way I want it.

Here's a not-quite done look:



Much better, huh? When I have it the way I want it, I give it all one last spray, then I walk away and close the door and let it dry ALL THE WAY.

You do have to be careful about this if you've not preshrunk your fabrics and think something might bleed, by the way. Also, I'm told that this doesn't work as well if the batting is 100% poly, as that won't give the way cotton does. I always use cotton batting (actually, the 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom) so I've never had any problem.

Now, you can sit and have another cup of coffee and gaze proudly at your quilt. That's what I'm going to do.

11 comments:

Dianne said...

Gorgeous quilt, Diane. And thanks for the lesson on blocking. I've never blocked a quilt...guess I've been lucky not to have one that's very distorted...before I put on the binding. But I'll put this idea in the bank for future reference!

Forgetmenot said...

Hi Diane. What a clever idea - I will have to try that. And what a beautiful quilt. Elizabeth

Lisa D. said...

That quilt is just GORGEOUS!

Patti said...

Great tutorial! I'm sure this would be appropriate for almost any quilt. Unfortunately I don't have a single place large enough to do this without moving significant furniture. The only places even remotely big enough have hardwood floors. Any ideas for an alternate method for me?

PamKittyMorning said...

Very nicely explained. Love the quilt.

Helen said...

I absolutely love the colours you have used in this quilt. It is very effective in moving the eye around. And a great tutorial on blocking - thanks

Lily said...

Diane that is a masterful use of colour in that quilt - I love it!

And the blocking idea is a good one. But like others, I only have hardwood floors! I guess you could tape a coule of blankets down or something...

Kathie said...

Beautiful! And great instructions for blocking.

Anonymous said...

I use the same method except that I lay the quilt on a 3/4 or 1 inch foam insulation board and pin it to that. The boards are 8 feet by 4 feet and if the quilt is too large for one, I lay a second next to it. I pin the quilt right to the edge on two sides and then use a tape measure and square to do the other two sides.

Shelina said...

I've never blocked a quilt before, although I am sure there are a few that could have used it. This is such a pretty quilt.

Sandra said...

Great lesson on blocking. I had to laugh when I saw the sheep sheet, I'm still using that sheet set. And I'm a 40 something lawyer/quilter and we have the same haircut (and same color). It is a small world.