Why I Pre-wash My Quilting Fabric

I confess . . .  I’m a pre-washer.  I know that a lot of quilters prefer their fabric right off the bolt, but I feel a lot more confident about the appearance and longevity of my quilts when I know as much about my fabrics as possible before I start cutting them up.

The Big Three Reasons I Pre-Wash:

  1. The fabric will shrink before it goes into a quilt with other fabrics that may shrink at different rates
  2. If the dyes used on the fabric are going to run, I would much rather know before I put them next to other fabrics.  If a fabric bleeds a lot in the original wash, I will often wash it one or two more times.  Occasionally, there is a fabric that never stops bleeding, and I am very careful about where I will incorporate that fabric.  It may be perfectly fine in an all mid-tone quilt, but it would never be appropriate to use in a quilt with a light background.
  3. Pre-washing removes any residual chemicals or finishes that were added to the fabric during the manufacturing process.  I rarely wash my quilts immediately following the construction process, so I want it as clean as possible to start.  It also can’t hurt to make as little skin contact as possible with the residues.

One of the big downfalls that I hear about pre-washing is the tendency to have fabric ravel out.  To prevent this I stitch around the edges of the fabric prior to throwing it into the wash.  The easiest way to do this would be a serger or overlock machine, but since I don’t have one, I use my domestic machine.

You could use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, but my machine (as well as most other zig-zag machines) have a special stitch for this.  This stitch is called the Vari-overlock stitch in my machine manual, and it is recommended for stretch fabrics, but it works great for edging other fabrics as well.  The foot for this has a slender piece of metal that is zig-zagged over while it holds the edge of the fabric flat and prevents the fabric from rolling.

Fabric Edging Process

The stitch itself is a series of short straight stitches followed by zig-zag stitch.  You can make the stitch have tighter spacing by reducing stitch length.  I use approximately a two stitch length for edging fabric for washing.  When I use this technique for finishing edges on clothing, pillows, etc. I shorten the stitch length.

Fabric Edging Finished

How do you feel about pre-washing fabric?

Improv Trees

This weekend I had the opportunity to teach my first improvisational piecing class at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.  And it happened to be one of my all-time favorite improv inspirations- winter trees!  Talk about being perfect for this time of year!  In the sample piece I used a lot of bright colors.

Improv Trees Sample

I love using unexpected fabrics for the trees, especially irregular stripes or splotches.  We spent the first part of class selecting fabrics, and the students made fabulous selections!  Here are a couple student projects.  I tend to get pretty wrapped up in the class itself and forget to take photos, but I can assure you that there was a lot of awesomeness going on!

For the tree fabric strips she selected a print of trees!  Don’t you love how the print looks all cut up?

Improv student process shot

Here is a finished top.  The tree fabric used in this one was a popular choice and looked terrific with a bunch of different backgrounds.

Improv student project

 

I really hope I have the chance to teach this class again!  If you would like to see another example and read more about the process, please check out another improv trees mini quilt I did awhile ago.

Cloud 9 New Block Blog Hop

I love designing new blocks and quilt designs, and I am so excited to work with the wonderful palette of solids provided by Cloud 9 Fabrics!

Designing this block took me back to my undergrad years as a painting major when I spent a great deal of time experimenting with pattern, particularly plaid.

berry-patch-plaid-block

The group of Organic Cirrus Solids in a Berry Harvest Color Palette included a dark and light version of two of the colors, so I was inspired to use these to create an illusion of dimension.

cloud-9-cirrus-solids

Standard machine piecing techniques are used to construct this block, so anyone who is comfortable with accurate cutting and stitching a consistent 1/4″ seam allowance can make this block.  The pattern for Berry Patch Plaid is available as a free download on Craftsy.

Multiple blocks would make an awesome complete quilt!

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More than 60 new blocks have been shared during this three day hop, so I hope you will take a look at some of the wonderful designs that have been created in this color scheme!

2016 New Quilt Bloggers

A big thank you to Cloud 9 Fabrics and our wonderful hosts, Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl, Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter!

Today you will see new posts from these bloggers:

Host: Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Kathy @Kathys Kwilts and More
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Mary @Strip Quilts Pass it On
Allison @Woodberry Way
Seven @The Concerned Craft
Olusola @Alice Samuel’s Quilt Co.
Ann @Brown Paws Quilting
Jodie @Persimmon + Pear
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Kitty @Night Quilter
Francine @Mochawildchild
Shelley @The Carpenter’s Daughter who Quilts
Jayne @Twiggy and Opal
Geraldine @Living Water Quilter
Shannon @Shannon Fraser Designs
Lisa @Sunlight In Winter Quilts
Jessica @Quilty Habit
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Deanna @Stitches Quilting
Denise @Craft Traditions

Tuesday’s Bloggers were:

Host: Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs

Miranda @I Have Purple Hair
Jennifer @The Inquiring Quilter
Sarah @123 Quilt
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Jen @Patterns By Jen
Jennifer @RV Quilting
Amanda @Quiltologie
Sharon @Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Jen @A Dream and A Stitch
Jen @Faith and Fabric
Carole @Carole Lyles Shaw
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Susan @Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Katrin @Now What Puppilalla
Amista @Hilltop Custom Designs
Nicole @Handwrought Quilts
Marla @Penny Lane Quilts
Silvia @A Stranger View
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @the zen quilter
Mary @Quilting is in My Blood
Velda @GRANNYcanQUILT

Mondays designers were:

Host: Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

Abigail @Cut & Alter
Janice @Color, Creating, and Quilting!
Lorinda @Laurel, Poppy, and Pine
Melva @Melva Loves Scraps
Renee @Quilts of a Feather
Kathryn @Upitis Quilts
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Amanda @this mom quilts
Holly @Lighthouse Lane Designs
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Jennifer @Dizzy Quilter
Karen @Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Anne @Said With Love
Suzy @Adventurous Applique and Quilting
Sharla @Thistle Thicket Studio
Kathleen @Smiles From Kate
Amanda @Gypsy Moon Quilt Co.
Sarah @Sarah Goer Quilts
Chelsea @Patch the Giraffe
Jinger @Trials of a Newbie Quilter
Anja @Anja Quilts
Daisy @Ants to Sugar

Crystalized Citrus: A Hoffman Challenge Quilt

Crystalized Citrus is my first Hoffman Challenge quilt, and I am thrilled with the result!  I was cutting it really close time wise, so it was quite a relief when they extended the deadline by a week- it saved me a late night getting the binding on!
Crystalized Citrus full view

For many years I had seen the Hoffman Challenge quilts exhibited at the Rotary Quilt Show that coincided with the AQS show in Paducah.  It was my first introduction to the concept of a challenge quilt, and I was intrigued.  This year was the first time I was able to find the fabric in a local shop before it completely sold out, and it is the best fabric challenge print yet!  The butterfly print on the right is the required challenge fabric and the print on the left was an optional coordinate that I really liked, but didn’t end up using in the finished design.  Both of these fabrics are printed digitally so there is an almost infinite range of colors since the process isn’t limited by traditional printing processes.

Hoffman Challenge Fabric

When I’m designing with a specific print in mind, I like to alter it to see it in a new way.  I had thought about creating a “Butterfly Garden” by turning the wings into flower petals, but as I was starting the idea of vibrant citrus came to mind.  The butterfly wings turned into the flesh of the fruit and the neutral space of the print became the membranes.  I pulled a variety of prints from my stash to create the skin of the fruits.  My main goal was to keep the challenge fabric the star of the show.

Crystalized Citrus detail

 

 

I intentionally chose to balance the representational aspects of this design with the abstract.  The pieces of fruit do not overlap and the improv piecing in the flesh of the citrus doesn’t create an ultra realistic image.  These aspects of the design allowed for quilting that defies realism and creates a more abstract overall design.

The primary quilting design is matchstick quilting going both horizontally and vertically.  Most of the horizontal quilting is done in white with guest appearances from purple and the local color of each fruit to create a grounding shadow.  The color of each piece of citrus infuses the background above it with colorful vertical matchstick quilting.  Free motion quilting further defines each piece of fruit in the composition.

Crystalized Citrus

 

Quilt Stats

Title: Crystalized Citrus

Size: 24″x21″

Techniques:  Machine Improv Piecing, hand appliqué

Quilting:  Matchstick and free motion quilting done on my A-1 Elite longarm

Fabric:  Hoffman Crystalia digitally printed fabric in opal, assorted cotton prints and solids.

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 cotton blend

Thread:  Pieced and appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in coordinating colors, Quilted with six colors of 50wt Aurifil cotton thread

Binding:  Facing done with the same white fabric used for the background and backing of the quilt

Goal #1 is Finished!

Goal #1 is Finished!

Hour Basket Swap

This month one of my local quilt groups, The Columbus Modern Quilters, had a swap of one hour baskets, and I was eager to sign up.  The tutorial we used is by Hearts and Bees, and is available on Craftsy.  I had never made one before, but all it took was one practice basket, and I was hooked!

Hour Basket Exterior

Hour Basket Exterior

My partner listed Carolyn Friedlander as one of her favorite designers, so I thought it would be fun to make a basket entirely with her fabrics.  Flying geese patchwork made up the design on both sides of the basket.

Patchwork panels for an hour basket

Patchwork panels for an hour basket

For the interior, I used a strip of orange fabric that matches the arrows on the exterior of the basket, and finished it off with a wide grid that also coordinates with the basket exterior.

Hour Basket Interior

Hour Basket Interior

The swap was so much fun, and everyone loved the basket they received.  I was delighted that this basket was for me!  This is one of my favorite shades of blue, and it is just perfect for spring!

The Hour Basket that I received in the guild swap

The Hour Basket that I received in the guild swap

This also completes my One Monthly goal entry for March!