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?

Ohio Star Quilt Block

I am so excited to share the instructions for a second traditional block which is in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner.  The Ohio Star block is one of my favorites since I grew up, learned to quilt, and currently live in Ohio.  This block is particularly common in this area, but it never gets boring!  Have fun with scale (this pattern includes measurements for five different block sizes) and mix up your fabric selections to make this classic block your own.

You can download this free Ohio Star pattern on Craftsy.

ohio-star-block

 

I went bright and bold for this block, but monochrome and subtle color choices work beautifully as well!

This block is for the week of September 10-16.  Check out my other tutorials included in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner!

Sand Dollar Star (week of January 15-21)

Hourglass Block (week of August 27-September 2)

 

 

Hourglass Quilt Block

Have you received your fantastic Quilter’s Planner from Stephanie of Late Night Quilter?  If you haven’t you can order a planner here.  One of the amazing features of the planner is that there is a quilt block pattern for every week of the year.  In addition to the original block designs by many talented bloggers, this edition of the planner includes patterns for several traditional blocks as well.

I have written up directions for creating an Hourglass quilt block.  This design is in the planner for the week of August 27-September 2, 2017.  These instructions include measurements for nine different size blocks, and you make four at a time so you can start combining these blocks into all sorts of fun configurations right away.

You can download the free instructions for the Hourglass block on Craftsy.

hourglass-block

This block is used as a component in a lot of more complex blocks, but it can also be fun on its own.  Here are a few layouts for this very versatile block.simple-hourglass-layout

Set the blocks together in the same direction for this configuration.

chevron-hourglass-block

Offset the blocks by half to achieve a chevron appearance.

pinwheel-hourglass-layout

Or rotate the blocks to create a pinwheel effect!

This block is for the week of August 27-September 2.  Check out my other tutorials included in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner!

Sand Dollar Star (week of January 15-21)

Ohio Star (week of September 10-16)

Summer Starburst: A Fabri-Quilt New Block Blog Hop Quilt Block

Summer Starburst Quilt Block is created using foundation paper piecing.  This technique gives you lovely, precise points, resulting in a block with a clean, professional appearance.  If you have never tried this process before, it may sound complex, but I encourage you to give it a try.  Once you have done it a few times, you will develop a rhythm and may even come to love this technique as much as I do!

Summer Starburst Block

 

I designed this block in conjunction with the Fabri-Quilt New Block Blog Hop which is a continuation of this Summer’s New Blogger’s Blog Hop.
2015 Fabri-Quilt New Block Blog Hop

There are going to be tutorials for more than 60 different brand new blocks over the next four days!  Not only do you get the directions for all of these lovely designs, but there are also several chances to win a bundle of Fabri-Quilt Prairie Cloth Cotton Solids in the Watermelon Summer color palette we have used to make these blocks.  For a chance to win, check out the daily host’s blog.  Links to all of today’s blocks and all of the host’s websites can be found at the end of this post.  I’m excited to see everyone’s creations, and I hope you are too!

Fabri-Quilt generously supplied each blogger involved in this hop a fat eighth of each of the six colors in the Watermelon Summer palette.  The blocks that have been made from the Fabri-Quilt solids are being turned into charity quilts by our generous hosts.  There will be at least three quilts created and donated to children facing challenging circumstances.

Summer Starburst

Finished Size: 12’’ x 12’’ (This block consists of four 6-1/2” square sections and the finished block will be 12-1/2’’ x 12- 1/2’’ before being joined to other blocks or borders)

Preparing the Foundation Paper

Download the PDF foundation paper piecing template to your desktop or folder of your choice.

Quilt Block Designs-Summer Starburst Paper Piecing

The Summer Starburst pattern along with PDF Instructions are also available on Craftsy.

Print one PDF at 100% scale.  There is a one inch square next to the pattern.  Please take a moment to measure all sides of this square to make sure that there are no scale or distortion issues that occurred in the printing process.  After this check, print three more (4 total) foundation papers.  Double check the 1” square on each print to ensure accuracy.

Note: You may print this pattern on standard printer paper or a specialty foundation paper of your choice.

/Users/cassandra_ireland/Desktop/Quilting/My Quilts/Quilt Drafti

Using a ruler to check template scale

Using a ruler to check template scale

Cutting

To prepare for foundation paper piecing, cut the following size rectangles from the indicated fabrics.  Italicized Colors in parenthesis indicate the color used for block construction in the following tutorial.  Please Note:  By nature, foundation paper piecing involves a certain amount of fabric waste. The rectangle sizes below allow for the easiest construction of this block. It may be possible to save some additional fabric by rough cutting triangle shapes rather than rectangles.  I only suggest this option for experienced foundation paper piecers.

Fabric A (Turquoise):

  • Section 1:  Four pieces 3-1/2’’ x 5’’

Fabric B (Aqua):

  • Section 2:  Four pieces 3’’ x 7’’

Fabric C (Lapis Blue):

  • Section 3:  Four Pieces 2’’ x 7’’
  • Section 7:  Four Pieces 3-1/4’’ x 7’’

Fabric D (White):

  • Section 4:  Four Pieces 3’’ x 5’’
  • Section 6:  Four Pieces  3-1/2’’ x 4’’

Fabric E (Chartreuse):

  • Section 5:  Four Pieces 2-1/4’’ x 6’’

Fabric F (Coral):

  • Section 8:  Four Pieces  2-1/2’’ x 7-1/4’’

Block Fabrics and Color Key

Piecing

This block is foundation paper pieced in four sections which are joined in the final step of block construction.

Step 1:  Rough cut the foundation paper to be approximately 1/4’’ larger on all sides than the outermost printed lines.

Four templates that have been rough cut for stitching

Four templates that have been rough cut for stitching

Note:  The fabric construction of the paper pieced block occurs on the non-printed side of the pattern.

Step 2:  With the printed side of the pattern facing down, place a piece of fabric A right side up directly over section 1.  (See Figure A)  If desired, you may pin this to the paper.  Hold the paper up to a light source to ensure all of section 1 is covered by the fabric and there is at least 1/4” of extra fabric extending over the section 1 boundary lines into all adjoining areas.

Please Note:  Fabric is placed on the non-printed side of your paper piecing template.  For clarity, the diagrams in this pattern include grey lines that indicate what you would see if the template was held up to a light source.

Figure A

Note:  When foundation paper piecing, section 1 is the only section that the fabric is placed right side up.

Step 3:  Position the fabric for section 2 wrong side up over the section 1 fabric with a small amount crossing the line between the two sections and the main body of the fabric over section 1. (See Figure B)  Pin both fabrics along the stitching line between sections 1 & 2.  Flip the section 2 fabric along the pin line.  Hold the block up to a light source to see if the fabric will cover all of section two.  Adjust the fabric placement as needed.Figure B

Step 4:  When you are happy with the fabric placement, turn the block so the paper is on top.  With the printed side of the paper facing up, carefully machine straight stitch along the line between sections one and two.  I suggest using a small stitch and backstitching at the beginning and end of the stitching line.  You may extend the stitching beyond the line on either end, but it is not required.

Stitching Segment 3

So, I forgot to take a photo of the stitching the line for segments 1 & 2. This is the photo adding segment 3, but you can still see how the paper is printed side up, fabric down, and you are stitching directly on the line.

Step 5:  Flip the section two fabric toward its finished position to double check that all of section two is covered.  Turn the section two fabric back over section one and fold the paper foundation back along the stitching line.  Trim the excess fabric away from the stitching line leaving about a quarter inch to act as seam allowance.

Folding back the template to trim the excess fabric

Folding back the template to trim the excess fabric

Measuring a 1/4" seam allowance

Measuring a 1/4″ seam allowance

Trimming the seam allowance

Trimming the seam allowance

Trimmed seam allowance

Trimmed seam allowance

Step 6:  Carefully press the section two fabric into place over area two.  (See Figure C)Figure C

Segments 1 and 2 pressed

 

Note:  Now you will work around the foundation template in numerical order following steps 2-6 for each section.

Section 3:  Position the section three fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over section two.  (See Figure D)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure D

With the printed side of the paper facing up, stitch along the line between sections two and three, trim the seam allowance, and press the section three fabric into place.  (See Figure E)Figure E

Section 4:  Position the section four fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over section three.  (See Figure F)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure F

Stitch along the line between sections three and four, trim the seam allowance, and press the section four fabric into place.  (See Figure G)Figure G

Section 5:  Position the section five fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over sections three and  four.  (See Figure H)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure H

Stitch along the line between sections three/four and five, trim the seam allowance, and press the section five fabric into place.  (See Figure I)Figure I

Section 6:  Position the section six fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over section five.  (See Figure J)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure J

Stitch along the line between sections five and six, trim the seam allowance, and press the section six fabric into place.  (See Figure K)Figure K

Section 7:  Position the section seven fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over sections five and six.  (See Figure L)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure L

Stitch along the line between sections five/six and seven, trim the seam allowance, and press the section seven fabric into place.  (See Figure M)Figure M

Section 8:  Position the section eight fabric wrong side up with the main body of the fabric over sections 1-7.  (See Figure N)  Use a light source to check the fabric positioning. Figure N

Stitch along the line between section 8 and the previous sections, trim the seam allowance, and press the section eight fabric into place.  (See Figure O)Figure O

Completely Stitched Block Section that is ready to be trimmed

Completely Stitched Block Section that is ready to be trimmed

Step 7:  Finish the block segment by pressing it well and using a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the excess paper and fabric along the outermost printed line of the block.  (See Figure P)

Figure P

Partially trimmed block segment

Partially trimmed block segment

Note:  Each block segment will measure 6-1/2’’ x 6-1/2’’ at this stage

Step 8:  This is where you lather, rinse, and repeat steps 1-7 three more times to make a total of four block segments.

Step 9:  Arrange these segments into the block configuration.  (See Figure Q)Figure Q

Step 10:  Use Wonder Clips or pins to hold two segments together while you sew along the stitching line.  (See Figure R)  Press the seam allowances open.Figure R

Step 11:  Sew the two larger sections together and press the seam allowance open to complete the block.  (See Figure S)Figure S

Step 12:  If you are creating a quilt consisting entirely of this or other foundation paper pieced blocks you may leave the papers in place until construction is complete.  If you are combining this block with traditionally pieced or appliquéd block or if this block will be used on its own, carefully tear out the foundation papers now.

Here are just a few of the possible layouts that you could achieve with this block:

This Layout alternates Summer Starburst blocks with Mirrored Summer Starburst Blocks

This Layout alternates Summer Starburst blocks with Mirrored Summer Starburst Blocks

I really like the effect of this layout.  If you like it too, here is the template for the Mirrored Summer Starburst Block:

Quilt Block Designs-Mirrored Summer Starburst Paper Piecing

Summer Starburst Blocks

Summer Starburst Blocks

Summer Starburst Blocks with sashing

Summer Starburst Blocks with sashing

Summer Starburst Mini Quilt with Checkerboard Border

Summer Starburst Mini Quilt or Pillow with Checkerboard Border

Hmm . . . This mini quilt may be in my Mini Quilt Mania future!

Below are links to the rest of today’s original blocks.  I hope you take a moment to discover some lovely new designs!

Today’s wonderful host is Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl.  Remember- she’s hosting a fabric giveaway today!

The rest of today’s blocks can be found on the following blogs:

Kelly @Quilting it Out
Martha @Once a Wingnut
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Andrea @The Sewing Fools
Bernie @Needle and Foot
Silvia @A Stranger View
Wanda @Wanda’s Life Sampler
Sandra @Musings of a Menopausal Melon
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Jess @Quilty Habit
Diana @Red Delicious Life
Chelsea @Patch the Giraffe
Margo @Shadow Lane Quilts
Renee @Quilts of a Feather

Tuesday’s Host is Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs

Wednesday will be brought to you by Stephanie of Late Night Quilter

Terri Ann at Childlike Fascination will host the final group on Thursday

Tote Bag Tutorial Part 5: Finishing Techniques

Welcome to Part 5 in out tote bag series!  This week is all about finishing up a few details.  Aren’t you thrilled that you have made it this far?  Before you know it, you will be carrying this fabulous bag around that you didn’t just make- you designed!  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments:

When last we left our glorious tote bag, we had just turned it right side out.  Have you ever had a bag where the lining pops up almost every time you pull something out?  This next step will keep this from happening.  We are going to stitch the lining and the outer layer shaping seams together.  Make sure the lining is laying smoothly in the bag and that the side seams and shaping seams are pretty close to matching up.  Doing your best to not get things too twisted around, reach inside the opening you used to turn the bag right side out, grab the seam allowances of the lining and outer shaping seam on one side of the bag and gently pull them through the opening.  Pin the seam allowances together or use clover clips to hold the seams in place. (I just got some clover clips, and I am in love!)  This is a good time to carefully push the shaping seams back through the opening just to check that nothing managed to get twisted around during the previous process.  Note:  Count the number of pins going in, and make sure the same number come back out- It’s no fun to discover a  pin after everything is all sewn up!    Another Note: The type of lining technique in this photo is slightly different (it is a two piece lining) than the one you are using, so your’s will look a bit different with everything pulled through the lining opening.  I forgot to take a new photo when I made a bag using the new technique, but I will update the image when I make another.  The idea is the same, though.Pinning the Outer and Lining shaping seams together

Everything laying well?  Great!  Gently pull the seam back out and zig zag the seam allowances together.  As long as you stay in the seam allowance and don’t cross the stitching line, you are doing this correctly.  If you have a machine that only does a straight stitch go ahead and use it- we just want to secure the bottom of the lining to the main bag.Stitching the Outer and Lining Shaping Seams together

Looks good?  Go ahead and repeat the process on the other side of the bag.

Now you can close up the opening in the bag lining.  You can do this by machine or by hand.  When I do this step by hand, I find that a nice small slip stitch looks great.  I often sew the opening up with the sewing machine since it is rarely seen up close, remains durable over the life of the bag, and is super quick.  If you are doing the machine method, press the seam allowances to the inside, line up the edges of the opening, pin carefully and stitch across the opening about 1/8″ ( or a little less) from the edge.Closing the Lining Opening

Now we are down to buttons- Almost there!  You will want to place your buttons so they are centered with your buttonholes.  Make sure your bag is laying nice and flat and then use a fabric safe pen or pencil to make a dot where the button should be placed.  You can mark this right through the buttonhole opening to help with accuracy.

There are two basic types of buttons:  flat buttons and buttons with shanks.  A flat button typically has either two or four holes that go all the way through the top of the button.  A button with a shank has a loop of either metal or plastic on the back used to attach the button.  This type of button is often appealing since the top of the button can have a decorative design that is uninterrupted by thread crossing between holes.  Unless you are sewing a button on that is only decorative, you need to plan to have a shank, so if you are using a flat button, you will create a shank with thread as you sew the button in place.  The shank of the button provides a slight gap between the fabric and the button that allows the layer of fabric with the buttonhole to fit without any strange pulling, puckering and gapping.  A really thin blouse would require only a very short shank, but a heavy, wool, winter coat would require buttons with a much longer shank.  This tote bag will need a shank about 1/8″ long.  Don’t worry if it gets a bit too long or even a little too short.Button Types

The button with a shank is pretty easy to sew.  Use a double thread and stitch though the fabric and the shank of the button several times (I usually take about six to eight stitches per button).  It is important to stitch through all of the fabric layers so there isn’t any weird pulling.  Try to keep the back of things neat since you will see this side from time to time.  Tie a couple knots at the base of the button, bury the thread tails between the layers of fabric, and call it a button!Button with Shank

When creating your own thread shank, you will need to leave a slight gap between the fabric and the button that will become the space for the shank.  To help with this spacing you can place something like a toothpick, a couple straight pins, or a thin skewer under the button.  You can also purchase a little plastic sewing device that helps you achieve a consistent spacing.  Using a double thread, sew through the holes of the button and the fabric about six to eight times total (you can split this number of stitches between two sets of holes).  Flat Button A

Next, remove any spacing tools and wrap the sewing thread around the thread gap between the button and fabric.  You will want to go around 3-5 times for most button shanks.Flat Button B

The last time around tie a knot at the base.  I always do a second knot for security before burying the thread tails.Flat Button C

There you have it- your custom designed tote bag!  Congratulations!  All that is left is for the complements to roll in!Tote Bag A
I’m linking this post up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter.  Please stop in to see all of the inspiring works in progress and useful tips and tutorials!