Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Finishes - Blocking a Quilt. . .

You've completed your quilt and want to hang it on the wall.  But it doesn't lie flat.  Can you make it lie flat and, if so, how do you do it?  This week's Friday Finishes will answer those questions.
I completed this quilt quite a while ago and pulled it out to put it up for sale.  I was surprised at how wonky it was.
This corner doesn't lie flat.
Nor does the quilt's center lie flat.  It needed to be blocked so it would be flat and square when it hung on the wall.  Not sure of what a blocked quilt is?  A blocked quilt has square corners and lies completely flat. This is accomplished by wetting the quilt.  Because fabric has a memory, when the fabric dries into a particular shape, generally a square of rectangle, it will stay that way when it hangs.  This blocking technique entails wetting the quilt, either with steam or in its entirety by dunking in water, pinning it into the shape you're looking for, and letting it dry completely.  If a quilt is slightly out-of-square, a heavy steaming can be enough to work it into the shape desired.  This quilt requires a lot of shaping to square it so I will wet it completely.
I begin by getting out my supplies.  This is a 4" x 8" insulation board that is cut in half and hinged with duct tape.  The quilt will be pinned to this and allowed to dry.
Here is a sewing square, T-pins, and a tape measure.  With supplies in hand it's time to begin the process.
This process requires the quilt to be completely wet.  When wet, I laid the quilt on a towel and rolled it up.
I roll it a couple of times until all excess water in the quilt is gone and the quilt is damp.
The quilt is laid on the insulation board.  I lay the sewer's square against one corner to begin squaring the quilt.  As the quilt's edge is laid against the square, T-pins are placed on the edges to hold the quilt in place.
This photo shows how the quilt's edge is not naturally laying against the square.  
The edge is pushed up against the square and pinned in place with the T-pins.
With three corners squared and pinned, this upper corner is off by 1".  The bottom quilt's width is 36" and the upper width is 35".
The quilt is now squared and pinned all away around.  It now needs to completely dry before it is removed from the insulation board.
To assist in the drying, I propped the board against the wall and pointed a fan on it.  I will let it dry for 24 hours before unpinning the quilt and removing it from the insulation board.


For a quilt to be taken seriously as art, I feel it is important that it hang as beautifully as it looks.  This method for blocking quilts has given me satisfactory results for many years.  Do you block your quilts?  If so, please share with me any other tips or techniques you are happy with.  


Happy Friday,

1 comment:

Leslie McNeil of MarveLes Art Studios said...

Wonderful information, Karri. Gotta have Brian make one of these for me! How do you block a larger quilt, or do you?