By Patricia Belyea
WAUCONDA WA Do you block your quilts? Most quilters tell me they don’t.
Me? Yes, I always block my quilts. The blocking process transforms my quilt sandwich from three layers into one.
My quilt tops are filled with markings from a water-erasable blue pen. So the blocking process completely washes out those marks.
I also use this step to square up my quilt.
After I’ve stitched my quilt sandwich, I dunk my project into a tub of tepid water. I pump the quilt up and down in the water until it’s soaked through.
After the quilt is water-logged, I drain the tub. Then I begin to squeeze the sodden pile.
I don’t twist or wring the soaked quilt as that would be brutal to the fabric’s fibers. Also twisting produces extra wrinkles that are always hard to remove.
I roll the wet lump in a towel and squeeze everything again. The towel is immediately sopping wet.
I transfer the quilt to another towel. The bundle is no longer dripping wet.
With the quilt wrapped in the second towel, I head to the living room where I have a clean bedsheet on top of the wall-to-wall carpet. The quilt, quite crumpled-looking, is spread out on the sheet.
I let the quilt rest a short while. Then, beginning at the center, I slap the quilt with one hand. This accomplishes two things:
1 The warmth of my hand begins to smooth out the wrinkles
2 The fibers of the three layers become fast friends
TIP: I dress for the task. Or, maybe I should say I undress for the task. I wear light sweatpants, a t-shirt without a bra, and no shoes. This lets me get on the floor and be able to move around easily.
Again I let the quilt rest awhile so it dries out a bit more.
Using study pins, I pin all around the outside of the quilt, squaring it up. I continue to slap the fabric as well as pull on the edges so that each block becomes flat and smoothed out.
The next day, the quilt is bone dry. I remove the pins, pull up the quilt, trim around the edges with my 4-foot t-square, and finish the quilt with a Designer Facing.
I started blocking my Love On Fire quilt at 4pm one day and was finished with the process by 8am the next morning. Blocking the quilt wasn’t a big project time-wise or energy-wise. Yet it makes a big difference to the finish of the quilt.
ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.
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