Friday, June 2, 2023

The Perils of Not Prewashing / Beauties Pageant 218

When I first started quilting I was a diligent prewasher. Eventually, though, I came to see prewashing fabric as a waste of water and time, and let it fall by the wayside. And honestly, I prefer sewing with fabric right off the bolt—I like the feel of quilting cotton with the sizing from the manufacturer still in it. 

In general, my no-prewashing policy works well for me, but there have been some significant hiccups. One story, from 2016, is documented here. Another happened last fall, when I was washing the Extra X, pictured below.

It’s hard to see in the photographs, but the Extra X quilt, bled substantially. This wasn’t terribly shocking: The fabrics are all creams and blacks, but I was too excited to start sewing and couldn’t be bothered to wash the fabric first. And because I intended to submit the project to QuiltCon, I wanted to block it before binding it. I put it in a bathtub with mild soap, plenty of cool water, and some Shout Color Catchers, agitating it with my hands and rinsing it in the bathroom before I put it in the washer for a spin.

Alas, color catchers were no match for this quilt.

I quickly discovered that some of the blacks had bled. Additional bathtub washings in hot water (the seemingly antithetical solution to bad bleeding) improved the issues with the black dyes but caused red fabric on the back to bleed. Friends, it was a hot mess and one that likely could have been avoided if I had prewashed.

Since this experience, I’ve returned to prewashing the fabrics that are most likely to bleed. And instead of simply submerging them in soapy water, rinsing them, and running them through my dryer, I dug out an old bottle of Retayne, a color fixative, to address the issue of bleeding before it begins.

All of this brings me to the story of Big Star, the flimsy at the top of this post. It and the Extra X contain many of the same black fabrics, so the likelihood that it will bleed are high. So what should I do? Do I treat it with Retayne now? Do I quilt it and then treat it with Retayne? Do I quilt it and then try to wash it with a different method? (I could follow Vicki Welsh’s advice and submerge the finished quilt in a tub of hot water for hours and hours. Read her process here.)

The Extra X was always going to live with me. It is about my younger son and, despite its flaws, is special to me. I do want to gift this second quilt, however, and I can’t in good faith give away a quilt that will cause someone problems like those I experienced with the Extra X. Any advice on how to proceed?

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Quilt Retreat Success / Beauties Pageant 217


Earlier this month, I traveled to Kennebunk, Maine, to retreat with the New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild, a group I’ve been a member of since 2014. We try to retreat twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, and although we’ve had fun sewing in middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire and Cape Cod, the Maine coastline is my favorite retreat location. We spent the weekend sewing in a huge gymnasium with tons of natural light, only breaking to grab some food or walk down to the beach. 
 
 
I had cut and organized six different projects in preparation for the trip to Maine and, in the end, touched only three of them. That was fine with me—it’s always better to have too much than too little to do when you’re sewing away from home.
 
I dedicated the bulk of my time sewing Pineberry, a pattern by Pen and Paper Patterns. Ignoring my own advice to read patterns through carefully before leaving for retreat, I managed to make several silly mistakes right off the bat. But I pushed through, unsewing and resewing when necessary. I’ll share some Pineberry blocks once I have a few fully sewn.
 
The rest of my weekend was spent finishing my Brightly top (pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew; see the second picture above) and snowballing star points for Patchwork Sky (pattern by Thimble Blossoms; see the first picture above and the one below). The momentum I had built with Patchwork Sky served me well, and I’ve nearly completed the top since returning from Maine.
 

All in all, it was a fun weekend away with friends—we shopped for fabric, caught up with friends, drew inspiration from the projects being sewn around us. I look forward to finishing these projects up and showing you the bound quilts!

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  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
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Friday, May 19, 2023

My Secrets to a Fast Finish / Beauties Pageant 216

I am perfectly capable of sewing complicated quilt patterns (anyone remember my Gypsy Wife?!), but there is a special place in my heart for the fast finish. Sometimes the thrill of a particular project is in the challenge of learning a new technique or pushing myself out of my comfort zone. More often than not, however, I find joy in the initial fabric pull. And the more fast finishes I have, the more projects I can sew, and the more fabric pulls I need, right?

My own Irish Twist pattern has become one of my go-to designs when I’m seeking a fast finish. In essence, this pattern is an Irish chain quilt, but thoughtful fabric placement, a whole-composition design, and accommodations for directional fabric bring this beauty into the 21st century.

I made the quilt-making process speedier by sending the project to a longarmer. At 63 inches by 78 inches, this quilt top was bigger than what I like to tackle with my domestic. Plus, the piecing is all squares, and the swirly pantograph I selected softens those lines. (I especially like how the swaths of solid fabric accentuate the quilting design.) And then I machine-finished the binding, because it’s faster than finishing by hand! (Click here for my technique for binding quilts.)

The majority of this quilt top—and every inch of the back—is Heirloom, an old collection by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit. The back, in particular, was a triumph in using up yardage and scraps. My approach to piecing backs is cut and insert: First, I squared up what remained of that large-scale floral and cut it length-wise. Then I inserted the paisley fabric. The resulting back wasn’t long enough, so I cut it horizontally and inserted that row of squares. (For more on my standard recipe for quilt backs, click here.)

I really enjoyed sewing with Heirloom after all these years of admiring it from afar. And often, that’s enough for me. I got to play with those vibrant colors and transform them into a practical item; I don’t need to keep this quilt for myself. In fact, it’s being donated as part of my guild’s charity efforts. : )

Psst ... A Free Pattern

Meet my Double-Sided Diamond Quilt, a beauty that debuted on Moda Bake Shop forever ago. From one layer cake (and some background and accent fabric), I sewed the big diamonds on the front and the cascade of diamonds on the back.

A newly designed PDF pattern of the Double-Sided Diamond Quilt will go out free to newsletter subscribers later this month. Want to join in? Sign up here. 

If you’re not into newsletters, no worries! The pattern will become part of the Almost Free For Charity series in my Etsy shop. That means you’ll be able to buy it for a too-good-to-be-true price, with proceeds going to charity. No newsletter subscription necessary.

Linking up to Favorite Finish at Meadow Mist Designs ...

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The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter