Blocking, the last step

First, I really didn't mention it, but this quilt was quilted on a vintage machine.  I quilted it on Lorene, my Singer 401.  This machine belonged to the Mother of a friend and when she passed, the friend wanted the machine to go to someone that would use it.  And, I do.  It's a great machine.  Lots of power.  This one has lots of miles on it and was used to sew for the public.  But, it's still a great machine.  I'm not a huge fan of the drop in bobbin.  I'm old fashioned and I like a bobbin case.  This one makes a sound as the thread passes around the bobbin and hits a tension spring that keeps the bobbin case in place.  I shouldn't even mention it because I've gotten it worked out til it's just a whisper.  But, I still know it's there.

So, when the quilt was finished, it still had blue washout pen all in it, even though I had spritzed it as I went to remove as much as I could.  That had to be washed out thoroughly and the quilt needed to be made wet so it could be blocked. 

Let's talk about which quilts should be blocked.  Blocking is hard and tedious work, so you don't do it on all quilts.  I do it on show quilts, and on wall hangings, and sometimes on a gift quilt.  I do not block bed quilts or lap quilts or utility quilts.  These quilts are to be used and laundered and I'm not going to block repeatedly.  So, blocking is for quilts that won't be used and laundered a lot.  Or to make a quilt extra pretty before someone special receives it.

Our washing machine is one of those new fangled water saving models, which is great for the average load of laundry, but sometimes I just need a large tub full of water to soak something in and the machine isn't great at that.  So, I soaked it in the kitchen sink, rolling and refolding it often so it all got equally wet.  I drained it in the sink, then mashed it.  Never wring!  Mash the water out.  When I got all I could there, I laid it flat on two towels and rolled them up and walked on it, mashing the water out. 

It took four towels, using them two at a time.  Sometimes, if I'm working something larger, I'll need to use a utility quilt that can be thrown in the dryer. 

  • Then, I pin it to the carpet.  I lay a sheet down because that helps wick moisture from the back of the quilt outward where it can evaporate.  Also, there are air pockets formed where the carpet fibers don't touch the sheet.  That also helps with evaporation.  I use two rulers when I block.  We have a moisture blocking pad under our carpet.  That has a plastic coating on the top and I don't want to puncture that and ruin the water resistance, so I only pin into the burlap backing of the carpet. 

The square ruler goes inside the binding.  That one squares the quilt.  I use the longer ruler on the outside.  That one helps me measure the length of each side and keep the outside edge straight and true.  And,  I pin.  And, I pin.   And, I pin some more.  I go around the quilt twice.  The first time, I'm pinning about every six inches.  This is just to stretch the quilt and get it to size.  I WILL have to go around the quilt again and re-pin, so no need to put too many pins in that will have to be moved later.  This is not about straight lines, either.  I get straight as I can, but the edge looks scalloped when I'm done.  Measure on the diagonal from corner to corner.  If the quilt is square, these measurements will be equal.  Just because all four corners are square doesn't mean that quilt is going to hang square on the wall, (I don't understand why four square corners and four straight lines wouldn't be a square, but trust me, it happens) so this diagonal measurement is very important. 

The second time around, I'm using that long ruler again to true up the edges.  This is when the edges need to be perfectly straight and the corners true.  And, this time, the pins go in every two to three inches.  On a large quilt, that can take hundreds of pins. 

On a large quilt, I will often square up each of the four quarters of the quilt just like this.  I stretch out the long center lines and pin them down, then square the quarters off that. 

And, then I put a fan on the quilt and let it blow the water away.  You really need a dry day for this.  We happened to have one on Sunday and this quilt dried in about four hours.  It has a hobbs heirloom wool batting and all the fabrics are cotton except the quilting thread, which was monofilament. 

And, here it is in its new spot in the dining room.  We moved the china cabinet to make space to hang it.  We even pulled out a different set of dishes to show it off.   

Everybody have a great Wednesday. 



Kath said...

Well thankyou for that Lane. I never knew it was such a lot of work. I'm thinking I should do it, as my quilts are all made to hang up (I change them over when the fancy takes me). I have wooden floors, but I'm thinking I could spread something down on my conservatory floor, which is tiled and lay the quilt on that. Good tip about the fan too.
Your quilt looks beautiful hung on the wall and lovely and square, what a good job you did.

lw said...

Interesting. I had no idea how to get the water out of a quilt without stretching it.

The quilt looks charming in that setting.

Suzanne said...

Beautiful quilt!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Nice job of explaining the WORST part of the quilt process! I've only blocked two quilts, but that was two TOO MANY in my book!!! LOL