Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Do you see what I see?...
do you see what I see?... a star, a star...
Nope, scratch that! ...a pucker and a pleat, just waiting to be quilted in...
It's not nearly so poetic. And it ain't pretty, either. See how taut the quilt is on the bottom- which is the right side of the quilt- and how floppy it is on the top(left side?) Today, I'm going to take a minute and describe the problem, the cause and the remedy. Just in case some of you are mystified. And I know that this has probably happened to all of us, but we don't want it to ever happen again, now do we? This is not by any means an exhaustive study on the topic, just what works for me...
This quilt is basically a quilt of borders. Just long vertical stripes. I think it is a cute quilt- love the colors. It's for a 3 year old's daybed. (Guess what? The backing is horizontal stripes. Another quilt of borders.) The cause of this extra fabric on one side of her quilt is simple. She started on the right side and kept adding to the left. She would sew on a strip- until she came to the end- and then lop it off, add another strip, lop it off. Guess what happens? Yes, the fabric that is being sewn stretches and grows with every additional strip until the finished quilt is 7 inches longer on the left than on the right! No kidding. Now that the quilt has lots of fullness sewn in, there is no way to quilt it out. No way to cut it out. One just has to ease it in. And I consider myself the queen of ease, but there is only so much one can do with 7 inches. I did get the finished quilt to be only one inch longer on the left side, but with a fair amount of puckering in the quilting. You just can't tighten it flat because the right side is stretched to it's limits. Understand?
Now that we have shown where the fullness/length comes from, and some of the things that won't fix it (I don't consider puckers in a quilt top an acceptable fix) let's look at a more reliable remedy. Any time you are adding strips to the side of a quilt-such as in borders- always measure the quilt across it's middle, cut the strips to fit and then with a few pins, make it fit. Please avoid the temptation to make the quilt fit a strip. There is just too much room for variation. But think about it. If I am adding a 50" strip to both top and bottom of my quilt and a 62" strip to both sides- my quilt is going to be the same size all the way around. The sides are the same and the top and bottom are the same. Ain't that cool? Now for a quilt of vertical stripes, I'd think the best way of tackling it would be to cut all of your strips to the desired length and then, starting with the middle stripe, add a strip to each side, pinning, until completed. It only takes a few pins to hold the strips in place- one in the middle, one at each end and maybe two more in between the middle and the end. No more oddly shaped quilts! And it is such an easy step to do- a little measuring and a little pinning. No puckers, no floppy borders... ahh... all is right in the world.

4 comments:

julieQ said...

Laughing a bit from here!! My long-arming friend just scolded me roundly for putting on borders like your friend did... She was frustrated with me. Ok, ok, I'll take them off and redo!!

Merry Christmas!!

JulieQ

Tracey in CT said...

Are you talking directly to me? I see you looking right at my thru my monitor! LOL. I'm guilty of this, but it usually works out okay for me. One thing I do that helps prevent this problem is that if were making this quilt, I'd sew strip 1 and 2 together top to bottom, then I do 3 and 4 together top to bottom, then when I sew 2 to 3, I do bottom to top. Somehow doing twosies foursies then alternating directions helps keep the stretching to a minimum.

Sarah N. said...

Ah I feel your pain sister! Remember when it took me, you and Joy to get Frieda's quilt on the machine straight? Thankfully I only have my own mistakes to deal with these days! today i am hoping to finish two pillowcase, get my MIL's table runner quilted and get the baby quilt on the machine. Today is the kid's last day of school. We leave for Arkansas on Saturday. Miss you!

teelduo said...

Now it's my turn....CAN YOU SPEAK ENGLISH TO ME PLEASE?! Giggle OXOXOX