An iron can be your best tool whilst sewing your quilt blocks. The difference between a quilter whose work looks fabulous and one whose work is so-so often comes down to the ironing and pressing during the quilt’s construction. Your iron can smooth out problem corners, make your quilt lie flat, ease in a piece that’s just a shade too small, create crisp points and so much more. It’s very important to take some time with your iron to press your blocks and quilt tops properly. If you are considering a new iron, the Oliso iron is really neat in that it lifts itself automatically with just a touch.
We are also loving the new Steamfast travel steam iron. Currently these little hand-held pressing irons are very popular for quilters. They are easy to grasp with your hand and are great for maneuvering over your fabrics as you piece blocks together. They are portable, great to take to classes and retreats as well as to use right in your home studio. Our customers, who have recently purchased this iron, are raving about how much they love this small iron that gives some mighty good results!
There is “ironing” and then there’s “pressing”. Ironing is the act of moving the iron back and forth overt the fabric. Pressing is a simple up and down movement of the iron. Quilters “press” with their irons in a simple up and down movement to avoid overstretching the seams. Just make sure you are using enough pressure to enable the heat to “set” the fabric.
We like using Best Press for this part of the quilt-making process. This spray produces flat, crisp quilt blocks and quilt tops that are nice and flat for laying over your batting and backing.
There’s some debate in quilting regarding the use of steam. I, personally, like to use steam with my iron as I press quilt blocks. Hot water offers an added force to the iron’s heat to set seams. The use of steam will smooth out most creases and wrinkles from your fabrics. However, if you are working with paper patterns for paper foundation piecing, cut off the steam.
Use a cotton (high) setting on your iron when quilting with cotton fabrics. Remember that Fireside, Minky or other synthetic fabrics, need to be kept away from hot irons to avoid melting!
Fusible products also need to be ironed with caution. A fusible is a glue or glue-like bonding agent applied to interfacings and other materials that when melted with an iron, bond with fabric. Fusible are used to stabilize fabrics, to join fabrics together (as in fusible appliqué) and for other purposes. Each fusible product has a special personality and you must follow the directions that come on the package. Some fusible will quickly melt and destroy your iron with “goo” if you don’t use a pressing sheet. Others might require steam. Some won’t work with steam. The appliqué pressing sheet is great because you can see through this translucent product and keep an eye on your pressing.
We hope you can enjoy the ironing and pressing process as you create your quilt tops and let us know if we can help you with your pressing questions!
The Walking foot, (also referred to as an Even Feed, or Duel Feed Foot) is a presser foot that helps prevent multiple layers of fabric slipping when they are sewn together. As we prepare to get into 2018 quilting projects, perhaps you would like to finish some quilts by machine quilting them yourself. In our Basic Machine Quilting class, students learn about using a “walking foot”. If you are unable to take our class, there are plenty of tutorials and videos online to assist you in machine quilting.
We stock a common “generic” low-shank walking foot at the store and if your machine manual says “low shank” we can often fit this generic foot to your machine. However, if you have a special machine or a high shank requirement, we might have to refer you to a sewing machine dealer to find the correct walking foot to attach to your machine. Please feel free to call us or come into the store to see if we can assist you with a walking foot.
The walking foot works by having it’s own set of feed dogs. As your machine needle moves up & down, a lever which clips to the needle bar lets the walking foot’s feed dogs move/walk along the fabric, hence the name walking foot. The fabric is therefore evenly fed through your machine.
The walking foot can be used for any project where fabrics are likely to slip, and is most commonly used for:
- Lighter weight knit fabrics, to prevent stretching
- Perfect pattern matching e.g. on plaid fabrics
- Quilting where it helps to ensure that the layers of a quilt do not shift when they are quilted together.
Using the Walking foot for quilting
The most commonly used methods for quilting with a walking foot are;
1. “In the Ditch” in the seam
2. Grid lines
3. Echo quilting around your blocks, as done around the friendship star block below;
There are lots of creative ways you can use your walking foot for quilting using your machine’s practical and decorative stitches. For example;
Running Stitch / Serpentine Stitch
With a walking foot and your quilt sandwich (three layers assembled: top, batting and backing) you can complete most quilts. This will save you a tremendous amount by not having to pay a professional to quilt your projects for you. Many antique quilts were originally quilted by hand following straight lines marked across a quilt top. You can re-create this traditional method yourself with a walking foot and some patience. If you look at how the modern quilters are quilting their quilt tops, they mostly do straight line quilting. So give your walking foot some exercise and try machine quilting your next project yourself by sewing in the ditch or quilting diagonal lines across your quilt.
All fabric is described as having definite right and wrong sides as defined below:
- Right side: When instructions mention the “right side” of fabric, they are talking about the “printed” or “pretty” surface of the fabric. You usually sew things with right sides together so the stitching will be on the inside of the finished project.
- Wrong side: The other surface is the “wrong” side of the fabric. The fabric design is sometimes visible on the wrong side of the fabric, but it will be more faded than on the right side.
There are moments in sewing when creative minds look for the rich subtlety of patina, that quality that speaks of age, even a certain degree of graceful wear and tear. The word “patina” comes from the Latin for “shallow dish”; the implication is of a sort of dignified layer of darkening or fading, usually seen on the surface of metal or wood. Fabrics have patina too: the faded beauty of old damask; the needlepoint upholstery in an English stately home; a venerable calico in an older American dwelling.
For a fabric to express age, designers can – in many cases – use its “wrong” or reverse side. Not every fabric is capable of this role reversal. Some tapestry fabrics for example have too many loose threads (or ‘floats’) on the reverse side to be either attractive or useful. Some printed cotton prints like those we have in the store, are faded on the reverse side and can reveal a startling new option when we turn to its reverse, including a surprising transformation of the intensity and balance of color way.
Some fabrics are good candidates for a role reversal of using the wrong side as your new right side. Here are a “few” examples to this concept:
- If you’re using solid fabrics, there isn’t always a clearcut right or wrong side. Kona solids and or Bella Solids look almost identical on both sides.
- Batiks have very little difference between the right and wrong sides.
- Homespuns, which are woven from already-dyed threads, look the same on both sides.
Here’s an example and some pictures. Right now we are busily gathering fabrics for a kit we are going to offer for Valentine’s Day. Whilst looking for just the right background, we decided on a nice polka dot print fabric to use as our background for pieces to be appliquéd onto. The “right side” seemed too strong, however the “wrong side” was a lot more subtle and just right to put our shapes onto.
See how the top half of the photo with Cupid looks more subtle? That’s because it is the wrong side of the fabric which we are going to use for our project. Now, if you really want strong polka dots and prefer a bolder look, go ahead and use the right side of your fabric. It’s just neat to audition the wrong side of a fabric to compare a look.
Remember: Fabric has no wrong side. You bought both sides. You can use both sides.