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Quilting > Ask Margarit Archives > Fall/Winter 2004

Ask Margrit Fall/Winter 2004

Quilting Questions Answered

The e-Forum column is dedicated to you the quilter. I would like to encourage you to participate in the e-Forum by submitting any events, thoughts, questions and hints to "Ask Margrit" and submitting you information via e-mail. If you submit information regarding quilting events in your area, we will post as many as possible. Please submit at least 2 months prior to the event.

To get things started in this first e-Forum I will address a few of the most frequently asked questions I have received as a quilting instructor.

In this edition of Ask Margrit:


Q: Should I pre-wash my fabric?

A: This is one of the most frequently asked questions by new quilters. If you decide to pre-wash, wash the fabric in the water temperature in which you will be washing your finished quilt (usually cool or cold water). Wash lights and darks separately in a mild detergent such as Ivory‘ or a detergent recommended for cotton, avoiding detergents with bleach. If the fabrics run, I recommend rewashing the fabric using a color fixative such as Retayne‘. Dry fabric on a warm temperature setting in the dryer. If I pre-wash, I iron my fabric with a spray starch to return crispness to the fabric for ease in rotary cutting.

Most dyes are stable and generally do not run. If I do not pre-wash I place a sample of the fabric in a jar of cool water with a piece of white fabric to check for running and to see if the white fabric will pick up the dye. Sometimes there will be a slight discharge of color in the water, but other fabrics do not pick it up. If in doubt, pre-wash.

Q: When choosing fabric for a quilt where do I start?

A: Choosing your focal fabric first (ex; multi color floral or geometric) makes it easier to choose your coordinates and accents.

If you’re a making a quilt with smaller pieces, it is better if you do not select a large print with a lot of space between the prints. When you strip cut your fabric there will be areas with print and other areas with only the background fabric of the print.

To help in the selection of your focal fabric, cut a see-through template similar in size to the pieces you are using in the quilt, and lay it over the fabric. This will give a good indication of whether or not the fabric is the correct scale for the piece.

Using the color and style of the focal print, choose you coordinate fabrics. Coordinate fabrics can be lighter and darker then the colors in the focal fabric.

A choice of large, medium and small scale prints add interest to the quilt. Tonal fabrics (print on print) can act as a blender fabric to help blend one fabric to another. These fabrics act as a solid, but have more texture.

Q: Once I finish my top how do I get it ready for quilting?

A: To get the quilt ready for quilting you need to make a quilt sandwich of a backing, batting and top. Piece together enough fabric to make the backing at least 2" larger on all sides that the quilt top. Trim off selvages before you piece the back, press seams open if you are hand quilting. You can press seams to one side or open if you are machine quilting. The batting should also be the same size as the backing.

To layer the quilt lay the backing right side down. Tape the backing down to a large table with masking tape. I use T-pins and pin the back to the carpet. Make sure the back is taunt but not stretched. Center your batting on top of the backing and smooth out any wrinkles. Place the top right side up and centered on the batting and backing.

If the quilt is to be hand quilted, thread baste the layers together using a light or white colored thread. I use a long milliner’s needle to baste. Knot one end of the thread and baste in rows about 3" to 4 " apart. Baste vertically first and then horizontally as illustrated.

If machine quilting baste the layers together using 1" to 2" safety pins. Place the safety pins approximately 4" apart. Start in the center and baste toward the edges.

Most of all have fun. - Margrit

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