“Practice makes perfect” is a pretty common concept…and it is true. That said, I am thinking about what we learn from experience. Experience IS a good teacher! Since this blog is focused on quilting, I want to talk about some of my experience over the 3 years, or so, that I have been at this craft. More specifically, I want to talk about prepping your fabric….
I hope some experienced quilters will join in on this topic with comments about what they do. Sharing can only help each other, and especially help those starting out. That is, unless they tend to be like me and have to learn for themselves! It is not my most proud revelation, but true. Today’s topic is an example.
I am following along with Meghan and the Sienna Burst QAL. “This week is all about getting ourselves set up for success to start tackling the blocks. Starch, iron, cut; mix and match fabrics and learn all about HRT.” What I want to drill down on even more in this post is about the STARCH.
Side note: I previously posted on “Quilter’s Moonshine”. Meghan offers up her own version, that I have heard works very well too! You need starch…lots of it!!!!
Preparation…Meghan says to Starch, Iron, Cut. I decided I was going to do every step this time, as directed. In my EXPERIENCE, I have seen how fabric can shrink up when being pressed with either water or starch. You might think this only happens with lower-end fabrics. I hope the pictures I am including below will help you see that it happens…and not only with cheaper fabrics!
This is my first piece of fabric. It is Kona cotton, an acceptable quilting fabric from Robert Kaufman. You will note that I have folded it flat and removed the selvedge. (Another post for selvedges, one day…I love them!) On the cutting mat, you can see where the edges fall. Right side at the 1″ mark, left side at 22″.
Zoomed in a little to show the 22″ marking. The other side is at the 1″ marking.
Now I will press with starch. (Yes, the following pictures are the same fabric…just different lighting.)
Now I have pressed one time with starch. Do you notice those bumps? Those are created from the fabric shrinking in some places and not others. Probably not enough saturation with the starch!
Second…and third…pressing with starch has been done…
Now that looks good!
I attempted to get videos of the process…
You can see the bumps almost disappear when the starch is sprayed on them! This process took THREE times starching and pressing. Prepping about 1.25 yards of fabric used about 12 ounces of starch. Yep! that is why “Frugal Frieda” here likes the homemade version!
Now, I hope the pictures below will tell you, in plain sight, why this preparation is important! Remember above, the fabric was laid out on the mat starting at the 1″ mark and it measured to the 22″ mark. The following pictures are after the starching process.
So why is this important? What EXPERIENCE has proven to me is that if this process is not done first, your blocks will likely be really out of shape and proportion when you starch and press them AFTER you have made them! This results in seams and blocks that don’t match up and much frustration. Also, if your fabric is preshrunk and crisp before you sew, you will have a much better chance at perfect points!
If you want to learn by doing, go for it! That will work too, but once you have progressed to the point of buying quality fabrics, working more challenging patterns, and expecting a well-finished piece, you will understand..JUST DO IT! Prep your fabics!
From one who learned by doing, had some good outcomes, and some very frustrating finishes!