Thursday, February 9, 2017

QAYG Sampler - Week 3 - Nine Patch Block - Part 2

   First I think I should say a little bit about batting. I must admit I am not an expert as I have used old blankets, old flannel sheets, polyester batting and cotton batting.  I have even been known to cut up old flannel nightgowns, sewn together to make the inside of a lap quilt. That being said, there are some wonderful places on the web to find more detailed information such as Sew, Mama, Sew where I found a post about batting from Amy of Happythings.

Batting Guide from Amy of Happythings

   In the interest of keeping things from getting too overwhelming, the following are the basics to get you started.  

   By definition, batting is layers or 'sheets' of raw cotton, wool, bamboo, polyester or a mix thereof that is used for lining quilts.

   If you are going to buy batting online or in a fabric or craft store here is what you need to know.

Types of batting:

   Cotton batting - 100% cotton batting is usually 1/8" or 1/4" thick.
   Polyester batting - is thicker than cotton batting but lighter so it keeps you warm without the weight (although I find it a little harder to hand quilt, one of my daughters loves the 'fluffy factor' this kind of batting gives to quilts). It comes in a thickness of 4 oz which is 3/8" thick, 8 oz is 3/4" thick, 6 oz is 1/2" thick or 10 oz is 1" thick.
   Wool batting - is lightweight and warm.  It usually comes  ½" thick and holds it's shape without creases but shrinks greatly if washed.
   Cotton/Poly blend batting - typically are 80% cotton/20% polyester. It has the benefits of cotton, but with more loft or 'fluffiness'.
   Bamboo batting - is made from 50% bamboo/50% organic cotton blend batting. Usually used for machine quilting. 
   Bonded batting - has a light adhesive that has been applied to both sides to hold fibers together. 

Sizes of batting:

   When you buy batting it either comes prepackaged in numerous sizes or off a roll usually 90" wide.

Craft        36" x 45"    
Crib          45" x 60"  
Twin         72" x 90" 
Full            81" x 96"
Queen      90" x 108"
King        120" x 120"

   The kind of batting I am using for this project is 1/8" cotton batting.  I feel it is the easiest to handle when first learning how to quilt.

   Now we will start the layering or 'sandwiching' by cutting a backing material about 2" larger than the quilt block.  As we discussed in the blog post Before You Start Sewing or Quilting, the backing material can be made from many things.  I would recommend using the same fiber content for the back as for the front so if you are making quilt blocks from flannel, choose flannel for your backing.  

   In this case, I have scraps of white 100% cotton fabric.  If you are purchasing fabric, muslin is usually an inexpensive alternative to quilting solids or print material. Old 100% cotton bed sheets also work well, just avoid cutting across any worn spots.

  Be sure to iron your fabric before cutting into 14 1/2" squares (2" larger than the 12 1/2" unfinished quilt block you have made).  You will also need to cut a square of batting roughly the same size.

   Lay the backing WRONG side up if you are using one with a print.

     Lay your square of batting centered over the top of this.

   Lay your quilt block RIGHT SIDE up centered on top of the batting.  Gently smooth your quilt block from the center to the outer edges to clear wrinkles and air between layers.

  The reason your backing and batting is larger than your quilt block is so there is no chance that there will be any space on your quilt block that will not have all three layers when you are finished the layering process.
  Your center block is 4" square and as you can see my hand is about 4" across. I use this as a general guide as to the minimum distance my quilting can be from each other in a radius pattern.  This means that when I am finished quilting this block there should be no areas that are larger than this size that has not been quilted. To me this is known as the rule of 4 inch quilting.

   This also applies to the basting that we will use to secure the three layers in place for the quilting that is to come.
   The quilting itself ensures the integrity of the shape and strength of your quilt. Depending on your batting it is possible to quilt a larger radial distance but I would not recommend it. Seam strength is increased by the amount of quilting that spreads across the stress load.

TIP: I once asked my mother in law why she threaded her needle 'backward'.  She told me it was because the thread bent too much trying to push it through the eye of the needle.  So instead she held the thread and threaded the eye of the needle through it. I have no idea why this works so much easier for me, but it does so I thought I would share this tip with you.  

   The Chinese have a proverb that says, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." So even though this post already has a lot of photographs I am going to add this one to help you visualize what I am attempting to describe.

   After you have threaded your needle with about 20" of thread you will be making a long running stitch similar to the running stitch you used to piece your block, only this time your stitches will be much further apart.

         Starting at the center of your block, with a long running stitch, baste through all three layers a line to one corner leaving about an inch worth of thread 'tail'. Avoid stitching directly on any of the stitch lines you have marked as these basting threads will be pulled out when you are finished quilting.  

      Although I didn't originally remember to take a picture this next step, I find it helps.  Grasping both 'tails' at the end of this thread, gently tighten just a little. This will do two things. Show you if your sandwich has become askew and compress your sandwich slightly.  I have rarely had to redo a line but there have been times where I was glad I did this as I hadn't gotten the needle to go through all three layers.  Again, gently smooth from the center out to the edges.

    Once again, starting from the center, stitch a line to the OPPOSITE Corner.  Gently tug 'tails'. Gently smooth quilt block from center.

      Continue this same pattern of actions for the other two corners.   

     Now you will start from the center and sew another basting line straight up, then straight down.  Then center to left and center to right. Gently pulling 'tails' and smoothing from center outward.

      Remember about the 4 inch rule of quilting that applies to both basting and quilting stitches? There is still too much area that can shift. Since this block will be quilted without a quilting hoop it is very important to keep these layers in place. 
   Starting at the center of the bottom row of squares, sew a basting line out to edge. Then another from the center to the opposite edge. Don't forget the gentle 'tail' tugging and smoothing.

    Turn block 180° and repeat this process.

    We are almost finished. We now want to make sure the edges don't pull apart and undo all the work we just finished, so between the edge of the block side and the NO-QUILT zone line we are now going to baste a line in the same opposite sides pattern. (First one side then it's opposite.) Gently smooth outward from center of this basting line to smooth any little waves in the block edge.

   Once you have finished the basting line in the NO-QUILT zone your quilt block should look something like this on the front:

 And like this on the back:

   You have now finished sandwiching your quilt block. Next week we will start quilting your block!

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