|Just a little sneak peek.|
First off...a pep talk. Making a quilt may come across as intimidating to some of you. Don't let it scare you. If you can sew in a straight line, you can make a quilt! Do not be intimidated by perfection!!!!! Seriously. If you are in this for perfection...just toss that idea out of the window right now. Learn to embrace mistakes. Make them work for you as best you can. Seams that don't line up exactly? No one will notice, I have plenty of those. Quilting that gets flubbed? No one will notice. Your toughest critic is yourself. I chose a Disappearing 9-Patch Pattern for our quilt-along which will help to make any mistakes disappear. So, tell your inner critic to shove it where the sun don't shine, because you are going to relax, enjoy the process, and have FUN!!!! ;)
Now on to the instructions! Ready to get working? Good!
1. To wash or not to wash. Before your start quilting consider what you're looking for out of your quilt. Do you want that cozy crinkled appearance when you're all done? Or do you want a sleek crisp finish?
If you want a crinkled end effect then DO NOT pre-wash your fabrics. The shrinking of the fabric is what gives you that crinkled effect. If you pre-wash, you pre-shrink. If you want a crisp sleek look? Pre-wash your fabrics. This will take care of the majority of your shrinkage up front.
FWIW...I don't pre-wash my quilting fabrics.
***If you wash...and you are using a fabric or print with a bold color (usually red) try to throw in one of those Shout Color Catchers so that color doesn't bleed all over your fabrics.
2. Ironing v. Pressing. Whether you wash your fabrics or not, you need to press them before you begin cutting. Take out those wrinkles as best as you can. There is a difference between ironing and pressing. Most of you probably iron...this is when you slide your iron around on the fabric smoothing out the wrinkles. That is fine for clothes, but if you do that to pieces of fabric you will stretch it in wonky ways, which will distort the patterns and your cuts later. In quilting you press. This simply means to place your iron on your fabric, apply a bit of pressure for a few seconds, pick up your iron and then do it again in the next spot.
Personally, I like to use a starch or starch substitute (I use Mary Ellen's Best Press Clear Starch Alternative) before ironing each piece of fabric. It helps get the wrinkles out and gives the fabric a bit of stiffness for cutting which can be helpful in getting more precise cuts. But, you don't have to use it, so if you don't have any, or can't find any at your local fabric shop, no worries.
So, before cutting, "press" all of your fabrics for your quilt top. Don't bother with the binding or backing fabrics right now. You'll just have to fold them up and re-wrinkle them until we need them.
3. CUTTING -
If you ordered a Layer Cake then your cutting will be SUPER easy. If you're new to a rotary cutter then I would practice on some fabric scraps first...b/c if you make a mistake in your Layer Cake you'll be short some blocks. No biggie, but your quilt will be a smidge smaller in the end if that happens.
1. Lay your layer cake on your cutting mat. You'll see that your square is 10"x10". So make a vertical cut half way leaving with you with (2) 5" strips. Then cut those (2) 5" strips again leaving you with (4) 5" squares per layer cake square. In the end you should have (168) 5" squares.
Rather than squaring up the entire FQ (Fat Quarter) at once I just kind of guesstimated what was square-ish when I placed the fabric on my cutting mat. You could easily place your selvedge edge (the manufactured edge) on the left of you and use that for your straight edge. I was talking while I was cutting so I made it harder on myself. Either way...cut off either the selvedge edge of the edge opposite the selvedge in order to make a good straight edge from which to guide the rest of your cuts on. Mine is on the left in the picture below.
Then make a cut every 5" from that freshly cut edge you just created. This should give you (4) 5" strips.
Now take each 5" strip, and repeat that process, but this time use your cut edges to help you line the strip up on your cutting board. Create a fresh cut on the left so your edge is straight, and cut (3) 5" squares from each of your (4) strips. Do this to ALL of your fat quarters. You "need" a total of (168) 5" squares to make your quilt, you should end up with more than that from your cutting though. Variety is GOOD for piecing your quilt top together. You'll be really glad you have extras while you're making your blocks.
If you bought a half yard in a solid color. You can do this the same way as the FQs. Start with one selvedge edge on your left, trim it off to make a perfect straight edge for you. Cut, every 5 inches vertically all of the way across, and then cut those 5" strips into 5" squares, the same way you did with the FQs.
If you prefer, you can fold your 1/2 yard in half so the selvedge edges meet. Have the selvedge edges closest to your body. Trim the edge of your fabric on the left to make a perfect straight edge, and make 5" cuts just like you did with your FQs until you reach the right side of your fabric. Then take those LONG strips, open them up, and trim off the selvedge to make a perfect straight edge on the left. Then cut 5" squares all of the way across the WOF (Width of Fabric = selvedge edge to selvedge edge).
Choose whichever method makes you comfortable. If you need me to take pictures I will try to do so when I return from vacation.
So, this week you need to wash (or not wash!), "press", and cut the fabrics for your quilt top. I will be on vacation, but will try to hop on some to see if anyone has any questions. Feel free to add pictures of the fabrics you chose to the NQA flickr group. I'd love to see what you're working with.
Turn on some music or the TV while you're pressing or cutting. It can get a bit monotonous if you sit down to do it all at once. Sew long for now!