How To Set And Block A Quilt

Setting the quilt: Press the blocks and lay them out on the bed to get the final effect before setting them together. If they do not cover the entire area of the bed, you will have to do something about it: (1) If the quilt is not wide enough, strips of material of white or colors may be used. Perhaps you have enough material left to piece and add an extra row of blocks. (2) If the quilt is too wide, use as deep a seam as possible in sewing blocks together. Be careful not to take the seams in the design of the blocks.

Next check your border to see if it is correct for width. It should be in balance with the design, and neither add to or detract from the main decorative part of the quilt. As you survey the blocks laid out on the bed, remember they are not yet sewed together and that the seams, when they are finished, will each account for taking up 1/4 inch. This affects the fitting of the border, both as to length and breadth.

If you are satisfied with the blocks and the measurements of the border, you will proceed with setting the blocks together. The best way is to join all the blocks of one row, sewing them with a 1/4 inch seam. Continue joining blocks in one row at a time. This should really be done by hand, especially if you are sewing a pieced block. It is easier to keep the pattern accurate and the corners matched by hand, rather than on the machine. Sewing the rows of blocks can be successfully done by machine if you tack the corners together ahead of time with several overcast stitches. You may like to baste the long seams before using the machine.

In sewing on the border strips, begin with the shorter pieces of the top and bottom first. Baste them before stitching. Baste the side border pieces and stitch on.

Blocking the quilt: The term "blocking" means keeping the edges straight on all sides of the quilt so that it will be a perfect rectangle when finished. The term applies to the quilt's divisions and blocks, and also to the border, so the process of blocking is a continuing process from start to finish.

Right at the start, it will help your blocking if you have cut the pieces and blocks according to the warp and weft threads in the material. Observance of this rule eliminates the tendency to pucker. It is helpful, if your material tears easily, to tear off strips the width of the blocks, then separate into individual blocks. For ease in cutting, draw a thread out where your scissors will have to cut.

Pull the edges of the block straight with the fingers and pin the corners to the ironing board to hold them rigidly in place. Cover the block with a damp cloth and press with a warm iron. Do not iron the cloth dry, but use it more for steaming instead. Press the edges until they are perfectly straight and of equal measurements. The center is pressed last.

It is a good idea to press your blocks before the design is attached and then after the sewing is completed. This is also true of the border and of any section of the quilt. This means quite a lot of pressing, but it assures you of more accuracy in the final measurement of all units. After the quilt is set together, it will need a final blocking before it is ready to be quilted to the lining and back.

By: Lamar Deane

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