Saturday, January 3, 2015

Quilting, the process

So what exactly goes into making a quilt? And for that matter, what makes a quilt different than a blanket?

Well, what makes a quilt a quilt is the two layers of fabric with some form of batting stitched between them, whereas a blanket can be just a single layer.

So, sounds pretty simple right? It's true, all you need to be able to do to make a basic quilt is sew in a straight line, and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

For me, a quilt starts with a pattern and fabric selection, then all of the fabric is washed, dried and ironed. This is a two-point protective measure for the finished quilt. Each fabric shrinks at a different rate after its first wash. By pre-washing the fabric, the risk for the completed quilt warping in the wash is diminished, and the risk for fabrics of different colors bleeding on each other is also gone.

Next, the pieces are cut, and the sewing begins. After each seam, the pieces are ironed open, ensuring a flat seam to prevent bunching. This step gets repeated until the top is assembled. The current record for greatest number of pieces in a quilt top I've finish was a postage stamp quilt (2" squares). There were 3,244 pieces, and it was only a twin size.

Once the top is assembled, it is layered with the backing fabric and the batting and pinned in place. I use exclusively 100% cotton fabrics and batting to ensure longevity and ease of care.

Now the actual quilting part of making a quilt begins. The elaborate stitch patterns found in quilts form little air pockets that trap warmth: this is why they are so delightfully cozy!

Finally, after all of the quilting is done, the quilt is trimmed to its final size, and bound by hand. I use a blanket stitch with about 10 stitches per inch, so they're very small and even.

All told, it takes about 100 hours of work to complete a queen size quilt start to finish!

Next post, fabric selection and choices! (Hopefully, with pictures!)

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