• Preparation of Quilts

    It's time to quilt. You have bought everything you need to get started, and you're so excited that you want to start quilting immediately. But wait! You forgot one teeny-tiny thing -- you forgot to prepare your fabric. Preparing your fabric properly before it is quilted is essential. Here are a few pointers on how to do that.

    Prepare for the Sewing and Quilting

    The washing and straightening of the fabric is a very important step. By washing the fabric first, you will know how much the fabric is prone to shrinkage. This also helps to ascertain the drape of the fabric. Pre-washing removes all the sizing factors which have been made during the milling process; it also aligns the grains. Excessive fabric dyes are also removed. Another important thing that you should do before pre-washing is make sure the ends are straightened by pulling the grain across the thread. If this is not done, the fabric will simply tear. There are certain fabrics, such as loosely woven fabric, denims that are heavy, and wool, whose selvage should be treated gently, by cutting along the thread at the edge of a plain line and stitching the ends.

    You should then realign the fabric, stretching it into place. You can also place the fabric on a grain board to align it lengthwise and crosswise. Allow the fabric to dry completely before pressing.

    Dyes

    If you want to find out if the fabric you bought will change in color or if it will fade easily, soak it in a bucket of vinegar and cold water with a handful of salt. After you dip the fabric into the concoction, allow it to dry on a white towel. If the threads bleed, then you know that the fabric will fade; if they don't, then it won't fade.

    Knitting and Crocheting

    If you are going to do some knitting, then you will have to prepare your yarn, the same as for fabric. One important thing is to check to see that the yarn does not shrink. If you pre-shrink your yarn, then you will waste less time when knitting. Wash the yarn as if you were washing a sweater and then re-skein it into a woolen ball.

    Making a Yarn Hank

    In order to make a yarn hank, you will need to make an umbrella swift, attaching the yarn to each of the swift spokes in turn. Start turning the swift to begin winding the yarn onto the swift spokes. Once you reach the end of the yarn, loosely tie the two ends together. With any remaining scraps of yarn, tie the yarn hank in three or four places. Now remove the hank from the swift. Wash the yarn hank and then allow it to dry; after drying, place the yarn back on the swift. Cut the securing scrap pieces of yarn and untie both ends. Place one end on the ball winder to make the yarn into a ball. If you don't have a swift, the yarn may be wrapped around the back of a chair. The yarn can also be wrapped into a ball by hand.

    Introduction to Hand Quilting

    Have you ever wanted to hand quilt but just never had the chance to do it? Then, when you finally do have the chance, there is no one around to teach you this fine art. In this article, I have just the solution for you. I will explain everything, from safety measures to the final product.

    Here are the basic things you will need to make a nice, hand-sewn quilt:

    - Thimble

    - Needle

    - Thread

    Thimble

    You should remember that when choosing a thimble select one with good indentations, because the needle's head has to rest on these indentation while the needle is being pushed into the fabric. The best option is a plastic thimble.

    Needle

    The needles that are used in quilting are not too sharp or too blunt. An ideal beginner quilting needle would be short and very sharp. If the needles are too long, then they will tend to bend. There might be a slight variation in the needles when it comes to brands and sizes, but a preferable size would be 10.

    Thread

    Hand quilting thread is the preferred thread when it comes to quilting. If ordinary sewing thread is used, it tends to break. The only problem with quilting thread is that the number of colors is limited compared to ordinary sewing thread. That's why metallic thread is an interesting alternative.

    Now that you know the basics, you should know the different ways of doing hand quilting.

    Some Different Techniques

    The simple, traditional method of putting a thimble on you finger and start quilting has a major disadvantage: Chances of quilting the wrong pattern are high, especially if the quilt is very thick.

    Hoop quilting -- A safer way of quilting is to lock a portion of the fabric into a structure such as a hoop and then quilt that part. Then move the structure to another part of the fabric and quilt. Keep going around the fabric until every part has been quilted.

    Frame quilting -- When it comes to frame quilting, you should make sure that you have personally studied and chosen the quilting frame. If you are not sure about how to choose a quilting frame, I suggest that you take a friend along who knows how to use quilting frames and is well-versed in this type of quilting. When you buy your quilting frame you should keep in mind that it should be easy to set up, have good tension control, and it should be stable. If all of these criteria are met, then you have bought the correct frame.

    Now for the basic steps you need to know before you start quilting. There are certain rules for safety, or rather, for handling your equipment.

    Getting your Fingers Ready

    Many of us put the thimble on the middle finger, which I think is fine. If you feel uncomfortable with the thimble here, then try changing it to another finger. The goal is to make sure that you don't poke yourself while quilting.

    Needles and Threading

    Make a knot on the needles head while the thread is still on the spool before you start your quilting. If the thread is threaded backwards, then it may have a tendency to knot. Thread the needle using a quilter's knot. From the spool, pull out 18 inches of thread, then create another quilter's knot and cut it from the spool.

    Let's Start Stitching!

    Start with the top of the quilt. Take the needle and pierce it into the cloth (this should be at the point where you actually want the quilting to start). Now pull the thread until you see the knot popping down into the top of the quilt.

    While placing the free hand that is holding the quilt on the bottom, use the middle finger or fore finger to push the needle straight down until the needle reaches the tip. Pivot the needle and push it forward. Then, when you see the needle next, push it back up through the quilt. Continue this for the next four or five stitches. Complete the stitches by pushing the needle to the quilt top (this completes all the stitches). In the beginning, all of the stitches will be large. You don't have to worry about that now, just make sure that the stitch size is the same. Slowly, as time passes and with practice, the stitches will become smaller.

    One Final Note

    Now that you have a good idea of how to hand quilt, you can try new things with different threading styles. Whatever it is, just make sure that you are safe and have a happy quilting experience.
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