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Thread: How do I square a quilt top?

  1. #1
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    How do I square a quilt top?

    I sewed all my rows together on this quilt that I've had forever and the sides are all wonky. How do I square this thing up? Please used the simplest terms known to man (or woman): I'm old, I'm tired, I'm blonde and I'm left-handed. Everything seems a little harder for me than for others!

  2. #2
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    At least your sense of humor is still intact!

  3. #3
    Super Member IrishgalfromNJ's Avatar
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    You might find the answers in this QB thread helpful. I don't square up until it is quilted.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...p-t223696.html

  4. #4
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I've had quilts that refused to cooperate and be straight. I fold them in half top to bottom and then in half again making sure my center is straight and then I use my longest ruler and trim it off. Be aware that if you have blocks with points and such you're likely to cut them off. I never really worry too much about that sort of thing.

  5. #5
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    go ahead and sandwich it and quilt it- then square up the whole thing- since the quilting process draws the fabric up some and distorts the quilt top too it will save you a step if you just go ahead & quilt it first- then lay it out- I sometimes will use a ruler & pencil or chalk- line up your ruler starting at one corner- draw a straight line- in both directions- line up & draw straight lines all the way around the quilt- getting everything nice & straight- then you can use either scissors or a rotory cutter and cut along your straight lines to square up the whole quilt before binding.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  6. #6
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    I would iron the top making sure the seams lay flat then and to get any wrinkles out. you can measure the center width, then the top and the bottom. They may not be as wonky as you think.

  7. #7
    Super Member Mitch's mom's Avatar
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    Look on Youtube for videos. Type in Squaring a Quilt. There is a video by Crafty Gemini that finally made sense of it for me. She is young but she is a good teacher.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl View Post
    go ahead and sandwich it and quilt it- then square up the whole thing- since the quilting process draws the fabric up some and distorts the quilt top too it will save you a step if you just go ahead & quilt it first- then lay it out- I sometimes will use a ruler & pencil or chalk- line up your ruler starting at one corner- draw a straight line- in both directions- line up & draw straight lines all the way around the quilt- getting everything nice & straight- then you can use either scissors or a rotory cutter and cut along your straight lines to square up the whole quilt before binding.
    Good advise!! be sure to quilt first before you cut.

  9. #9
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Does the quilt have borders? I'm wondering if your borders are too long and that's what's making the quilt wonky. If so, you may have success by simply fixing the borders.

  10. #10
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    On one of the quilt shows on tv a long time ago, I heard a quilter say she was going to enter a quilt into competition and it would be judged for being square. she said to make hers work she laid it on the floor (undoubtedly waterproof) and spritzed water on it and shaped it. Said it was nearly sopping wet by the time she was satisfied. I wouldn't recommend this but......
    Other quilters have used their husbands carpenter squares to assure the corners are straight.
    My method is in construction....measuring as I go...constantly. If the borders are the measurements required, alter the top either by re stitching or easing or tugging to fit. It is possible to ease or stretch some... but big differences would have to be accounted for and adjustments made to the sashes or borders, small variances are not as noticeable in some instances there as in an outer edge. Then, pin, pin, pin, pin the premeasured sashes and/or borders to the quilt top and sew.
    Hope this helps.
    Now, if this is a competition quilt, I don't know what to do as I haven't any experience there.

  11. #11
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    I hope my quilts are close enough to square before I quilt it. It gets a bit off after the quilting process so I use a large square to get the corners looking good and say that it is good enough for me. I don't put quilts up for competition and those that receive them would never even think to check to see if they are squared up or not. After plenty of use, who would worry about it anyway?

  12. #12
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamae View Post
    On one of the quilt shows on tv a long time ago, I heard a quilter say she was going to enter a quilt into competition and it would be judged for being square. she said to make hers work she laid it on the floor (undoubtedly waterproof) and spritzed water on it and shaped it. Said it was nearly sopping wet by the time she was satisfied.
    This is called "blocking" and is actually a common practice. You definitely want to make sure your fabrics are bleed-proof and pins are rust-proof first, though. I know of one poor quilter who made an absolutely gorgeous quilt and blocked it. But when she blocked it, some of her batiks ran. So she soaked it in water and color catchers (and also Synthrapol, if I remember right) but then her pins rusted. Poor thing! She was able to work most of the stains out and it's won several awards since.

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    Senior Member KerryK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsews View Post
    I hope my quilts are close enough to square before I quilt it. It gets a bit off after the quilting process so I use a large square to get the corners looking good and say that it is good enough for me. I don't put quilts up for competition and those that receive them would never even think to check to see if they are squared up or not. After plenty of use, who would worry about it anyway?
    ^^^^^ What she said! :-)
    Kerry
    ~ American by birth, Southern by the grace of God ~

  14. #14
    Senior Member KerryK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjsews View Post
    I hope my quilts are close enough to square before I quilt it. It gets a bit off after the quilting process so I use a large square to get the corners looking good and say that it is good enough for me. I don't put quilts up for competition and those that receive them would never even think to check to see if they are squared up or not. After plenty of use, who would worry about it anyway?
    ^^^^^ What she said! :-)
    Kerry
    ~ American by birth, Southern by the grace of God ~

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    All great advice. Wished I'd seen it before I tried to square a quilt I was doing.....but I learned from my mistake and now use that to practice on. .

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    Thanks for all the advice. The borders haven't been put on yet, so I wanted it to be straightened out before I put them on. I'll reread all the ideas in the morning, when I'm more awake, and get this thing taken care of!

  17. #17
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by michelleoc View Post
    Thanks for all the advice. The borders haven't been put on yet, so I wanted it to be straightened out before I put them on. I'll reread all the ideas in the morning, when I'm more awake, and get this thing taken care of!
    I thought you were talking about the top before the borders were put on and that's what I based my advice on.

    I square up a quilt after it's quilted with the biggest square ruler I have and my long ruler. I put my quilt on a long table with the mat under it and I usually use a couple of chairs on the side of the table to help hold the weight of the quilt and then trim it.

  18. #18
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    It depends on how wonky it is. Can you post a picture? If the quilt is slightly out at the edge, you can trim the edges straight if it doesn't impact the pattern. If the blocks themselves have B cup bulges, then it will be more trouble to fix. The quilt top blocks will need to be taken apart and squared up first.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by michelleoc View Post
    I sewed all my rows together on this quilt that I've had forever and the sides are all wonky. How do I square this thing up? Please used the simplest terms known to man (or woman): I'm old, I'm tired, I'm blonde and I'm left-handed. Everything seems a little harder for me than for others!


    Sounds like you have not attached borders (if you happen to be using them). If that is the case, just measure the center (from top to bottom) of the top to determine the length of the side borders. This is where you can ease in the excess onto the border strips. After doing that, repeat the process for the top and bottom borders. I have made quilt tops with or without borders and the sides are not always even due to the quilting which can pull in the fabric. I square if off where I can after quilting. If it is still needed, I ease in the excess when applying the binding.

  20. #20
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    I think before I can give any good advice I need for you to describe "wonky". Are the sides not the same length? are they wavy? is the entire quilt just not in square? A pic would be most helpful.

  21. #21
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    If you have it quilted by a longarmer, she will be able to help a lot in squaring it up. I do it all the time .

  22. #22
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    I have a black & decker cross-hair laser that guys would use in their workshop. I put in in one corner and the red laser goes both directions, across the top and one side. If you have someone help you can use a long ruler and mark along the line. Do the same on the opposite corner to do the other side and the bottom. It works for me if I think it needs squared up. I use 2 banquet tables at my church and smooth the quilt top out Once I have the quilt top pressed I try to keep it nice with a couple lengthwise folds and put it on a tube hangar until I get it ready to mark. The laaseer won't care if you're a lefty!
    Quote Originally Posted by michelleoc View Post
    I sewed all my rows together on this quilt that I've had forever and the sides are all wonky. How do I square this thing up? Please used the simplest terms known to man (or woman): I'm old, I'm tired, I'm blonde and I'm left-handed. Everything seems a little harder for me than for others!

  23. #23
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBXDYzZLmzc

    http://quilting.about.com/od/straigh...ghtborders.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcpzwJMVTbc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhRzGr93WIo

    Maybe some of these will help you with this not-too-fun, but very important task. Good luck. If you go to www.youtube.com and put "how to square up quilts" in the query box, you'll come up with all sorts of visuals.

  24. #24
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    Its extra work, but when it is all sew together it is worth it. Press each block as you finish it, square it, then sew into a row, press the seams, then square the row. When all the rows are completed, measure vertically in three separate areas. Add the measurements and average. This will be the size of side borders. Measure horizontally, including the borders which you have sewn on. After is is quilted, check for squareness. Probably very minimal.

  25. #25
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I would press the entire top and use a lot of starch, then fold it into quarters to see where it is off, and go from there

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