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Stretching a block

Stretching a block

Old 07-14-2012, 08:43 PM
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Default Stretching a block

I have 'stretched' cottons while they were damp.

However, the next time I washed and dried the cottons, if I dried them to dry - they reverted back to their 'natural' size.

So - if/when a block is stretched, what happens when it's washed and dried? Does the batting hold it in place or what?

I also stretched a block - a lot- when I soaked it with sizing and ironed it when it was wet. (5 to 5.5 inches)
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:54 AM
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I've stretched some blocks, usually not more than 1/4" or so, and once quilted have not had any issues with distortion. I think I'd be afraid of anything more than that, but some here may have more experience they can share. I'd like to know too!
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:12 AM
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Cotton has memory.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:37 AM
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are you stretching your blocks on purpose?
if not- try (pressing) not ironing! which means you place the iron straight down (press) it's not a shirt---you don't want to move the iron around on top of the block-
whether or not a block will go back to it's original shape/size after quilting probably depends a bit on the batting being used- the density of the quilting- how it is handled. if you want it to stay stretched you may want to use a batting that will not shrink (poly instead of cotton) and quilt it heavily-so the quilting holds it but it would really depend-every one will probably behave differently with lots of factors involved- stretching them on purpose will generally wind up with skewed blocks in the end.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:37 AM
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The batting won't hold it, but the quilting might...sort of, if you're lucky. The seams involved will always have more stress than others however. If you block an out-of-square quilt...the same idea as 'stretching' a block...it will only stay square until the next time it gets wet. Then it reverets to it's 'natural' state. It's the main reason I don't force my will on fabrics, preferring to work with them and not against them during construction.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ghostrider View Post
The batting won't hold it, but the quilting might...sort of, if you're lucky. The seams involved will always have more stress than others however. If you block an out-of-square quilt...the same idea as 'stretching' a block...it will only stay square until the next time it gets wet. Then it reverets to it's 'natural' state. It's the main reason I don't force my will on fabrics, preferring to work with them and not against them during construction.
That is what I was thinking -

So when someone suggests using some method to 'make a block bigger' by stretching it while it's wet - I totally cringe and wonder 'What the ????"

Or blocking a block or quilt to make it square - - -

Especially when the suggestion comes from an 'expert'.

When I'm done with something, I want to be done with it - I don't want to fret about the item every time it's washed!!!

My 'stretching' experience is with my ironing board cover that I purchased when I bought my Big Board - it's skimpy and I have to put it back on when it's almost wet for it to barely cover the top - and some 'pillow cases' for couch cushions that were 'roomy' when I made them - one of the few times I did NOT wash before cutting - and I can only get them back on with difficulty when they are still damp.

The starch/sizing experiences were when I was cutting I Spy squares and a Dear Jane block. My intent was for crispness, not stretching. I've since learned I was supposed to let it DRY before pressing it. Who has the patience for that??

I think it's easier to let the fabric 'do its thing' than to try to 'beat it into submission'

Last edited by bearisgray; 07-15-2012 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:02 PM
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Blocking a quilt has definite advantages if it will be hung in a show or exhibition, on tour, or even on a wall in your home. For a bed quilt, or something that is often washed like placemats, not so much.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:08 PM
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I haven't made all that many quilts, but they've turned out to have 90 degree corners, they lay flat, and fold neatly.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:19 PM
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I haven't tried to stretch or shrink a block but I was amazed after watching the Sharon Schamber(sp) video on shrinking a block. She started with a block that was 1/2 inch out in the center and starched and ironed it into place. I wouldn't have believe she could do it without seeing it for myself.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
I haven't tried to stretch or shrink a block but I was amazed after watching the Sharon Schamber(sp) video on shrinking a block. She started with a block that was 1/2 inch out in the center and starched and ironed it into place. I wouldn't have believe she could do it without seeing it for myself.
My question/concern about doing things like that - what happens when the fabric gets wet and dried again - in my experience also - cotton does seem to have a memory
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