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Fabric stretch – friend or enemy?

March 27, 2013

Let’s call it your best frenemy. If you work with bias edges you’re aware of the stretch that can cause all kinds of woes if you don’t handle those pieces carefully. Starch, no steam; press, don’t iron. In spite of my best efforts, I still had a little problem with my current project before I added the borders.

(that lower left corner is flipped under, not chopped off!)

All those setting triangles have bias edges, and by the time I finished piecing the blocks and sashing my quilt top was not quite square. About 1/2″ difference along the two sides and 1/4″ difference between the top and bottom. Enough to make it look wonky – not the effect I was looking for. But I used the stretch in my border strips (cut crosswise) to fix the problem. Here’s how it works – measure the 2 sides and take the average to cut both border strips. Then carefully pin the border strips to the sides, easing in the fullness as you go.  The fabric has enough stretch to work with, and the end result is a nice flat border AND a square quilt. Do the same for the top and the bottom border strips. By the time I added the second border, the quilt top was completely square.

Thank you for all who took the time to comment on my last post on imperfection. Of course we are all our own worst critics; people are generally far more forgiving of our imperfections than we are. I kept the blocks as they were, with no regrets.

Now it’s off to the quilter!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy P. permalink
    March 27, 2013 2:47 pm

    Your quilt is darling. You did a great job of coping. Could I suggest an alternate solution. Stop me if you have heard this… (Hard to do; sorry). If you use a quarter square triangle on the sides you avoid bias edges. Take the size of the finished square and multiply by 1.4. Add 1.25 to that and cut a square that size. Cut the square diagonally both directions. You now have setting squares without bias on the long edge. You do have to be careful with the other edges, but I think you will be happy with the results.

    • March 27, 2013 4:15 pm

      Thanks Judy, that is a great tip. For this project I was working with 5″ charm squares and did not have the yardage to cut the bigger square needed. But I have used your technique in other projects.

  2. Lisa permalink
    March 28, 2013 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the tip about the measurements.. I’m sure it will come in handy in the future.

  3. Cynthia permalink
    April 1, 2013 7:01 am

    I agree Pam, those bias edges are a bit tricky…….but you made it work. Your little quilt is really cute. Love the pops of orange!

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