joycesue

My First Machine Quilt - What a Mess!!! - Help!!!

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Hi, I've just made my first machine quilt (top - haven't attached the border yet). There are 12 blocks of printed center+double layer of frames. The problem was the printable fabric. When I rinsed and dried them, they shrank an inch, so no matter what I did (heavey starch ironing while stretching to all four directions), the pieces shrank a good inch and then crooked. So... my 8"x8" frames wouldn't work. My project is extremely time-constraint, and I am a real, real beginner (in fact, I haven never sewn before). In a panic, I started to assemble the pieces randomly just to match the (shrunken) center pieces. The result? All 12 blocks are in all different lengths and widths... (sigh). But in a desperation, I just laid them on the floor, pinned them together and sewn them together - with all crooked edges and lines. Crooked (inside) lines are okay (as we all know what a bad quilter I am), but now I don't know what to do with the borders because the outside lines are all zigzag and crooked. How can I attach straight borders? This is supposed to be a gift (memory quilt with old pictures and Bible verses) for my mother-in-law, who has just moved to a nursing home. We're visiting her in just about a week, and I do need to finish the border and backing asap so that I can give it to my friend, who has a quilting machine (I don't have one). Can anyone give me some advice? I really need some help (my friend is sick, so she can't help me here) and I am SO DESPERATE that I feel like crying... Help me!

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The only way that I can think of to make this work is to take the blocks apart again back into separate blocks. Then trim them so that the sides are staright. Now sew strips around each block. Once done trim each of these "Sashed" blocks to the same size and sew them back together again. This should make all your blocks the same size and you should now be able to put on staright borders.

Without some taking apart I can think of no other solution that will look nice.

I always prewash all my fabrics so that they are all preshrunk.

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Your friend that was helping you should have explained to you that you either wash your fabrics before you start or you don't wash anything until it is completely constructed....

Only thing that comes to my mind is that you take some fabric and make additional sashings for the block to make them come out to the original 12 inches....and then attach the borders as you had planned. You may have some centers that are a little wonky, but they will be together and I'm sure that your MIL will be just as proud of the quilt....

Maybe someone else will have a better suggestion.


Bonnie Botts

APQS Sales Rep - Certified Service Technician

APQS Millennium 2006---MJ

APQS Millennium 2004---Lucy

405-533-1025 home

518-935-3832 cell

"Absolute rules are about as useless in making quilts as they are in raising children" Carter Houck---1992

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Sure it will work, but here's how I would do it.

If you don't have the tools to measure and trim....I would take a piece of paper or cardboard and measure a square that you want all the pieces to be (since they aren't all the same size you need to decide what they can all be cut down to)...and then take a pencil to draw around the template so each block is the same and you then can use that mark as a reference...lay your new sashing up against it and then sew your 1/4 seam allowance...

Good luck....


Bonnie Botts

APQS Sales Rep - Certified Service Technician

APQS Millennium 2006---MJ

APQS Millennium 2004---Lucy

405-533-1025 home

518-935-3832 cell

"Absolute rules are about as useless in making quilts as they are in raising children" Carter Houck---1992

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I'll do my best. Thank you very much, Bonnie!

p.s. My mother-in-law's eyes aren't that good to see all the flaws - and even if she does, I know she wouldn't mind. I don't think she's been that domestic herself. :) It's just something I wanted to give her while she's still here with us. Thank you again for your kind advice - I truly appreciate it!:)

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Joycesue,

Have you taken your quilt apart yet? If not, send me a picture and let me see how crooked and wavy your outside edges are. I might have an idea, if it's not too bad. I just saw the cutest quilt done where the blocks were set off kilter, creating an uneven, almost zigzag edge. Pieces were then added to the outer edges to create straight lines on which the borders were attached.


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http://sweettsquilting.blogspot.com

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But will do so later when I go home. My plan is basically to measure a straight line (both length and width) and attach borders. Your idea sounds very good and ENCOURAGING (that my quilt may look actually cute...). Thank you very much!:)

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Joyce, you are absolutely right that your MIL will love the quilt even if it has flaws. I recently quilted a very badly pieced quilt top for a neighbor. It had been made by her grandmother in the 1930's. Some blocks where an inch bigger on one side than the other, the sashing strips usually didn't line up, and the appliqued dresden plates were coming apart. I did my best and was amazed at how wonderful it looked when it was quilted. the sashing is still crooked and some of those stains will never come out, but she loves it and I know your MIL will love that you made this quilt for her and incorporated pictures and verses that mean so much to her. A home-made gift is a gift of yourself -- true love.

Kathy

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Hi Joycesue, So sorry that your first quilt is causing you so much grief. This really is a great hobby. Just some tips for your next quilt, you can't give up. Fabric shrinks, some more than others so don't cut the pieces until the fabric is all washed OR don't wash it until the quilt is finished. The latter can be alittle risky because some colors may run. Trying to force the fabric too much with ironing and stretching will only distort the fabric, as you already know. Sometimes you can fix a small error with ironing, I call it creative ironing, but its got to be small. If your blocks come out a little off you can sometimes fudge it with the sashing, I think this is what you refer to as frames. When you start to make the rows you can use different sized sashing, there's a limit here, between the blocks, but make sure that your rows end up the same length. If the areas on your rows that currently don't have sashing are crooked you might have to trim them a bit. Start connecting the rows with long pieces of sashing and hopefully it will end up square. If you try another quilt and again end up with different sized blocks, don't try and put them together because you'll only end up continuing to have problems throughout the quilt. Another thing to do, is if you end up with smaller blocks, add an extra "frame" around those small blocks. Use a coordinated color, do it on enough blocks so it looks like this was your plan. Use enough frame fabric to build the blocks up to the size of the larger blocks then add your regular sashing. Make sure to scatter these "built up" blocks through out you quilt, it will look like it's part of your design. Since you already have your blocks together, I would lay the quilt out, look to see if trimming areas might help, make sure it lays flat, then add your first border, make it wide initially so you can trim it back to square the quilt. Then add a second border which should end up straight and even. The irregular areas should end up contained between the blocks and your first border. I hope this helps, I wish you lived near me because I would give you a hand. I have a quilt group that meets at my house several times a month with a couple of new quilters so I understand your fustration. There are actually quilts purposely made with irregular blocks and they come out looking fun. Don't give up. DB

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Adding a wide border(s) and trimming itsqure might be the answer.

Measure 3-4 places vertically, edge to edge across the topper's interior. Now cut two long fabric strips (maybe 6+" wide) the average measurement. Sew one strip to each side. Match the strip ends to the topper's outside edge and ease-in excess fabric between the ends.

Now measure 3-4 places horizontally end to end (including the just added side borders)and cut two more 6+" (?) wide strips and add to the top and bottom like you did to the sides.

Trim the added borders to square the topper. You might need to add a couple of borders before it evens out.

Good luck! ;) I think that you'll be fine if you treat it as an art quilt. Mistakes can create happy changes! Your quilt idea sounds wonderful. I bet your MIL will really appreciate it.

Also...if you've already shrunk all of your blocks, it might be a good idea to wash and dry all other fabrics before adding them to the topper. Prewash the backing fabric too.


Thanks for sharing...There is sew much to learn!

Bette Slag

Elk River, Mn

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Thank you all ladies. I'm so grateful for all your "words of golden wisdon" and encouragement - esp. my Nor CAL neighbors, for volunteering to help me out! I am just amazed at the great camaraderie among the quilters here on the site. For this, I don't think I will give up on quilting even if my first project looks more like an "abstract" piece than a real quilt. I will take a picture and post it here shortly. In the meantime, I'm happy to let you know that my friend (who's been sick) is back and took a look at my quilt and said it'd be "repairable" by adding a 2.5" border all around it (I drew straight lines on the back of the topper so that I can sew against it to make everything straight). I know it will never look perfect, but I pray it'll be a blessing to my mother-in-law. :) I live in Sunnyvale (and work in San Jose fulltime), CA. Unfortunately, I won't be able to travel to Dublin or Walnut Creek due to my work schedule. However, I could never properly express how grateful I am to all of you. This has been an incredible experience, and I am so grateful to the Lord for it. :) Thank you, thank you, and again thank you all!

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I forgot to add...

Before attaching the borders...trimming down the sewn topper's outside edges to square and straighten them (as much as is reasonably possible) will aid the process.

Trim with each border addition (when both sides have been added, or when the top and bottom are added, or after an entire framed border has been added).

The borders don't need to be even all the way around to look good. It might even be fun and even add to the quilt to have skewed borders...but try to have the outside edges reasonably squared.


Thanks for sharing...There is sew much to learn!

Bette Slag

Elk River, Mn

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JoyceSue,

Up in the upper right hand corner of your screen, just about the area where you will see that you are logged onto this site, you will see that you have 1 U2U message. Click on it and it should open and you can read it. Since alot of don't share private emails its a way that we can seen a private message to each other.

Should you want to share a email with someone you can give it to them in the body of the U2U and the rest of the forum world won't see it... My phone number is under my signature line on any entry should you need help, just call me and I will walk you through this. Hope this helps a bit.


Bonnie Botts

APQS Sales Rep - Certified Service Technician

APQS Millennium 2006---MJ

APQS Millennium 2004---Lucy

405-533-1025 home

518-935-3832 cell

"Absolute rules are about as useless in making quilts as they are in raising children" Carter Houck---1992

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Joyce Sue---you surely tackled a big one right off the bat! lol. Most people start SMALL...that shows how courageous you really are. I tried to find a

U2U address, but couldn't...You might go back to your profile screen and put the extra things in now that you know what they are.

AND Don't feel like the Lone Ranger! I've got a block here my DIL made....

and someday I'm going to bring it out and show her...hilarious now.

But I take it these are things you have learned....

1. # of friends on this chat group..everyone helping pitch in to help you...

2. To rinse all fabrics when you bring them home...then they are ready to

sew when the urge strikes. I cut a small 1/2" snippet out of a corner to

signify that they've been laundered.

Just wash in mild soap, rinse and dry. Fold in half the long ways with both

selvage edges together, spray starch or sizing...and iron to get it all smooth and nice again. One of the gals said...Either wash it ALL or NONE

of it..that is true, true. Otherwise when the quilt itself is laundered some

places shrink, some have already been shrunken.

3. Usually, the cheaper the fabric, the more shrinkage I find. A person is

ahead of the game, if possible, to buy the better quality fabrics.

This reminds me of a friend I was teaching to quilt...like you, no experience.

I would tell her to be as accurate as she could be...but I'd hear her say..

"Well, that seams a little off, but we'll even it up further down the road"...

(Won't happen...sorry)

You must, must practice on anything until you can control the machine and make neat, straight, accurate seams!

Now for the problem at hand...This is what I'd do..if I had the time...pick out

the sections that are useable and start over. But since you have a time

allowance, Let's just dis-assemble the blocks and decide what size is going

to work to save as much as we can...say a 10" square, or 8" square..whatever it is going to be, and cut every block the same. Then

cut strips from a nice complimentary fabric = say 2" wide and fix a "frame"

(sashing) around each block...Now watch as EVERY block won't get 4 pieces....they'll be joining a neighbor block. So do plenty of "Laying it out"

and looking at it. You will have two pieces of sashing 10" long if that is the size you chose. And you will have two pieces of sashing 13" long. The shorter sashings will go on the sides...adjust and ease to fit the block.

Then the longer ones are sewn on...(it includes the block and the other 2 sashings)..same way, ease and pin and ease to fit...just gentle pressure to

make them fit. When you are ready for the BIG BORDER around it, it is done the same way, just bigger measurements. You can certainly email me..I've got over 50 years of quilts chalked up..and I still make mistakes...

I predict you will have a long and lovely career as a quilter...Good Luck....

MaryLou

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Joyce Sue---you surely tackled a big one right off the bat! lol. Most people start SMALL...that shows how courageous you really are. I tried to find a

U2U address, but couldn't...You might go back to your profile screen and put the extra things in now that you know what they are.

AND Don't feel like the Lone Ranger! I've got a block here my DIL made....

and someday I'm going to bring it out and show her...hilarious now.

But I take it these are things you have learned....

1. # of friends on this chat group..everyone helping pitch in to help you...

2. To rinse all fabrics when you bring them home...then they are ready to

sew when the urge strikes. I cut a small 1/2" snippet out of a corner to

signify that they've been laundered.

Just wash in mild soap, rinse and dry. Fold in half the long ways with both

selvage edges together, spray starch or sizing...and iron to get it all smooth and nice again. One of the gals said...Either wash it ALL or NONE

of it..that is true, true. Otherwise when the quilt itself is laundered some

places shrink, some have already been shrunken.

3. Usually, the cheaper the fabric, the more shrinkage I find. A person is

ahead of the game, if possible, to buy the better quality fabrics.

This reminds me of a friend I was teaching to quilt...like you, no experience.

I would tell her to be as accurate as she could be...but I'd hear her say..

"Well, that seams a little off, but we'll even it up further down the road"...

(Won't happen...sorry)

You must, must practice on anything until you can control the machine and make neat, straight, accurate seams!

Now for the problem at hand...This is what I'd do..if I had the time...pick out

the sections that are useable and start over. But since you have a time

allowance, Let's just dis-assemble the blocks and decide what size is going

to work to save as much as we can...say a 10" square, or 8" square..whatever it is going to be, and cut every block the same. Then

cut strips from a nice complimentary fabric = say 2" wide and fix a "frame"

(sashing) around each block...Now watch as EVERY block won't get 4 pieces....they'll be joining a neighbor block. So do plenty of "Laying it out"

and looking at it. You will have two pieces of sashing 10" long if that is the size you chose. And you will have two pieces of sashing 13" long. The shorter sashings will go on the sides...adjust and ease to fit the block.

Then the longer ones are sewn on...(it includes the block and the other 2 sashings)..same way, ease and pin and ease to fit...just gentle pressure to

make them fit. When you are ready for the BIG BORDER around it, it is done the same way, just bigger measurements. You can certainly email me..I've got over 50 years of quilts chalked up..and I still make mistakes...

I predict you will have a long and lovely career as a quilter...Good Luck....

MaryLou

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Again, thank you all for all your kind words of encouragement and even... willingness to meet with me face to face to help me out. I am "gratefully" shocked at the level of support and camaraderie among the quilters. My husband is a chess player, who travels all over the country to play at chess tournaments. I thought those chess guys had a zeal and fellowship - I don't think they could ever beat the quilters! :D

Anyway, the rest of my story is like this:

my mother-in-law, who is now in a nursing home in another state (on the opposite side of the country :(), has a rare condition which is rather rapidly eating up her life. We wanted to get her a large-print Bible, but due to her rapidly failing eye sight (a part of her condition) and motor skills, we had to give up on that idea. About a month ago or so, a new lunch hour quilting club was formed at my office. My friend and coworker is the teacher, and it's a very small true beginners' circle. We started out with a very small project (fence), and that's what I was doing up until 2 weeks ago or so. My mother is a GREAT sewer and dress maker (in fact, she majored in fashion design at college in the early 60's), but alas, I never learned... and left my parents' home almost 20 yrs ago never to really return (left for a grad school in Europe and ended up living there for nearly 10 yrs, and then I got married - so I never got to really return home). Anyway, my sewing skills were literally miserable (although I can hand sew okay) and my cutting was even worse. And then, one day, an idea occured to my mind (after finding this "comfort quilt" website on the internet - those were selling for a couple of hundred dollars a piece!) that my mother-in-law, clearly in her last days might enjoy a gift like that. Well, I had no idea how hard it'd be to make one just customized for her (had I known what I know now, I probably would have chickened out before even starting :D) - so I asked my kind friend/teacher if she could help me with the project. Now, my friend is a VERY positive and laidback person, and she said that I could make one with her guidance. My husband and I picked 12 Bible versese and I went through her old pictures and selected 6 pictures. So, here I was embarking on a great adventure to make a 12-block attic window crib-size memory/Bible quilt for my mother-in-law. Well, the rest is history now. ;) Anyway, thank you all for your encouragement. For your pleasant information, the quilt was definitely salvageable with a nice border, and it is now STRAIGHT! :) My friend has a nice quilting machine, so she took it with her to quilt simple squre lines for me. The Lord willing, all there is left for me is the binding (I think I'm gonna buy bias tapes) and washing it - and packing it before we get on the trip next Fri afternoon. Now, I think I need to go home and catch some sleep. Haven't slept for days. :) But it was all worthwhile, and I think I might have just become a true newbie quilter! Thank you again everybody! Thought I might share the rest of my story as you've been so helpful to me. May God bless you all! :)

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