Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Name and More Shrinkage

Forgive the uneven lighting

Here it is on my bed - my fabulous fat quarter quilt nearly 20 years in the making! Yes, not much of an overhang but that's not an issue for me. I was just pleased that it dropped over the edges of the bed at the border.

It took an overnight soak in 20 Mule Team Borax and two washes with hour-long rinse cycle soaks with vinegar added to finally get all the cigarette smoke odor out. But I think I did. Didn't put it in the dryer though as one internet suggestion warned against it. Instead, I spread it out in the livingroom to airdry with a fan moving air over it. Here's the back showing the two reproduction fabrics on either side of the Dutch reproduction border fabric - I love it as much as the front!

I'd forgotten that when quilting the main part of the top, I'd left a lot of tails in the back to bury. I found most of them before the wash but found several more afterward. It's like this quilt refuses to be fully finished.

After I'd done this overall paisley quilting as an experiment, I was disappointed in it and wished I'd just quilted like I normally do - lots of stitching in the ditch and straight lines. And it bothers me a bit that changing bobbin thread to match the backing as I moved over the dark strips at the sides was not a practical option.

However, when I got it out again to quilt the border, I was surprised to now kind of like it. I was reminded of what Angela Walters always says about not worrying if you make mistakes or your stitches aren't even because when done, all you'll see is the beautiful texture. She's turning me into a believer. And goodness, can you actually see that tiny sliver of piping in the binding? Not sure what I was thinking to make it so narrow (maybe the widest I could do with the fabric left?). It's almost a conversation piece and I'm playing in my head what my descendants will make of it - lol. Certainly not necessary but all the same, a nice little accent.

All that was left now was to ink in a little information on the back. (Boy am I glad I don't have to sew a sleeve on!) I've been calling this my fat quarter quilt because its true name picked so many years ago is so very long. The original pattern was called "Hot Apple Cider" no doubt because of it cider-colored palette. But my palette reminded me of something else so I decided to call it "Blueberry Jam and Toast . . . With Eggs Over Easy!" I always use a Pigma Micron Pen when writing on fabric which is not always easy, the felt nibs catching in the weave. I've been seeing a lot about Pigma's newish PN pens - same permanent archival ink but with a plastic nib (thus the PN designation), so picked one up on a recent trip to Michael's. Oh My Goodness! It glides right over the fabric and leaves a beautiful line of ink.

Wool batting sample hand quilted on left, machine quilted on right

I'd measured this quilt before binding in order to estimate the amount of binding I would need and it measured 87" x 69" which was a little bit of a surprise. Before quilting it had measured 89-1/2" x 71, and while I am used to a quilt shrinking up a bit from quilting, this was more than usual, no doubt because of the density of the quilting. But since it has been so long since I've finished a piece that would be washed, I totally forgot about the additional shrinkage from the batting, and I lost a lot. Now my quilt measured 83 x 67-1/2. At one point in my traditional quilting journey, I got into making batting samples per Harriet Hargrave, the ultimate source for all things technical and otherwise having to do with batting. Few surprises, she offered, if you've taken the time to do a batting sample which among other things, will tell you how much shrinkage to expect when washed. I divided my samples in half, machine stitching on one side and hand stitching on the other (because it makes a difference sometimes in how much is drawn in). Out of curiosity, I dug out the one I did for the Hobbs Wool Batting I used in this quilt (above).

Total shrinkage of this sample: 6.5 - 7%

On the back side you record all the pertinent information: type of batting, type of fabric, if anything has been prewashed, starting size, size after quilting and size after washing. And there it is, a really high percentage of shrinkage with this wool batting (most cotton battings run around 3%). On a smaller piece it might not matter, but if you are planning a quilt for a bed that drops a certain amount over the sides, you'd do well to know how much shrinkage to expect and figure dimensions accordingly. You can lose 3 to 7 inches before you know it.

Over the years, I've settled into using pretty much the same few battings that give the different looks I want and that I am so familiar with how they behave so I haven't made a batting sample in a long time. I still have my stack of samples from when I was trying almost everything that was out there, and every now and then, pull them out for reference if I need a reminder of how a particular batting looks and drapes when quilted. Would I spend the time to make up a sample if I find a new batting to try? I should but I'd probably just sandwich up that quilt and hope for the best!


The Inside Stori said...

Girlfriend….this was well worth the wait….it’s simply stunning. Your reminder about batting and overall shrinkage due to quilting (which by the way is wonderful) will be helpful to readers. Great job!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a beautiful finish! Not needing a sleeve is truly a plus! Enjoy your quilt because you can! Jan in WY

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks you two! Mary, I guess I'll always be a teacher, always interested in sharing my knowledge with others if it will help them steer clear of unanticipated issues. Jan, I rarely have enjoyed adding sleeves to quilts and especially to the really big one! A necessary evil if you plan on exhibiting or hanging at home. An unnecessary one for a bed quilt that will be nothing but spread on a bed. :-)

Michele Matucheski said...

I might have to look up this Apple Cider Pattern to make one of my own! Very nice. I did those batting samples a la Harriet Hargrave, too! I think she must have come to a local quilt guild meeting at some point??? It was very helpful practice when I was learning to freemotion quilt, but I don't think I was that careful about documenting every little thing on the samples. Though I did learn which battings I tended to like and which ones were just eh.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Michele, I think you are the first person I've run across who also did some of Harriet's batting samples! I think I'd seen her on a quilting show which got me familiar with her work such that I jumped at the chance to sit in on one of her lectures at an NQA convention. The two things I still remember from that lecture was her demoing that batting has the equivalent of grain in fabric as she held a square and pulled on it in both directions. The amount of stretch one way made the audience literally gasp! The other thing her posing the question of what is the most common reason for a quilter choosing a particular batting. Well, we didn't know, guessing maybe fiber content, but no, at that time it was that the batting was the right size. Hopefully, quilters are much better educated these days!