I have the happy problem of having 4 items juried into Pacific International Quilt Festival. The “problem” part comes in because that involves some mundane tasks: sleeving, blocking, labeling, shipping and making sure there are no Basset hairs, stray threads or popped seams.
So I thought I’d show how I block my quilts. I always, always block anything larger than say 24″ square, because the intense stitching that I do tends to make them a bit wonky. It’s not that hard to block a quilt. I do start out with a “foot wash” in a deep bathtub with cool water and Orvis soap. “Foot washed” is like “hand washed” except I swirl it around gently in the tub with my feet-way easier on the back. I will swirl it around constantly and gently for about 10-12 minutes, then rinse 3 times. I gently but firmly squish it, (NO wringing!), until I have the excess water out. I then toss it in the dryer with a flannel sheet and let it tumble just a bit-10 minutes or so. I place it on the area that I will block it on and gently pull it into position. The area that I block in is: where Basset Boy is least likely to lay, in an area that is hotter than the rest of the house, without any direct sunshine. I first lay out my blocking boards: two Dritz foldable “cutting boards”. They’re great because they have the grids marked on them. I secure them into the carpet with sturdy straight pins.Don’t panic if you get this: after I carefully blocked the outside of the quilt, I had a bit of a lump in the middle. I know this will go away, no sweat.I secure it with the sturdy straight pins every inch and a half or so, adding more where it’s clearly misbehaving.I also make sure that the inner borders are laying straight and true by using my 22 1/2″ square Omnigrid ruler and I pin that area in place. For some reason, one of the seams on the borders was pulling, so I worked on it too, making sure it was going to lay straight.
I let all this sit until it dries. If by any chance there is still lumping, I will steam it directly with my iron, patting with my hand to coax it into place.
This is a fairly easy and straight forward process and I think the results are worth it. I DO NOT want my quilt hanging all wonky at a show! I see that a lot and I am pretty sure all those wavy quilts would lie flat and straight if they were blocked. Why give the judges the opportunity to give you that dreaded comment: “Quilt should lay straight and flat”. Not that I’ve ever received that comment….