Tech Tip: Squaring a Quilt
Were you one of the guild members who said “Huh?” when our long arm quilters mentioned that your quilt and quilt backing should be “square” when you bring them to be quilted?
You’re not alone. Here are a few tips about “squaring up” a quilt and what it means.
1. “Square” doesn’t mean that the SHAPE of your quilt is square (although it may be).
It means that the edges of your quilt and quilt back are straight, and the corners measure 90 degrees (unless you’ve made a specific design choice, like scalloped edges).
2. How do you know if a quilt is “square?” Lay it flat on a table and use a large square ruler to check your corner against the ruler’s edges. Here is a well-done explanation about squaring up a quilt:
3. If you take the time to square up your blocks as you sew them, it will have a definite positive effect on your quilt – it will go together more smoothly, and will most likely be flatter once assembled (this is a good thing!). Measure and trim your pieces as you assemble the blocks and measure the blocks before you sew them together – you will find the quality of the final quilt to reflect the effort!
4. Don’t forget to square up your quilt after it’s quilted! Your long arm quilter may have trimmed the excess batting and fabric for you, but you should make sure that all of the edges are straight and even before you attach your binding. This will help ensure a quilt without ripples and waves, and a quilt that will drape well on a bed or hang straight and smoothly on a wall.
In the immortal words of Huey Lewis and the News, “It’s Hip to Be Square!”
How To Prepare Your Charity Quilt For Longarm Quilting
If you give a charity quilt top to a longarm quilt volunteer, as a courtesy to our longarm volunteers please adhere to the following guidelines when you give a quilt top to one of them to be quilted. You should include the batting and backing. Remember that many of our volunteers have their own business and have their own quilts to do as well!
1. The quilt top should be pressed, threads cut from the back, and squared. If it has a pieced border, stay stitch 1/8” from the edge all the way round. Check to make sure seams are secure and wide enough to hold together. Trim “ears” to decrease bulk.
2. Batting should be 3” larger than the top , all the way around. In other words 6” larger than the top. If the top is 30 x 30, the batting should be 36 x 36.
3. Backing should be 4” larger than the top, all the way around. In other words 8” larger than the top. If the top is 30 x 30 the back should be 38 x 38. The longarm quilter needs this extra backing to properly mount the quilt onto the machine.
4. If backing is pieced, cut selvedges from sewn seams, as they pull in too much. Backing seams should be ½” and pressed open. If selvedges are on an outside edge, leave them on.
5. Square up the backing: Fold in half and then in half again to make quarters. Do
the corners match up without wrinkling? If not, trim so that the piece is straight and square. Press.
6. Do not pin the sandwich together.
Nancy Stober, VP Charity
as promoted in REFIN article:
Lighting Your Studio
Your sewing area is more than just what’s under your needle, it also includes the space around your sewing machine. Good overall lighting in your sewing space can reduce eye strain and fatigue, helping you sew for longer periods of time. Here are our best sewing room lighting tips.
A balance of good lighting by your sewing area will help you focus on your task for a longer period of time while avoiding stress to your eyes. You may already be suffering from eye fatigue and not realize it! Straining to see your sewing project without proper light, direct glare from a light bulb in your field of vision or looking at a focused bright area of light in a dark room for long periods of time can cause symptoms of eye fatigue. These symptoms can include headache, sore neck and shoulders, blurred vision or problems focusing, and even increased difficulty in concentrating on your task.
To avoid problems with eye strain and fatigue, experts suggest a good balance of light in the overall area. This includes good task lighting and an even amount of diffused light in the room where you are working and can combine natural light with artificial light.
Task Lighting for Sewing
Your first step in a well-lit sewing space starts with your sewing machine. If you are sewing with a modern machine, chances are you have bright lights built in above the needle. A built-in LED lights around the needle (and beyond!) are, and they give lots of light to the work area under the machine, also a removable work table and free-arm both have a flat surface to reduce glare from the lights. Machines that have flat finishes on the direct sewing surface specifically to prevent glare are the best. Make sure your sewing machine lights are all working properly and get them repaired right away when they need replacing. In addition, a task light over your sewing machine can light the work area around your machine (for grabbing tools, adjusting whatever you’re sewing, or grabbing a new needle). Working in a dark room with only the lights from your sewing machine can add stress to your eyes as they struggle to adjust to the two different light levels when you look away from your sewing machine.
I use a Daylight Company Slimline LED table lamp over my sewing machine. It’s perfect for task lighting at the sewing machine as it includes a strip of bright LED lights that provides even, bright light. The Slimline clamps on any table surface and is fully adjustable (you can also purchase an additional floor stand for the lamp).
General Lighting for Sewing
General lighting includes the overall light in the room where you sew. Experts recommend an even, diffused light in the room to prevent eye strain and fatigue. Eyes won’t constantly try to re-adjust with different light levels when you are looking up from the sewing machine or performing another quick task in the room (pressing a quick seam, clipping a thread, etc.) if light is evenly distributed. I use a combination of diffused natural daylight from windows, a handful of lamps that reflect off of white ceiling and walls, and task lighting. Overall, this gives me plenty of all-around light in the room with a bright light focused on my sewing area.
Natural daylight offers one of the best sources of light in a room. Make sure to keep direct sunlight away from your sewing machine and supplies as the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage fabric, threads, and even your machine over time.
Tips for setting up diffused lighting:
- Keep your sewing machine and supplies away from direct sunlight. You can choose a window treatment that will block the direct light and still give a nice, diffused light to the room (like semi-transparent sheers, shades, or frosted window stickers).
- If you have light fixtures in the ceiling, change out clear bulbs or directed floodlights with soft, frosted light bulbs. Make all the light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures the same type of bulb, wattage, and lumen rating.
- If you don’t have a ceiling fixture you can add tall lamps or wall mounted fixtures that point directly at the ceiling to reflect the light down into the room. White ceilings can help increase the amount of ambient light in the room, too.