Saturday, July 9, 2011

Making a Rag Quilt - Part Five

The Snipping, Washing and Grooming

The sewing is over, the snipping begins. Some sites recommend putting on a movie and settling down to some multi-tasking. Seems like a good way to ruin all your hard work, plus a lot of rewinding of the movie.

My advice is go outside, even if it's hot or cold, and just listen to the sound of the snipping. It can be quite meditative, for the first two rows. Then crank some music up, grab a friend to hang with, talk to the dog, you are in for some work here. Now would be the only time a visit from Edward Scissorhands would be welcome.

If you must be inside, put a large sheet down to catch all the snippets of thread. There will be loads of them. My porch looks like a textile factory when I am done, then I just hose it off into the flower bed.

My first pair of rag quilt scissors, made by Fiskars, were horrible. I took them back for a new pair; they were just as bad. I think Fiskars was in cahoots with Ben-Gay, because there was lots of hand pain involved. I looked online and saw that Heritage Rag Quilt scissors were recommended. I found a 50% off coupon from Beverly Fabrics and I was in business. What a difference. I took the Fiscars back again, got my money back and complained. They have since come out with a second generation pair, which look much better. There are other brands out there, craft scissors with really sharp tips. That is what you are going for, sharp tips and a spring action handle. Don't try this with regular scissors.

There are choices out there, but these scissors work fabulous. Check out a fabric store, take them back if they don't "cut it" and try a different pair.

If you have a boo-boo and cut into the fabric, all is not lost. Use Fray Check so it won't get any worse. I have had this bottle forever, and use it for clothes too. It works through several washings.

The cutting begins. Make even cuts straight in at about 1/4" apart. Don't get too close to the seam, but don't be shy either. This must be done on every seam, corner and outside edge.

This is an important step. Look to make sure you are snipping all four layers, but that you are only snipping the sewn seams. Keep the rest of the quilt away, seams only. Make sure you snip all the corner pieces as well, they need to fray too. If you start making mistakes, put it away and come back to it.

After making sure you got every last seam, it is time to wash. Unless you made a bedspread, you may be able to just wash this in your regular machine. Ernst's mom bought me a front loader and dryer, so no more trips to the local creepsville Laundromat for the large size ones.

Wash it on a cold, regular cycle, with some detergent and fabric softener if you have it. Then shake out, and throw it in the dryer. You will get gobs of lint, keep cleaning out the lint trap. Take it out and wash and dry it again.

Don't panic if you take it out and it looks a bit rough. There may be lots of thread hanging, and fringes that need to be trimmed up.
All these threads need to be trimmed and given a grooming. After that, you are done! You are a quilter! Not in the eyes of a "real quilter" from the quilting community, but I dare you to not show off your creation to the next 5-10 people who walk in your door.

If I'm in the fabric store, I often see women huddled over in the quilting area, painstakinly deciding which fabrics to put in their quilts. Are the polka dots on this too large in relation to the stripes on that? The fabric choices along with the quilt design and the final quilting pattern itself are an amazing process. If you have been to a quilt show or the quilt area at the State Fair, the craft is producing some dazzling art. I stand and stare in complete awe. They are amazing artists, and the craft is thriving.

What quilting began as, though, was a way to take family scraps and make them into warm blankets. Leftover this, the hem of Mother's dress that didn't get sun bleached, bits and pieces of family fabrics. It wasn't rows and rows of fabric bolts on the walls of Joanne's or Beverly's Fabric stores, the business of quilt making. I think this funky process of rag quilting, at least the way this cheapskate does it, has a place in the world of "real quilts" too. I can't wait to start another one!

There is it, the Anna Quilt. Named for my friend Anna who loves the ocean, loves blue and makes me happy. The Beach Cottage Chic Quilt, by Jessica from Squared Up.

Heritage Cutlery 6-1/2-Inch Spring Loaded Rag Quilting Snips
Heritage Cutlery 6.5 inch rag quilting snips high quality scissors & shears
Fons & Porter 5-Inch Rag Scissors
Fiskars 12-99367097 Rag Quilt Snip, Softouch
Dritz Bonus Pack Fray Check- 3/4 oz. each 2/Pkg