Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The woes of quilt construction

Unless you are making a quilt that is just sashed blocks, at one time or another you may have (or may will) encounter a design that makes you stop and scratch your head. What I am working with is like the EQ rendition shown here. On the surface it looks pretty straight-forward, but upon deeper study, it is fraught with potential issues if constructed incorrectly.
The center is simple. It is just a square (mine is pieced), and petals are appliqued onto it. It is then rotated 45 degrees to be on point. No rocket science yet. What had me perplexed though were these diamond-pieced corners. As usual, I had these four units pieced before I stopped long enough to realize that this design was a potential train wreck waiting to happen. All of the edges of these diamond units are bias! I know well enough after making 3 lone star quilts to handle these corners very carefully, but it would only take a small bit of stretch to make the lines of that fuscia inner border look crooked. I thought at first I might be able to just stay stitch the edges and then attach them corner by corner, but then I wizened us and devised a better plan. Maybe you have a quilt in the future that this technique could work on.

The way to get the most visible part of the design (fuscia 1/2" inner frame) to appear straight is just to piece it straight.  I carefully cut a 47-1/2" square of good muslin. I used this as the foundation for the diamond units. Each unit was machine basted to this square, as I did below. Now, all edges are stable, stretchable, and all that good stuff. I also have a completely straight edge onto which to sew the fuscia border.
 With 1/2: fuscia border added...
 Here's a closeup of the edge, with mitered corners to match the diamond piecing.
This center section is not ready yet to be added. In fact, the silver outer borders that will be appliqued will be added first, but you get the idea. The only wildcard in this construction is whether I can center the orange-peel center medallion (and two lasers and a good eye say that I can). It will be appliqued on last. But I know that when I do get to this step, the rest of the quilt will be in perfect alignment.
When the center is appliqued down, there is one final thing that should be done. That muslin was not prewashed, and is very likely to shrink at a faster rate than the other fabrics. I will cut the foundation out of the quilt after it is mostly assembled. To leave it is to risk having it pucker disproportionately if this is ever put in hot water.

Have a great week, and hopefully this construction tip helps you out of a similar bind one day!


Magdalen said...

Would you have preferred to pre-shrink the muslin and leave it there for stability, or are you completely comfortable that once everything is sewn together, the top will be sufficiently "set" that you can quilt it with no worries?

Vicki W said...

That's a lot of valuable information there. Thank you for sharing!

Laura T said...

Very interesting solution that will work brilliantly! I also like the idea of cutting away the muslin that is not needed. I could see where this would definitely be beneficial and I’m sure I will end up using this strategy sometime down the road.

Sewing Up A Storm said...

Thanks for those great tips!

PeggyK said...


Mary Bolton said...

Brilliant solution! Thank you for sharing.