At our August meeting, I (Amy) talked about blocking our quilts. When you’re making a baby quilt or a lap quilt, you don’t need to worry about the quilt hanging straight on the wall, but when you’re making a wall hanging, or entering a quilt into a show, it’s a good thing to keep in mind. Bias piecing, improv piecing or heavy quilting can all alter the way a quilt lays, and blocking is pretty magical in how it can fix that! Blocking should preferably be done before the binding is applied, but if you don’t realize how wonky your quilt is until after you’ve done that, or you’re submitting an already finished quilt to a show, you can block a finished quilt as well.
There are numerous tutorials about blocking out there, and I’m going to link to a few, since they’re all a little different. Leah Day from The Free Motion Quilting Project has several great posts about blocking, her original post here, and then a post specifically about finishing a mini wholecloth quilt where she uses elastic strips to stretch the quilt.
Kathy K Wylie shows you how she blocks large quilts on her living room floor, Quilt Me Happy uses laser levels while blocking a large quilt (which is way more than you need for a mini, but cool to learn about!) and this post by Sylvia Landman at Academy of Quilting talks about the differences between dry blocking and wet blocking, which none of the previous links bring up.
When you’re blocking a quilt, just like when you’re blocking crochet or knitting, it’s really important to use rust-proof pins. Most good quality pins are rust-proof, but it’s worth testing the pins you use most frequently in advance. The other thing that none of these posts mention is how awesome cheap foam floor tiles are for blocking small projects like mini quilts. You know those primary coloured interlocking foam tiles they sell for kids playrooms? They’re so awesome! They’re waterproof, and thick enough to pin into, and you can buy a four pack for a couple of bucks at the dollar store.
My favourite way to wet a quilt is to wash it in the washing machine, which removes any chemicals on the fabric and gets the quilt damp all the way through without saturating it. I draw an outline of the quilt dimensions on a foam tile using masking tape, and pin through the quilt into the foam to hold it in place.
If you’re participating in the Modern Mini Showcase in October, please consider blocking your mini quilt before you bring it in. Think of blocking as an important last step in making a quilt – we put so much energy and money and time into making our quilts, why wouldn’t we want to show them off to the best of our ability?