Thursday, December 12, 2019

Catch up time!

     I’m so bad... my memory isn’t what it was and if I don’t have a list, I forget things. My calendar currently needs “Blog Post” at the top of each day. The suggested topics for the days I’ve missed were:

     7 - Dream project
     8 - Skills I wish I had
     9 - Favorite tip
   10 - Top 5 books
   11 - Most impactful class

     I’ve been thinking about these topics for days leading up to now and I honestly am stumped on most of them. I have been quilting for so long, and taken so many classes over the years, that I can’t think of anything I haven’t tried. My sewing skills are pretty solid, and I’ve made so many quilts, that the day7 and 8 topics are unanswered. I’m not saying I’ve done it all... not by any means. But I’ve done what I want, and tend to stick with what I’m good at and enjoy. For example, I tried hand quilting but didn’t enjoy it, so I machine quilt.

     I can share a favorite tip, easily. And this is a step that a lot of quilters skip entirely. Do you wash your fabric before you use it? When you purchase fabric off the bolt, that bolt has most likely come from the Far East; Korea and Japan do a lot of fabric printing. The fabric is treated with various chemicals during production, then the bolt is treated with insecticide before shipping.

     When we would receive a shipment of fabric at Little Lamb Quilt Shop the bolts came in plastic, either bags or shrink wrapped. Unwrapped, the fabric has a strong smell at first. I would get a headache handling the new bolts. One of my employees loved the smell of new bolts and could be seen sniffing the bolts while shelving them. The process of the chemicals coming off the fabric is called outgassing. (Def: Outgassing (sometimes called offgassing, particularly when in reference to indoor air quality) is the release of a gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen, or absorbed in some material.) Not all the chemicals are removed during this process.

     My process for all fabric that I buy involves several steps. Working with a stack of fat quarters, half yards, or yardage:

  1. I open the fabric up and drape it over a drying rack or the rails of the longarm for a couple days to air. If I try to handle it immediately it gives me a headache.
  2. I serge the cut edges of every piece of fabric.
  3. Sorting by color, I machine wash and dry every piece. I use hot water and quilt soap. Rather than buying the small bottle of soap the quilt shops carry, I get a large bottle of Orvus Paste
    Soap from the agriculture store as it’s actually intended for washing horses. In looking for it online today, the same size jug is $29.95 at the ag store and $39.95 from Amazon. 
  4. Next, I iron with starch. I use Faultless liquid starch and mix it 1/3 starch with 2/3 warm water in a spray bottle.
  5. I spray the FRONT of the fabric with starch and fold it with the starch inside. I do this for all the fabric I have washed, working in batches. Leave the fabric sitting for a few so the starch soaks in.
  6. Next, I iron all the starched pieces on the BACK. If you iron directly on the side where the starch was sprayed you can get flakes.
  7. Now, spray the BACK of the fabric that you just ironed with starch. Set aside for a few minutes.
  8. Iron from the front of the fabric.

You end with a nicely starched, insecticide free piece of fabric. I find it much easier to cut and sew then unstarched fabric. You don’t need to wash your whole stash at once (I’d be weeks doing so). Try this with your next small project and see what you think.

I found another bottle design that says “The original gentle & bright cleaner, Ideal for cleaning horses, livestock, pets, quilts and delicate fabric. Guess they are trying to market to everyone now!

I was going to try and do a video of handling both starched and unstarched fabric but I don’t have a tripod yet. I did buy a nice Nikon camera during the Black Friday sales the day after Thanksgiving. Now to outfit it so I can show you what I’m doing.

I’ll be back later today with the topic for the 12th. This one is easy - favorite color!


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