Archive for the ‘Pressing’ Category

Revelation 19:6-7

Lattice, sometimes called sashing, serves many functions in quilt making.  At the most basic level, a plain lattice can separate and frame your quilt blocks.  Plain lattice often has a square unit at the intersections.

Additionally, lattice can be used to form a secondary pattern when combined with your quilt blocks.  Small blocks or appliques can be interspersed within your lattice to add visual interest.  The rule of thumb is to use more complex lattice to enhance plain blocks and plain lattice to frame complex blocks.

Since lattice strips are added vertically and horizontally between blocks and rows, it always adds size to your quilt top.  Depending on whether you’ve chosen to include a border, lattice may also surround your main block setting.  Of course, you can always use both lattice and borders in your quilt design.

In this tutorial, I’ve chosen a plain lattice with intersecting squares for my block settings.  I decided to use inner lattice, not a surrounding outer lattice, since I will be adding borders.  The square blocks measure 8 ½” square.

Lattice and Borders

First, cut ten (10) lattice strips 8 ½” x 2 ½”.  You will probably want to use a plain fabric that differs from those within your block.

Cut Lattice Strips

Cut three (3) 2 ½” squares for the intersections.

Center Squares

Lay out your blocks with the yellow 4-strip section facing north-east.  You will create four rows (top to bottom) with 2 blocks in each row.

Chain piece a lattice strip to each block in the left hand row.  

Tip: Since my blocks have sharp points, I like to sew on the block side rather than the lattice side.  When I come to a point, I sew about two threads into the seam allowance.  This makes allowance for the rollover effect and keeps my points sharp on the front of the quilt.

Press your strips open, with seam allowances toward the lattice.  Now place the right hand blocks on the raw edges of the lattice strips, right sides together, and chain piece.  Press open.

Press Lattice Strips

Sharp Points

For the lattice between the rows, lay out your strips and center squares as shown.

Lay Out Lattice Strips and Squares

Flip each of the center squares to the left and onto the adjacent strips, lining up the edges. Chain piece them together.  Press open, with seam allowances toward the lattice strips.

Sew Center Square to Lattice

Align the remaining strips with the raw edges of the center squares, right sides together, and chain piece.  Press open.

Sew Remaining Lattice Strips

The direction of seam allowances is an important factor in the construction of a quilt top, especially when working with more complex designs.  Planning ahead takes some extra time, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Now align the seam intersections of the first block row with a lattice row, right sides together.  Pin in place and sew together.

Pin Rows to Lattice and Sew Together

Notice how the seam allowances face in opposite directions, allowing you to match them easily as they butt up against each other and evenly distribute the bulk.

Align the second block row with the first lattice strip, pin, and sew together.  Continue until you have finished sewing all of your block rows to lattice rows.

First Row of Lattice

The main section of your quilt top is now complete. Doesn’t lattice set the blocks off nicely?

To complete the quilt top, I added 6 ½” borders to the left and right sides of the quilt, and then added 2 ½” borders to the top and bottom.  These borders were cut from a plain blue fabric.  When that was completed, I added an additional 5″ border to the left and right sides.  I cut this from a darker blue dragonfly print that also appears within my blocks.

Completed Quilt Top



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Do you know the difference between ironing and pressing?  Ironing involves force over matter.  You have a wrinkled garment that resists your gentle gliding motions, so you flex some muscle and push the iron forward and backward, left and right, increasing pressure until the lines and creases submit.

Quilters press their seams, blocks, and quilt tops.  Pressing can be compared to a weight lifter doing a bench press.  The weight goes up and the weight comes down.  In the case of iron to fabric, I would add the word gently.  This motion is repeated until the job is down.

Always press your fabric before cutting it.  Wrinkles can add up quickly and throw all your measurements off.  Steam is okay at this point, but be careful not to stretch the fabric.  You can even use a spray sizing, sold at grocery stores near the starch.

Once your fabric is pressed, it’s best to turn the steam off for the following steps. And speaking of steam, I recommend using distilled water in your iron.  Mineral buildup has been known to spit on some beautiful blocks and quilt tops without any provocation whatsoever.

After sewing your seams, set them by gently pressing them.  This smooths stitches and eases folding the fabric over the seam allowance.  Only press the seam allowances (using the up-down action mentioned above), not the remaining fabric.  This helps to protect your pieces from unnecessary stretching.

When you press your seam open, repeat the same up-down action.  Use your fingers to help spread the fabric open.  Again, gently.  It’s best to press on the right side of the fabric so that creases do not form.

When a light and dark fabric has been seamed together, the general rule has been to press toward the dark fabric.  However, this is a rule that must often be broken with more complex blocks.

One rule that I think pays off immediately is press-as-you-go.  This means to press your seams at each stage of quilt top construction.  How nice it is to sew through flat, neat  seams.  Your care and accuracy will be rewarded in the end.

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