Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Maintenance. It can be a big deal in home, car and… quilt upkeep. That’s right. Just like letting your car go well beyond its oil change moment can snowball into a vehicle that isn’t budging without a major repair bill, not maintaining a quilt in the proper way could result in a sentimental treasure that’s good for little else than — maybe — scrap material. Sure, your quilt might not cost as much as, say, an engine to replace, but there’s more value in something handmade than a dollar sign. Maybe it was a wedding gift from a relative or a crib accessory that your mother started making before you slept your first night in said crib. Those types of belongings can have a lot of worth, so preserving them might be a big deal.

Wear, tear & time

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

One of the most important details about this preservation is to keep an eye on the products on a regular basis since smaller complications that come from wear, tear and time could be much easier to repair than those that have been expanding for some time. Other important details are to know how to fix the damage and determining if the damage is even fixable. As an example for these aspects, I’ll use a quilt that has some sentimental value to me, but a lack of maintenance has taken its toll. Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Damage control

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we? It looks fairly simple with just two simple holes in the top layer of fabric, so if I begin this examination with the basic question of whether or not it’s fixable, the answer would be yes! The smaller sizes here would allow a little bit of embellishment — maybe a patch — to be placed directly over the damaged area. Since this is a quilt that has a floral design, I could add something like a butterfly there so that it looks like it’s landing on the flower. Sure, it changes the design a bit, but it fits and is corrective. This issue, it seems, was detected in time!

Do away with the fray

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

Now, let’s try this one. The material is showing wear and tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising! The damage does extend a bit beyond the immediate area surrounding the seam, but it still seems to stem from that one line where the thread is running through. So, is it fixable? Yes! All I would need to do is add a border around the block to cover the issue, and if I did that for every block, the strategy would be replicated throughout so that this block wouldn’t look out of place. Again, it would change the design of the quilt, but not in a way that would necessarily make it look odd. I could match the border to the colors already present, and the addition could actually create a popping look for each block.

To fix or not to fix

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

How about this one? Well, the damage here is much more drastic than a simple tearing from stitching or tiny holes in the fabric. Instead, this looks more shredded, and the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes! Since this area is at the end of the quilt, changing the size of the quilt could work. I would need to cut off enough material on this side of the quilt so that the damaged territory is done away with and redo the border work. It’s not as easy of a fix as sewing on a butterfly embellishment, and the appearance of the quilt would definitely be altered by the smaller territory. But, if pressed, this would be a fix!

Too far gone?

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

Now, we get to this one. Here, this looks as if the fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, and without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread. Of course, there could be another explanation for it. Perhaps someone ripped it, and the damage grew. Whatever the reason, the faulted block is in the midst of the quilt, and this fabric probably won’t go together at this point. This one, dear readers, doesn’t seem to be strategically fixable. In my defense, this damage could have happened before I got into sewing, but if I’d paid attention and caught a small hole in the fabric, I could have embellished it. If there was a tiny rip, I could’ve stitched it. As it stands though, the only ways I can see to fix this would be to add on an embellishment that would be too large to look natural or change the entire block — which would throw off the pattern of the quilt. This one, it seems, has gone too far.

And this is precisely why you should keep an eye out for damage! If you catch the smaller problems, you can fix them. If you let them escalate, you could be looking at a ruined quilt. So to preserve your works, keep tabs on them and — through borders, embellishments, and adjustments — tend to those issues as they show up!

Sewing Myths and Sewing Myth Myths

Sewing Myths and Sewing Myth Myths

This week, I decided I’d write a bit about popular sewing myths. I have my own list but thought I’d do a quick Google search to see what others had written about the subject. This brought me to a few sewing myth lists that I found rather odd, and not at all myth-like – meaning I thought the myths were myths. Do you follow me?

I’m going to start with some things I do believe are myths, and then get the myth myths part.

Myth 1: quilting direction

It’s ok to quilt some rows up and some rows down when quilting a garment.

Not true. There will be less possibility of bubbling or puffing if you quilt all the rows in the same direction. Overall, the whole garment will look better.

Myth 2: smaller underlining

The underlining should be smaller than the fashion fabric, especially on a jacket.

Not always true. It really depends on the fabrics being used. Hair canvas should be slightly smaller to prevent buckling but it will also restrict the give or stretch of a fabric it is joined with. Many tailors cut their canvas on the bias to prevent this.

Myth 3: cutting selvage edge

Always cut off the selvage edge.

Not true. If you think the selvage will shrink, clip the edges so it will lie flat. Otherwise, there is no need to cut it off.

Myth 4: basting stitches

Stitch next to basting stitches when sewing a basted seam lines.

Not true. If you do have the need to baste seams together, always sew right on top of the basted lines for accuracy.

Myth 5: necklines

Machine stay stitch necklines to prevent stretching.

Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching.

Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching.

Not always true. You can also hand baste your seam line, also called thread tracing. If you do machine stitch your necklines, take special care not to stretch the fabric as you sew. Another, more accurate way to prevent any stretching in your necklines (and arms eyes) is to leave a whole bunch of seam allowance until you’ve done your stay stitching. When it comes to necklines, I usually cut a straight line from shoulder seam to shoulder, leaving all the extra fabric there. If I’m bias binding the neck edge, I attach my bias without trimming anything away too. This prevents any possibility of the neckline stretching.

Myth 6: top = waistline

The top of your pants or skirt is your waistline.

Very often not true. Your waistline is where your body is the smallest, most times an inch or so above your navel. This is why, often, when you measure a pair of pants that is sized as a 27, the waistband of the pants measures more than 27.

And now, for a few sewing myth myths.

Myth myth 1: $ewing cost too much

Sewing is too expensive.

This really depends on how you look at. Sewing is not necessarily expensive but it isn’t cheap either. Especially, most especially, if you are taking into account your time. I earn my living by sewing. And my years of experience and knowledge aren’t cheap. Sewing is a skill. I always ask people what they pay their car mechanic or plumber an hour. Often, it’s somewhere in the 60 to 100 dollar and hour range. If you don’t want to pay that amount of money, you figure out how to do it yourself. The same goes for sewing.

If you’re making something for yourself or as a gift out of love then it could possibly be cheaper than buying the same thing. But remember, nice high-end fabric and supplies are not cheap, nor should they be. If you want cheap, buy clothing made in Malaysia or Bangladesh sold at Old Navy or someplace like that.

Myth myth 2: sewing is the hardest

Sewing is too hard.

Well isn’t not exactly easy, either. To sew really well takes practice. I find it incredibly annoying when someone says something like, “It’s just an easy alteration, it won’t take long.” If you don’t sew, how do you know? And if you do sew, you should know that sometimes you open a thing up to do what should be an easy alteration and find you’ve just taken the lid off a proverbial can of worms.

Myth myth 3: sewing super powers

Sewers have special creative talents.

I believe everyone, if they put their mind to it, can learn how to sew. But saying that sewers (I actually hate that word) do not have special creative talent is ridiculous. I think I’ve said this before, but really good tailors and pattern makers know the language of fabric. I don’t know how else to put it. And that, is indeed, a special talent.

Doggie Leggings Pillowcase

Doggie Leggings Pillowcase

Awesome doggie leggings!

Awesome doggie leggings!

“Mom, my doggie leggings don’t fit anymore!! I love them, Mom, don’t throw them away!” To save these precious doggies for eternity, my daughter’s distress signal turned into the Doggie Leggings Pillowcase.

Leggings are a very popular fashion trend today. I’ve seen hundreds of unique, bright designs on websites, in stores, and worn by passers-by. I’ve admired many of the designs and agreed with my daughter that creating something with them would preserve their awesomeness 🙂

Fair warning, everything except the zipper was measured, cut, and sewn by my 7 yr old daughter. The pieces aren’t straight, the stitching is all off, the corners look funny. But that’s ok, it’s awesome the way it is because she made it. It turned out to be a great learning project for her. She’s super proud of it, and so am I.

Level: Beginner

Time to Complete: In An Evening

Sewn By Machine: 1/4 in. straight stitch

**Tip: Wash all new materials prior to use to avoid shrinkage when you wash it.

**ProTip: Iron cut pieces before sewing and in between each step. This helps in the sewing process as well as setting the stitches to lessen unraveling with age. Often, the end results tend to look more professional.

**All measurements based on a craft pillow I already had. Measurements should be adjusted to fit the size of the pillow you are working with. I typically add an extra 1/2″ to measurements when I do a zippered pillowcase to allow for the extra bulk of the pillow.

Materials:

1 – 13″ L x 13″ W  Leggings (side 2)

1 – 5″ L x 8″ W Leggings (side 1)

2 – 4″ L x 13″ W Pink/Purple Material (side 1)

2 – 6″ L x 3″ W Pink/Purple Material (side 1)

1 Zipper, Cut to Fit After Pillowcase is Finished – measuring for zipper after pillowcase is assembled helps ensure the zipper isn’t too short

1 Zipper Foot – to use when sewing on zipper

  1. Sew top strip to top of side 2 Leggings, right sides together. Repeat for bottom strip.

    Step 1

    Step 1

  2. Sew right side strip to right side 2 Leggings, right sides together.
  3. Sew top of side strip to bottom of top strip. Make sure corner with Legging is sewed shut.

    Attaching sides.

    Attaching sides.

  4. Sew bottom of side strip to top of bottom strip. Make sure corner with Legging is sewed shut.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for left side strip.

    Zipper foot.

    Zipper foot.

  6. Sew side 1 and side 2 right sides together on three sides only. Leave one side open for zipper.
  7. Trim corners. Turn right side out.
  8. Place open side of zipper on one open end of pillowcase and extend zipper to other end. Cut zipper about 3/8″ – 1/2″ past end of pillowcase. In this case, my zipper measured 12″. I usually buy longer zippers and keep several on hand so I can cut to fit for any project.
    Finished zipper.

    Finished zipper.

    Attaching the zipper.

    Attaching the zipper.

  9. Sew across zipper end several times to make sure the bottom of the zipper never unzips all the way.
  10. Switch to zipper foot on sewing machine.
  11. Unzip zipper.
  12. Place under side of zipper to right side of pillowcase, teeth side outside. Non-tooth side should be end to end with right side of pillowcase. Zipper will be upside down. Pin and sew.

    Naptime!

    Naptime!

  13. Do the same for the other side of the zipper. The placement will be the same, with the underside of zipper to right side of pillowcase, non-tooth side matching end of pillowcase.
  14. Stuff pillow inside the pillowcase, zip up, pop on the bed and take a nap!
Hi all! I’m Stacey Martinez 🙂
I love to design imaginative custom items for my active, crazy family. Bright colors and beautiful fabrics sing “Stacey, Stitch Me!” Let your imagination inspires you to breathe personality into every stitch!

Please leave comments, questions, helpful tips, or pictures of your pillowcase creations. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!