I belong to a guild, the New York City Metro Mod Quilters. The Mods meet on Saturdays and I especially look forward to seeing Show and Tell. When I spy an overstuffed tote bag being walked into the meeting I am beyond eager to see what it holds. If miss a meeting it’s because I’m on the road teaching. If for a Guild my reward is their Show and Tell. Afterwards I catch the blog version of the Mods’ Show and Tell. It’s not unusual to see a Show and Tell quilt appear on Instagram within a minute of it being shown in person. If only Instagram would offer us a physical space to meet in we’d be golden.
A holiday fabric swap was held last week.
I chose a bundle that included bright red fabric. The colors were intense and super-saturated. I’ve got a thing going on, construction-wise, with Jewel blocks. I was anxious to include some red into Jewels that evening.
The fabric was soft and three edges were slightly frayed; it might have been laundered. I tore off a 6″ wide piece. I gave it a once over with my iron because warm fabric readily absorbs starch. I misted it with water and an initial coat of spray starch. When I touched the fabric with the iron it didn’t seize up so I suspect it had been washed.
Sheesh. It immediately bled smack dab onto my ironing surface, a worn out bedsheet. I tell you, starch reveals all. Even when I’ve pre-laundered fabric, which is always, starch ultimately is my test for colorfastness.
I’m glad this happened before I sewed with it because the block background fabric is white. I salvaged the red fabric. I used it as a dishrag until the bleeding stopped.
Have you ever noticed the degree to which fabric shrinks?
I prefer to work with starched fabric. I like the way it cuts and I like sewing its taut surface. The few times I’ve sewn pieces of ‘virgin’ fabric I was disappointed by the outcome. There’s no going back for me.
I actually starch 10″ square fabric precuts. No matter the manufacturer, each square can shrink by at least 5 percent at my hands. I know from measuring and it’s downright shocking. Even a damp 5″ charm square becomes misshapen at the touch of a hot iron. I’d rather fabric shrink, and become distorted, before I piece it. A benefit is that my blocks won’t shrink any further when I press them during construction. With attention to seam allowance they finish at the ‘right’ size. But as for starching fabric, let’s not go there today.
I wash and dry all my quilts in front-loading machines. I take care to grab them from the washer as soon as the spin cycle ends. Otherwise, color could migrate from a dark fabric to a light area upon contact. Been there, done that. Let’s not go there today.
Once upon a time I washed a cotton bedspread from India.
I purchased it here in New York. Think hippie bedspread. I saw it as a wide backing, just right for a summer weight quilt. Yet, when I washed the quilt, the backing bled to the front of the quilt in a peculiar way. Excess red dye migrated from the backing to the top, traveling through needle holes made by the quilting. I can see the remains of a faint pink trail on the ivory/gray border.
All I want for Christmas is a new space for the Mods to meet and for a grocer in Manhattan with shelf space to stock liquid starch. Santa, you know it all comes down to real estate in my neck of the woods.