Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Tutorial: A Tragic Tale

This may well be the saddest quilting story ever told. 

Can you see what this is? Maybe a closeup would help:

This is a beautifully pieced jelly roll quilt, which was washed before it was quilted and bound.

Now before you laugh, and say "Why would anyone wash an un-quilted quilt top?" listen to the reasoning behind this trauma.

You bring home new clothes from the store, and wash them before you wear them, right? So shouldn't you wash your quilt top before it is quilted?

Oh, the humanity.

But you know what? When I read the class instructions for my Jelly Roll Party at Ruth's Stitchery, it included the instructions to bring "wash and pressed fabric."


Some quilters prewash, some don't (I don't!). But precuts should not be pre-washed -- especially strips! Because the manufacturer is cutting many, many layers of fabric in one swipe, precuts are rarely "on grain." So they tend to fray -- sometimes, a lot!

So please, don't prewash your precuts!

Here are two of my favorite strip pointers. 

First, have you ever opened a roll of 2½" strips and immediately been covered in tiny bits of fabric lint? Try this: before removing the rubber band or ribbon that holds the strips in place, roll the cut sides with a lint roller.

You'll be surprised at how much "lint" comes off on the roller! If you can't find your lint roller (hint: it's on the shelf above the clothes dryer), try using the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner.

Second, have you ever carefully pieced a block using 2½" strips and had it come out too small? It could be your seam allowance -- or it could be that the strip isn't a true 2½" wide. Especially with strips that have "pinked" edges, measure them before you sew!

Sometimes the 2½" width is at the "outside" of the pinked edge, sometimes it's at the "inside" of the pinking.

And sometimes, the strip isn't a complete 2½" wide at all!

Sometimes, the strips are 2½" wide at one end, but narrower at the opposite end. Measure before you sew!

Today is "Do a Grouch a Favor" Day.
Do a Grouch a Favor today. Do it and make the world a better place.
Everyone has been a grouch at one time or another. Some people are seemingly grouches all of the time. It's in their nature. Others are occasional grouches, influenced by events in their lives, lack of sleep, the weather, etc. A few people are good at disguising their grouchy mood. But, they still need cheering up.
 Look around for someone who is in a grouchy mood today. Then, do him or her a favor that will cheer up their day. There's plenty of grouches out there to practice on. Try it on all of the grouches that you see today, and watch the results!

Happy Do a Grouch a Favor Day!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature


  1. LOVE that - do a grouch a favor today! Gotcha xxx

  2. Love the tip for the jelly rolls...I'm on retreat so just passed this on...every one says......Thanks

  3. Love the tip for the jelly rolls...I'm on retreat so just passed this on...every one says......Thanks

  4. That is a great tip about measuring. I hadn't thought about the fact that it might not have been cut right.

  5. I love the concept of pre-cuts, but have been burnt with fabrics not being the stated size (and it's never oversized!).

    1. I'll be writing a tutorial on how to sew strips that are not fully 2½" wide!

  6. I was told to always prewash because of shrinking issues & it would cause a lot of distortion the first time the quilt was washed if you didn't. As a new quilter I followed the advice & ended up with your photograph. I had already decided not to buy precuts again.

    1. I am crushed that this happened to you, also! I will be warning my Jelly Roll Parti-ers about this from now on!

  7. I have experienced precuts not being cut the correct size often. It's unfortunate but it happens. I usually cut my own strips/squares from stash. Washing precuts can happen without disaster. I do not usually prewash but when I have washed precuts, I do so by hand in the sink and really just soak them for a minute or so. I lightly squeeze the excess water out and hang them on a drying rack to dry. If I can sit the rack outside to air dry, I do that.

  8. Oh, no :( That is a sad story. I rarely wash my fabrics before I use them and so far have had pretty good results. I like Do a Grouch a Favor Day. I think the world needs more of that.

  9. Love the Do a Grouch a Favor Day - especially since today I am the grouch. I was having a bad morning and decided that reading a few blogs at lunch would help. As a result, I wisely deleted an email at work before sending it to a large audience and will rewrite it when I am not so grouchy. Lunch should help. I am very likely Hangry.

    I have used the lint roller tip for a couple of years. But my lint roller is always in my sewing room. That is were I need it the most.

  10. All good lessons. When I started sewing as a child, we had to prewash everything as the fabric and dye quality was not what it is now. Out of habit (and because my skin gets less rashy when I handle washed fabrics) I still prewash everything - except precuts, but I now rarely buy precuts as I find the measurements all over the place. I would rather buy yardage. Although I do love a good layer cake for scrappy variety.

  11. Thank you for sharing!!! I'm so sorry this quilt top was ruined. :( I agree...we need to spread more love and cheer around the world. God bless!

  12. I pre-washed the first two charm packs I ever bought. It is hilarious now!

  13. Another tip for getting the lint out of your jelly rolls - when I open a jelly roll, I do it OUTSIDE. It's best if it's a windy day, but you can make do if it's not. Unroll carefully and grab the folded ends of the strips. Take half in each hand then flutter them about like sparklers or streamers or maracas! The lint will go everywhere, but it'll be outside! PS - Maybe take a lint roller to your clothes afterwards, if needed!


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