Monday, May 9, 2016

Quilty Crimes!!! Un-Square Backings! Part 1

Backings Part 1

I haven't written a Quilty Crime for a while but its beyond time to cover BACKINGS!!  Not sure what the great mystery is on getting one done properly, but let's try to figure it out.  Backings are important!!  I cringe when I hear a quilter say "it's only the backing".  Wrong!  It's the backing, and it is just as important as the quilt top.  In the next series of post I'll show you why.

I've had a run on un-square backings lately and figured it's just time!!  Let's get it out in the open and talk about what a bad, un-square backing looks like to your longarm quilter. I'm going to try to keep this post as short as I can, but I'm telling you I've got a ga-zillion photos on this subject.

It is a huge mystery to me why quilters can't square a backing.  There are two ways of doing it, ripping or cutting.  Other quilters, however will simply cut the fabric once it gets to a flatish look. I'm not going to re-invent the wheel here so here's a video that I have found on line to show you this method.

 This method might be okay in your book, but having made clothing in my younger years, I'm a FIRM believer in the straight of grain.  Here's an EXCELLENT site to show you how the straight of grain works and how to straighten your fabric.  It's worth the time to read the entire post.
Sew4Home Straight of Grain
In garment construction, pattern pieces that has NOT been cut on the TSG (true straight of grain) the piece will not lay flat after the garment is completed.  Remember those awful wonky pants that twisted and drove you crazy? Those crazy pants were NOT cut on TSG.

I'm a TSG person through and through ESPECIALLY on backings.  What that means is I don't worry about squaring those fatquarters or the fabrics that I'm using for the smaller cuts in my quilt piecing, but, when it comes to backings and we are working with huge pieces of fabric, it is important.  Trust me.

I am a ripper, as the post mentions, I will cut a small snip about a 1/2" from the edge and rip the fabric.  I will continue to snip 1/2" pieces until I can get the piece to rip the entire length of the fabric on the WIDTH of fabric.  You are snipping at the selvage edge.  The selvage is on TSG, but the width of fabric (WOF) is not always. You should continue to do this and be able to pull a thread all the way across the WOF.  THIS is when your fabric is on the TSG. 

Now, let's talk about how it applies to backings.

Let me share a couple of photos showing the difference between a backing before and after squaring. Click on the photo's and read my notes....

Here's what a backing cut like the above might look like on a frame without being squared.

I will roll the backing back and forth until we get it somewhat manageable, but it's not a good thing. It will sag on one side and be tight on the other at some point during the quilting. More on this later I also have photos showing this.  But let me show you the other problem encountered when the backing is not cut square or on STG is the sides. They will vary and if we don't have that 4"-6" we NEED here's what it looks like to us.

This is the left side of the backing, the blue painters tape illustrates where the backing was at the top of the backing.  See where it is now?  We've lost almost an inch on just the left side.  Here's what the right side of the backing looks like.

In this photo you can see the difference also, and notice the fabric on the frame will go back the the starting position?  What happens if I get to this point on your quilt top and I'm short on the backing?  AND...since this is the backing I really can't see it since the batting and top is laying on top of this as I'm quilting. 

 Backing that are not square are more difficult for us to work with.  
We run into many problems with backing that are not square.

I'm ending here and will post more later.  I think the post is getting too long and this is too important.  Hang in there, I'll be covering a lot that has to do with backing and show you why.  Keep checking back.  

I do a presentation for guilds called "Do you see what I see" explaining what a longarm quilter encounters during the quilting process.  Contact me if you are interested in having me come to your guild or sewing group for a presentation.

thanks for checking on me,


love to hear what you've got to say...........
<--yup i="" m="" p="" yelling="">


Brenda McWhirter said...

Thank you Joanne for this post as you say it is long over due. You have definitely hit on how important this is and you are showing why when putting it on the machine it must be squared. This will also apply to hand quilting on a frame. I hope this shows ladies/gentlemen who question why they end up with a wonky corner sometimes, it's because it hasn't been squared up during the process and truly is an important step. Have a wonderful day.
Brenda M from Indiana

Rhonda said...

Great post with wonderful illustrations!