I am currently working on a quilt for my son to take to college. Um...he started college last August. Then I got sick. I'm healing now and making up for lost time, so I have this quilt heavily on my mind and I have a few tips I thought I'd share.
Anywhere last summer I found a pattern I knew he'd like and which looked quite easy. Then I started working on it and to my dismay I realized that every block entailed the sewing of bias edges to bias edges in order to create the design. Bias edges create quite the fear factor for those who sew in general, and for quilters specifically.
Until recently bias edges have caused me little concern, until the last quilt I made for my son. That quilt had to undergo a significant design change due to the wonkiness that resulted in the stars due to bias edges. That is the quilt that now bounces between home and college depending on where my son is spending the night, because his new college quilt continues to be a work in progress. (A bit of that saga later.) Also I had grand hopes that his college quilt would not suffer the same fate of bias wonkiness that his previous quilt suffered.
Many quilters deal with bias edges by spraying the fabric with starch. There are pros and cons with that. Of course the good thing is that starch stabilizes the fabric. The bad thing is that the starch attracts silverfish which destroy fabric. Therefore I always avoid starch, but knowing I had bias edges to deal with, and knowing I failed completely last time, and it would be exceedingly difficult to be oh-so gentle with the edges because I'd have to sew bias edges together on the hypotenuse of triangles no less...I conceeded to some quilt friends that I was going to try the starch. Then I thought I'd hopefully wash it out after the quilt was done.
That is when one of my friends recommended Mary Ellen's Best Press, which is advertised as being "non-clogging, non-flaking, no residue and acid free". Being acid free was another important consideration for me now that I've met and toured with museum curators. Although I don't expect this quilt to be a museum piece, neither did the makers of the quilts that are in museums. Even so, I still don't expect this to be a museum piece, but beyond that is the knowledge that acid and chemicals do damage. I avoid chemicals as much as I can. I have no idea if there is starch in this product or not. It is clear, but I thought I'd take a chance, due to my inexperience and lack of success in quilting bias edges.
I had no idea where to find it locally because I generally don't like to order things on-line and wait. I needed this product today. Nor did I want to pay for shipping, especially when all I could find were humongo bottles on-line for purchase. Where I live in Northern Virginia it is difficult to find a grand selection of anything in the area stores. I am quite surprised and disappointed, because I thought moving near Washington DC would provide a huge shopping mecca, but not so. There are many stores, but little variety. How I miss San Antonio, Texas (yet I still love the history and beauty of Virginia). Same stores, but more stuff to choose from!
After much deliberation, I decided to try Suzie's Quilt Shop. Of all the quilt shops in the area, and even though there are some closer to me with less traffic, I reasoned that if anyone of the local quilt or fabric shops had this product, it would be Suzie. And I was right!
I walked in to the store and headed to the notions section, but I barely got past the cash register counter just inside the door when I saw a basket of these..
So beautifully packaged and an amazing assortment of scents...I had fun choosing my selection! Wow! Choices! In Virginia!
With hopeful confidence I returned home and cut out my triangles after spraying and pressing the fabric with Mary Ellen's Best Press...
and they all stayed pretty much in place as I continued with the rest of the quilt. The bias edges are the hypotenuse of each triangle, where the red meets the blue in the one set and where the white meets the blue in the other set.
By the way, there is a difference between ironing and pressing. Ironing is a back and forth movement. I do not do that when I work with my quilt pieces, because that can distort the fabric, and is a tip I forgot when I made my son's star quilt, which is linked above. Pressing, however, is an up and down movement. I place the iron on top of the fabric and hold it there a bit, then lift it up, instead of sweeping it side to side. I keep placing the iron on the next spot and then lift it up, working my way along the length of the quilt. So far...so good! =)