How fabric shrinks…

I always wash my fabric in the washer and dry it in the dryer before I use it in a quilt. One of the reasons I do this is because cotton fabric shrinks and I like to use fabric at its final size.

Individual fabrics shrink at varying rates. I didn’t think about shrinkage details until I washed a 10″x10″ Layer Cake. Like all Layer Cakes, the squares were perfectly cut and all the same size before I washed them.

After laundering, I stacked the squares with the top and left sides even. Notice that the pieces are not square!

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The pieces are all about the same length (close to 10″ long), but they vary in width. Once I got to thinking about it, that makes sense. Fabric should shrink more from side-to-side (between the selvages) than it does along its length.

I took the top piece off the stack and turned it sideways. The blue fabric is 5/8″ longer than it is wide. Remember, these began as 10″ squares. The shrinkage across 40″ would be 2 1/2″! Some fabrics shrunk less.

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All of the fabric seems a little skewed. I think it’s probably because none of the squares were cut truly on-grain.

So, what is the takeaway?

  1. When you use unwashed fabric in your quilt, don’t be surprised if the shapes skew a bit when your quilt is washed and dried. (It’s possible that air-dried quilts won’t shrink/skew as much as quilts dried in a dryer.)
  2. This skewing effect is likely to be more noticeable on bigger shapes than on small shapes.
  3. You should not count on pre-cut fabric holding its size or shape.
  4. For me, this confirms that it pays to pay attention. You never know when you might learn a new thing.
  5. This is just one more reason to consider laundering your fabric before you use it.

 

My favorite white pencil is famous!

I have used a white charcoal pencil made by the General Pencil Company for as long as I can remember. They are the perfect pencil for marking medium to dark fabric AND they are very affordable! You can find them here and here on my website.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a feature story about General Pencil today in the New York Times! It is a great story, with amazing photos by Christopher Payne, that tells us how pencils are still being made in the US.

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I’m even more impressed now at both the quality of every pencil and the low prices!

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Click here to read the article in the New York Times.

Join me in Lancaster!

Sign-ups have begun for classes at the AQS show in Lancaster and I do hope to see you there! Dates are March 21-24. That’s me in the upper left-hand corner, along with the other teachers who will be in attendance. Click here to find links to each instructor.

You can see the classes I’ll be teaching below, or you can click here to find all of my classes.

 

Photos and memories…

If you are like me, you take photos of all sorts of things to help you remember. Do they really help you remember? Maybe not so much. I read this article 3 years ago and it is good enough that I saved the link. The takeaway is that photos alone don’t help you remember. You have to go back and look at them if you want to remember them.

My mom spent the months before Christmas 2014 weeding out boxes of photos. Many went in the trash. Some went into albums. The rest went to different ones of us to keep or throw away. Thankfully, mom did not want to leave her photos for someone else to deal with when ‘later’ came.

Mom had one album in her room at Preston Place when ‘later’ did come on 12/23. The kids and I went through it and took the photos of us. I’m sending the rest to my brother and I hope he will enjoy seeing the photos of him and his family that gave mom pleasure.

Mom shared her album with visitors as she told them the story of her life. She had a bulletin board with newer photos (mostly taken by me or Lorna with our phones) and they were also part of her story. Mom wanted prints — a digital frame did not work for her. At the time, that made me crazy, but when I took these pictures off of her bulletin board I realized why she loved them. Pictures that you can hold in your hand are more real.

I’m trying to find the right balance between living in the moment and taking pictures of every moment. The thing is, sometimes a photo catches a moment that becomes a fantastic memory, and it’s hard to predict exactly which photo will do that. And, even though it goes against my wish to de-clutter, I think I’ll be printing more photos.

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I don’t remember this photo, and I don’t know who took it, but it is one of the best photos of my mom that I have found. She hated posing for photos and it’s rare to find one where she let that go and was herself.