Thursday, 2 June 2022

How To Square Up a Quilt Panel

Finally did some research around how to properly square up a panel. While it is relatively straightforward  for panels with wide open spaces around the edges it becomes a bit more of a hassle when you have distinct borders around your panel, like in the one I am tackling at the moment. 

I did cut the selvage edges off on top and bottom first and took that as my true straight line. I then straightened the longer sides a bit and of course, it was not straight. The problem with that is that I cannot just straighten it out as the images on the panel are surrounded by a border which would look skewed if I just straightened that.

Consulted the internet and came across a fabulous video 'Squaring up Hoffman Fabric Panels' . Of all those little videos I watched this appealed to me the most as it involved a no fuss easy way to straighten out your panel by just folding it and re-folding it and ironing it into position. The first thing the lady said was not to cut off your selvage edges...argh...had already done this! Put some pins in place to hold those straight edges together and folded my fabric in half, re-aligning things, folding it again into quarters, and got it pretty much straight. Ironed it and the iron blasted a stream of brownish gunk onto my quilt (iron obviously needs a good clean out)!

Had to wash my panel again (whoever buys this little quilt will have a very clean quilt as I do pre-wash all my fabric before using it, so this was the second wash for this panel). Next is pretty rainy and grey over here at the moment. If it was summer, I could have dried this nicely on the veranda and blocked it into shape but with the bad weather had no choice but to hang it on the washing line.

Hung it in a way that hopefully would not distort the panel too much more.
Got it inside later in the day to have a look at the distortion...not too bad actually, just bowed out a bit to the right which was the case before I washed it again.
The piece was still just that little bit moist, so I started the folding process of halving it, then quartering it and ironing it dry at the same time. I did tug a few times very gently on the diagonal in the hope of getting rid of the bowing as well. Repeated that process over and over again
After folding it again and again into quarters and ironing it, had a pretty good result. I did end up trimming all the edges of my panel by a tiny bit at the top and bottom and about a quarter of an inch on each side. The design on the side of the panel (the rectangles with the monkeys) were not exactly aligned with the designs on top (and had a fair amount of give), so the final cuts on the sides produced a tiny bit of variation in the border size. As the variance was quite small I decided that this was good enough, unless of course somebody goes to it with a ruler.
Happy with the end result

My top is straight and when I put the quilt sandwich together I will pay attention to the straightness of the boxed designs and then the quilting (most likely a quick clamshell design) will take care of the rest I should think.

I have another panel to do after this one and will try this method of straightening again (minus the cut off selvage edges and the mishap with the iron) as this seems to be working very well.


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