I'm trying hard to get back into the swing of Working Wednesdays - I had to miss a few weeks because of all the administrative work behind the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge (signups begin this Sunday!) but it's time to get going again!
I had a few people ask some interesting questions after the last WW post, so I thought I'd address some of them in this post. They are things that really should make it into the book at some point…
Batting is so important! Not only is it an essential part of your quilt, but it's one of your largest expenses if your charity quilting subsists on a lot of donations. Very few people donate batting, or if they do, it's usually polyester batting. All of the batting we use is 100% cotton, or 80/20 cotton/polyester. Personally, I just like the feel of a cotton batting better than a 100% polyester batting - it's softer, more flexible, and not quite as puffy.
But even 100% cotton battings can vary greatly in quality. When I purchase batting, I look for a batt with a consistent quality - no thin spots or places where the filling is doubled up. I want to be able to cut it and get a very clean edge. If a batt fills both of those requirements, it can be pieced to make larger pieces from scraps - a great time-saving technique.
As you can see in the picture above, I've butted two pieces of batting together, both with clean-cut edges. Using the zig-zag foot for my machine, I center the foot over the line where the two pieces butt together and, using a fairly wide, open zigzag stitch, sew the two pieces together.
Here you can see the two pieces stitched together. It's important to merely guide the pieces through the machine, letting the feed dogs do most of the work. If you push one side, or drag the other, you will get a warpy looking seam. It just takes a little practice to get nice flat large pieces of batting from your scraps!
You may find a local quilt shop that will order batting at cost (plus shipping charges) for your charity quilting. I've also found that the big box stores sometimes have batting on "door buster specials" that come in nearly at cost, and don't have the shipping charges on top of the price. Buying batting by the bolt is the most cost-efficient way to purchase, if you can afford the large expense at one time. We've found that with careful purchasing, we can put batting in a quilt for about $5-6 per quilt.
Another part of "reaching the finish line" on a quilt that I forgot to mention is washing the quilt! We wash most of the quilts we make - the lovely crush of a freshly washed and dried quilt is something special! The picture above shows two absolute necessities for us - Shout Color Catchers to prevent bleeding in the wash, and Downy with Febreze for a great smell. It sounds funny, but everyone who gets one of our quilts comments on the great smell. The only real constant in what we use to wash them is the Downy with Febreze, so I'm not going to mess with success! It's the only fabric softener we use. We wash our quilts in cold water, gentle cycle, then dry them in a hot dryer for that crinkly goodness. The only quilts we don't wash are flannel quilts - I love the feel of a flannel quilt that has been washed, but it tends to look a little bit used when it comes out of the wash. You can toss a flannel quilt in the dryer for a bit of fluff if you choose not to wash it.
And just because no post is complete without a quilt picture, here's a picture of Nolan with his "smell good blanket". He wanted it with him in the hospital and all the time at home, too. Even at three years of age, he noticed the lovely smell! Remember that your quilts can appeal to many senses - sight, feel, smell - and each is important!!
Thanks for bearing with me through this whole process - I really appreciate your comments and encouragement! I hope you'll join us in the Hands2Help Challenge, too - be sure to check back in on Sunday and sign up!!