If tricky fabrics aren’t dealt with carefully then you’ll end up with unbalanced quilt blocks, wonky seams, puckered areas, a nasty ‘baggy’ look and a generally poor quality quilt.
Although we use some of the same skills as for traditional patchwork, we’ve developed lots of experience in this specialist area. We use some specific equipment, and adopt some extra techniques too.
Including Stretchy Fabrics In Your Memory Quilt
Some clothes are really thick, and some are thin and flimsy. There’s all those motifs and special details to think of. Then to top it all off some are made from stretchy fabrics which can be really tricky to sew.
- Stretchy fabrics don’t always hold their shape, especially if they’ve been washed and worn, as your treasured clothing almost certainly will have been.
- Stretchy fabrics, well, stretch when you sew them, and can leave you with mismatched seams, and little pointy tails that you definitely don’t want in your finished quilt.
- Stretchy fabrics can cause your needle to jump and skip stitches, seams to pucker and lead to lots of frustration when sewing. It’s not your fault – it’s your stretchy fabrics!
- Stretchy fabrics may look ok for the first few patches but then you find the patchwork has twisted out of shape, and has a nasty ‘baggy’ look!
We don’t want any of that in your beautiful clothing keepsakes!
So, How Do We Stop Stretchy Fabrics…Stretching!
There’s lots of tips and tricks that help, as well as a couple of really fundamental things that I’ll share with you below.
#1 Use a quilt design that will work well with clothing
We normally add a border made from new 100% cotton fabric to our larger quilts, which adds stability to such a large piece of patchwork. Our backings are all good quality 100% cotton fabrics, as this really helps too
The right pattern with the right clothing selection gives a great start in creating a beautiful Memory Quilt.
#2 Always (always!) stabilise stretchy or tricky fabrics
At Bee My Memory we stabilise all stretchy fabrics using a light to medium weight iron-on Vilene interfacing. We apply it to the back of all stretchy fabrics, knits, anything very lightweight or anything we think might benefit from it. Pretty much everything except woven cotton and denim in reality! It makes such a huge difference to the finished quality of the patchwork that it’s well worth the effort.
It also really helps if you’re using any kind of traditional patchwork block, or want to match any seams as accurately as possible.
perfect seam matching
Stabiliser is applied to the reverse of your fabric before cutting out the patch.
#3 Use a Walking Foot/Even Feed Foot on your sewing machines
A walking foot normally comes as an attachment for a sewing machine. It feeds all the layers of fabric evenly through the sewing machine from the top as well as underneath.
They are designed for sewing multiple layers of fabric together and particularly for machine quilting patchwork, wadding and backing together. They are also really, really useful when piecing together thicker fabrics, fabrics of slightly different thicknesses, and stretchy baby-grows and t-shirts.
They help us get nice even seams and minimise stretching and puckering.
#4 Use the different types of fabric to give a good balance across the patchwork
This means giving thought to which fabric is used in each patch, so that we create not only a great look and colour balance, but also spread out the tricky fabrics amongst woven ones to give more stability to the patchwork.