Washing machine, the final quilting step
I feel like a quilt isn’t really complete until it’s been through the wash. Hang in with me for a second those of you who think putting the final stitch in the binding is the time to celebrate.
For my batting I go back and forth between Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 cotton-poly blend and Quilters Dream 100 percent cotton. I find both to be soft and have a great drape, even with the dense quilting style I prefer. But the reason why I love a cotton batting is the shrinkage.
Cotton and cotton blend batting shrinks about 3 to 5 percent after you put it through the wash for the first time. The effect puffs up your fabric just enough to make the quilting design stand out. If you do an all over quilting pattern, such as a large meander, this part isn’t so exciting. But if you customized your quilting for each section of your quilt, then the shrinkage accentuates your quilt design, bringing the pattern to life.
That effect is very visible on my chevron quilt I used to practice free motion quilting stitches I learned taking Angela Walters class Machine Quilting Negative Space on Craftsy. I practiced a different stitch variation in each of the teal and brown chevrons and practiced circles and bubbles in the cream background chevrons.
The effect of the pattern was pretty, but not really all that special before I washed the quilt and the batting was still flat and fresh. But once I washed it, the minimal shrinkage turned my circles into a lovely pebble texture and the swirls into fat waves that stood out against the dense pebbles.
Plus, since this was a practice piece, that means my quilting wasn’t exactly perfect. The shrinkage that happened in the wash helped hide all of my little mistakes as I learned the new stitches.
The fabric I chose for the front of this practice piece was a little busy, so the back is where you can truly appreciate how a simple trip through the washing machine and dryer helped bring these quilt designs to life.