Taming Your Textiles

By Camie Roper


“I made the quilt on my bed with paper I got from the craft store! It was a breeze to cut and the pieces went together perfectly,” said no quilter ever. That first wash would be a doozie! Bias edges and even cross-grain edges can stretch out of shape. How do you make your fabrics not exactly like paper, but with some of its redeeming qualities?

Spray starch is a great tool. First I recommend prewashing fabric to be used in quilts you will wash. Cotton shrinks, it has the manufacturer’s sizing in it, and you can see if the dyes run.

After washing and drying, pressing fabric removes wrinkles and helps the fabric hold its shape.  An earlier blog post shows my star quilt. The bias edges on those half-triangle star points were stabilized with spray starch. It made sewing all 192 of them much easier.

Straightening the fabric to lie on grain is important and many videos online show you how. Using spray starch afterwards helps to make the fabric less stretchy and keeps edges true.

Cutting fabric requires precision tools. A rotary cutter, self-healing mat and 24” x 6.5” ruler help. Keep your cutters sharp. Be VERY careful cutting. Hardware stores carry suction cup ruler handles.


“Watchful Mama,” about 21” x 15,” cross-stitched with echo quilting.

As you plan your quilt for the 2022 GAAQG Quilt Show, allow yourself to dream. A cerulean blue sky, warm green grass between your toes, tall, straight pines, birds singing, spotted fawns chasing their mothers… Your heart and soul have survived another Midwest winter and your spirit is ready to soar.

Can you transfer these transcendental feelings to your quilt?  Take a deep breath, smile and dive in!

Next time, we’ll take a look at the quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama and a different kind of perfection.

These three deer quilts will help to put you in the mood.


“Sunrise,” 32 ½” x 27.” Hand-dyed fabrics brighten this quilt.

“Eight Reindeer + Rudolph,” 46” x 37.” The rusty fawn color complements the navy blue, and antlers and appliquéd stars brighten it.



Important things to remember about the 2022 GAAQG Quilt Show:

  • Members can enter up to three quilts from March 19 to April 30 on the guild website. The quilts don’t have to be finished, but you must provide a photo.
  • Sign up online to volunteer two hours for each quilt entered, beginning March 19.
  • To cross the finish line, members must submit their quilts to the Quilt Show Committee on July 29.
  • Quilts will be displayed in the GAAQG Quilt Show July 30-31.



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This post was written by Susan Schwandt

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