I thought for today, I would talk a little bit about supporting your blocks while you stitch. Over the years, I've had some stitcher's email me to ask why their blocks pucker. The first thing I ask them is if they use a hoop or frame or if they stitch in-hand. I'm never surprised when I hear that the puckered blocks were stitched in-hand.
The term "in-hand" means, that no hoop, frame or other supporting object was used to hold the block while the stitching was being done.
Quite a few years ago, I made my one and only, whole cloth crazy quilt.
When it came time to actually finish it into a quilt, my mother and I spent hours trying to get rid of the puckering and get it straight enough to bind it. I do so love the look of a whole cloth crazy quilt but for me, I have no patience for the finishing to begin with and dealing with a quilt that puckers just makes me, well...crazy!
When I piece my blocks, I always leave enough extra foundation fabric to fit them into a hoop or attach them to a frame. I have hoops in every size available and then I have some custom sized frames. I'm very fortunate to have a father and a husband who can work with wood!
To attach the blocks to the frames, I just use old fashioned thumbtacks. A lot of them! With each tack, I stretch the block and by the time I have it attached the frame, it's tight as a drum.
I have not put this quilt together yet. I made the side panels a few years ago but I've been dragging my feet on assembling it. Why you ask?
I know what to do, I just haven't wanted to deal with it. But it's on my list for this year and when I get to putting it all together, I'll write up a "how to deal with it" post.
But back to hoops and frames; I strongly suggest using one of those options to support your crazy quilt blocks. It will save you so many headaches when you go to do the finishing on your projects. You'll find that your blocks are pretty much straight with next to nothing for puckering.
If you need a custom sized frame and you don't have a father or husband who can make one for you out of wood, Kathy Shaw offers a great tutorial on making your own frame using pvc pipe.