Please enjoy Vivika’s journey creating a pixelated quilt. KL
This quilt began as a lark. I met Andi Herman from YouPatch last year at QuiltCon and admired the software she and her husband developed that turns photos into pixelated quilt patterns. So many quilts at QuiltCon had showcased pixelation, I thought I’d give the software a spin. After 10 minutes of playing on the website, I was hooked! With Andi’s help, I designed this 64″ x 64″ quilt and the journey began.
Eleven colors of Kona® cotton, 64 blocks 8″ square, and approximately 40 hours of piecing later, the top was done. I knew quilting it on my home machine would be a struggle, so I sent it off to longarm quilter Angela Walters for the task of bringing this portrait to life. Angela, known for her feathers, swirls, and fanciful stitching, took on the challenge. She said, “I have to admit that I stressed over it a bit. I wanted to go with the abstract look and still make it pretty.” And that she did. She created swirls in the hair and background, quilted in eyes and a wrinkle or two(!) and gave the highlights on the skin dimension. What a fantastic job.
The quilt arrived on my doorstep on my birthday—the perfect gift. I spent the weekend facing it (using Susan Brubaker Knapp’s excellent instruction from her video “Fabulous Finishes”), then realized it still needed one more finishing touch before it was done. Blocking.
Not everyone blocks their quilts, and for good reason. Some quilts lie flat and are square without using this technique, but this piece rippled and needed help.
Here’s how I block my quilts to guarantee they lie flat, hang straight, and have square corners.
Note: Quilts can be blocked either before or after binding.
- Pin the quilted quilt onto a design wall, spacing the pins every 2″–3″. Use sturdy pins with large glass heads or T-pins. My design wall is made of thick insulation foam boards and covered with a gridded interfacing. Push the pins in all the way, making sure the quilt is straight and square. If you don’t have a design wall appropriate for this step, you can also block on a carpeted floor.
- As you are pinning, use a ruler or acrylic square to make sure the corners are straight. Ease the quilt into the correct shape until it is flat on the wall.
- Using a spray bottle, spray water evenly over the surface of the quilt. The quilt should not be dripping wet, but soaked through all three layers. My large quilt drank in more than a quart of water.
- Adjust the pins, if necessary.
- Allow the quilt to dry, untouched. The length of time depends on the humidity and amount of water sprayed on the quilt. My quilt took more than 48 hours to dry.
Voila—straight and square! Now it is ready to photograph and enter into a quilt show!
Let us know—Do you block your quilts?
Vivika Hansen DeNegre is Editorial Director of Quilting Arts Magazine and related titles.