If you make quilts, you want them to be the size and shape that you planned,
and to hang straight if you exhibit them. Here is a checklist that may help:
1. Study diagrams and directions on a pattern to confirm the logic and measurements. To err is human; the pattern designer sometimes makes an error.
2. Cut accurately. The mantra is “measure twice, cut once”.
3. Piece accurately by marking seam allowances, pinning precisely, nesting seams, and confirming that your machine is sewing exactly the width of seam that you want.
4. Press accurately. Finger press seams first. Then press with your iron in a patting, up/down movement instead of sliding your iron, especially when a seam is on the bias of the fabric.
5. Measure each block of pieced work again after pressing. Correct if needed before joining to other blocks. You can rip out, trim, or mark seam allowances that are wider or more narrow than usual, then re-sew to compensate for imprecise blocks.
6. Cut outer borders with their length on grain whenever possible. Use borders that are exactly the size specified in your quilt diagram. Ease pieced blocks to fit the accurately-measured border, instead of sewing a long strip of border fabric to the pieced blocks then trimming the border fabric to fit.
7. Quilt with about the same density of stitching throughout the quilt.
8. Trim the quilt to exact size before binding. A carpenter’s square or triangular ruler are useful to check that corners are 90 degree angles.
9. Block the quilt after quilting. Wet it in sink or tub and squeeze out excess water. Lay the quilt on a clean surface, then stretch, scrunch, and pat until you come as close as possible to having equal measurements of (a) width at both edges and center, (b) height at both edges and center, and (c) both diagonals. I tape together yardsticks or use a metal tape measure that can be locked at any specific length. I’ve read about making a blocking board from a sheet of styrofoam insulation marked with a grid of squares, but I just use a sheet on my living room floor.
10. Store the quilt rolled up instead of folded if possible. Scrunching and stuffing the quilt in a pillowcase or fabric bag is better than folding it. Folding creates creases.
I have a finished quilt that I am preparing to send off to an exhibit. I do not like the way it hangs because I did not follow suggestion number 7 listed above. The interior is quilted more densely than the border, so it “waffles” a bit at the edges. I have one more trick to try. I am hand-sewing a long, strong gathering thread in the ditch at the inner and outer edges of the borders. I’ll let you know how it works.