Straightening up a Panel for a QuiltThere are many benefits to using panels in quilts. There are so many different printed panels out there, it is just a quick way to making my quilt look awesome!
My first experience with a panel was one I bought online in a local facebook page auction. It was perfect for my nephew; it was the Avengers panel. Luckily for me, I won the bid in the auction and it wasn't until I went to pick up my panel, I realized how warped the panel was.
On any given day, I would have just used the rotary cutter, trimmed up the sides and made it square. But this panel had part of the print outside of the border. It would have looked funny if I had trimmed off the top of Hulk's hair!
Plus, the bottom portion of the panel was straight but the top part had a strong slant to the right. If I tried squaring up that part with a ruler and rotary cutter, I would have a huge section of red on the bottom right and a skinny section of red on the top right. Um. No.
In my search for a solution, it was suggested I try the 'bishop method' of straightening up the panel. I have been unable to find any reference to the "bishop method" other than what the one person who suggested it described, nor have I been unable to find any similar technique for straightening a panel under a different name. Someone did say it was similar to a technique they use in crochet.
Since then, I have used this technique on other panels and I just love the results. In fact, I have only found one panel that I have used that did not need straightening up.There is some pre-planning needed. This technique requires some time for the panel to air dry. It is best to do this at least a day ahead of when you would like to use it.
At any point in this tutorial, please feel free to click on the images to view them larger and in more detail.
The first thing you need is a wonky/crooked/warped panel.
Lay the panel out on the mat. On this panel, you can see the selvage edge is pretty straight, but the panel does a pot-belly curve about an inch to the right, then it almost lines back up near the top. It is this one inch of a curve that throws the panel off.
Look for a distinctive line near the edges of the panel to line up. This line needs to be in both the top and bottom half of the panel. I decided I am going to line up the thin outside black line.
Fold the panel in half, selvage to selvage. Start with the corners of the black, near the selvage edge. I stuck a pin through the corner of the black of both layers of fabric. With the two layers together, and the pin straight up and down, insert another pin close by the first pin to secure the alignment of the corners.
Then, I worked my way down the edge of the black towards the fold.
As I went along the black edge, about an inch or so apart from the last pin (depending on how warped your panel is), I continued inserting the pin through both black edges of both layers of fabric. **I'm holding the pin verticle between my two fingers so that the two black edges of both layers of fabric are right above one another.**
Insert another pin close by the vertical pin to secure the alignment. I continued down both edges of the black, starting at the selvage side, working my way to the fold.
Once I pinned the sides, I laid the panel back out on the mat. I noticed the black line along the selvage edge was pretty straight, only the top layer of fabric was wavy. So I gently and evenly spread out the wave between the two corners of the black and I secured the wave with pins.
It was hard to get a picture of the waves, but I sure tried.
So, at my sewing machine, I set my straight stitch length to a 4.0mm (larger stitch length, often called a 'basting stitch', is used so the stitches can easily be removed later). I did a basting stitch around the whole black line. The basting stitch is used so I could secure my alignment and remove the pins. **You may want to stitch closer to the line you are lining up, unlike what I did here.
Can you kinda see the waves better here?
Next, I ran a sink of cool water with a tiny bit of dish soap. I dunked the panel into the water. I did a gentle agitation with my fingers. This is only to relax the fibers of the fabric. When the fabric is made, they use a sizing/stiffener on their fabric. Once you feel good about it being soaked, drain the water and run clean water on the panel to rinse it off. Gently squeeze excess water out. **Do not twist/wring the panel to get the water out.
Back at the mat (my Fiskars mat likes water), I laid my panel out and used the lines on the mat to line up the black lines of my panel. Some of my black lines in the fabric needed some gentle tugging to get them to line up with the lines of the mat. Some places of my wavy fabric needed some patting to get the waves to lie flat. At some point, you may even need to hold one side of the fabric pull on the other side to stretch the panel.
I've made some tugs, some pulls, some stretches, and did some patting. The 9" line is pretty perpendicular to the black line of the panel.
Same with the other side.
Now it is left to dry. Once it is dry, I will carefully transfer the panel to my pressing board, spray it with starch and press with an iron. Press... I repeat... Press...
Only after it has been starched, will I remove my basting stitch.
With the basting stitch gone, you can unfold the panel, lay it on your pressing board and dry press out the fold. Once you have it mostly flat again from dry pressing, you can spray the fold with starch and press again to remove the fold crimp.
Press... I repeat... Press... Press until your fabric feels dry to the touch.
And once my panel is dry, I will post a photo.
Thank you for taking a minute to read...