3 Tips for sewing with Liberty and Japanese Chambray
March 12, 2021
The Sunset Isle QAL has begun for 2019! This is a row by row quilt designed by talented Aussie quilter Alyce Blyth of Blossom Heart Quilts, in conjunction with my favourite Liberty supplier Ava&Neve.This is a geometric modern style quilt, where you can play with colour to your heart's content.
Many of us are planning to sew with a rainbow of Liberty, and pairing this with a contrasting background fabric. This view is just sooo inspiring! I've got quite a soft spot for all the 'Betsys' in the Liberty line and have been collecting them. There are seven in this row!I'm using this luscious red Japanese chambray as my contrast fabric, but a solid quilting cotton would also look amazing paired with bright Liberty prints.While it's really fun to switch out different substrates for different effects, it can pose several challenges to making quilting blocks. Liberty lawn is a very lightweight, dense woven fabric, and if paired with different weight fabric, the results are not always predictable.Liberty lawn has a weight of 76 gsm (grams per square metre) which is about half of Japanese chambray (144 gsm) and quilting cotton (150-160 gsm). Pairing two different weights like this can play havoc with how your blocks turn out because the two behave quite differently to each other.Here's my tips for successful pairing of these two different weights, specifically Liberty and Japanese chambray:
- Starch.This is pretty obvious, but it helps in different ways here.I like to starch my Liberty and chambray really well. I actually make them quite stiff, because neither come with the 'size' in them that regular quilting cotton does. This gives the Liberty fabric some body, making it easier to handle. It also makes the chambray fray less, and helps it stretch less too. As you'll be joining a densely woven fabric with a loosely woven one, it will help to match them more evenly.
2. Do a seam allowance check before you begin making blocks.
Alyce mentions how important your seam allowance is, so it's pretty important!Usually when sewing a thicker fabric, you will need a scant 1/4" seam allowance, and when sewing a very weight fabric, you might need to adjust if to be wider. So what to do when there's two different ones?? Well I recommend doing a test block first.Cut two pieces each 2 1/2" square, one from Liberty and one from chambray. Sew your normal-to-you 1/4" seam. Press seam open, and then measure what you get. You should technically get a width of 4 1/2". If your measurement is too big or too small, adjust your seam allowance accordingly. It's worth taking the time to do this, to avoid the headache of all your blocks being slightly the wrong size later.3. Press carefully.
Both these fabrics warp easily, so be careful when pressing to not over handle them or pull them out of shape. I found finger pressing first with my finger nail to really open up the seam, followed by a good burst of steam was just the trick.
I hope these tips help you to find making your blocks enjoyable and easy. It's certainly not too late to sign up for this fun QAL...it's a fun skill builder for all levels of quilter!Do you have any more tips for sewing with Liberty and chambray? I'd love you to share in the comments below!