Can you tell how much I love blocking? Not.
I blocked Autumn at Lost Mountain today. When you quilt a top, even if it was perfectly square before (which has happened, never), it won't be after...that's just a fact of life. For "Show" quilts, the judges expect to see dense, all-over quilting, which is going to make things even more out of whack. The way to remedy that is to wet the quilt (Aaaaugh!) and gently ease everything back in to shape...or in the shape you want it to be. Some people throw their quilts into the washer, some steam, I've even heard of dry blocking. I do not block every quilt. Only ones that need to hang perfectly straight when they are being judged.
I block in the tub, throwing in some Shout Color Catchers, available at your friendly neighborhood grocery store in the laundry supply department. The tub just seems a little more gentle to me. The Color Catchers pull any excess dye into the catcher (they're like little color magnets!) instead of it going back into your quilt. Ever throw something red in with the whites and end up with everything pink? Color Catchers prevent that. For good measure, I also throw in some Synthrapol. No good reason, since the Synthrapol does the same thing as the Color Catchers.
Looking at this picture makes me dizzy! But can you see some of the green in the water? I washed these fabrics before using them, but there's still some excess dye. I forgot to take a picture of the color catcher to show how green they were (I used three).
I then threw the quilt in the washer on the spin cycle (gentle) to get the excess water out.
Then I laid her out on these styrofoam boards I bought at Home Depot. (You can get them at Lowe's or Ace or any place that sells insulation.) Some people use the carpet, and I've heard of people using their hardwood floors. This piece was really poofy in the middle, so I smooshed the quilt out from the center. Yes, smooshed is a technical quilting term. True. Look it up if you don't believe me.
Smooshing photos by Al Walton
Margaret from Mainely Quilts of Love also has an excellent tutorial on blocking. Here's another really good step by step tutorial here. Or just Google how to block a quilt and LOTS of sites will pop up.
"I'm afraid I can't go. I've already taken my bra off, so I'm in for the night."