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My appliqued wall hanging does not lie flat - it appears to be stretched

by Alice Dalby
(Golden, CO)

Is there a way to straighten the edges of a stretched appliqued wall hanging? It is quite intricate and I'm afraid I worked the fabric "too enthusiastically" as I was satin stitching. When I straight stitched around the piece, there are some edges that do not lie flat.

Thanks for your help!


I think I'm reading two different things in your question, so I'll try to answer them both.

  • If the top has been distorted by the satin stitching so that the edges are no longer perfectly straight...

    ...if there's not too much distortion, you may be able to block the edges squares, or close to it.

    This entails getting the quilt wet (did you pre-test for bleeding fabric?)

    You'll need a surface to pin into that can be damp. With straight pins and a ruler to line things up, pin one long edge to stabilize it.

    Now with a square ruler, pin the adjacent side. This type of ruler helps you see that the corner is square. Pin out that long edge. Repeat until the quilt is completed pinned.

    As a final check, measure both diagonals with a measuring tape or ruler. These measurements will be the same if your quilt is blocked square.

    Let the quilt top completely dry, remove the pins and double check the measurements.

  • If the piece is quilted and the edges don't lie flat...

    ...have you tried a basting stitch along the outside edge?

    Baste the edge by hand (you might be able to do this by machine, but I think you'd have more control if you did this by hand) with nice even basting stitches, stopping and starting the threads at the corners.

    The slightly pull on those sticks to, in effect, gather the edges just a tiny bit. If you're familiar with sewing garments, this process is like easing in a sleeve cap. The sleeve cap is larger than the opening in the bodice for the sleeve. Easing the cap with basting stitches makes the two pieces fit.

    As the sides of your quilt lay flatter, then knot the basting threads to hold them in place.

A stitch in time, DOES save nine!

Satin stitching, because it is so dense, can really distort fabric. Let's face it. You're putting a lot of stitches into a finite thread framework (the weave of the cloth).

Especially for quilts with lots of satin stitching, use one of the many stabilizers available to us quilters from the machine embroidery world.

For quilts with some satin stitching, try a tearaway stabilizer.

For quilts with lots of satin or other decorative stitching, there are a number of leave in stabilizers. I was introduced to a product called 'Decor Bond' (I've found it at Joann's on a bolt). This is a very substantial, iron-on stabilizer. Great for wall hangings, but I wouldn't use it for a bed quilt, much too stiff. But for wall hangings with lots of dense decorative stitches it's the perfect base to use because it will minimize the distortion. As always, test a small sample to make sure YOU like the results.

Alice, thank you for your questions. Hopefully the information provided will be helpful to you.


Julie Baird

Comments for My appliqued wall hanging does not lie flat - it appears to be stretched

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Flat Wall Hanging
by: Anonymous

I saw a wall hanging beautifully stabilized recently. The quilter had added triangles to the wrong side of each of the 4 corners. Then she inserted 4 thin dowels along each edge and tied the dowel in place with thread in the middle of the dowel. They stretched and squared off her work AND provided an easy attachment for hanging!

From the Editor: Almost like the pockets on a kite! That's an EXCELLENT idea!


Thanks so much for your help!
by: Alice

Thanks so much for your help. I'll try dampening my wall hanging, etc. I definitely will use a stabilizer next time I do applique - I'm very careful to do so when I embroider, but didn't consider it for the wall hanging.
Thanks again!

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