SAL3 - Wonky Quilts!

This is the third in the series of emails based on Ruth's April's Power Point presentation to the String-A-Long Quilt Guild in Porter County Indiana. The title was "Piecing Hints, Tips & Longarming Issues."

Her comments are based on our experience with over 10,000 longarmed quilts in our 20 year history. Additionally, Ruth has published over 160 patterns, three books, and two tools under the nom de plume of "Raggedy Ruth Designs."

However, these newsletters are written by her husband, me. I am writing these from Ruth's presentation notes. Nonetheless, I will be sprinkling my ideas in also.
SAL3 - Wonky Quilts!

"Wonky?" I've looked through all our "Quilt In A Day" books and I've found lots of quilts - but not a "Wonky Quilt".

I honestly didn't think it was a word. So, I looked it up on the internet. [Because the internet is always right!] It gave three definitions for "Wonky," two of which fit well.

  1. "Crooked; off-center; askew," and
  2. "Not functioning correctly; faulty."

So, "Wonky" refers to the method in which it was made and not the quilt type [such as "Pinwheel," "Twister," etc.]. In particular, a "Wonky Quilt" is usually a "trapezoidal" shape. Or, put in other terms of the internet dictionary, "BRITISH ENGLISH
a quadrilateral with no sides parallel."

Well, that didn't help at all! So, lets look at the above illustration, specifically the one on the left, with on side longer than the other. This is not your normal square or rectangular quilt where two pairs of sides are parallel, like that shown on the right side.

I'm not "pulling your leg!" When you think about it, it is quite an accomplishment to get a "perfectly square" or "rectangular" quilt where all corner angles are 90 degrees. After all, there are hundreds of seams. All a 1/4". It is amazing how well they turn out! One time in our shop we were asked to stitch a quilt top that was 13" longer on one side than the other! Needless to say, that was an extreme.

When you take one look at that wonky quilt, above, left, one gets the impression that the problem is in the center, body, of the quilt. Each individual block needed to be measured and squared. Each row has to be straight. And, we will address some of those problems in future newsletters.

I digress [as usual], I remember when I was in one of Ruth's classes, I ran straight into that problem. The quilt I was creating was a beautiful design of 17" blocks, on point [oh-oh], with sashing between the rows and columns. The column sashing went great. But, the row sashing was a different story! It looked like a broken sidewalk: up, down, up, down, down, up.

I asked Ruth what I should do. She said that I could either reconstruct all of the blocks correctly, [which I thought I had done] or "square-up" the individual blocks. "Square-up" to me means "chop off all those beautiful points!" I just couldn't find it in me to "murder" all of those blocks by cutting off their points, so, I started over.

This time the result was quite different. This time the sashing went down, down, up, down, up down, up. So, I did what any self-respecting man would do: I left the room, ... never to return.

Just as side note: this class was before Ruth invented the "Perfect Corner Ruler". Since then I have done maybe a thousand or more corner triangles that were perfect during our national and local shows. :
Sew, How Do You Fix A "Wonky Quilt?"
The only way to fix a "wonky quilt" without rebuilding it, is to:

  1. Remove the bottom border;
  2. Straighten, or square, the center bottom; and,
  3. Reattach the border, as shown in the illustration to the right.

However, if I take off my "Professional Longarmer" hat, I will venture a couple of ideas that may seem like heresy to quilters:

  • A quilt can be a little bit wonky and still look good hanging, if it is not in a juried quilt show.
  • A bed quilt can be quite wonky and not be too noticeable, as the pointed corner hangs off the edge of the bed.

In coming newsletters we will discuss fixing things that make the quilt body wonky.
What's Next?

The newsletter prefixed "SAL04" will be on "Diagonal Seams". See you then!
If you would like to have Ruth give a presentation or workgroup to your organization, please let me know by email to [with your complete contact information, please] or by phone at 567.208.3572, my mobile.

Al Fin

I trust that this was of assistance or interest. If you have any questions that need to be answered, on this or other longarming or quilting topics, then please write to me at or call 219.255.8085.

Thank you for your time and interest.
May The Lord Richly Bless You!
Rick & Ruth Grihalva
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