After completing a project, it is good practice to block your fabric. Blocking is done differently for different fiber types. In this post I am going to write about my experience with blocking and how I block my projects.
What is blocking and why you should do it
Blocking is a way to shape your project after you have completed it. It is particularly useful when multiple small pieces of fabric (like granny squares or small squares that are joined to make a blanket) need to be of the same size. Blocking gives a nice finish to an already beautiful project. It makes a world of difference and you should definitely try it if you don’t already block your projects.
There are 2 main ways of blocking a project: Wet blocking and Steam Blocking. Both of these methods are discussed in detail below. But first, let’s talk about the supplies you will need.
What you will need (with clickable affiliate links)
- Blocking mats – To block a project, you will need a blocking mat that you will pin your project to. You can get specialized blocking mats for this but I have been using these foam mats that we got for my son to play with when he was younger. They work great and don’t cost too much.
Edit: I have now tried the KnitIQ blocking mats and I would like to add that it makes a world of difference to have the right blocking mats for your projects. Even though the foam mats I was using were working out okay, the KnitIQ mats make it so much easier to block projects. They are sturdy and I don’t have to worry about them bending and twisting while my project blocks. They are pricey but worth the money if you knit / crochet a lot and need to block projects on a regular basis.
- Blocking pins – You will also need a set of pins to pin your project to your blocking mat. I used pins like these earlier and while these work really well, I love these Knit Blockers from Knitter’s Pride. It makes pinning my projects to my blocking mat so much easier than the pins. It does not matter which pins you use, just make sure they don’t rust by testing them before you start blocking.
- Spray bottle – You will need a spray bottle if you choose to mist your project (see the Wet blocking section for details).
- Steamer – You will need a steamer (click here to see the one I use) if you choose to steam block your project. You can use a regular steam iron for this purpose as well (see the Steam blocking section for details).
I have found that wet blocking works best for natural fibers (like cotton and wool). There are 2 ways by which you can wet block a project:
- Submerge in water and then pin the project to a blocking mat and leave it to dry.
- Pin the project to a blocking mat and then mist the project until it is wet and then leave it to dry.
You can choose one of the above methods based on the size of your project.
There is another way that I have wet blocked one of my projects. This is a little unconventional but it worked out just fine for me. I submerged my Ruffled Waters Shawl in water and then hung it on a clothes line and used some wooden clothespins to stretch it. Here is a picture:
Steam blocking works best for acrylic yarn. Pin your project to a blocking mat and then use a steam iron or a steamer to steam it. Make sure to not press on the project while steaming. You just want to relax the fabric a little bit and take the shape you want it to take. I have used a regular steam iron and kept it on the fabric while steam blocking – this is not something you’d want to do. I learnt my lesson the hard way!
For larger projects like my Luxury Plaid Tunisian Poncho, I don’t pin them on a blocking mat. I hang them on a hanger and steam them. This is only because I don’t intend to give them an exact shape. I was able to fix some curling in the fabric by just doing this.
Note: Do not touch your steamer to the fabric while blocking. Keeping it about an inch away works best for me.
Pin it for later
Click here to pin this for later —>>
Share your pictures with me!
I really hope you liked this stitch / technique. I would love to see what you make with it so please share your pictures with me!
– Share them on Instagram with the tags #knitterknotter, #madewithknitterknotter and @knitterknotter
– Share them in my Facebook Group
– Create a project on Ravelry
I strive to offer my patterns for free and that is possible only with your support. Please share this stitch / technique and your pictures as much as possible. Every share counts 🙂
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER
You will receive alerts for new patterns and sneak peeks of my future patterns. I also share deals with my subscribers that you won’t get elsewhere!!
Sunday 19th of February 2023
What was the adverse event you had when touching your steam iron to the project? did it melt the fiber or just relax it too much? Is it even possible to relax it too much? I was experimenting to try to learn, and using the steam iron on the acrylic setting, I did touch the iron to the fabric on purpose. This was before reading your advice. Luckily, it did not melt or ruin my iron, but probably won't take that chance again, given the cost of a new iron. That sample is perhaps a bit floppier than another sample I tried without touching the iron to the fabric, but not by much. The fabric is definitely softer and more pliable, and shaped more squarely, so I am glad to learn about steam blocking. When I am ready to put steam-blocked acrylic squares together, the yarn used to join won't be steam-relaxed as I am stitching, but the squares probably won't go together well if they are not blocked first. I assume blocking, then joining is the normal process and there is nothing to worry about?
Monday 20th of February 2023
When I touched my steam iron to the project (not directly, I put a cotton cloth on top of my project before I kept my iron on it), I lost all texture so I think the fiber relaxed too much. The design was still visible but it was flat like a piece of cloth - much more drapey and pliable but it ended up increasing the size of my project to almost double of what I had intended.
When I join my (steam blocked) squares, I don't usually have to block the blanket again to relax the joining yarn. If I ever feel like I need to, I would just steam block the joins after completing my blanket. I don't think you have anything to worry about!
Saturday 16th of January 2021
Brilliant! Thanks for the information. Blocking mats are ordered and I await in anticipation.
Sunday 17th of January 2021
You're welcome! I think blocking makes a huge difference and the final product looks so much better after blocking.