My favorite way to block any project is with steam. It’s a fast, easy and clean way to get your project to the correct size, make it lay flat, or just make it softer. The tutorial below will show you the basic steps for blocking acrylic yarn with steam. I also have a full video tutorial available here.
I’m going to show two different uses for steam blocking in this tutorial:
1) how steam can make your project magically lay flat
2) how steam can help you achieve the correct size for your project.
First I will show you how steam can flatten out a curling project. Sometimes when crocheting, for whatever reason your project will curl on itself. Sometimes it’s because of the stitch you are using, or it can result from a tight gauge, or many other reasons. Whatever may be causing the curl, steam can be used to help relax the stitches.
In order to steam block you will need a few things.
1) a steam iron or garment steamer
2) a steam/water proof surface – you can use a blocking board, an ironing board, or a simple towel
3) rust proof pins
Important Note: The pictures below show me using my hands with the steam iron to make the swatch lay flat. This is done to show how the steam makes the piece lay flat (see the video for how this works out). You should pin down the pieces before putting steam on them so you do not burn yourself.
First, place your project on your steam/water proof surface and pin in place.
Next, get your steam iron or garment steamer and start steaming your project. Hold the iron about 1/2 and inch to an inch away from your project and make sure you don’t touch the iron directly on your project or you will “kill” it (which I will explain further below).
Keep steaming the project until it is laying flat. You will notice it will feel warm and slightly damp to the touch. It will also soften up considerably. So if you have a scratchy acrylic, steam blocking can make it much softer.
If you happen to touch the iron to the swatch, this is what will result. A flat, slightly melted shiny fabric. It is what is commonly called “killed acrylic” and sometimes it is desired because of the look it produces. If you want to kill your acrylic be careful not to hold the iron on the fabric too long so it doesn’t completely melt into goo. Remember, acrylic is essentially a form of plastic, so it will melt like it with too much heat.
The other use for steam blocking is getting your project to the correct size. This can be used in conjunction with getting your project to lay flat.
For example, you are making a garment and need it to measure a certain size to fit, or you are making an afghan and need all the blocks to measure exactly 12 inches on each side. Using steam and pins you can make these things happen.
You will need the same tools as before and also a measuring tape. To show you how much you can stretch a project with steam, I’m starting with a 5 inch block.
Once your project seems warm and damp all over (which means the steam got into all your stitches) allow the project to cool and dry completely before unpinning. You need it to cool and dry for it to hold it’s shape, so don’t get antsy and unpin right away.
If you notice your project isn’t holding it’s shape as you unpin, you might not have used enough steam. Don’t be afraid to re-pin and steam some more. It might take a couple of times steaming before you find how much steam you need to use to get your projects to hold. Once you get it though, it’s like riding a bike.
As you can see above, I got a whole 3/4 inch extra width on my swatch. Plus the steam made it very soft.
I’ll be added more ways to block in the coming weeks so check back to see if I’m covering a new way you’ve been wanting to learn about.
If you have any extra pointers about steam blocking I’d love to hear from you, or if you have a method you like better let me know below. I’d love to hear your feedback!