How To Make A Baby Quilt: Getting Started

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quilting is super fun, super useful and, despite what you may think, super easy. Really! Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Ha! Erin, you are crazy. I've seen quilts and while they are lovely, I could never, ever do that. I am not crafty or a good seamstress or talented or anything! I cannot do that." Well, Ms. Negative Pants, you can stop that thought right there. Say it with me: Anyone can make a quilt.
All together now: ANYONE CAN MAKE A QUILT! And, I'm going to show you how. This is the first of a 4-Part series on how to make a small, baby quilt. All you need to know how to do is cut and sew a (relatively) straight line. Trust me: a patient kindergartener could do this and so can you!

To start, we need to establish some ground rules for our quilt making adventure. Don't freak out! There are only 3 rules.

1. Make something you like. Not something you saw in a magazine. Not something you saw at a craft store. Make something you like.

2.Make an imperfect quilt. Perfection is not our goal. Little imperfections make a quilt special. No quilt, not even the one in a magazine, craftstore or at the American Quilt Show, is perfect. Yours won't be either and that's okay. In fact, your quilt must be imperfect. It's a rule.

3. Figure out what works for you and do it. There is always someone who will try to tell you the "right" way to do something; the "right" way to choose fabrics, the "right" tools to use etc.... These can be great tips but only if they work for you. If not, do it your way. That includes the steps shown here. If something else works better for you or you want to try things "your way" go for it! When in doubt, remember rule #1. You are making something for you, not for anyone else, so do what works for you.

Alrighty-rules are over. Now, lets get to the fun part!

NOTE: You should expect to spend 3-5 hours total on this project. It took me about 3 from start to finish (including time to take pictures) but if you are brand new to quilting it may take longer. Don't fret! Get started now! Don't wait until you have "time"! You don't have to finish everything in one sitting. In fact, I would recommend doing one step at a time and taking some breaks in between to admire your progress and to get ready and excited about the next steps. 


Step 1: Gather your supplies. For this quilt you will need:

*1.5 yards solid baby flannel for the backing
*.75 yards coordinating light weight fleece
*.75 yards coordinating baby flannel print
*Coordinating baby soft yard for tying
*Spool of white thread
*Rotary Cutter/Self healing mat
*Quilting Ruler
****A note about cutting and measuring tools: I recommend getting a sturdy rotary cutter, self-healing mat and a clear 24 in. X 6 in. quilting ruler. If you don't want to buy these things until you are sure you are going to keep quilting, scissors and a regular ruler will work just fine. You'll just need to be super careful about cutting around your templates. If you want to try the rotary cutting methods shown here, I recommend going to JoAnne Fabric and purchasing one of the Quilting Starter Kits during a sale; you'll be able to get all of these tools in one kit and on sale they are usually 40-50% off.****

Image: The supplies

Step 2: Square the fabric. You want to make the fabric "square"; not in shape but you want the edges to be 90 degrees to each other and fabric is never square when you get it from the fabric store. This is really, really important. Do not skip this step, even if it seems silly or you feel like you are wasting fabric. There are lots of ways to do this. The way I square the fabric is:
         *Fold it in half width-wise (so its fat, not long and skinny) and then I cut the long, open side completely straight using my quilting ruler.This usually requires cutting off about an inch to an inch and a half of fabric. With one side completely straight, you can square up the other two sides.
              Image: Preparing to trim the long side of the fabric


    * Align the top (short) end of your ruler with the straight edge about 1 inch from one of the short ends of the fabric and then use the rotary cutter to trim that side. Don't move the ruler! Look at the corner of the
fabric. The fabric is "square" if the 90 degree angle of the ruler matches the fabric exactly.
    * Repeat on the other short side.

Step 3: Cut your squares. For this quilt, you are going to use the light-weight fleece and baby print to make squares that you will alternate in rows and columns. You will need 21, 3.5 inch squares of each fabric.
        * Using a ruler or your computer, draw a  3.5 inch square on paper and cut it out, very carefully. Use this template to guide your cutting. If you have a clear quilting ruler you can tape this template to the ruler to act as your measuringcutting guide.



Image: The template taped to the clear quilting ruler. Lined up to prepare to "square" the selvage edge

* Line the bottom right corner of the square template with the bottom right corner of your (squared!) fabric and use your scissors or rotary cutter to cut a 3.5 inch wide strip. Then, continuing to use your square template as a guide, cut the strip into squares.


Image: The template aligned with the strip, prepared for cutting the strip into squares.
        You can also stack (very carefully) multiple strips together to make cutting the squares
more efficient.

Step 4: Once you have cut your 21 squares from both the lightweight fleece and the printed flannel, layout your rows on a table or floor to find the best arrangement/pattern. You are going to sew the squares together by column or row, so seeing the layout before you begin is a helpful way to visualize the final product.






Step 5: Begin sewing your squares together!
        *Starting with the top row, lay 2 squares (1 fleece, 1 printed flannel) right sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam. You can measure this seam by marking 1/4 inch on your sewing machine with a piece of tape or you can align the edge of your fabric with a 1/4 inch marking on the machine (if your machine has this measurement). Continue sewing pairs of 2 squares together.
 Image: Pairs of squares sewn together



Note: If you sew a seam that isn't perfectly straight, don't worry. You can always pull it out and sew it again. Only do this if the seam is really, really uneven like this:     
 I'm not sure what the heck happened here, but clearly this seam is no bueno. Carefully pull it out and try again.

* Once all of your squares are sewn into groups of 2, begin sewing them into rows, again using a 1/4 inch seam. You want 6 squares (3 pairs) for each row. You'll make 7 rows. Alternate which type of fabric starts each row; 1 row beginning with flannel, the next with fleece etc...

Image: Rows of squares; alternating fleece and flannel squares in each row


Step 6: Sew your rows together. Lay one row on top of another, right sides together (try to line up the seams as much as is possible) and sew one continuous seam to join the two rows. Add another row at the bottom and repeat.  As you sew the rows together, try to push the seams open or to one side (either way is fine).
Image: The rows all sewn together to make one large rectangle.


YAY! Your quilt top is nearly complete! Good for you! We'll finish the quilt tomorrow! Good work. :-)



5 comments:

Morgan -Ing March 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

Super cute Nay! And I think your "fat not long and skinny" would be better described as "Hamburger style, not hot dog." Just sayin'. I think your baby will be very cute set upon this quilt.

TJDKG March 3, 2010 at 10:32 AM  

That is soo cute, I love the Minky, did you find it hard to work with at all?

Erin March 4, 2010 at 6:49 AM  

Hi T-
Thanks! I really liked the Minky fleece. It ended up being really easy to work with, although I was a little concerned at first. It does shed a TON, so I was constantly brushing the fuzz off the needle casing and out of the bobbin well (my husband even vacuumed my machine once during the process...:-)) but other than that it was really a breeze!

BloggingBills March 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM  

Trust Boo Boo. I use 'hamburger style' and 'hot dog style' daily.

Do you wash fleece before you cut it? Cuz I wash everything first, usually, unless I don't.
MA

LearnHowToMakeBows March 31, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

Love this tutorial! Thanks!


Also, I'm wondering if you would be interested in participating in my Mom Blogger Contest for $100 Cash prize during the month of April?

The details are here http://www.misstutu.com/mom-blogger-contest.html

Thanks for considering! I think your readers will really enjoy this contest too!
Jenni

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