Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quilt in ONE Weekend! Part 1

Ever since I've been home with the boys full time, I've been sewing more than ever. Sometimes for fun but usually to try to make something for a fraction of the cost that it would be to buy. Probably the one sewing project I'm most proud of was my baby car seat recovering project. I used a super cute monkey print fabric with a coordinating stripe and some plain brown flannel.

Around Christmas, it occurred to me that the leftovers would make something cute for my nephew whose nickname is "monkey".  Of course I didn't have nearly enough scraps to actually make something useful, so when I saw a big piece of both the monkey fabric and coordinating stripe in the remnants pile at JoAnn's, I snapped them up. I never did end up making anything with it for Christmas and the fabric has been staring at me every time I open my project drawer. As his 3rd birthday was coming up, I thought I'd better do something with the fabric before he was too old to appreciate monkeys!

After some thought, I decided I wanted to try my hand at quilting. Now my mother-in-law is a super talented and experienced quilter - who has offered to sit down with me and do some lessons. But, of course I would make the decision to do this ONE WEEK before his birthday and the ONE WEEK that the in-laws were out of the state. So, I was on my own.

Knowing that I had never before quilted and I was under a BIG time restriction, I decided to go for the simplest possible pattern-- one piece for the top and one for the bottom with some machine quilting to fancy it up! Unfortunately, even with my remnants, I didn't have near enough fabric to do the job, so back to Jo-Ann's (armed with my coupons, of course!) I went.  There I found a related print with monkeys in squares and a coordinating brown flannel with dots. I decided to go ahead and do the quilt out of these and do something different with my remnants (I'll get to that in part 4!). I found these and other super cute prints in the quilting corner of the fabric store.


The hardest part of the whole project was holding my breath and getting started. I had to believe that I could actually do this-- and I DID IT! While I would say that I am advanced beginner in sewing, I was able to pretty easily complete this project. I expect that any beginner with a basic understanding of sewing and their machine will be able to do this.

I estimate that I spent about 8-10 hours (including some research) to complete this -- spread over 3 days, doing a few hours each day. If you are more experienced (or have less "help" from 6 year olds) you can probably complete this in far less time. I would think that most people would be able to finish this in one weekend-- from start to finish!

The instructions I am providing will result in a finished quilt size of approximately 45" x 60". This fits toddler sized beds (or cribs-- but not recommended for use by babies IN the crib due to suffocation hazard). This is also the perfect (in my opinion) size for a lap/throw quilt.

Part 1: Prepping/cutting your fabrics, adding contrasting border (if desired) to front, layering the quilt, basting
Part 2: Simple machine quilting
Part 3: Binding
Part 4: Optional matching pillow project!

Materials for a toddler/crib/throw sized quilt:

2 yards front material (43" wide)-- I recommend a busy, fun print
2 yards backing material (43" wide)-- a solid or subdued print
1 yards edging material (43" wide) -- coordinating/contrasting  pattern that goes with front & back fabrics
1 piece of "baby" sized batting: 45" x 60" (I used "Warm & Natural" 100% cotton)
coordinating thread
basic sewing machine
straight pins
safety pins
sharp scissors

Recommended (but not required):
Rotary cutter
Cutting Mat

Part 1: Cutting/Prepping the Quilt (note: 1/4" seam allowances are used in all steps)

A) Leave width of backing fabric and cut length to 58". Save scrap for front border and part 4 (if desired).
B) Option 1 Front: No border-- repeat cutting from part A. Skip to step C
     Option 2 Front: Contrasting border-- cut front fabric width to 36.5", cut length to 51.5".
             Complete steps B 1-4.

       B-1) From your BACKING fabric SCRAP, cut 6, 2" inch wide strips from edge to edge (this is where a rotary tool and ruler are SUPER helpful!)
       B-2) Lay two pieces of border wrong sides together. Stitch the short (2") end, on ONE side only. Repeat 1x.  You should have 4 pieces-- two that are 43" x 2" and two that are 86"(ish) x 2" long. Press seams open.

       B-3) Starting on a short side, align one short border piece with short edge of front quilt fabric, wrong sides together. Pin. Sew, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Repeat for opposite short edge. Press seam towards center of quilt

       B-4) Arrange a long border piece with long edge of quilt. Pin. Sew. Trim excess from each end. Press seam towards center of quilt.

C) On a clean level surface (freshly vacuumed floor, for example) lay out your backing fabric, right side DOWN. Take care to smooth any wrinkles. On top, carefully align the batting layer. Next, carefully align the top fabric, right side UP. Take your time to insure that all layers are smooth and wrinkle free and relatively even to each other. The batting will be wider than all of the fabric layer, do not worry! We will be adding a large 3" border to our finished quilt in step 3!

Note batting clearly visible, evenly on all sides.

D) About every 6 inches, use a safety pin to pin all the layers (top, batting, backing) together. Work slowly and carefully to ensure that you keep all the layers smooth and wrinkle free. Check your work when you are finished! Remove & repin as necessary. I know quilters swear by special curved safety pins for this but I already had a big pack of plain jane straight safety pins. I didn't have any difficulty with them but I've heard the special quilter's ones are much sharper. If you have a particularly heavy fabric, you might want to consider these.

You are now ready for Part 2: Simple Machine Quilting! See you tomorrow!

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