Friday, April 29, 2011

How to make a Patchwork Baby Quilt: Part One

I'm nearly finished the patchwork quilt that I am making for my friend's baby shower this weekend. I have never quilted before, and never made a patchwork, even though I had good intentions a few months ago. But I thoroughly enjoyed making it, and not being a quilter, I thought I would write a little how-to for other people who may think that patchwork is beyond them, or that it will take an age. It isn't, and it doesn't!

I don't have a fancy sewing machine, or a special rotary cutter, or a mat with measurements for lining up squares. None of that! I made up my instructions as I went along. Easy. So here we go!

First, decide on your measurements. I wanted a quilt suitable for the pram, car seat, or the floor, not a cot size (which is considerably bigger). I ended up with the strange measurement of 90cm x 66cm (a result of the width of the batting... see below).
You will need:
  • Scissors
  • Pins (a lot)
  • Needle and thread
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • 70cm of backing fabric
  • 20cm of border fabric
  • 20cm each of 4 different pattern fabrics
  • 3.5 metres of 3cm wide bias binding
  • ?cm of Batting (the warm middle filler). There are a million different widths and varieties available. I chose one that was 100% needled cotton, which means it won't bunch up in the wash. The amount you buy needs to be big enough to cut your quilt size, obviously, but I bought enough for two layers as I wanted it to be snuggly for winter.

Now, to choose your fabrics. I had a few restrictions, because it is a quilt for an as yet unborn child, and I don't know if it is a boy or a girl. So neutral colours were the go. I also decided to use 100% cotton fabrics only. I chose a white with a bunny pattern, a mint greeny-blue polka dot, a lemon and white abstract pattern, and a flocked white spot. I chose a lemon yellow homespun for the border, and white homespun for the back, with white bias binding for the edge.

Next, draw your pattern. Don't be afraid - this is simply a rough sketch so you can work out your measurements and colour placement. Behold, the technical drawing:

I worked out that for a 90 x 66 quilt, I would do 8cm squares. 7 columns and 10 rows, plus a 5cm border. Then I coloured the squares in to make sure that they looked ok, and to work out how many to cut. I needed 19 bunnies, 19 white spots, 16 blue dots and 16 lemon patterns.

*Important: at this point, before you start drawing your squares, work out your seam allowances. I decided to do 5mm for two reasons: it is the width of my sewing machine foot, and it also made it a round 1cm to add to my 8cm squares, making them 9cm cut.

Wash and tumble dry your fabrics to pre-shrink them (nothing worse than a puckering quilt after the first wash). Then give them a good press and rule the grid squares on the wrong side of the fabric, using a square ruler and a pencil. Cut them out. This part needs to be done with high precision, otherwise you will be kicking yourself later when your squares don't line up and your quilt top is too small for the batting.

On the batting, lay out your squares in your decided pattern.

At this point I had a bit of a dilemma. The minty blue green was actually just blue.

I tried turning it wrong side up, I cursed Spotlight for their misleading neon lights, I phoned my Mum to ask her opinion, but there was no escaping the fact that it was Blue. And since blue is not a neutral colour, I scrapped it and bought a little lemon yellow polka dot instead. Happy days.

After all this work, I set the quilt aside for a day or so because I needed a little break. So I will leave the post here for now, but stay tuned for Part Two, where we will sew, pin, iron, and sew some more until we are FINISHED!


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Anonymous said...

well done the quilt is lovely .
I've never quilted before either but I wanted to make a quilt for my baby's cot bed. I'm a bit fussy and all the quilts I like are a bit expensive, so I've decided to make one instead it will be nice to keep, and look at an think I made that.
Your instructions are lovely to read not to complicated glad I found it thank you for your blog.

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