I’ve officially become a quilter! I finally finished my first ever quilt although I broke most of the quilting rules so the Quilting Police might want to look away now…
I’ve been dreaming about making quilts for several years – in fact I’ve started several but never actually got further than a completed quilt top before now. Long story short, I decided to make my friend RE a quilt for her birthday as I’d promised to make her one at some point and couldn’t think of anything else to get her because was so close to Christmas – she’s one of these annoying people with a birthday in January 😉 I started looking for fabric and found this lovely fat quarter pack from Hobbycraft:
As soon as I saw this fabric I knew it would be perfect for my friend: a bit whimsical, a bit geeky and a lot of fun. In a bid to keep things simple, I decided that the quilt top would simply be 5-inch squares and bought two bundles which would be enough to make the quilt top and binding. I decided to prewash all the fabric for the quilt so it wouldn’t shrink after I’d made it. If you’re going to do this, I recommend trimming the edges with pinking shears first to stop them fraying.
Keeping the stripe print back to use as binding. I cut the remaining fat quarters into 5-inch squares. If you get your cuts right, you should be able to get 12 5-inch squares out of one fat quarter with a few leftover pieces to add to your stash. If you mess up and only get 11 squares out of your first fat quarter, ending up with 119 instead of 120 because you are an idiot, you can simply reduce the size of your quilt to compensate for this. Nobody will ever know…unless you write about it on your public blog! 😉
Once I’d cut out all my squares, I laid them out on my quilt wall (aka my sofabed) until I was happy with the design. I wanted a random design but my need for things to be just so meant that I didn’t want any squares of the same design to touch each other. This is the result complete with Christmassy pyjamas and socks…in Janaury:
I then set about sewing my squares together in rows. I used a ¼ish seam (the distance from my needle to the edge of the foot was more-or-less ¼ inch).
When sewing the rows together, I kept alternating the direction, i.e. sew down one row then turn it round and sew up the next. All the quilting pros say you need to do this to stop the quilt bowing and mine didn’t bow so it must have worked! It was then time to make the quilt sandwich. For the backing I used half of a flat polycotton sheet from Dunelm Mill. Instead of using traditional wadding I decided to use a brushed cotton sheet – it was a lot cheaper and doesn’t need to be quilted as much. I bought a huge king size one which is enough for a few quilts of this size. Here’s my rather wonky quilt sandwich:
I used safety pins to hold the sandwich together while I quilted it, I probably should have used more but I was getting bored and wanted to get on with the quilt.
I opted for “stitch in the ditch” quilting which is where you quilt along the seam lines. I just quilted along the horizontal seams because my vertical ones didn’t always match up and unlike wadding, I didn’t need to quilt the sheet as much – just enough to keep everything together.
I started in the middle and worked my way out to keep my quilting as even as possible. It was starting to look a lot more like a quilt now. I then trimmed the excess backing and wadding to the same size as the quilt top.
The only things left to make were the binding and the label. I used some of the border from the flat brushed cotton sheet to make the label:
I then folded it in half, right sides together and sewed the sides up.
I then trimmed the seam allowance, turned it right-side out and pressed it.
I left the bottom edge raw because I attached it under the binding. Speaking of binding, this was the final step in the process. I started by cutting the remaining fat quarters into 2.5-inch strips. I think I ended up with 18 in total.
I then sewed the strips together in a long line – I just used straight seams because I didn’t want to mess up the stripes but you should really use bias seams to spread out the bulk then ironed the binding in half.
I then forgot to take photos until after I’d finished the binding! It took me a couple of attempts to get the binding right and it was still quite wonky in places! If you’ve never made binding before I would definitely recommend this binding tutorial and this machine binding tutorial.
Here’s some of the finished binding:
With the binding finished, my quilt was done! Here’s the final result – complete with fabulous Christmas bear socks 😉
Here are a few close-ups:
Despite its wonkiness, I’m really pleased with the final result and my friend loved it too. I also can’t wait to move onto my next quilting project! Stay tuned 😉