One of my favorite blogs, Crazy Little Projects, is hosting a monthly challenge all year long, and this month’s challenge inspired me! The task is to make something for a baby, and she suggests making a blanket for an organization called Project Night Night. I really enjoy working with charities, but I can’t always donate time or money. This opportunity gave me a chance to do something I love – sewing – to benefit little ones who don’t have a home. It was fun to do, and I got the warm and fuzzies doing it! I ended up making 3 blankets because my fabric stash is out of control. So, here’s a tutorial on making a scrap quilt without too much work!
- Scrap fabric (more details below)
- 1 yard cuddly fabric (I used minky)
- 1 (4.5 yd) package satin blanket binding
- Coordinating thread
As always, seam allowances are 1/4″ unless otherwise noted.
Start by cutting your scrap fabric. You can do this however you like! I cut 2-inch strips because a lot of my scraps were around that width. As far as length, I varied anywhere from about 3 inches all the way up to about 12 inches. You could also do all of your pieces the same length, but then you’re going to have to make the seams match up to make pretty corners; by doing random lengths, I didn’t have to worry about it! As far as how many to cut… it really depends. My goal was a 30″ x 40″ blanket, and I got so sew-happy that I ended up with enough for almost 4 blankets (3 to donate and a smaller one for myself to remember all the fabrics I’ve used in my past projects).
Then start sewing! Begin by attaching two pieces along the 2-inch edge. I recommend sewing a whole bunch in a line without cutting between, then trimming when you’re done (or when the pile behind your machine gets too big). Also, if you’re OCD like me, pay attention to the direction of prints – keep them right-side up in the same way if they’re adjacent.
Once you’ve attached all of your 2-pieces and separated them, do the same thing again, putting 2 2-piece pieces together to make a 4-piece; then 8, then 16. At this point they got pretty long (like 5 feet plus), so I stopped.
Next, cut your strips into 31 inch lengths (I found giving an extra inch made it 30 inches when it was all lined up and I trimmed off the excess to make it square). If you did 2″ strips and you’re going for a 30″x40″ blankie, you’ll need 27 strips – keep in mind you’re losing some width to your seam allowances. Now it’s time to start assembling the front of your quilt. I alternated a boy or girl strip with a gender neutral strip so I didn’t have to worry about similar fabrics touching one another, but as mentioned above, I’m slightly OCD. Do it how you please! Similar to assembling the strips, I made 2-strip pieces, then combined those to make 4-strip pieces, and so on and so forth, until all 27 strips were put together.
I’m going to pause here to talk for a second about pressing seams on a quilt like this. Generally, I’m a press-the-seams-open sort of girl, to reduce the bulk of the finished product. However, when you press seams open on a quilt, it can create a gap between adjacent pieces, and make the quilt weaker over time; not something desirable in a security blanket! So, be sure to press your seams to one side. I did all mine to the left for the strips, and down for the assembled quilt front.
So, now that our quilt front is assembled and all nicely pressed, go ahead and use your plexiglass ruler to square up and trim the edges and make it all nice and even. Then, lay it flat on top of your cuddly backing material and safety pin the back to the front. (Usually I’ll add some Pellon batting in the middle, but it does make the quilt a little stiffer, and the minky fabric is just so soft and cozy, I just didn’t think it was necessary here.)
Now you’re ready to start quilting. I do not own a fancy quilting machine, and I haven’t yet tried to use the quilting foot on my machine (that will come at a later date, when I’ve built up my courage), so I usually stitch in the ditch. Well, sort of… I have a lot of trouble keeping the seam right in the ditch, and I think it looks really sloppy if it’s not perfect. So, I purposely move to the side about 1/8″ – I think it gives it a neat effect on a quilt like this. Also, if you pressed your seams all in the same direction, you can sew right over the seam allowance, decreasing the bulk in the finished product a little. I stitched over every other row, so it was just under 4 inches between. I wouldn’t worry about vertical quilting – every 3.5″ or so horizontally will keep the front and the back together. Then stitch all around the outer edge, and trim off the excess backing.
My mom makes “cuddle blankies” for all the grandkids; she put the fear of God in me about using satin blanket binding. She said it’s too slippery, keep the seam ripper handy, watch YouTube videos about sewing satin, and have a back-up plan. Being the chicken that I am, I almost just went to Plan B (binding the old-fashioned way, which I’m not a huge fan of) right off the bat. But I had already bought the binding, so I decided to give it a try. You know what? It was the easiest way to bind a quilt that I’ve ever done! (To give my mom credit, her experience with satin binding is using it not on a cotton quilt like this, but on ultra cuddle material, which is super stretchy and very “squirrelly” to begin with) I started in the middle of one of the sides, and just sandwiched the quilt between the two sides of the binding (one side is slightly wider than the other; put this on the back side of where you’re sewing so you’ll be sure to catch it with the thread). I pinned it until I got to the corner. I wanted a mitered corner, so when I got to the corner, I bent the binding at the corner of the blanket and pinned it straight on the next side; it creates a bump of binding on the front and back. Just lift the flap of the binding on one of the sides and tuck the bump in; it will create a nice 45 degree angled corner. Do the same on the back side, and pin both with one pin. Continue all the way around the blanket. When you get back to where you started, just leave a tail for now.
Then start sewing your binding on! Begin at the start of the binding. I used a zigzag stitch for strength and because it’s pretty. When you get to a corner, stitch outwards, then pivot and stitch back in (you can peek on the underside while the presser foot is raised to see if you need to aim right or left to catch the mitered corner fold on the back side on your way back in), and continue on to the next straight side. Every so often I would check to make sure that I was catching the back side of the binding, but it was perfect the whole way.
When you’re approaching the end, cut the binding about 4 inches past the beginning. Fold it back under itself to create a finished end, and pin in place. Finish your stitching by going past the fold, then backstitching back over it. I also recommend tying a knot, as demonstrated in my applique post – this blankie is going to get a lot of loving, you don’t want the stitching to come out!
As I said, I ended up making 3 (2 girlie ones, 1 boyish one) to donate to Project Night Night. I had a lot of fun, feel good about doing it, and learned something along the way – that’s a successful project in my book!
I hope this inspires you to make a blanket for a baby you love. The satin is so smooth on the edges, and the minky is soft and cuddly. Even better if you can make one to donate to a charity! There’s nothing like making everybody feel warm and fuzzy 🙂