One of my friends from Jacksonville (and college – funny how the military makes the world so small!) gave me a great idea when we got together before we moved to Pensacola – she thought that the game of Twister would be a great game for toddlers learning their colors, getting to know the difference between left and right, and improving their balance. But traditional Twister is way too big for a 2 or 3 year old to use! It’s also slippery, which can be very frustrating for someone just learning how to move their bodies in such a controlled way. So I made a Twister quilt that’s toddler-sized, and with the following tutorial, you can too!
- 1.5 yd fabric for quilt front
- 1.5 yd fabric for quilt back
- 1.5 yd fusible batting
- 1/4 yd of green, yellow, blue, and red fabric
- Heat N Bond Lite
- Coordinating thread
Start off by cutting your quilt front piece to be 37″x46″. This will actually be an inch too large on all sides, but it pays to have a little wiggle room later.
Now you’re going to become a circle-making machine. Trace 24 4″ circles onto the paper side of your Heat N Bond. You can use a paper template, but it’s soooo much easier if you can find something that’s about 4″ diameter to trace. I have some formula cans from when Peach was little that are a smidge over 4″, but that was good enough for this project. Cut the circles into strips of 6 and iron one strip onto each of the 4 solid color fabrics; cut out all 24 circles.
Top: 24 circles. Bottom: 6 red circles ready to be cut out.
Start placing your circles on the quilt front, using your ruler to keep them straight (you can peel the paper off the back as you place them). Start with the green row (left side of the quilt) and place your first circle 6″ in from the top and the side. Place the next couple of circles 2″ from the one before it. When you run out of ruler, iron the circles in place, then line up again and continue. When it’s time for the 2nd row (yellow), place the circles 3″ from the 1st row. Continue with blue, then red, placing circles of the same color 2″ apart and the rows of different colors 3″ apart. Then give the whole thing a good press to make sure the circles are secure. Then you can iron the quilt front onto the fusible batting.
Top: First row of green started. Bottom: Placing the yellow based on the green.
I’m not going to lie, the next step is the hardest part of this project. To keep the circles in place, you need to applique around the edges. The applique itself is easy – a simple circle isn’t hard to do. But you have to rotate the whole quilt around each of those circles, which can be a little tough. If you’re not up for doing a zigzag applique, at least straight stitch 1/4″ from the edge around each circle – when the quilt is used, the circles are going to take some abuse, and the Heat N Bond alone won’t hold up.
A bit tedious, but those circles aren’t going anywhere!
As I mentioned earlier, we cut the quilt front to be a little too big. So trim it and square it up; each edge should be 5″ from the outermost circles, making it 35″x44″. Then, lay the quilt front on top of the wrong side of the quilt back, leaving at least 2″ around each side. Safety pin the front to the back of the quilt, placing the pins near the circles and in the 4 corners of the quilt (so they don’t get in the way of your quilting; pinning inside the circles will leave a permanent hole because of the Heat N Bond, so don’t do it!). There is no such thing as too many safety pins! The more you use, the less chance there is of puckering. Once it’s pinned, trim the backing fabric to extend 2″ beyond the front all the way around.
The quilting will be simple on this quilt – a grid that goes between each of the circles on the front. Use your ruler to measure up and mark each of those locations around the perimeter of the quilt, then straight stitch across between each row of circles, going all the way to the edge of the quilt front. Use a bobbin that coordinates with the back, and don’t worry about backstitching, since the binding method will secure those stitches.
Left: Quilt front laid on the wrong side of the backing, ready to be pinned and trimmed. Right: Pinned up, marking the halfway point for each row of circles on the edge of the quilt.
Once you are all quilted, you’re on the home stretch! I learned the binding method for this quilt here, and it’s by far my new favorite method. Start off by pressing the edges of the backing in to meet the quilt front (in this case, 1″). Don’t worry about the corners, just press in 1″ on all 4 sides however you want – we’ll take care of the corners in a minute.
Press in the edges on all 4 sides – don’t worry about how the corners fold up
Then, start in the middle of any side and fold the backing up onto the front of the quilt, pinning in place every so often. When you get to the corner, open up the pressed edge on the next side and fold over the side you’re working on all the way to the edge. Then, fold the corner down to the edge meets the quilt front. Fold the edge of the next side to meet the quilt front, along the crease where it was pressed, then fold again to go on the quilt front – you have created a nice mitered corner! Pin in place, and continue with the same method all the way around the quilt.
Left: Unfold the next side, and fold up the side you’re working on. Center: Fold the corner in. Right: Fold along the crease made earlier, then fold onto quilt front and pin in place.
Once it’s pinned in place, use thread that coordinates with the back of the quilt to stitch a scant 1/4″ from where the binding overlaps the quilt front; backstitch at the end to secure.
Finished Twister quilt
And that’s it! Doesn’t the handprint fabric make the perfect background for a Twister “board”? And I figured black with polka dots won’t show as much dirt from being on the floor. I recommend staying away from plain white fabric, as it will show every bit of dirt and will need to be washed all the time! SPINNER
I sent this quilt to my friend, who has a little one between Monster and Peach’s ages – I know he’ll love it, and he’ll be learning as he plays! I searched and searched for a Twister spinner, but couldn’t find one without buying the whole game – until I searched the app store on my phone. So instead of a real spinner, all you need is a smart phone, there are plenty of free Twister spinner apps out there (on another note: who thinks of this stuff??).
Make one for a toddler you love, and teach them the fun of Twister!