Toddler Twister Quilt

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!

Supplies:

  • 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.

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.

Placing Circles

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.

IMG_3672

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.

Prep to Quilt

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.

IMG_3676

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.

Mitered Corner

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.

Completed Quilt

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!

Advertisements

Pillowcase Quilt

I’m going to start off this post with a celebration: IT’S TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT HOMECOMING!!!!!!!  WAHOOOOO!!!!!!!  Now that I’ve done that…

It is a long-standing tradition in the VP community that we make gigantic pillowcase quilts for our sailors’ homecomings.  I know it sounds a little weird, but when you’re decorating a huge hangar it’s a fun way to make it more festive!  Historically, volunteers would use about 10,000 safety pins (that may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure that’s what it felt like!) to put it all together, but it would sag and not look so pretty.  Last homecoming, though, one of our more brilliant wives thought of sewing them together instead, and the result was amazing!  The down side is that we don’t get them back, but for me, as long as I have a photo of it, I’m happy.

It can be a little difficult to get started.  You want to make something unique, but words and pictures need to be visible from a good distance, so you’re sort of limited in what you can do.  In this post, I’m going to share what I did this year, and some other inspiration from last year and others’ pillowcases.  I’ve also hosted a couple of pillowcase parties in the past, which are a ton of fun and a great source of new ideas!

This year I kept the message simple – Welcome Home!  I added my own twist by making his name out of different fabrics that are special to us, or that represent something in our lives.  I drew each letter on a 3″x5″ note card and cut them out.  Then turn them upside down and trace onto the paper side of some Heat N Bond Lite.

IMG_3525Trim around the edges, but don’t cut the letter out completely.  Iron onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric (pay attention to where the patterns are compared to the letter you traced).  Then cut out your letters!  Iron them onto your pillowcase, then add details (drawn, painted, etc).

IMG_3526Usually, these quilts tend to be a sea of white, with a few colored cases among them, so I choose to be one of those colored cases!  Monster insisted on the dark red when we were at Walmart, so I had a little more trouble – only light colors would show up.  That’s why I went for the fabric iron-ons, and I used light blue and white puffy paint to make the Welcome Home letters (you know, like red, white, and blue).  Puffy paints are definitely one of the best ways to put your message on a pillowcase!

IMG_3530Another easy, cheap way to decorate your pillowcase is fabric markers.  But these will only work if you have a light-colored case.

IMG_3529If you’re not particularly crafty, you can get printable iron-on transfers to create your design (note: they’ll only work with an inkjet printer because lasers are too hot).  Or use hot glue to add embellishments – googly eyes, pipe cleaner letters or shapes, the sky is the limit!  Since it doesn’t have to go survive washing, you’re only limited by your imagination.

If you have kids, it’s so special to let them make a pillowcase for Daddy or Mommy.  Regular old craft paint (97c at Walmart) works great – it doesn’t have to make it through the laundry, so it works just fine.  Monster totally went to town on his pillowcase for Daddy, and had a BLAST doing it!  I learned from painting pumpkins at Halloween, though, that I need to offer only one color at a time, or it all ends up being a grayish mess.  If your kid is younger, or not so much into painting, hand and footprints are always popular, too!

IMG_3528Here are some more pillowcases from last homecoming.  The first is a flag motif, just glued onto the pillowcase with spray glue.  On the second, I thought my sign idea was pretty clever!  The third one was made by a friend of mine for her husband, playing on his call sign.  And the fourth was made by my in-laws for Radar – we are a little Georgia Tech crazy in our family!

Last YearIf you’re looking for more inspiration, I don’t recommend searching for pillowcase ideas; instead, look up homecoming signs.  A couple of my favorite lists of inspiration are here and here – you may just find some ideas for yourself there.  Just remember, you’ll want to keep it G-rated!

I’ll take a moment here to acknowledge the ugly white boxes all over my photos.  I am protecting my own privacy, as well as the privacy of others I made pillowcases for, both for OPSEC (operational security) and just because we don’t all want our names splashed all over the internet!  Sorry it’s not pretty, but I think you can still get the point 🙂

At home, we had a banner waiting for Radar, made by Build A Sign.  It was free, I just had to pay shipping (it was somewhere in the $10-15 range).  If you’re getting ready for a homecoming, definitely take advantage of this offer!  Just keep in mind it can take 4-6 weeks to receive it.

IMG_9350 I was also pretty proud of Monster’s homecoming outfit; it was semi-DIY.  Last homecoming for us was in November, so mustaches were all over the stores with no-shave-November.  I bought an adorable mustache onesie and added words with a fabric marker to make it personal for homecoming!  For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s tradition for the guys to grow mustaches on deployment (and in our household, he is required to shave it off in order to get a ride home!).

IMG_9416

Monster was so tiny! Just 8 months old here (and teething up a storm, hence the drool on the shirt!)

And since I’m getting geared up for homecoming, here’s my favorite photo from our last one.  Can’t wait for another “first” family photo, this time with 4 of us!!

IMG_9511

Monster was testing the theory that orchids are edible

If your homecoming is approaching like ours, congratulations!  If you are just at the start or middle of a deployment, I know you can do it, and that first hug and kiss are so worth the wait!!

King Size Quilt

I feel like I just climbed Everest.  No, I haven’t been to the Himalayas, but my journey could have used an oxygen boost!  I just finished my first king-size quilt.  If you’ve ever folded up one of these puppies, you know just how big they are.  But that didn’t stop me when I told Radar that I didn’t like any of the quilts out there, and they were too expensive, so I was going to make one myself.  Pre-deployment me was so naive!  But once I set my mind to it, there was no giving up!  You can’t just take things off your deployment bucket list without trying!

I know I’m being a bit dramatic, but it really is a huge (pun intended) accomplishment.  When I designed the quilt (tutorial to follow), it didn’t occur to me that a quilt made of 12-inch squares that’s 9 wide by 8 long is made of SEVENTY. TWO. SQUARES.  Apparently I missed the multiplication day in engineering school.  It took me about 3 months to complete (with other projects interspersed), but I’m so proud of the results!

Before I even bought anything, I wanted to have an idea of what my quilt would look like.  I actually went through about 5 iterations, varying size, pattern, and order, before I came up with my design.  Here’s my professional drawing of my final design:

IMG_3108

Fancy, huh? I went for alternating solid green and blue with a striped square.

I also wanted to use the quilt as you go method, like I used in the T-shirt quilt before.  Because this is such a large project, getting it under the arm of my machine was not an option, and the cost of paying someone to long-arm quilt it was going to be over $200!

To make my design a reality, I needed the following supplies:

  • 1 yard each of 5 green fabrics
  • 1 yard each of 5 blue fabrics
  • 7 yards of fabric for half of the backing, the pieces between the front squares, and the binding (the white background fabric for mine – we’ll call this fabric A)
  • 5 yards of fabric for half of the backing and the pieces between the back squares (the navy background fabric for mine – we’ll call this fabric B)
  • 8 yards iron-on batting
  • Coordinating thread – at least 6 spools! (I used about 2 of green and 4 of blue)

Start out by washing your fabric!  I’d hate to do all this work just to have it go wonky on the first wash.  Then you’ll start cutting out your fabric – a lot of it!

  • 36 12″x12″ squares of each of your 2 backing fabrics (total of 72, half fabric A and half B)
  • 72 12″x12″ squares of batting – if you can’t make them all whole, it’s ok to piece 2 together when you attach to your backing
  • Cut your green and blue fabrics into 2.5″ strips, parallel to the selvedge (keeps it from stretching and looking weird)
  • For the front, cut the following from fabric A:
    • 64 3″x12″ pieces
    • 7 3″108″ pieces (sew them together if necessary)
    • Press each of these pieces in half hot dog style, right sides out, so they are 1.5″ wide
  • For the back, cut the following from fabric B
    • 64 2″x12″ pieces
    • 7 2″x108″ pieces (sew them together if necessary)
  • For the binding, cut 3″-wide strips of fabric A; sew them together until you have about 450″ of length (it’s too much, but it’s better to have excess than not enough!).  Also press this long piece in half, right sides out, so it’s 1.5″ wide.
IMG_2991

My green strips… I didn’t take a photo of all my cut fabric!

Now that your cutting hand is blistered, it’s time to iron the batting onto the backing.  Follow the instructions on the batting you purchased to attach the 72 pieces of batting to the 72 pieces of backing (wrong side of fabric to glue, obviously).

IMG_2981

That’s what 72 pieces of backing + batting looks like!

And finally, after all that prep work, we can start sewing!  For something as large as a king size quilt, I recommend using a sort of production line system – especially with the blue and green striped squares, since your quilting thread will alternate colors with the strips.  Each square followed the same basic pattern:

Line up a strip of fabric, good side up, along the diagonal of the square, 1/4″ past center (for seam allowance).  Lay a second strip of fabric right side down right on top of it, and stitch along the diagonal of the square.  Fold the fabric back to show the good side, and stitch 1″ from the seam.  If the strip was too long, trim it to line up with the edge of the square.

Square Collage 1

1. Square, batting side up. 2. Green strip, good side up, 1/4″ to the right of the diagonal of the square. 3. Second green strip, good side down, right on top of the first. 4. Opened up and stitched down; don’t forget to add that stitch 1″ from the seam on the left strip.

Repeat until the square is covered.

Square Collage 2

Left: Adding the third strip. Center: One side complete. Right: Whole square complete.

Then, trim the edges, and you’ve completed one square!

Square Collage 3

Front and back of your completed quilt block! The lines are simple, yet beautiful and functional.

Repeat another 71 times 😛  Pay attention to what fabric you have on the back; to get a checkerboard look on the back of my quilt, I used fabric A on the back of the solid colored blocks, and fabric B on the back of the striped blocks.

IMG_3104

72 completed quilt blocks – whew!

Now it’s time to put it all together.  I’ll start off by noting that in this quilt, the direction of the stripe matters, so make sure they’re all oriented the way you want as you assemble them!  You’ll get the blocks ready to put together by first putting aside the blocks that are on the right edge of the quilt (in my case, from the drawing above, that was 2 green, 2 blue, and 4 striped).  You’re going to attach strips to the front and back of the right side for each of the remaining blocks.  Layer the pieces as follows: 2″x12″ strip of fabric B (good side up), right side of quilt block (front side up), and folded 1.5″x12″ piece of fabric A, raw edges lined up with right side of quilt block.  Stitch in place with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Precision is your friend here!  That 1/2″ will be incredibly important later.  Repeat for all the blocks (except the ones put aside).

Right Side Assembly

Left: Front of block with strips attached. Center: Back of block with strips attached. Right: Side view of strips.

Now it’s time to start putting together the strips of blocks.  Take your very first (top left) block and the one to the right of it – this is where a good diagram comes in handy!  You’re going to attach the strip on the back of the left block to the left side of the right block (confused yet?).  Lay the right block back side up, and, keeping the left block front side up, lay the back strip so it lines up with the left side of the right quilt block.  Stitch in place with a precise 1/2″ seam allowance.  See the photos below for what I mean!  It sounds complicated but it’s really not.  Then lay the two blocks flat, and you’ll see on the front side you have a flap that will fold over to cover the raw edges.  Pull it over and sew right on the edge of the pressed fold, being sure to cover the seam.  This is where the 1/2″ seam allowances were important – for it to cover and fit properly, you needed to have the right seams allowances.  Otherwise the pieces will have a gap, or they’ll overlap and be bulky.  They should meet evenly.

2 Block Assembly

Left Top/Bottom: Front and back of 2 blocks attached. Center: How to line up the squares. Right: Attaching the front flap to cover the seam below.

Repeat with each successive block to the right, including the last column that was set aside before.  The do the same thing for each of the rows of the quilt.  At this point, I safety-pinned papers with the row numbers so I could keep them in order and save my sanity!

You’re going to then follow the same principle to attach the rows to one another, using the 108″ long 3″ (folded and pressed to 1.5″) and 2″ pieces.  And, honestly, this is where it starts to get tricky.  Once you’re about halfway through combining the rows, the quilt starts to get a little unwieldy – and heavy!  I actually moved furniture in my craft room to make it a little easier, and I would only attach one row at a time to give my muscles a break.  But take heart – you’re almost done!  Also, try to make the vertical connections line up, or your rows will look funny (think about the columns looking straight).

IMG_3134

This is where the 1/2″ seam allowance shows – the batting should meet perfectly, not gap or overlap.

The final step is binding the quilt.  Take the ridiculously long 3″ wide piece (folded to 1.5″ wide), and start pinning it to the back of the quilt, raw edges lined up with the edge of the quilt (start somewhere in the middle of a side, not at a corner).  Don’t pin it all the way around, just enough to get you started.  Then, start stitching about 4″ from the end of the binding (with our best friend, the 1/2″ seam allowance) to attach it to the quilt.  Stop sewing and backstitch 1/2″ from the edge when you get to a corner.  Then fold the binding at a 90 degree angle from the direction it was going, and fold it down to align the raw edge with the next side of the quilt.  Start sewing on the new side of the quilt 1/2″ from the edge (same 1/2″ seam allowance, and backstitch at the start).  Continue around until you’ve done all 4 sides, but stop at least 4″ from the start of the binding where you began.

Binding Corner

Making the mitered corner – 3 steps

Trim the extra binding so there’s an inch or two extra, and press the two binding ends back so they meet at the fold.  Then sew them together along that fold, trim the excess, and finish attaching the binding to the back of the quilt.

Binding Ends

Left: Final product for binding ends. Right Top: Leave the tails loose. Right Bottom: Press and stitch the ends, then trim.

Last step!  Just like you did on the front, pull the folded edge around the quilt and stitch it in place to hide the seam from attaching it to the back.  At the corner, tuck the excess in to get a mitered look.

IMG_3195

Finishing the binding on the front, and my dirty little secret for maintaining a precise 1/2″ seam allowance!

And voila!  You have completed a king sized quilt!!  It’s sort of a big project, but you’ll be so cozy under a quilt you made yourself – way more comfortable than anything you could buy at the store!

IMG_3229

It’s a thing of beauty! I folded the top down to show off the back pattern, too.

If you like our custom-made king size bed, Radar actually made an instructable for it!  It has a built-in light with two-way switches, hidden drawers for storage, and even power outlets for each person (because we get sick of fighting over power outlets in every house we move to).  It’s a pretty sweet bed, you should check it out (end shameless plug).

I hope this tutorial has given you the confidence to make your own king sized (or even queen or twin) quilt!  It’s a lot of work, but so nice to have a custom piece to keep you cozy at night!  Stay tuned for tutorials for matching  accessories for the bedroom from extra fabric I bought!

T-Shirt Quilt, Part 2

This is the second (and final) installment of my post on how to make your own easy t-shirt quilt.  In part 1, I did a tutorial on making each t-shirt’s block, including cutting the shirt, using fusible batting, and quilting the complete block, including the back.  Then I laid out my shirts to determine how they were going to be put together in the finished product.

I found the most brilliant way to turn my 25 blocks into a quilt here.  I can’t believe I never thought of this method!  It’s a way to quilt as you go for the blocks, then attach them with minimal effort compared to machine quilting an entire quilt without a long-arm quilting machine.  I went a little picture-crazy here, but it’s necessary to keep things straight and clear.

I recommend using a grid method to label the location for each block.  In my case, my columns were A, B, C, D, and E, and my rows were 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  I wrote each block’s location on a sticky note and safety pinned it to the block so that I wouldn’t get them mixed up in the next steps.  I also drew myself up a key, just in case I got confused about letters and numbers being rows or columns, or if any of the sticky notes tore off.  Better safe than sorry!

So once you’ve figured out where everything is going and labeled appropriately, it’s time to start sewing again!  Well, in a minute… first you need to cut some more fabric.  For each vertical seam between pieces, you’ll need a strip that’s 1 inch longer than the height of the blocks and 2 inches wide and a strip the same length and 3 inches wide.  For each of my internal 11″ blocks, I cut a 12″x2″ piece and a 12″x3″ piece.  I had 16 vertical connections inside the quilt (4 rows and 4 columns), so I cut 16 of each.  Then press the 3″ blocks in half so they’re 1.5″ wide.

IMG_2805

All my vertical connection pieces

Starting with your top left block (A1 in my case), pin a 12″x2″ piece along the right side on the back, and a folded 12″x3″ piece with the raw edges also on the right.  Be sure to remove the pins from the back before you sew, or it can mess up your machine.

Assembly 1

1: Block A1. 2: Pin the 12″x2″ piece on the back of the right (when t-shirt-side-up) side. 3: Flip it over. 4: Pin the folded 12″x3″ piece with the raw edges on the right side.

Sew the 3 pieces (12×2, quilt block, folded 12×3) together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  The seam allowance must be as exact as possible, as I will demonstrate in a little bit!  Repeat this process on the right side of all blocks EXCEPT the last column (hence, I only needed 16 for a 25 block quilt).

IMG_2811

I’ve found a production line method is easiest: rather than pulling off and clipping the threads after each square, I pin them all at once, then just stitch on nothing for an inch or two before feeding in the next square. When I’m done, I just clip the threads between the blocks.

Once you’ve completed this, it’s time to start putting the blocks together into rows.  Place your first block, A1, right side up and line up the 12″x2″ piece with the left side back of the block to its right, in my case B1 (2nd column, 1st row).  Be sure to line up the blocks, not the strips between them!  Stitch along the edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance (again, precision is necessary).  I recommend doing this for all of the first and second columns at once: adjoin the A piece’s 2″ strip to the left side of the back of the B piece with pins, then sew all of them at once.  When you look at the back side, you’ll see that there’s now a strip of fabric (that was your 2″ strip) sewn neatly between the backs of the two blocks.

Assembly 2

Left: A1 upside-down, and B1 with the left side at the top. Center: A1’s 2″ strip pinned to the back side of B1’s left side. Right: The back side once the seam has been sewn.

Once you’ve sewn the back(s), it’s time to attach the front flap(s).  Flip the block over to look at the front, and you’ll see the 3″ piece that’s folded is flapping in the breeze.  Fold it down onto the right quilt block and stitch along the edge, making sure to cover any seam that may show from the back.

Assembly 3

Left: Pin it up. Right: Sew right along the edge to secure.

It’s starting to look like a completed quilt already, isn’t it?  If you look from the top or the bottom, you’ll see why you needed to stick to the 1/2″ seam allowance:

IMG_2833

I didn’t follow my own rules – I went with a scant 1/2″, so there’s a small gap between the blocks. Learn from my mistakes!

Repeat a bunch of times until you have each row all stitched together.  Be careful with that last column, make sure your blocks are right side up (it’s a little trickier without the strips already attached to identify the right side).  Trim the excess length from the strips between the blocks so it’s all even and pretty.

IMG_2827

The rows are completed (see, I told you I’d get that last block in there!)

Now it’s time to follow the same process for attaching the rows.  Cut 2″ strips of fabric the length of each row (plus a little, for wiggle room) and 3″ strips of the same length (ironing them in half just like before).  Mine ended up being about 56″ long!  Pin the 2″ strip to the bottom of the back side of the top row, then flip it over and pin the folded 3″ strip with the raw sides aligned with the bottom also.  As before, stitch in place with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Repeat for all rows except the bottom one (just like you left out the last column above).

Rows 1

Left: Pin the 2″ strip along the bottom of the back of all rows but the last one. Right: Flip over and pin the raw edges of the folded 3″ strip also along the bottom.

Just like when you created the rows, you’ll connect them by first sewing a 1/2″ seam with the first row right side up, attaching the 2″ strip to the top of the 2nd row.  Then flip over and pin down the flap from the 3″ strip, covering any seams from the back.

Rows 2

Left: Back of 2nd row, front of 1st row, lined up and pinned. Center: Be sure to align the columns between each block. Right: Fold the flap down on the front and stitch down on the edge.

Now it’s REALLY starting to look like a quilt – all you have left is the binding!  To make the binding (which does not need to be done on the bias), cut strips of fabric 4″ wide.  You need to make one long strip, long enough to go around the entire quilt – measure it, you don’t want to find out you’re short while you’re sewing it on!  To connect pieces of fabric to make the binding, lay the pieces at a 90 degree angle and sew from corner to corner along the diagonal (PAY ATTENTION TO WHICH SIDE IS “GOOD” AND WHICH IS “BAD” – I had to redo about 6 of these because I wasn’t paying attention!).  You want all your seams on the same side of the strip so that they’re all hidden when you’re done.  Then trim the excess off, leaving about 1/4 inch, press to one side, and turn over to admire your work.

Binding 1

Left: Sew along the diagonal with the two adjacent pieces at a 90 degree angle. Center: Iron the seam to one side. Right: Pretty binding ready to be folded in half.

Once you’ve got about 12 miles of your binding (that’s an approximate number, but what it will feel like), fold in half and iron so you have a 2″ strip with a fold on one side and 2 lined up raw edges on the other.

To bind your quilt, pin your binding on the back side of the quilt with the raw edges lined up with the outer edge of the quilt.  At this point, I recommend switching to a walking foot. If you’ve never used one, the purpose of this tool is to help your machine push the fabric forward from both the bottom AND the top.  It’s helpful when you have many layers of fabric going through (like a t-shirt, batting, quilt backing, and 2 layers of binding, for instance).  It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will make your life much easier.

Walking Foot

This contraption is a walking foot. The plastic pieces right by the presser foot act as dog feeds on the top of your fabric, helping it to feed through the machine. Consult your manual for proper installation – it can be a bit tricky!

Start stitching a few inches from the end of the binding, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  When you approach a corner, stop stitching 1/2″ from the end of the quilt (I used chalk because it’s not going to show anyway).  If you’re not using a walking foot, backstitch a few times.  If you are using a walking foot, you’ll find out quickly that you can’t backstitch – that’s ok, just stop where you are.  Clip the threads and fold the binding fabric up so that the 45 degree angle goes through the corner of the quilt.  Then fold it down so the fold matches the top of the quilt, and pin in place.  Pick up stitching again 1/2″ from the top of the quilt (maintaining a 1/2″ seam allowance).  Repeat at each corner.

Binding 2

Top: Start about where my pin is, a few inches from the end of the binding. Center: At the corner, stop 1/2″ from the edge of the quilt. Left: Fold binding up to match the corner of the quilt. Right: Fold binding down to match the top of the quilt, then begin stitching 1/2″ from the top.

When you approach your starting point, stop a few inches from where the binding begins (about 6 inches from where your first stitches started).  Trim excess binding off so there’s about 1″ overlap, and fold each edge of the binding back so the folds meet.  Pin in place, and iron binding.  Then, pull the binding away from the quilt and attach the two ends along the creases you just made.  Replace binding onto quilt back, pin in place, and sew the last bit in place, overlapping the stitches already there.

Binding 3

Left: Pin the binding ends and iron so folds touch. Center: Stitch along the creases. Right: Pin down binding and finish attaching to quilt back.

Finally, we are at the last step!  Fold the binding piece around to the front side of the quilt and pin in place.  Work the corners to create a mitered finish.  Stitch along the edge of the binding to secure.  Your stitches will show on the back side, so be sure to use a coordinating thread.

Binding 4

Left: Pin the binding to the front. Center: Wiggle the fabric to get a mitered corner. Right: Back side of corner.

You probably noticed that I used black thread to first attach the binding to the back of the quilt; I recommend buying 2 spools of thread for this project!  I BARELY had enough to finish the binding… there was a lot of appealing to the gods of sewing to help me have enough thread to finish!

IMG_2859

Too close for comfort!

But I finished it!  And I think it looks great if I do say so myself!

Completed Quilt

My dad held it up for me… don’t you just love the designs on the back?? Such a unique way to show off your favorite shirts!

Quilt As You Go Method

My last quilt post was a traditional quilt – piecing together fabric for the front, adding a backing, and quilting (stitch in the ditch method) to attach the two.

Another method of quilting is called quilt as you go.  As the name suggests, rather than making a front and quilting the back on, you’re going to make the quilt as a whole – front, back, and quilting, all in one step.

Before we start, I’ll begin with some warnings about quilt as you go:

  1. The seams you sew are going to be much bulkier than a traditional quilt; instead of the maximum thickness being two layers of front, one of back fabric, and one of the middle batting layer (at the seams of the front side), it’s two times the back plus two times the front plus two times the middle layer (if there is one).  It saves time, but at the expense of bulk.  (That being said, I try to use this method without a batting layer, so it cuts down on the lumps)
  2. It can only be used for strips – not blocks.  You can, however, make your blocks, sew them into strips, then quilt as you go to complete the project.
  3. You’ll need to think about the order your placing your fabric layers before you sew to avoid undoing and redoing.  Again, it’s a little more work from the outset, but saves sewing time in the end.

OK, now that my disclaimers are done, let me show you how easy this is!

I’m doing a “cheater quilt” for an example here – I had some fleece given to me that was already cut, but not big enough for a blanket, so I decided to just add a couple of strips on the top and bottom to make it into a blanket about 30″x40″.  Not a lot of work, but it comes out cute (and I’ll be making a few of these to donate to Project Night Night, as in my last quilt post).

I started by placing my two fleece pieces wrong sides together (right sides facing out)… I know fleece doesn’t really have a right or wrong side, but this can be applied to any fabric, so I’m being specific here.  Then you’re going to place your adjacent fabric to the front right side down, lined up along the edge you want to attach to (you may also want to pay attention to the right side up/upside down direction, depending on your quilt).  Then fold it down (or flip it over if it’s just a small piece), and do the same with your back side – place your new piece of fabric right side down on the back.  I know that’s a lot of words, so here’s a picture to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

IMG_2327

Fleece is labeled since it’s not clear which is the right and which is the wrong side; I lined all the layers up at the top and stitched them together

Then, just sew along the edge.  You can see here what I mean by bulk – there are lots of layers in that seam!  Now, open up the quilt so all the good sides are showing.  You’re done the first seam!  Because of how I’m making my blanket, I’m just doing the same thing over again on the other side of the fleece, but if you want to continue from the pieces you just sewed on, just repeat the first process!  Put your new piece for the front good sides together along the edge you want it attached, flip over and do the same on the back, sew up the edge, and open it up again.

IMG_2328

Opened up after sewing

If you’re adding batting, it needs to go either on the very top or very bottom of all your fabric layers (cut in the same size strips as the front and back pieces).  Either way works, just make sure you do it the same for each strip you add, or your quilt seams will look different.

The first project I tried this method with was a life-size checkers set I made for my nieces – the squares were 3″, so the whole board was about 3 feet square.  I made strips by alternating black and white squares, then used the quilt as you go method to attach the strips, batting in the middle, and canvas for the back.  I used the serger on this, too, which cut down on the bulk by trimming off excess in the seams.

CheckerboardI really love quilt as you go when I’m trying to get a simple quilt done pretty quickly.  It’s definitely a time saver, and all your seams match up perfectly at the end.  If I had tried stitch in the ditch quilting on my checkerboard, it wouldn’t have turned out quite as pretty because the thread would have shown on either the black or the white squares.  This method eliminated that issue.  It also saves you from having to pin the front and the back, and you never need to worry about puckering or folds when you’re quilting.

Give quilt as you go a try, you’ll be glad you did!

IMG_2330

Final product, with a simple fleece binding! The bottom half was the same.

Easy Scrap Quilt

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!

Supplies needed:

  • 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).

IMG_2285

I sorted my scraps – boy on the top, girl bottom left and neutral bottom right

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.

IMG_2287

I think it’s quicker this way, but maybe I’m just stringing myself along (ba-dum-ch)

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.)

IMG_2295

Hard to see, but the safety pins are in there

IMG_2298

See that funny little bend? That’s what makes quilter’s safety pins so awesome! If you quilt on a regular basis, I recommend investing in some of these babies. Lets you pin on a flat surface with minimal effort.

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.

IMG_2299

I quilted just to the side of the “ditch,” so my stitches are visible and work like an accent

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.

IMG_2302

IMG_2303

The bump at the corner; you can see I pinned right at the corner to make the turn in the right place

IMG_2304

Pull the bump all the way under one side, and flatten to get a mitered corner

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!

IMG_2305

Showing off my mitered corner and the end of my binding

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 🙂

IMG_2307