I never used to get babies. From the vantage point of my early twenties, babies meant throwing away all of the best things about newfound adulthood (staying out late, having extra income, making my own schedule, sleeping in, weekends!) and accepting sacrifice and sleep deprivation as their dubious replacements. And all for poopy diapers, terrible twos, tweens and teens? Please.
But last month I became an aunt, and I think I’m starting to get it. My nephew has the tiniest fingers and toes, the cutest smile (probably just gas, but still) and the most penetrating gaze when he locks eyes with me. I’ll leave the sleepless nights to his parents, but I have to say I’m enjoying my new role. Babies do have their charms.
I made the little guy a few handmade goodies to celebrate his arrival, including a knitted organic cotton blanket, a cloth book about zoo animals, and a crib quilt in shades of yellow, turquoise and blue (Thank you, Youtube). This was my first quilt and my first project on my newly beloved Janome Sewist, and it turned out really well. So well, in fact, that I decided to make a second one for my cousin’s soon-to-be baby, which I’ve pictured here. Since I had fumbled through a lot of trial and error the first time, this second quilt was a quick and easy project that I completed in roughly a full day. I’m posting directions for the quilt I made here, but keep in mind that you can easily change the overall quilt size, the square size, the number of different fabrics, etc. You can also buy binding instead of making your own for an even quicker project.
This finished quilt is roughly 33″ x 44″ (6 squares wide and 8 squares long).
* 8 different cotton fabrics (about 1/4 meter of each), including some patterned, some solids and some with fun pictures or designs. Try to ensure that the patterns/designs are different sizes.
* one package of quilt batting
* 2 meters of fabric for the backing and binding
* a neutral thread for the cover and a thread that matches the backing fabric
* iron and sewing machine
Prep: wash all and iron all of the fabric, trimming any loose threads.
Here’s how it comes together:
1. Cut out forty-eight 6″ x 6″ squares (I use a rotary cutter and a square quilting ruler, and cut 3-4 squares at once). Don’t forget to use your cutting mat!
2. On a large, flat surface (I used our bed, but a dining room table or the floor work well too), lay out your squares in whatever order or pattern you think looks good.
3. Put a post-it note on the first square of each row (i.e. R1, R2, etc) and stack the rest of the row underneath. Put the stacks in order from R1-R8.
4. Beginning with R1, pin together the first and second squares and sew together with a 1/4 inch seam. Do the same with 2 and 3, and then 3 and 4, etc. Don’t forget to back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam! When you have 6 squares sewn together, you’ve completed R1. Press down the seams using an iron with a steam setting.
5. Do the same as above with R2. Then pin the bottom of R1 with the top of R2, and sew together with a 1/4 inch seam. Press down the seam.
6. Rinse and repeat the last two steps with the remaining rows, until you have completed your quilt cover. Yay!
7. Now it’s time to make the “quilt sandwich.” Lay your backing fabric flat on a large surface (I did it on the floor), and then your batting in the middle, and your cover on top. Pin through the three layers in the middle square, and then move outward, pinning in the middle of each square, until you’ve reached the edges. As you move along, check the backing side periodically to ensure you’re not getting any bunching. Once you’re confident that your sandwich looks good, cut the backing fabric and the batting to match the cover, but leave about 1″ extra on all sides. You’ll tidy it up later, but you’ll find that the backing fabric and batting can pull in as you start sewing, so you want to give yourself a bit of a buffer.
8. “Stitch in the ditch”: stitching on the cover side, along all of the lines of your quilt (i.e. you’ll have 5 vertical lines and 7 horizontal lines). No need to stitch along the border of the quilt, since that will be taken care of in the binding step. Trim the edges so that the batting and backing fabric are aligned with the cover.
9. The last step is the binding. I’ve linked to a tutorial here, which shows you how to make your own binding using 2 1/2 inch strips of the same fabric as you used for the backing. It also shows you how to attach the binding, however, if you’re like me and plan to use your machine to bind (rather than hand sewing), you’ll want to attach the raw edges of the binding to the back of the quilt first, and then do the final binding on the front (using one of the fun stitches on your machine, like a zigzag, or a square stitch like I did!)
Ta-da! A warm and beautiful quilt for your little person to snuggle with for years to come.
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