Remember this post? Well, I finished before Christmas! My first quilt ever! This is what I did... feel free to make fun of me.
Here's the short backstory: My sister was pregnant with baby #3 and to everyone's surprise, it was a boy... her 3rd boy! Sooo, since a whole lot of what little baby Levi would be getting would be a hand-me-down from his 2 older brothers, I decided to make something new just for him. The perfect time to tackle quilting.
I've never quilted before and really had no idea what I was doing, so I started where I usually start in that situation; Google. And, I found this. Love! Ready? Here we go.
- Determine what size you would like your quilt, this will determine how many fat quarters you'll need. My quilt was small. 32" x 40". I ended up using 6 fat quarters, cut into strips, for the front (pre-washed and dried) and one big solid piece I had cut at JoAnn's for the back. My advice, buy more than you need, then return the unused ones... or throw them in your fabric stash for another project. One of those Jelly Rolls would work really well for this too, but I couldn't find one with the colors I wanted.
Here are my fat quarters, all cut into strips. Strips were anywhere from 1.5" to 3" wide. All randomly cut.
Lots and lots of strips!
- Next, you are going to cut paper squares to use as "templates" for your quilt squares. I used notebook paper which is only 8" wide. So my squares were 8" but you could make them whatever size you want. You can use any thin paper you want too... copy paper works good. My quilt is 4 squares wide x 5 squares tall. I think this is a great method for first time quilters!
- Then I used an Elmer's glue stick to lightly stick my center strip, right side up, to each paper square, diagonally, corner to corner. (I used all beige for my center strips so you would really see the diamond pattern when it was done... completely optional) Like this...
- Tighten up the stitch length on your machine at this point. It's not critical, but it is easier to rip the paper off the backs of these if the stitches are closer together. Not crazy small, just a few notches smaller than normal.
- Now, take your next strip, place it on top of your center glued down strip, right sides together aligning one raw edge. Sew along that edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. Don't worry about back stitching at either end... it's all going to get cut off anyway. Just sew off both ends, past the edge of the paper slightly. Sew right through the paper.
- Then press your seam open with a dry iron. (If you use steam, you paper will curl... very annoying!)
- Add your next strip to the one you just sewed on, right sides together. Continue this until you cover the entire square. The back will look like this.
- Flip your square over, paper side up, and trim all 4 sides. Now you have a perfect square of fabric. Save your trimmed fabric strips and keep using them! The small ones are perfect for the corners. See the paper sewed to the fabric?
- After all of your squares are made (it took me a few months... don't judge) you can rip the paper off the back. Hold the seam edges as you rip each section since they will unravel.
- Once you have all of your paper ripped off, lay out all of your squares and move them around until you find an order you like. Here's 4 squares layed out... keep going.
- Now sew each row together, square by square, right sides together. Press each seam. You will have several long strips when this step is done.
- Now that all of your rows are sewed together, sew all of the rows to each other, right sides together. I used a 1/4" seam allowance on everything.
Here's what the back will look like when everything is sewed together.
And the front...
As you can see, my squares didn't line up perfectly. : ) I'd also like to point out the different beige fabrics here. That's because I ran out of my beige fat quarter and had to cut some strips from another beige fabric I had in my stash. Still looks good to me.
- Now you need to make your sandwich: top layer (that you just finished), batting, and back fabric. Your top layer and back fabric face right sides out... batting is the "meat" in this sandwich. Make sure all of your pieces are as big as, or bigger than your quilt top.
- Baste your sandwich (sounds like we're cooking). When you make this sandwich, you have to stick it all together (baste) before you start quilting it, otherwise everything will shift all over the place when you start sewing. I used FUSI-BOO batting which has a glue built right in, activated by the steam of your iron. It worked great and washes right out. You could also use a million pins (yuck), use spray glue made for quilting, or do a basting stitch (also yuck) to keep it all together.
Fluffy and soft. (my bias tape is in that top photo too)
- Once your fabric sandwich is glued together, trim everything up so you have an even rectangle again.
- Time to quilt! Again, I had no idea what I was doing.... Google! I found out that the swirly look was called "meandering" or "free-motion quilting". Luckily, my machine came with a free-motion quilting foot and directions. I attached the foot to my machine and put the feed dogs down (the little metal gripper things on your machine that pull the fabric from front to back). You don't want your machine to pull the fabric anywhere... you'll be doing the pulling.
- Start sewing from a corner, work your way across your quilt in a zigzag motion, heading towards the opposite corner. Just make your sewing lines wavy and swirly, not straight.
It's a little weird to get used to sewing sideways, backwards, diagonal, etc. If you're unsure, practice on a scrap first to get the hang of it. Also, a helpful tip: put on some rubber gloves! I know, weird. But, it's so much easier for your hands to grip your quilt and move it smoothly with them on. I used my good ole rubber kitchen gloves :)
At this point, my quilt started to look like this (below) and I did several happy dances in the dining room. "OMG, It's working!!!!" You can see where some of my stitches are short, and some are long... but no one is going to see that when it's all done. Keep going!
Here's how I tackled having a lot of fabric up under my machine... I rolled. You will probably use up a couple bobbins at least during this too. Just start sewing again with a new bobbin right where you ran out the last time... just back stitch over the ending spot a little.
- Once all of your swirlies are done, add a bias tape all the way around. I followed this tutorial on how to do that. It was a little tricky, but not terrible.
- Last step! Wash and dry your quilt to get all the basting glue out and to make it nice and crinkley! (oh, and take a million photos because you are going to be extremely proud of yourself)
UPDATE: I did make another quilt for me! Head here to see it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I made a video tutorial to show the free motion quilting process. Click here to see it!