How to make a quilt... kind of.

UPDATE: To see a video tutorial showing the free motion quilting process and check out my lisp click here!

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)
I think I got the bug. Next quilt will be for me : )

UPDATE: I did make another quilt for me! Head here to see it.


I made it for my Mama.

UPDATE:  I've gotten so many emails asking where I got this fabric, I figured I would just post it.  I got it here.  Yup, it's from Walmart.  I bought it in the store, not online.  There is also a black version.  Good luck, hope you find it!

Isn't that a bad rap song or something?  No, no, no..."I got it from my Mama..."  Okay, I'll stop.

I made my first gift!  Mother's day was approaching and I knew I wanted to make my mom something that didn't include spray painted macaroni or my hand pressed into clay. Think, think, think.

My mom and dad often take quick, long-weekend vacations to an island near by (we live in Florida) where there are no cars!  So cool right?  You can only get around by bike or golf cart.  So, I decided upon a beach bag.  I used my ballet bag (tutorial from Simply Modern Mom) as a base for the design but made it much larger/wider, added a closure, and changed the handle.

Because I knew I would forget to take pictures of my mom with the bag, and because I knew we would be in a poorly lit restaurant when I gave it to her, I asked my friend Christy to model for me the day before so you could get a sense of the scale.  I must say, lovely elbow. : )
The closure is actually a snap.  I sewed the button over top just for looks.  Maybe soon I'll teach myself real button holes. 
I just kind of winged the flappy thing that the button is sewed to.  I hope it stays on.  Nothing says I love you like a bag that falls apart.
This project took me two nights after the kids went to sleep... so probably like 3 hours total?  I'm sure I stopped and watched a bit of HGTV in there somewhere, ate some cookies, & put a kid back to bed 3 times, so you could probably do it faster. 

Hope your Mother's Day was happy.http://www.walmart.com/ip/Cotton-Duck-Mod-Floral/17190569


Thrifty Finds

I've gotten a lot of comments and questions about shopping Goodwill (and other thrift/second hand/consignment stores).  So, I figured I'd document my trips to that wonderful smelly place with isles and isles of used crap, and show you what I find and how I find it.

I usually shop Goodwill because it's big and the selection is endless.  But, I have shopped the tiny thrift shops too where you have to get over being the only person in there and the shop owner staring at you the entire time. Both have something to offer.  Goodwill = selection. Tiny thrift = unique deals/better prices (usually).

On this trip, I hit up Goodwill.  Find the one in the biggest city near you.  It will have the best selection. 

Thrift Tip: Nothing is going to be displayed like it is in a department store.  At the mall, they have people who are paid to set stores/merchandise up so you want to buy.  At Goodwill, it's all shoved together so everything kind of looks like crap.  You have to see past the environment you are in, and look only at the item.  Imagine what it would look like on a Target shelf for example... not on a Goodwill shelf next to two ceramic pigs having tea on a park bench (I've seen it).

My favorite spots to hit are the kids clothing section, the housewares stuff, the non-clothing fabric stuff (sheets, curtains, table cloths, etc) and the kids books.

Here are this month's finds:

Brand new rain boots from Target with the tags still on.
They are about 2 years away from fitting my little guy, but he will grow in to them before I know it. If it's a good deal... buy big.

Ann Taylor Loft work pants in my size!
I didn't try them on and sadly, they don't fit great... a little boxy.  Sooo, I'm going to alter them.  For $3.50, it's worth the learning process even if I screw them up.

A boat load of fabric. (my pants are folded in there too)

Here's the fabric breakdown:

Giant shower curtain?
Not sure what this is but it's a nice light beige, has a good weave pattern, and is 100% cotton. AND, it's huge!  I think it's like 4 yards of fabric... woo hoo.

Pillow Case
Old and a nice summery floral. I've been wanting to make this Ruffle Sleeve Top from Sparkle Power for a while. I think it might be time.

Toddler bed duvet cover from IKEA.
Love the polka dots!  It's probably 3 yards total since it has 2 sides. Toddler dress maybe?

That's it this time.  Go support Goodwill and save some money.  No one will know it's used unless you tell them... or are like me and announce it : )

Happy shopping.


Tutorial: Duvet Cover

I made a duvet cover.  Wanna learn?  Sure you do!  Below is what what I'm working with... AKA, the before.  When I got this white duvet cover 5 years ago I had visions of cozy luxury hotel bedding all squishy and fluffy.  Fast forward to now... I looks like an old flat sheet thrown on the bed.  Like I gave up and went with white because I couldn't pick a color. Not cozy.  By the way, there is a 3 year old in the pillows there.  Apparently there is a rule that she must jump on and destroy all made beds while flinging cheerios, juice and snot.  It's probably because made beds are rare in my house and she doesn't see them often.

What do I need?

• All your regular sewing crap. (machine, thread, scissors, measuring tape, pins, etc.)
• A LOT of fabric.  I measured my old duvet insert.  Remember you need a top and a bottom, so double what ever measurements you come up with to determine the amount of fabric.
    - Side note: I used a set of king sized sheets for the majority of my duvet.  I only put the expensive fabric on the top where you can see it. If you wanted your duvet reversible... use a different fabric on each side. And remember this is what you will be sleeping with... make it comfy.
• Fasteners.  You need a way to close your duvet at the top.  You can add ties, snaps, buttons, whatever.
• Space.  You have to lay your fabric out somewhere to cut, measure, pin...  I have a king size bed and not a king size living room.  I had to move the couch every time I worked on this.  Not fun.  Be prepared for it.  It's big.

Here are the two fabrics I bought at JoAnn's.  I never ended up using the brown one.  I might still make a pillow or something one day.  
Very important note!  Wash and dry all of your fabric before you start!  Here's a good example why....  My "expensive" fabric from JoAnn's was dry clean only. There is no way I'm taking my duvet to the dry cleaners... who has time for that?  Anyway, I decided to wash and dry in the same manor I intended to wash and dry it when it was complete. That way, any shrinking would be taken care of and I could wash and dry at will down the road. Holy shrinkage! (I was in the pool! I was in the pool!  George Costanza?  No? Never mind.)

Yes I realize that because it was dry clean only it shrunk more than other fabrics, but they all shrink to some degree.  See how wide it used to be? Don't go through the effort of making this to have it shrink to an unusable size later.  OK, enough shrinkage lecture.

Let's get started!
I took out my duvet insert and measured it.  It was 105" wide.
I then rolled out my expensive fabric and cut it to 110" wide.  5" bigger for seam allowance and wiggle room for the insert.  
Because I only had one roll of this fabric I knew I wanted it to be a stripe across the front of my duvet.  Like this...
Then I laid out my sheet to cut the top and bottom "stripes".  Because I was not smart enough to buy two flat sheets, I had to use the fitted sheet for the stripes (I cut out the elastic) and the flat one for the back of the duvet cover.  Make life easy on yourself, buy two flat sheets if you are going the sheet route.
See that thingy there?  It's a laser level and it came in super handy for cutting such large pieces of fabric square. (See that juice cup way back there?  Probably some rancid milk in there for me later... sweet)
After I had all of my "stripes" cut, time to sew them together.  I used french seams which I also used in the Tank Revamp Toddler Dress.  Soooo much nicer to have a perfectly finished project inside and out.  Check it out.
See the little pocket it tucks all of your raw edges into?
Then I top stitched both of those seams to make it look professional.
Then I felt like this toward my duvet cover...
That's it in a giant pile on my floor.  So tired of all the measuring and endless lines of sewing! It's not a hard project, just BIG!  Ugh.  

Once my funk wore off I layed the whole thing out again (move the efing couch, AGAIN). Make sure at this point to hem what ever is going to be your top on both the front and the back of your duvet.  
Then put the pieces together, pin, and sew a giant "U" around 3 sides (both sides and bottom).  I again used french seams.  Leave the top open so you can stuff your duvet insert (or old comforter) in there.
Last thing to do, add your fasteners to the top to close it.  I used snaps with this thingy.
Aren't they pretty?
And now that you've moved furniture and crawled around the floor for days, take a nap in your new finished duvet cover!

Had to post this.  My husband and son were waiting for me to finish taking pictures so they could wrestle on the bed.  I told you made beds don't last in my house.