Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quilting for Beginners: Black & White & Purple Snuggle Quilt. Easy Quilt Top. Quilting for Fun.

So, I wanted to make what I call a "snuggle quilt".  In my mind this is something everyone should own.  It's big enough to cover you up, but not so big that it's too cumbersome to handle easily.  I like to use polo fleece for the backing, this helps in my opinion to make it very snuggley!

I don't have any particular patterns.  I just use my imagination.  I start  looking at other quilt patterns. I roughly figure out what I think I want it to look like, pattern wise.  Then I go off looking for fabrics.  This time I had decided I wanted to do something with my 3 favourites: black and white and purple.  I decided a black and white all cotton top, cotton wadding and purple polo fleece backing.

There are no size restrictions, just make it as big or small as you want.

I made sure I brought black and whites in shade lots. i.e. Dark, medium and light. That gave me an assortment of combinations that I liked.  I brought the edging fabric in a dark colour to highlight the squares.  The binding was made with another black and white that I purposefully didn't use in the quilt top as well as scraps from the quilt.  I like this look as to me it adds further contract, but by adding in some of the fabrics from the quilt top, you tie in into the quilt and it pleases the eye.

I like cotton wadding as it is thinner and easy to work with on my sewing machine. I do all my quilt myself on my little Toyota sewing machine.  My only requirements when I brought the machine was that it had to take a walking foot, and a free sewing foot for quilting.

I decided with this quilt to break the rules I had been taught about using the same type of fabric for the back and front of the quilt and used polo fleece for the back and cotton for the top.When it was finished,  I washed it in the machine (cold water only)  hung it on the line to dry and then took the photos. So no problems with shrinkage! Polo fleece is the side you snuggle into and feels very comforting, especially if you are unwell. Then you have your pretty quilt top to look at and cheer you up.

Some measurements I did use to give you an idea.  Although I am very much a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of quilter, I tend to start with a basic structure and go from there with whatever comes to mind. Try it sometime, it's fun! I then make it to the size of my purpose. i.e. Baby blanket, cot blanket, single bed, snuggle quilt, etc.

For the squares.  They end up being 9" square.  I start with 3 1/2 inch stripes. This allows for a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
I sew my stripes together in different colour ways and then cross cut them into squares.  When I have made a ship load of squares, I stop and measure them all carefully, making sure they are 9" square.

Then I join the squares in rows of 5 with my borders.  Then I join the rows along the bottoms with the border colour. Then lastly I do the outside borders. My border fabric is cut 1 1/2 inches wide. Then I trim the outer edges to ensure I have straight lines. I cut my wadding and my backing about 4 inches larger that the top. 

I then go to my dining room as it has a tiled floor and clear the area.

I lay out my quilt backing (which I have cut all the edges on so they are straight). I put the quilt back face down on the tiles and tape it flat so there are no wrinkles etc. Right side of fabric facing the floor. You should be looking at the wrong side of the fabric.

Then you cover the taped back with the wadding.  Smooth the wadding carefully from the centre out to the edges of the quilt. You should find that it clings to the backing slightly.  Then cover the wadding with the quilt top.

The top should be about 4 inches smaller than the wadding and backing. You should now be looking at your quilt top, right side facing you. This way when you pin it, you can see where you don't want the pins ready for when you sew the 3 layers together.  eg. in this quilt I ditch stitched along the outer borders of the squares and down the outsides of the border fabrics.  Just straight lines, making big squares, simple and easy to do. So don't put pins in the borders or too close to the edges of the squares.  I simply pinned in the centre of every small square within the 9 inch square. That's 9 pins per square.  That's a lot, but I like to make sure nothing is going to move!!

Now I get my bag of safety pins (about 1inch in size), and a pillow for my knees.

Carefully position yourself on the pillow with your pins in the middle of your quilt. Start pinning from the centre of your quilt, gently easing out any creases and pin to the outer areas.  I like to move upwards first and from side to side. Then when I reach the top of my quilt I have pinned the top half of it completely. Then I turn around and very carefully place my pillow on my pinned section facing the bottom unpinned section and start back in the centre and moving down and left to right do the bottom half. Once the 3 layers are all pinned together you can un-tape it from the floor and all 3 layers are securely held in place ready for you to quilt it. Do not trim off the excess yet!!!! You do that AFTER you have finished sewing the 3 layers together.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to keep my pins about the width of my fist apart, so pretty close, but remember where you want to sew when you are quilting and if you are doing straight lines you can plan not to pin in those areas. However, if you are doing patterns or abstract quilting you will just have to watch you safety pins and remove them as you sew. No problems. They are easy to see as you will be sewing with the quilt top facing you.

When you have finished quilting your 3 layers, trim to size then add your outer binding to finish off your quilt.  I use a 2 1/2 inch binding folded in half. Some people also like to add a "tag" on their quilt. Usually I don't, but it's up to you.

So to give you a breakdown of procedure:

1. Determine what pattern and fabric colours you want to use. Determine how big you want to make the quilt (approximately) You can adjust the size as you go if you are not happy with what you first thought.

2. Go shopping and buy all your requirements. e.g fabrics, cottons, safety pins (if you don't already have them)
    I always like to buy a bit extra fabric for two reasons.
    A. I can make the quilt bigger than I planned if I want to.
    B. I will have some more lovely fabrics to add to my "stash".  "Stash" fabrics can make another abstract quilt later on!

3. Sort your fabrics into colourways. eg. darks, mediums, lights.  Then cut your fabrics to your required sizes.

4. Sew like a mad woman!!!!! Measure your squares and cut them to EXACTLY 9 inches square.

5. Lay all your squares out in rows of 5 across. You will have 8 rows.  Play with the placement of your squares until your eye likes what it is seeing.  Then sew your squares into rows using your border (1 1/2 inch) fabric.

6. Join your rows with your border fabric starting from the bottom of the top row, joining it to the top of the second row etc.

7. Add your outer borders last.

8. Trim all outer edges straight.

9. Measure your quilt add 4 inches and cut your wadding and backing fabric accordingly.

10.  Lay out your 3 layers ready to pin together.  Backing first, right side of fabric facing the floor,  tape it securely without stretching it tight, then wadding and then quilt top, right side facing you.

11. Pin all 3 layers together.

12.  Sew your quilt in the design you want. Then remove all remaining pins.

13.  Trim outer edges into straight lines.

14. Add your binding.

15. Wash your quilt. When it's dry go over it carefully for any missed edges etc and adjust if necessary.

16. Make yourself a cup of tea, hang your quilt over a chair in front of you and sit back, sip your tea and admire your hard work and smile!!! Good job completed!

17.  Now think of who else would like a quilt for a birthday present/ baby shower/ wedding present etc, and plan the next quilt for them!

Most of all enjoy your quilting. It's supposed to be fun.

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