Holy crap, I made a baby quilt!!
Our good friends, Bart and Erin, are expecting a baby in early September. I decided to make them a baby quilt as a shower gift. I don't really remember where this idea came from...I have never made a baby quilt before. Although, I have made one quilt in my life (it was a gift for Katie after high school.) But there I was in Hancock Fabric, filling my basket with pink and orange remnants. I guess it all started with this guy:
Erin loves lady bugs, and they are having a little girl, so I snatched it up and came home to Google "easy baby quilt." (Ha!)
I never really found a pattern/instructions that I was happy with, but I decided use this cute quilt as my guide.
After a little sketching and measuring, I came up with a pattern that would work with the fabrics I had picked up at the store.
I used pink and orange as the 2 main colors, and I had 4 patterns of each.
Each block is made up of 5 pieces: 1 top, 1 bottom, 2 sides, and a center (which is in the opposite color.) I made some templates out of poster board to use as guides when cutting the fabric.
Here is my attempt at writing a pattern for you.
The top section explains how the quilt will be laid out (5 x 5, 8 inch blocks for a 40 inch x 40 inch quilt.)
The bottom section explains what cuts you'll need, once you include a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
I figured out all cuts could be made from a 9.5 inch square, if laid out like the last picture.
I love math.
I used a numbering/lettering system to figure out which fabrics go where. It looks a little confusing at first, but bear with me. I think it's a good layout!
First, I gave each of the pink fabrics a number and each of the orange fabrics a letter.
Then I paired up the fabrics, one pink with one orange. You will need to do this twice - once for orange centers and once for pink centers. I found that you don't want to use the same partners, or you will end up with too many like fabrics in the same area of the quilt. Does that make sense? Here is what I did:
Then I drew a 5 x 5 grid and made a center box in each square. I wrote the corresponding letter or number in the inner square to represent the center fabric and the outer square to represent the corresponding outside fabric.
This is easiest to do in steps. I started with the pink outside fabrics. The labels go like this:
Then I filled in the corresponding orange center fabrics, according to my key, so it looks like this:
Next, I filled in the orange outside fabrics as such (I erased the other labels to make it easier to read):
And then filled in the corresponding pink center fabrics, according to my key:
Again, this is what it looks like all together:
Not so bad once you break it down, right?
After all of the cuts were made, I laid everything out to make sure I liked how it looked. And then I took pictures to make sure I could recreate it!
Then I clipped the 5 pieces of each block together using binder clips. Each row had its own color of clip so I could keep things organized. (Yeah, I had 5 colors of binder clips just hanging out in my desk drawer. I am a lover of office supplies. )
Then I got to work on putting the squares together. You start by lining up the edge of the top piece with one of the edges of the middle square. You lay them with right sides facing each other, and then you stitch along the edge.
Then you do the same with the bottom piece on the opposite edge of the square.
Next, you open up the flaps, like a book.
You could iron the seams flat, but I just kind of flattened them out with a pastry roller. For some reason I found this easier than plugging in the iron. (Quilters, please don't stone me!)
Now you do the same thing with the side pieces, sewing along the edges of the top piece, center square, and bottom piece.
Open those flaps, and you've got your block!
Repeat 24 times.
After all of your blocks are made, stitch them together in rows. Again, lay the fabric with right sides facing each other, sew down the edge, then open it up.
After each of your rows are finished, sew them together the same way! I highly recommend laying out the whole quilt before stitching the rows together. I ended up having to tweak a few of the seams to get things to line up well.
Now you have the front of your quilt complete! The hard work is over.
For the back of the quilt, I used a piece of flannel, cut to size. But before attaching it, I added a little heart patch to the lower right-hand corner to kind of say "made with love." I did this before attaching the back so the stitches were hidden. (I ironed it on and then stitched it in place to make sure it was secure.)
I added a light layer of batting between the two layers.
Warning: Batting looks just like the guts of stuffed animals. If you have dogs that love un-stuffing stuffed animals, don't leave this out around them! I had to make an emergency trip to the fabric store because I came upstairs to find this mess:
My dogs decided to shred it while I was out of the room. Boo!
Anyway, lay your quilt top face down. Then spread the batting on top of it, trimming to size. Next, lay the flannel back piece on top of the batting, also trimming, if necessary.
To attach the three layers, measure and cut quilting binding to go around the edge, leaving an extra inch or two hang over to be folded over the corners. Carefully stitched down the edge, being sure all of the layers are being pinched between the binding.
And finally (last step!), secure it all together using a tying method. I did it this way because that's how my grandma taught me to do it. (I LOVE being able to say that!) When we were little, she told us each tie was a hug from her.
You use a curved needle, which makes it so much easier to get the thread down through all of the layers and back up in a small space.
I used embroidery floss in pink that matched the flannel backing. It's recommended to put a tie every 6-8 inches. I put one at the corner of each block as well as in the center of the pink squares.
And, there you have it! Very unofficial sounding instructions to make a baby quilt.
Even though I kind of did it on a whim, I think it turned out great. Not perfect, but still quite good. Turns out quilting is just a lot of geometry! And a hefty dose of patience.
Enjoy, Erin, Bart, and baby "Willamina"!