Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sew your first quilt!

Sew, it has been a long time. With Christmas sewing, school, and life I somehow missed December and January. Currently I am preparing to teach a parent/child quilt class at Sew Memphis. Of course, the teacher in me is going over and over the best way to work with young children and quilting. Rotary cutting? No, I have seen adults injure themselves! Complicated blocks? Only if I want to scare them into thinking quilting is torture. So after much thought, here is the pattern and instructions on the easy peasy little baby/lap quilt I am going to do. I am sharing this in case there is anyone out there that is currently looking to make a first quilt, or teaching a young one to quilt! This is only for the top assembly.

Materials Needed

sewing machine
paper template found here QUILT CUTS
double check you are printing actual size, and make a quick measure to make sure the large square is 6 1/2 by 6 1/2, the small square is 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 and the strip is  2 1/2 by 6 1/2 
about 6 or more fat quarters or a bag of scraps
quarter inch foot

A quick note about fabric. Cotton. Quilters cotton. 100% cotton. There are other 100% cotton fabrics, so make sure it is lighter weight like calico and not home decor weight. Most of the fabric in stores is quilters cotton. Blended fabrics are evil. Unless you are making clothes. Well, at least as you start your quilters journey. 

Quilts are blocks of fabric sewn together. How fancy the block is is up to the quilter, but for now lets start with the basics. We use a quarter inch seam, this makes our math easier. Yes, quilters use math. Lots and lots of math. I suggest before we begin, if you do not have a quarter inch seam foot, that you take a ruler tool of some sort and measure from the needle to 1/4 inch. if there is no mark on your machine, you might want to grab some painters tape and mark it. This is what I did for Evie, even with a quarter inch foot it was hard for her to keep a straight seam when she first started.

This is what my quarter inch foot looks like. I follow the edge of the foot for a quarter inch seam. Trying to keep a straight even stitch is important, it keeps your blocks measuring the same. Practice a quarter inch seam a few times before starting.

Now, here is a photo of the Templates

The large one is 6 1/2 inches. If you take away the seams, that means your finished block will be a six inch square. So for this quilt, that is the size of our finshed blocks. The small square is for a four patch, so that template is 3 1/2  inches. The strip is for a rail fence, or 3 stripes. That is 6 1/2 by 2 1/2. These are the blocks you are making.

 Cut out the templates, carefully pin to your fabric and cut  few out from each fabric. Make sure you have pressed your fabric well.You want more small squares and strips than large squares.

So, are you ready? Confident you can do and keep a quarter inch seam? First, make sure you have a tight stitch. Each machine has a different numbering system for stitches that are closer together or farther apart. Take it a little closer together. Next, find a little scrap. This is called a starter. you put it in and start your stitch on that, then you can piece one after the other. It is also an ender, instead of just stopping you go put this at end. You can see the starter in some of the pictures.

We will do the 4 patch block first. Take your 3 1/2 inch squares. Place your starter piece in the machine, go over the end of it a few stitches. Line up edges of 2 small squares with right sides facing each other, place under your foot, you will not lift your foot, just place the squares under and sew. Keep going! Go over the end of that one, then take 2 more squares and keep going until you have used all the small squares.

Now, take your sewn squares to the ironing board to press. Pressing is as important as sewing, you want a crisp press. Place square on the board with seam facing away from you. Press over the seam, then gently fold the top piece of fabric back, pressing. I do pull a little to make sure the seam is flat, but don't pull too much!

here is a side view of the pressed seam.

back view. See how nice, even and flat?

When you get all your squares pressed, go back to your machine. You need to put 2 sets together to make a square. When doing this, you want the seams to go in the opposite direction to create a lock.

See how they nuzzle into each other? That keeps the seams on the front of the block lined up. Place a pin there to keep it in place when you start sewing. Now sew that side.

Watch your seams, try to keep them flat and the direction you pressed them!

easy enough? Now you have your four patches done! Take those over to your board and press the seams.


Now for the 3 strips. Make 3 even piles of fabric. Sew 2 strips together down the long side first, then press that seam. Next, take a third strip and sew along one of the long sides. Press that seam. You should now have a stack that looks like this

easy enough?

Now you have 3 stacks of blocks to use for your scrappy quilt. This is where your creativity can fly. You are now going to take 4 of the blocks to create a 12 1/2 inch block (12 inch finshed) I have more solid squares, so I decided to do 2 solids, 1 4 patch and 1 rail fence in each big square like this.

You will need 9 finished larger blocks. To do each of these, I fold over from left to right and place a pin in the side I want to sew together. Just like the four patch, sew 2 together first, press, the sew the sets together to make a block.

For these larger blocks, I press to the solid 6 inch block, so that my seams create the lock we need.

Regardless, if you lay it out differently, you need to watch where you press to create a locking seam.

When you have the 9 big blocks done, you are ready to layout and sew your top! Lay all the blocks out. Your finished quilt will be 36 inch square. This is a great size because you can use a yard and a quarter of flannel to back it instead of making it larger and having to piece backing.

Now that it is laid out, I like to piece the top row, middle row, then bottom row. To create a lock, you need to press the top and bottom seams to the left and the center to the right. When the strips are done, piece them just like you did the rail fence block. Pin at all of your seams before you assemble! It keeps it from shifting.


OK, now you need a backing. Grab a yard and a quarter of flannel or quilters cotton and some the same size as batting. These are larger than the quilt top, so after you lay it out and pin it down, you will need to trim.

Take your backing piece and lay it out nice and flat with the right side facing up. next, lay your quilt top face down, making it nice and flat.

If you are using flannel and don't want batting, you can pin now. If not, add your batting. This is so when you are done sewing and ready to turn, the batting is on the inside.

Now pin around the sides. Here is where you want to trim your batting and backing. Sew around the sides leaving about a 3 inch gap in one side to turn right sides out. Clip your corners before turning, turn right side out. press. Make sure to pin your turning hole, then topstitch around the edge. I stitch between some of the squares to finish it up.

All Done! I hope this helped a bit! If you can, join me for classes at Sew Memphis! It's always more fun to sew in a group.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a wonderful course! What a nice addition to the offerings at Sew Memphis!!