Oh the weather outside is frightful, but indoors is so delightful and as we’ve no place to go, then let’s sew, let’s sew, let’s sew!
I’m pretty sure those would have been the lyrics had Sammy Cahn been a fabric enthusiast 🙂 Anyhow, the weather outside really is frightful (5inches of snow is way past frightful tbh) so what better way to pass the time than to start a quilt. Not only is it a good hobby but you can wrap yourself up in it afterwards ….. pretty and practical, how brilliant is this going to be?!?
Quilting can be simple but on the other hand quilting can be truly difficult which I’ll presume is what puts many people off of it in the first place. However, we all need to start somewhere right and the only way you can get to the top is to start at the bottom so let’s begin with a basic patchwork quilt …..
1) First step is pick your fabric. Cotton or poly cotton works best for a quilt so run (carefully mind, do you know how slippery it is) to the fabric store and grab some fat quarters. Alternatively, you can finally use the stash you’ve been hoarding for another day because lets face it we’ve all got one and it’s much better to use it than to let the dreaded moths get it!
My fabric of choice this time is the Birdsong collection from Dashwood Fabrics, a beautiful muted mix of trees, mountains and birds in a selection of pale greys, mustard and navy.
2) Now because this is a basic quilt we’re going to use a basic square as our template. You can draw it on anything but I find a cereal box is especially good and seeing as most people have one it makes sense to use it. Grab your box, flatten it out and draw a 5″ x 5″ square. Cut it out and voila, there’s your template!
3) One of the most simple rules of quilting is press, press and press some more. Pop your iron on a medium heat and press all your fabric until every crease is banished. Then we can set about cutting our squares.
4)Using a fabric marker (or a HB pencil, for this basic quilt it doesn’t matter too much) draw around your template on the ‘wrong’ side of the material being sure to leave a good inch or so between each square. When you’ve got a selection of squares drawn then carefully cut them out using sharp scissors or pinking shears. Leave at least a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the template.
5) Before we do any joining or sewing, the squares now need to be placed into an aesthetically pleasing arrangement. We can then begin to join the first squares …..
6) To join 2 squares together, place them right side to right side and carefully put a pin through the top left corner of the top square, through to the same corner of the underneath square. Once those corners are lined up, go along the same line with some more pins, checking that each one is also going through the same line on the underneath fabric. Using a small stitch on your sewing machine, sew along the pinned line (remembering to remove the pins as you go). It helps if you go back over the first couple of stitches as well as the last couple in the line so as to ensure the sewing is secure.
7) Continue the above process until you have joined all of the squares in your first row. Repeat for all of the other rows that will form your quilt top.
8) Remember step 3 where we spoke about ‘Press, Press and Press some more’? Well this is where that step really comes into play. Turn over one of the rows and using your fingers, separate the seams, then press with the iron until the seams are flat. Repeat for all seams in all rows.
9) The rows we’ve just made are brilliant but we can’t do much with them until we join all the individual rows to form a quilt top so working from the bottom of the quilt upwards, place the second to last row on top of the last row. Make sure they are right side to right side and put a pin through the top left hand corner using the drawn template as a guide. Follow the top line all the way long, pinning as you go, so that the two rows are joined at the top. Once all the pins are in place, carefully sew all the way along (removing pins as you get to them).
10) Repeat step 9 for the rest of the rows and voila, you have one amazing quilt top.
11) Now, you could leave it as it is but it simply wouldn’t be a quilt without some form of quilting. For the quilt in the example, I’ve done a simple but effective straight line design but you could try a more complicated straight line effect or even try your hand at free motion quilting (more of which we’ll cover at a later date).
12) Once you’ve decided on the quilting design, you need to pin your quilt top to your batting and possibly to the backing as well. It’s up to you whether you choose to sew through all 3 layers or instead through the top 2 and then join the backing afterwards. Use safety pins to join your layers before you sew as it’ll keep the layers together more securely than pins at this stage.
13) Binding ….. scared?!? 🙂 Don’t be, it really isn’t as awkward as people claim. For this quilt I’ve used double edge bias tape in a contrasting shade of grey. To begin, start a couple of inches in from one corner of your quilt. Open the tape so the bottom inside edge is level with the edge of the quilt. Carefully pin in place until you reach a couple of centimetres before the next corner.
14) For this quilt I’ve used mitred corners because I feel they look nicer but you can use a butted edge if you prefer. To create a mitred corner, fold the unsewn binding straight up so that it is at a 45 degree angle and so that its bottom edge produces a diagonal line. Then fold the binding back down on itself so that the top of the fold is level with the top edge of the quilt. Pin in place and continue round to the next corner. When all corners are complete and when all the binding is pinned in place, carefully sew all the way around to secure the binding to the quilt. The line of stitches should now be hidden by the binding tape.
15) Now that one side of the binding is joined to the quilt, the next step is to gently fold the binding over the top of all 3 layers and pin in place. Although you could machine sew if you wanted, a better alternative is to hand sew using invisible thread and the ladder stitch.
16) The final stage is to give it another good press and check it all over for any stray heads that you missed as you were going along, then ….. Give yourself a round of applause because you’ve just finished your first basic quilt! 🙂