Beginner's baby quilt

Beginner's baby quilt

A slight deviation from my usual dressmaking focused sewing this week! Our boy heavy family has been eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new baby girl, and as a gift from her loving auntie, I decided to attempt to make her a quilt. I have never made a quilt before, so used all my Internet research skills to figure out how to put my sewing skills to a new use. (It didn't turn out too bad at all!)


Why?

I had recently watched the Little Tailoress' podcast, in which she shows a number of projects. In this episode however, I was really drawn to the quilt she was making. I had never considered quilting as something I could do with my machine (or to entirely honest, would want to). But, the way she talked made me think a bit more about quilting. Then I started looking on Pinterest for quilt ideas and realised that a baby quilt would be an ideal project. I could try my hand at quilting on something that wasn't too large, and it would be an ideal gift too. I was really amazed at how stylish quilts could be and how you could really get creative as you build a skills set.



How to make a baby quilt as a beginner

Firstly I decided to research a little more into how to make a quilt....and discovered it was easier than I thought. One the one hand it is incredibly simple to sew together small pieces of fabric into a desirable pattern, back it and bind it. One the other hand, you need a keen eye for details and there is a bit of maths involved! (One of the pins in the board above has a handy guide for figuring out how much fabric you need so if you are starting out and want to know how much to buy, look there.)

There are a lot of tutorials online, and some classes on Craftsy too. I decided that the Beginning Quilting series from Diary of a Quilter had everything I needed, and the pattern she used was what I was looking for for my first project....simple squares! She also has tips for more advanced quilters so I thought she would be good to return to if this project goes well. I did deviate slightly from the requirements she outlines, but it's essentially the same quilt as the tutorial.

Beginner's baby quilt







In a nutshell, you sew together fabric into the pattern you like, then sandwich some wadding or batting in between this and a bottom layer. You sew all three layers together at regular intervals and then bind the edges with bias strips. If you are getting really fancy you can use a free motion foot to sew interesting patterns as you fix all the layers together. I didn't go this far so I used parallel, perpendicular and diagonal lines that were sewn over the seam lines from joining my top pattern fabrics together (not a great fan of stitching in the ditch, but this is what I tried to do!). It's the first piecing together stage and this stitching in the ditch that makes it really important to cut pieces accurately in the first place. You end up with wonky lines otherwise.

(Yes, there are some dodgy bits on mine because I hadn't realised this when I was cutting)

Beginner's baby quilt

Supplies

Although I have enough sewing kit to keep me in dressmaking, I did have to investigate and purchase extra supplies for this project. I already had a rotary cutter, ruler and self-healing mat, which was essential for cutting accurate (ish) squares. That's about it though...

Additional kit that I needed:
Quilting foot (also known as a walking foot or even feed foot). This is essential for feeding the multiple layers of fabric through the machine without bunching it all up. The cheapest supplier of the one that fit my machine was John Lewis, by over £5. I figured this was an acceptable expense because you can use this foot to help with slippery and sheer fabrics too (which I do use a lot).
Quilting needles. The general advice is to have the right needle for any project, so I supposed that these would be a good idea
Basting spray. After looking at a few tutorials it appeared that keeping all the layers together when sewing could be problematic. I'd either need curved safety pins or wash out spray. The difference in price was negligible so I picked the spray - it just looks simpler! I found this one from the Village Haberdashery for a reasonable price. When I was using it I was really careful to make sure I didn't have any wrinkles (so basically flat on the kitchen floor!) and it did hold everything together well enough to get it all sewn together.

So far we are at the best part of £50. These can all be reused but there is a definite investment in taking up a new hobby!

Beginner's baby quilt


Over to fabric...

Now, usually I buy fabric by the metre, but for quilting I could finally enter the world of fat quarters that I see so much of online. There are so many bundles and collections that you really can make anything. I was thinking along the lines of a pink and grey theme for this quilt....and unicorns. As soon as I decided that I was making a quilt for a baby girl, I knew it had to be unicorns! The Yorkshire Sewist used unicorns for her pyjamas in August's #wardrobebuilder project and I have been obsessed with finding a way to use them since!

Higgs and Higgs are super helpful for quilting because they organise their fabric into themed collections...there is one all about unicorns and even a handy bundle of themed fabrics. No brainer! I chose a 4 pack with two different unicorn coloured fabrics. I also needed half a metre of another fabric for borders and 1 metre of another print for the back and edges of the quilt. The fabric I picked for the borders ended up as one of the fat quarters (you don't necessarily get exactly what is in the picture) and this worked really well to complement the pattern. It was also a great choice because it has little silver stars in it that twinkle in the sunlight. Unicorns and twinkly stars...how cute!

Beginner's baby quilt

And finally you need something in between all this fabric! The Beginning quilting series explained the different types of wadding really clearly, and I sourced mine from the Village Haberdashery. The quilt I made was a little smaller than the wadding I bought but I think my maths was out...I had 4 left over squares and should have had exactly enough so had to leave out a row.

Thoughts on sewing my first quilt

  • I definitely enjoyed fabric hunting, but not sourcing any other materials.
  • Squares are a good starting point. They looked better than I thought they would too.
  • There was something therapeutic about the repetitive straight - line sewing that was needed to sew all the squares together and to sew all the layers together. I thought it would be boring, but it wasn't.
  • A baby quilt is a good sized project - it's not too large to fit under the sewing machine for a start!
  • I need to be more accurate with cutting out precise sized squares. I can see where they don't join up perfectly, but I don't know if anyone else would notice. I am proud that I mitred the corners though!
  • There's a lot you can do. I have fallen in love with some fat quarter collections and other quilt patterns that are a little more complicated....but I reckon they are a lot more difficult than I'm ready for. I also think that I would struggle with my sewing machine for some of these, which is a shame.
  • Will everyone be getting a quilt for Christmas?
Have you made quilts? How have you found it and do you have any tips?

Beginner's baby quilt

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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking and delicious food.
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