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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MoNkEy Quilt for beginners!

So you want to learn how to make a quilt? This is a great beginner quilt. I'll show you each step. I made this quilt for a friend of mine's little 3 year old girl. She absolutely loved it!

Find fabrics that you like that looks good together. I think it's best to get a light, medium and a darker. Also, if there is a pattern in the fabric, try to get a small, medium and large patterns. Depending on your overall size, you'll need to chose a backing fabric as well. It can be a cute print or a solid white muslin fabric. I used quilt fabrics that are 100% cotton.

This quilt was completely sewn by machine. I even did the final quilting by machine by using a "stitch in a ditch' method which I will explain later. 

I do not pre-wash my fabrics. I have tried that before and I just don't like all of the ironing afterwards  :)

Use a rotary cutter and cutting mat. A cutting mat is self healing and will not cut all the way through.  I also used the see-through rulers for quilting made by OmniGrid. You will find all of this stuff in your local fabric stores.

Always use a 1/4" seam allowance. Sew slowly, and steady so your stitching is straight and the quilt squares will match up.

So I started out with a few fabrics that I liked and then chose what I thought would look good together. 

I decided on a Monkey theme. I took out the Zebra fabrics. Maybe for another quilt another time?

CUTTING: I cut several 6" strips of each fabric that I chose. First "square up" your fabric by trimming away the uneven side like this: (Self healing mat is underneath the fabric. Use a rotary cutter like this. Close the rotary cutter every single time you are done with a cut. The blade is razor sharp.)

Now, turn your fabric around and cut your 6" strips. This is not the actual fabric used in the 9-squares blocks, but I wanted to show you how to cut the fabric.

Don't...DO NOT be like me, IRON all of your fabric! I can't believe I didn't iron this first. Maybe I got in a hurry?

Then I trimmed each fabric strips down to a 6" squares. Arrange how you want it....

PIN AND SEW: Now leaving the square pieces in place, just flip over the middle row onto the 1st row on left and pin in place.

Now sew the squares that are flipped over (right sides together.) You can sew all three at once, just keep sewing and don't snip your threads. If you leave them uncut, you can easily flip over the final roll on the right onto the left/middle rolls. 

Flip over the final  roll on the right onto the left/middle rolls and sew that roll. 

Now sew the horizontal rolls matching up your seams. You now have your 9 squares of fabrics sewed together! Easy! I made 6 of these 'blocks' for a 3 year old child. Iron your square by gently pressing down. I try to alternate my seams by pressing light to dark and dark to light.

LATTICE: Now I need to sew all of my 9-square blocks together. I had previously laid both green fabrics beside the squares to see what I liked best:

I decided on this green 'lattice' fabric for the strips in between the blocks. 

Now cut lattice fabric into 3 1/2" strips. (Don't forget to 'square up' on fabric first.) This will be your vertical fabric that joins the 2 blocks together.  See below.

Cut each of the 3 1/2" green strips the same length (6+6+6 minus 1/2" seam = 17 1/2") as the 9-square sewn block and sew onto the sides of the 6 blocks. You will need to cut 9 of these strips. 

Note: the green fabric on the left is shown laying right sides together.

Now take your fabric measuring tape (or do the math) and cut 4 strips to that length and sew across the top of your 2-block section. Do this to each of your 2-blocks sections. You will need to sew a final strip across the bottom 2-block section. Always iron pieces before you add a new one....

This is how it should look after you have sewn the green fabric all around the blocks. Remember to sew the side of the blocks first with your 'lattice fabric' then sew a longer strip a the top. Now with right sides together, sew together your block/lattices together. (This photo is to show you how the lattices strips look. I forgot to take a photo of blocks sewn together with lattice fabric. See later notes for the border and sewing together the quilt.)

I chose a cute polka dot 5" 'border' fabric to sew around the edges. I decided to add the green fabric at the corners as well. You have to measure the length first so you can make it fit and line up with the other seams. Make sure you add the 1/4" seam allowance. It's kinda tricky, but if your careful, it'll work.

After everything was sewn together you now have the 'quilt top' finished!  Chose a backing fabric. I picked a cute 'banana' fabric. 

Assemble like this. Lay your backing fabric down WRONG side up. (make sure it is slightly larger than top of quilt. I like to leave a good 3-4" all around the edges). Lay the cotton batting on top of the backing fabric. Again leave 3-4 inches of the batting all around the edges. Now lay quilt on top of the batting and backing. WRONG side down. Using safety pins (I used safety pins made especially for quilts...they are slightly bent to make it easier to insert), start in the center working your way outward and pin every 6" or so all over the quilt.

STITCH IN THE DITCH: Now you can 'machine quilt' the layers together. I used the "stitch in the ditch" method. That means to sew in the seam of where two pieces of fabric meet.....If you are fortunate to have a 'walking foot' attachment, it helps greatly. I did not have one when I made this quilt so I did have slight puckering.

Click on this video by Fons & Potter to learn the Stitch in the Ditch method HERE.

Stitch in the Ditch

Start in the center and always work your way outward in an equal fashion.  If is okay to sew all the way to the edges of the fabrics. I bought these 'bicycle clips' a few years ago and they help to hold your quilt so it is more manageable will machine quilting. (Note: I used my dining room table to do this. It has a glass top so that is why it looks like it is floating. lol)

After all of the 'stitch in the ditch' is completed, trim off excess fabric all around making sure you don't cut into the quilt top fabric. You can remove the safety pins in the middle, but leave them in on the edges.

BINDING: Cut 2 1/2" strips. Since the fabric is approximately 45", you just need to roughly measure your sides and tops of the quilt top to figure out how many square to sew together.  I use this method when sewing together: 

Cut ends at a 45 degree angle. I use my handy 6" fabric clear fabric ruler. Line up the yellow line at bottom of fabric before cutting. (Note: this is not the fabric that I used, but you can see how it is cut.)

With right sides together, pin ends together like this.

Sew all of your strips together.

Cut  a 45 degree angle at the end of the strip where you will start, then fold in 1/4" and press. (No photo of this, but you can see at the very end of these photos). Now fold the strip lengthwise & iron the entire strip.

Starting in about 2-3" in on the strip, sew strip onto the edge of your quilt with raw edges even using 1/4" seam allowance as before (Sew a couple of stitches, then back stitch a couple more stitches to secure.)

Stop 1/4" away from edge and back stitch a couple of stitches. I used a small metal ruler to pin the spot so I didn't sew past the 1/4".

Now, flip your fabric back at a 45 degree angle, then while holding the angle down, fold the fabric back down and continue sewing the strip to the quilt making sure you back stitch each time you start sewing.

You may not be able to see from this photo, but the fabric has been folded back down over the angle.

After the binding has been sewn all around, stop a few inches before you get to the end, trim off the remaining strip at an angle with scissors leaving 1-2" so you can 'tuck' the binding into the 'beginning' of the strip. (Note this is where the beginning of the strip was cut at a 45 degree angle and 1/4" was pressed. I did this so that I will not have a raw edge on my binding.

Continue sewing past the joined edges into the start of the stitching. Back stitch.

THE BIG FINISH: Fold seam binding to the back and slip stitch in place.

YEA! A finished quilt.

I think my friend really liked this for her daughter. I had my sister make one of her "Peek-A-Boo" pillows in the same fabrics. I forgot to take a photo of it, but you can see what they look like HERE. Great quality, handmade pillows. Very popular with children!