How to Quilt
By Susan Weinroth
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Basting safety pins
Batting (I use bamboo, but 100% cotton is also great) – 1.5 yards batting
*Fabric for squares – you will need 36 5.5 inch squares (you can buy 1/6 yard cuts for these), Fabric for border – you will need 2/3 of a yard for this, Fabric for binding – you will need ½ yard for this, Fabric for backing – you will need 1.5 yards for this. Finished quilt will measure 36 inches square.
I’m often asked about how to go about making a basic quilt, and I thought that writing this article would help even a first-time quilter create a gorgeous baby quilt, by providing step by step instruction along with the tips that will help you to get the most out of your Fiskars sewing tools.
Start by selecting a few different fabrics. My thought process is to choose one multi-colored print (the large heather bailey floral in this case) to start, and then to draw out coordinating colors from that fabric and select other prints that will complement it.
Fiskars tools are so helpful in cutting fabric and constructing my quilt tops. The 6" x 24" Acrylic Ruler makes it easy to trim my 1/6 yard cuts of fabric down to 5.5 inches wide as needed for the basic blocks of the quilt. Simply fold your fabric in half at the crease mark and the Fiskars ruler will then cover the length of the fabric. Use the 45 mm Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter to make straight edge cuts (through 2 layers at a time) trimming your fabric (for the center blocks in this case) down to 5.5 inches wide.
Then further trim each strip to 5.5 inches square. You will need 36 of these 5.5 inch squares for your quilt.
Next assemble your squares 6 across, 6 down in a large open area, moving squares around until you create a pattern that is pleasing to your eye.
After you decide on a layout for your blocks, go row by row across, pin side-by-side squares together with straight pins and use your sewing machine to stitch each to the next with a straight stitch and ¼ inch inseam.
After each of the six rows are seamed together, press seams on each row flat with an iron – all seams pressed in the same direction. Match a row to the row below using the seam lines as a guide, pin right sides together, and machine stitch using a straight stitch and ¼ inch inseam.
After 36 squares are all joined, press seams that were just sewn all in the same direction. Now you’re ready to add the border – which was a chocolate brown polka dot print in my example here. Trim four 5 inch wide strips of fabric (so they will measure 5x44). Match two strips up to either side of your blocked and pieced quilt top, trim so that they measure the length of your already pieced top (this could vary depending on if some of your inseams were slightly “off”, so I find it more helpful to just measure at this point and trim to that length). Machine stitch using a ¼ inch inseam.
Next repeat the process with the other two border strips, placing on top and bottom of the in progress quilt top. Trim to fit, and machine stitch using a ¼ inch inseam. Press all border seams in one direction.
Congratulations! Your quilt top is now complete!
Next it’s time to layer your quilt, and to create your quilt-sandwich so that it’s ready to be basted before actually quilting it. Lay your backing fabric down in an open, flat space (be sure to iron/press backing fabric prior to this step), right side down. Then lay your batting on top – I use a bamboo batting purchased at my local quilt store, but I also love 100% cotton batting such as warm n’ natural. After this, lay your quilt top on top of the batting, right side up. Smooth to make sure that there are no wrinkles. It should also be noted that it’s a good idea to leave at least 2-3 inches of backing fabric and batting in excess of your quilt top measurements, to account for any possible shifts or bunching during the machine quilting process.
Time to baste your quilt in preparation for machine quilting. I use large “quilters” safety pins for this step. Simply start at the center of your quilt and work your way outward, securing all layers of your quilt-sandwich by using one safety-pin per block and enough on the border to be sure that everything is safe and in place.
In machine quilting the basic design used on this quilt, I thought it would be best to quilt ¼ inch off of each seam, in either direction. I find it helpful to use a walking foot on my sewing machine to do this, and also to roll each side of the quilt up as I’m sewing.
After all quilting is finished, you will need to “square-off” your quilt to prepare it for binding. This is done by sewing around the perimeter of the quilt – approx 1/8 inch inwards.
And then cutting the edge off around the squared-off seams. Be sure though to leave enough “extra” edge to fill your binding. Usually ¼ - 1/3 inch is sufficient.
Create your binding: Cut five 2.5 inch wide by 44 inch length strips from the fabric that you’d like to bind your quilt with. Use the 6" x 24" Acrylic Ruler and 45 mm Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter with 18 Inch x 24 Inch Mat to do this. After all strips are cut, machine stitch each together at right angles, with a diagonal straight stitch from corner to corner – as shown here:
Use Razor Edged No 8 Bent Scissors to trim extra little “triangle” off as shown here:
Repeat until all five strips are sewn together, and then unfold to create one continuous binding strip.
Use your iron to press to crease binding strip, folding in half lengthwise.
Use straight pins to pin binding on top side of quilt, rough side outward, folded side inward toward middle of quilt. Make sure to leave about a 8 inch tail (hanging off quilt, unpinned) at the point where you start pinning.
When you get to a corner, make a little upwards folded triangle as shown here:
Place pin in upwards triangle, and on either side. After you go around the entire quilt, you will need to “join” strips. Fold left side strip down and trim as shown.
Lay right side binding strip inside of folded strip piece as shown.
Pin to secure.
Machine stitch (again the walking foot works best for this!) around edge of binding, about ¼ inch away from rough edge. When you get to a corner, backstitch a bit to secure, then lift sewing foot, turn quilt, lower foot and start stitching that side of quilt.
Fold binding over to backside of quilt, pin in place, and use a small sharp needle and thread to hand stitch binding to back of quilt.
Use a thread that coordinates with your binding, and make the bulk (length) of your stitches through the interior of the quilt – so that stitches appear invisible. I find No. 5 Micro-Tip® Scissors to be handy during the stitching and binding process. And when the binding is complete, you will have a beautiful and finished baby quilt completed all on your own!
It’s so much fun to modify patterns and search the web for quilting inspiration to create your own quilt designs. While I continue to learn more about quilting, and to find tips and tricks that work for me with each quilt that I create, one thing remains constant in the process: the Fiskars tools that help me to assemble each quilt that I make!