Quilting How-Tos

Ready, set, go… It is not a race when I set out to design a new baby quilt.

Before I decide how I want my next baby quilt to look, I pull out the quilt books on my shelves, the magazines that I have sitting just waiting for me to leaf through their pages, and check out some of my patterns that I have saved either in boxes or on the computer files.

Through the years, I have learned to carry my camera or a sketch pad to quilt shows, or even in a quilt shop if I see a design that intrigues me. Filing that information away and waiting for a time when I just may use pieces or bits of those designs to get an inspiration for a baby quilt of my own.

Here are some of the starting points that I deem necessary to consider when designing a new baby quilt:

  • Decide on the style of baby quilt you would like to make. Is the baby quilt going to be a traditional patchwork, or more contemporary? Do you want to piece the quilt top or appliqué? Maybe a combination of the two?
  • Ask yourself what is going be the purpose of the new baby quilt. How much wear and tear will it receive and will the quilt be subject to repeated laundering? A baby’s quilt more often soiled, dragged on the floor may need to have a quick and easy design, as compared to a wall hanging or a bed quilt, that is well cared for.
  • Decide how much time you have available to denote to the baby quilt project. If you need to complete the quilt in a short period of time, select a pattern or design for your quilt that requires limited hours of your time to quilt. Yet, if you have the time to put into hand sewing or appliquéing a special baby quilt, choose an intricate design and put more effort into the quilting.
  • Fabric is always an important decision. If you choose a busy print this will hide the quilting design, use a cross-hatch grid or quilt in the ditch method. Place intricate and detailed quilting motifs on solid-color fabrics or tone-on-tone prints.

    Remember that you also need to consider you own level of expertise. If you are just a beginning quilter, choose patterns and designs that are simple and require straight lines or grids. If you have the expertise to handle more advanced techniques, challenge yourself with the more intricate patterns, such as feather designs or if you machine quilt, meander or stipple quilting.

  • Once you are ready to bind your baby quilt, consider again your skill level, time constraints, how much use the baby quilt will receive, or whether the baby quilt has edges that are straight, irregular or curved.

I have one more important and vital part to the process that many quilters tend to skip.

Photograph your baby quilt both from far away and close up shots. Keep these either in an album of all your treasured works of art that your print out at your local photo shop or store digitally, both on your computer and also on a back-up copy (CD or jump drive), just in case the technology fails.

A baby quilt is an heirloom and records should be kept.

Wonderful! You have the fabric and patterns laid out for various baby quilts that you could make but the one that sticks out and you really would like to tackle is appliqué. Whether you have quilted before or not, the project of an appliqué quilt can be a challenge. Here are successful techniques that will help you feel comfortable and not feel frustrated to the point that you are ready to give up on your first try.

1. If you are using fusible web, and there is a problem with it not sticking well to the fabric, stop first and read or reread the manufacturer’s directions and follow the steps exactly. In most cases, if you press the fusible web longer than is recommended, the glue loses its adhesive qualities and it will no longer stick to your fabric. 

2. Curved edges are tricky. Iron your fabric to the freezer paper. Trim the seam allowances to 1/8 inch to reduce the bulk. The wider those seams are, the harder it will be for the fabric to stick to the paper since too much fabric is harder to gather.

3. If your baby quilt project requires appliquéing many pieces of the same shape and you are using iron-on freezer paper, first make a plastic template. It is more accurate and easier to trace around the plastic template and onto the freezer paper, than over a printer pattern.

4. Fusible web is great for appliquéing baby quilts, but it makes your project stiff. To reduce this problem, cut away the center portion and leave ¼ inch of fusible web around the perimeter of your shape. This is just enough to secure the baby quilt project is place but keeps them flexible for you to do the appliqué stitching.

5. To remove the freezer paper from underneath your finished appliqué pattern, you need to cut the background fabric. Leave ¼ inch for your seam allowance. Another option which leaves the background in place and won’t fray is made by making a diagonal snip in the background fabric. This allows you to pull the freezer paper through the opening.

6. A sharp pointed needle is important for hand appliquéing on the special fabrics you have chosen for your baby quilts. Change the needle often.

7. Hand appliquéing your baby quilts offers you two ways of stitching. The top edge is referred to as the “mountain” because you are looking over the fold. The second way is to stitch along the “valley” or the bottom edge where you can see the exact edge of the fold. My suggestion is try both methods and see which is more comfortable for your use.

8. Since you may want to travel, resealable plastic bags are perfect for storage and carrying your appliqué projects. They keep your appliqué project neatly organized, and is portable when you are on the go.

Using these helpful tips, your beautiful fabrics, and some creativity, there are many new appliquéd baby quilts just waiting for your needle.

By: Sharon Camp – Unique Baby Quilt Boutique

Handmade baby quilts are made with love, care, and attention to detail. the tips will enhance your quilting process and the joy your get from creating these unique one-of-a-kind keepsakes.

  • Pre-wash and machine dry all fabrics before sewing your handmade baby crib quilt and the durable quilt binding
  • Use Woolite to wash handmade baby crib quilts.
  • Do not use fabric softener; it decreases absorbency ofhandmade baby quilts Handmade baby crib quilts should be sized so that the quilt backing does not have to be pieced (no larger than 35 x 45″)
  • Consider the time available and amount of use the baby quilt will receive before your choose the type of quilt binding you plan to make.
  • Never use embellishments, such as ribbons, buttons, string, etc. on handmade baby crib quilts. These are choking hazards.
  • Use a hard surface to iron your blocks instead of a regular ironing board pad. Start with a piece of plywood cut to desired size. Use a staple gun to attach a layer of cotton batting topped with a layer of material. Your seams will be a lot crisper and flatter for your handmade baby quilt. You can make an instant surface with a couple of yards of fabric folded and then iron on freezer paper.
  • However much time you think it will take to make your handmade baby quilt…double it. Remember handsewing of the quilt binding takes time too.
  • Divide your stash by color. It is much easier to find that color you are looking for later on when you go begin a new baby quilt.
  • Sometimes you are creating blocks with a lot of bias and they are a bit out of shape. Cut freezer paper in the measurement of the unfinished block and use a Sharpie to put a little color on the edges. The color makes it easy to see the outline of the freezer paper if your board cover is light. Iron the shiny side down on your ironing board. Pin your out-of-shape block to the ironing board using the freezer paper as a guide. Use your steam setting to “block” the quilt block back into shape.
  • Use a natural wool pin cushion so that the pins resist rusting,especially in humid conditions.
  • Tape the cap from a ball point pen to the side of your sewing machine. Use it to store your seam ripper (not that you will ever need it!!)
  • When piecing blocks, nestle the seams into each other for perfect intersections. If the seam was ironed in the “wrong” direction, then flip it so it can nestle into the other seam.
  • Use a pipe cleaner around the tiny place in your bobbin case. Be sure to fold the pipe cleaner at least one inch so that the metal center doesn’t do any damage.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Hand-quilt with your friends.
  • Don’t hand-quilt when you are tired.

Have Fun!

When learning to make baby quilts, there is whole new world of supportive people who have a passion for their craft, wonderfully colorful fabrics, and hundreds of designs just waiting for your creative talents. There is no better way to learn to make baby quilts then from those who know their craft. Read and jump right in and try your first quilt.

Check out these great articles for information on learning to quilt.

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Learn How To Make Quilt Binding

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Binding Us Together

A new baby quilt is finish, but what quilt binding do I choose?

In a baby quilt, the quilt binding is the last part that keeps those raw edges from showing and adds the finishing touches to your project.

Before I pull out my fabrics and decide my colors, the method of quilt binding for by my project needs to be considered first.

There are numerous factors to consider when you are choosing the method of finishing the baby quilt. Consider your time constraints, your skill level in sewing and quilting, and your preference in either handquilting or machine quilting of your quilt binding. The quilt binding can have straight, irregular or curved edges.

Do I want to create a certain mood with my quilt binding? If my answers here are to keep it simple since I have a basic straight edge and my time is of the essence, use a bias, straight- grain, or single fold binding.

A common type of quilt binding, bias binding is made from strips cut on the bias or at a 45 degree angle to the straight grain of the fabric. Bias binding provides the stretch needed on curves. Strips are put together to provide the required length needed for the baby quilt. Bias fold bindings can be either doubled or single folded and used for all types of fabrics. This method of quilt binding is common for use in finishing a baby quilt due to its durability.

Follow the steps below and you will never have to use a calculator to figure our binding:

1. First choose your binding method. (Bias, straight- grain, or single fold binding).
2. Decide the width of the quilt binding.

how to make quilt binding

3. Calculate the length of binding you need to prepare for you quilt for Straight Grain Binding

how to make quilt binding

1. Calculate the length of quilt binding you need to prepare for you quilt for Bias Cut Binding

how to make quilt binding

The single fold binding is sewn to the quilt edge first. The free side of the binding strip is then turned under ¼ inch and sewn in place by hand. This binding can either be cut by a bias cut or a straight cut, not on the bias. This type of quilt binding has little bulk and is a good choice for smaller baby quilts that will be used as wall hanging and will not require many laundering. Also this type of binding is better to be sewn on baby quilts that have only straight edges.

Never treat the quilt binding as an afterthought.

Chose the quilt binding that is perfect for your almost completed baby compete to make it the treasure of a lifetime.

By: Sharon Camp – Unique Baby Quilt Boutique

The binding of your baby quilt is the last part that keeps those loose threads from showing, but last does not mean least! You should put as much thought into the bind of your baby quilt as you do into the actual baby quilt.

Many factors influence which binding best suits your baby quilt. Consider your time constraints, skill level, and preference in handquilting or machine quilting of your binding; also your binding may have straight, irregular or curved edges.

One common baby quilt binding, bias binding is made from strips cut on the bias or at a 45 degree angle to the straight grain of the fabric. Bias binding provides the stretch needed on curves, and is popular for baby quilts because it is durable. Strips are pieced together to provide the required length needed for the baby quilt. Bias fold bindings can be either doubled or single folded and created from all types of fabrics

The single bias fold binding is sewn to the quilt edge first. The free side of the binding strip is then turned under ¼ inch and sewn in place by hand. This binding can be cut by a bias cut or a straight cut, not on the bias. It is not bulky and is a good choice for smaller baby quilts that may be used as wall hangings and will not require many launderings. Also this bias binding is better suited to baby quilts with straight edges only.

You have now mastered the art of straight and bias binding but does your baby quilt have more than just a straight edge?

Choosing a fancy binding requires more time, fabric, and some planning to ensure that the binding fits the baby quilt, but the challenges are well worth the reward.

One such binding, the scalloped edge are binding, requires that the scalloped edges are sewn to the quilt top when the shape of the top is predrawn or precut in curves. The binding is sewn to the front of the baby quilt either by machine or hand with invisible thread, wrapped around the back, and then sewn in place. The deep curves are trickier than the shallow ones on this binding, so be sure to purchase extra fabric.

Prairie point bindings, another fancy binding, are created when folded triangles are added to the edge of the baby quilt after it is quilted. The labor-saving continuous prairie point binding technique uses long fabric strips instead of individual squares to make the triangles. This binding is less durable but more decorative and requires planning to make sure the points fit the outer border of the baby quilt. The continuous prairie point binding technique reduces overall time spent on this challenging binding.

Ultimately, whatever binding suits your skill, style, and ability, will be the best binding for your baby quilt. Never treat your binding as an afterthought, but rather, as “the icing on the cake” of your baby quilt. The binding is your last opportunity to personalize your baby quilt – don’t leave it to chance. Choose a binding that will enhance your baby quilt and make it the special family treasure it is destined to become.

By: Sharon Camp – Unique Baby Quilt Boutique

Congratulations! You finished your baby quilt top. The fabric and colors are superb and match perfectly with the baby’s new room. Now it is time to do the hand quilting. But the dilemma is in choosing the perfect design. After the hours and time spent on the baby quilt top, the design of the hand quilting must be just right. But where to start?

The quilting design should follow the style and pattern of the new quilt top:

1. Place your baby quilt top on the design wall and study or analyze it for the elements of design.

2. Decide the amount of usage the baby quilt will receive and how often it will be cleaned or laundered. If the project will be a wall hanging, more intricate patterns could be considered as opposed to a child’s personal blanket that will be well-loved.

3. Considered your time. The more intricate the pattern, the more time will be needed to complete your baby quilt and the more visually exciting the designs will become. If time is a factor, cross-hatch grids, quilting in the ditch, or outlining stitch are effective for holding the layers together.

4. The type of fabric in your baby quilt top will also determine the type of quilting design you should choose. Large or busy prints require a simpler design on the baby quilt top. On the solid colors or tone-on-tones, a decorative featured wreath or floral motif is perfect to show off that baby quilt.

5. The quilter’s expertise in hand quilting of a baby quilt must be considered. Stick to the simple patterns of outline quilting, straight lines or grids.

6. As a hand quilter, stencil and patterns will allow you to bring a design onto your baby quilt. These can be purchased commercially or traced from any pattern around the house. Freezer paper also makers wonderful templates. Cut out and press the freezer paper on to your fabric. Trace and stitch around the shape. Peel off and reuse.

Every inch of your baby quilt does not have to be stitched. Strive to keep a balance in the quilting throughout your baby quilt.

Enjoy creating the design on yourbaby quilt top.

By: Sharon Camp – Unique Baby Quilt Boutiqu

Aquilt based on the square and rectangles is the easiest to make but when you start to divide the square and rectangles there are endless possibilities.

There have been many unique and creative ways to sew these triangles for your quilt, but the half-square triangle method I have listed below is not only fast and easy, but also accurate.  This method is based on creating strips of fabric, sewing them into a unit, cutting segments from the unit, and finally cutting the segments into squares.  Your quilt will have squares that are not distorted because the pressing is done prior to cutting the squares.

First, you need to cut the bias strips ½” wider than the finished short side of the triangle in the half- square unit from the fabric for your quilt.  The short side of the square will be any one of the 4 sides, not the diagonal of the triangle.   For units that finish 3” or larger, cut the strips, cut the strips ¼” wider than the finished short side of the triangle.

Follow these instructions to make the square for your next quilt:

  1.   Layer 2 contrasting fabrics with right sides facing up.  Align the 45∘angle of your ruler with the bottom edge of the lower left corner.  Cut long the right edge of the ruler.

2.  Cut bias strips in the width for the quilt that you are making.  Make the remaining cuts parallel to the first cut.

  1.   Cut the bias strips from the entire piece of quilt fabric.
  2.   Arrange the bias strips into 2 units.  Alternative the colors in each unit with the bottom left corner of each unit being a different color.
  3.   Sew the strips with right sides together using ¼” seam allowance.
  4.   Press the seam allowances toward the darker color.
  5.   Place the diagonal line of ruler on one of middle seams lines of the unit.  Align a long cutting ruler, just covering the uneven ends of the strip unit. This trims the edge of one side of the squares.   Retrim the edge of the unit before cutting each segment.

8. Cut the segment ½”  larger than the finished square.

9. Trim the edge of the unit again because the bias seams have a tendency to shift.  You must retrim the edge of the unit before cutting each segment.

  1.   Continue to cut segments until you have cut the entire segment.
  2.   To cut the squares, position the edge of the diagonal line on the seam line.  Cut on the right-hand side of the ruler.

12. Continue to cut squares across the segment, positioning the ruler on the diagonal line.

13. Turn the mat around and to place all the right hand cut on the left.    Place the ruler on edge of fabric with the diagonal lines on seam line, and trim he pieces into perfect squares for your quilt.

SEW wonderful to make perfect half square triangles just ready for your quilt.

By: Sharon Camp – Unique Baby Quilt Boutique