One of my best friends has just had a baby boy, so I’ve been been rooting through my sewing bag in search of baby blue fabrics over the past couple of days. In the process, I’ve come across loads of offcuts from a patchwork quilt I made for my sister’s new arrival over a year ago, and while I try to figure out what to do with them, I thought I’d post some photos and a very brief ‘how to make a patchwork quilt’ guide on here.
The quilt itself was really simple. I cut a 5-inch square out of a cereal box, used it to cut what seemed like millions of matching squares of fabric (I found the best place to buy fat quarters – AKA the standard 18″ x 22″ fabric squares used in quilting – turned out to be eBay), and machine-sewed them together, first in rows, then in squares, until I had a single piece that was just a little bigger than the measurements of my nephew’s cotbed (bear in mind new babies can’t actually sleep with quilts, so it’s purely for decoration until they’re a bit older. Also, it’s worth washing and ironing all your fabric before you start cutting anything out, firstly to avoid it shrinking further down the line, but also to wash off any chemicals).
After that I bought some wadding – that’s the foamy bit in the middle that gives your quilt shape (check it’s suitable for babies/children when you buy it) – and some plain blue fabric to back the whole thing. Then I pinned the three layers together and quilted the whole things on the machine, running diagonal lines first one way, then the other, until I ended up with a diamond pattern on the back.
It was a bit of an effort to fit the whole lot through a standard sewing machine, but it’s definitely do-able for a quilt this size (and let’s face it, there was absolutely no chance of me going down the old-school route and hand-stitching it). Plus, I bought a special quilting arm from Singer to go on my machine, which helps hold the layers of fabric down as you sew.
To finish it off, I sewed bias binding around all four edges to hold the thing together. Tack it on first as it’s crucial to get this bit right and snag all three layers of fabric within this casing.
Of course, there are loads of different ways to make a quilt, and there are some really ornate designs and patterns available if you fancy doing something a bit more detailed. What I like about this version, though, is that it doesn’t really require you to follow any particular instructions – it’s just a case of picking fabrics you like the look of, and sewing together as many squares as you need for the size of your quilt. As long as you stick with the same size squares throughout, you’re sorted. And if you’re limited on time, you can make the squares bigger and get essentially the same result. Now, if I could just figure out what to do with those offcuts…