Alright, friends, I had some requests for a full quilt tutorial, so here we go.
Things to know before you start : this is not hard, it just has a lot of steps. If you are comfortable with your sewing machine, you can make a quilt! I will be sharing exactly how I made my triangle quilt, but you can adjust the size, colors or pattern however you would like. I highly recommend reading through this whole tutorial before you purchase supplies and start.
Supplies needed (tools):
- sewing machine
- 1 hand quilting needle
- straight pins
- safety pins
- an iron
- a self-healing cutting mat
- cutting ruler
- a rotary cutter (here's a full set for those last three that I own and love)
Supplies needed (single use):
- 2 spools of 100% cotton thread (color doesn't matter, this will not show)
- 2 spools of accent color 100% cotton thread for the backside (mine was lime green)
- 1 spool of hand-quilting thread (I used white. This color will not show.)
- 6 different 100% cotton fabric patterns - at least 1/2 yard of each. These will be used for the top of the quilt. Pick fabrics that you love that correspond well with each other.
- at least 1/2 yard of striped 100% cotton fabric for the binding. I got by with a 1/2 yard, but it was tight.
- a solid color 100% cotton fabric for the backside. You'll want it to be one piece that measures at least 60x45. I had to purchase from the "quilting back" section to get a large enough piece
- quilt batting that measures at least 60x45 inches (this is a standard size)
step 1 / gather your supplies. I promise, picking the fabric is THE most important thing you will do. This quilt may take awhile and you don't want to hate the fabric colors and patterns by the time you're done. Wash, dry and iron ALL fabric pieces (don't wash the batting). For the record, I ended up not using that light green fabric.
step 2 / begin cutting your six quilt top fabrics into 6 inch squares using your cutting mat, ruler and roller. The best thing about the cutting mat is it has grid lines that are super simple to follow. I cut through two layers of fabric at a time so the whole process goes faster. Once you have squares, cut them on the diagonal (45*) so you now have triangles. I am not sure exactly how many triangles you'll get from each 1/2 yard of fabric, but maximize your fabric space to get the most possible. If you don't feel like being careful about fabric management, be sure to get extra. In total, you will want at least 198 triangles.
step 3 / congratulations! You have a pile of triangles.
step 4 / sew your triangles together on the long diagonal side. Pair up different fabric combinations. Shoot for the same margin on each edge (probably about a 1/4 inch). I am not precise, and it all managed to work out anyway, but the more careful you are about your margin, the better your quilt top corners will line up down the line.
step 5 / congratulations! You now have a pile of sewn together squares. Open up your squares and iron out the seam. I folded each side back on itself, but you could also iron them to one side. Trim off the extra fabric "ears" on the corners and hanging thread.
step 6 / on the ground or table, map out your quilt. You should have nine rows of eleven squares. Take a look at how mine are laid out. The diagonals alternate back and forth so what is really being created are larger pinwheel squares. You can decide how much you want color to play in...I like to go for "organized random". Take pictures or do whatever you have to do to remember the order.
step 7 / pile up your rows so you have nine piles (of eleven squares each). Keeping the rows straight is the only tricky part - or at least it is for me. Make sure you have a method for keeping your stacks in order and begin sewing your rows together.
step 8 / congratulations! You now have nine strips of squares! Iron out all the seams again.
step 9 / lay out all your strips and re-figure out what order they will be sewn together in.
step 10 / when you have your pattern straight, begin pinning one strip at a time together. (Yes! Pinning! It's time to start lining things up properly.) At this point, you can decide how much of a perfectionist you want to be. If you carefully measured and sewed, all your points will line up perfectly. If you didn't, they won't. Decide how much you want this to bother you and move on.
step 11 / sew the strips together, one at a time, pinning and lining up as you go.
step 12 / congratulations! You how have a quilt top! Iron it all out and trim off any hanging threads.
step 13 / now it's time to sandwich it all together. Lay out your ironed back piece of solid fabric on the floor. On top of that, layer your batting. Take your time to smooth everything out really well. Layer on top your sewn together squares. Again, be careful here to get out the majority of the wrinkles.
step 14 / start in the center of the quilt and begin safety pinning all three layers together. Put a safety pin through the pieces every 8-10 inches or so. Be sure to get pins all the way to the edges and in each corner. Trim off any extreme excess fabric or batting.
step 15 / take a deep breath because here comes the fun part! Load your machine with your "fun" accent thread. You are going to sew diagonal lines through all three pieces. (One on each side of the diagonal seams.)
Refer to the diagram above so you're clear. The yellow lines are your stitch lines. Leave the safety pins in as you sew (they'll hold it all together). I don't use anything special, just my normal sewing machine and a bit of patience. It will help to have the stitches on a "long" setting. You may consider getting a walking foot for your machine. Really though, 60x45 is not that big and shouldn't be too much trouble to work with.
step 16 / congratulations! You are so close to done!
step 17 / cut your striped border fabric. You'll want long strips of three inches wide (with the patterned stripes running horizontal). Sew all of your strips together so you have one long strip (at least 220 inches) of three inch wide fabric.
step 18 / fold the long piece of striped fabric in half the long ways. Iron the fold to keep it secure. This folded piece will become the border around your whole quilt.
step 19 / pin your long strip to the border of the quilt, taking care to go through all three layers. Start in the middle of a side and work your way around. You'll want the fold of the fabric pointed to the center of the quilt and the rough cut edges to be facing the outside.
step 20 / pin all the way around all four edges.
step 21 / machine stitch the border on, taking care at the corners to go in from each side (it should look like the sample above).
step 22 / trim off all excess fabric layers.
step 23 / fold the border fabric around itself and pin the fold to the backside of the quilt. You will want to use this border to cover up the machine stitches that hold the border on and (if you're like me) the messy backstitching you just created.
step 24 / time to hand stitch! Load your needle with hand-quilting thread and start stitching. You will want to pull from the underside of the binding and the edge of the backside (do not go through all layers of the quilt, just that solid colored backside). Do a few stitches (it will look sort of like lacing) and then pull it tight. You should not be able to see any thread on either side. It's invisible! Magic!
step 25 / keep working your way around the border. When you have to re-thread, knot the two pieces together and hide the knot under the border fabric. I just leave the long tails of thread and let them get hidden by the folded binding too.
step 26 / the tricky part here is working around the corners. I try to fully secure one side (using the hidden stitching) and then fold the fabric in and layer the other side right on top of it. That's the worst explanation ever, but it just takes some finagling.
step 27 / you just made a quilt. Time to post a photo to instagram. But first! Add your signature with embroidery floss (be sure to just go through the back layer!)
step 28 / sip your favorite drink in under your new handmade blanket.
Hope this helps!! Quilts are my favorite sewing project. And the more you practice the easier (and faster!) the process becomes.