Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Modern Quilt Making

I am not a quilter.

That being said?
I just finished my second-ever quilt.
It's cobbled together and machine stitched and I love it.
I love it even more because it was a (belated) birthday present for my amazing sister-in-law.

Quilts, as it turns out, are pretty basic when you are cheating like I did.
Big old material sandwhich.
The hardest part was deciding on my pattern!
Step 1 - choose your materials.
I could spend hours looking at a good solids display at JoAnn Fabrics.
Solids are so often overlooked in favor of fancy or whimsical patterns. I do it too. But don't underestimate your solids people!

Step 2 - choose your quilt size.
I am a weenie. This is no suprise. But a King or Queen (or darnit, even a Full) sized quilt was just too daunting! I settled on a nice little hybrid-sized lap quilt. Essentially 45 x 60" give or take.

Step 3 - stitch your top layer together.
I just sort of cobbled together some squares and rectangles into a pleasing pattern and palette. I stitched my blocks right-side-together, then opened them up & pressed the seams. Repeat as needed to re-build your top layer into one, single 45x60" piece.

Step 4 - make a blanket fabric sandwich.
Bottom layer... Batting... Top layer.

Step 5 - pin. the. heck. out. of. it.
Seriously. You can't have enough pins here.
I know that most places offer quilters pins, which are similar to a safety pin, but with a bent arm. I didn't have any of these. Truth be told I didn't have but about 6 safety pins to my name. I used plain old straight pins and they worked just fine. I started from the middle and worked my way out in concentric circles, smoothing and pinning as I went.

Step 6 - zig zag!
I found a lovely quilt overe here that I just loved. So I adapted the zig zag machine stitch for my own. Simply start in one corner, sewing on a slight diagonal until you reach the far end of your short side. Keeping your needle down, lift your presser foot, tuuuuurn the quilt all the way around, drop the presser foot and go back. Vary your degrees of diagonal. Make some skinny, make some fat. Go back and forth across your quilt until you're happy with the design. There's no hard and fast rules here. It's sort of modern and easy and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. I think that's why I love it.

Step 7 - trim & edge
When you're happy with your pattern, remove all your pins. Now double check. Did you get all the pins? I always have to double check. *sigh* I stress about these little things.
Now you can either even up your edges and leave your corners hard, or, use a large-ish ice cream dish to round your corners. I've done both now and have no clear favorite. Love them both.

Step 8 - cheaters ALWAYS propser
Confession: I have never made my own bias tape. I know people who say it's a lark, super easy, no big deal. But do you know what's easy? BUYING bias tape. Slacker Sewing 101, kids. If someone else can do it faster/better/easier/cheaper it is NOT a crime to take advantage of that.
So hedge your bets & purchase two packages of pre-made bias tape (or more depending on the size of your blanket) There's a lovely little introduction to and tutorial on bias tape here if you're interested. But I cheated. Just sayin'
Pin your bias tape all the way around, mitering the corners, and machine-stitch that baby right on.

Step 9 - wash & go
Now sit back on your figurative (or literal, makes no never mind to me) laurels & admire all that quilt-y goodness. Look what you did! Toss it in the wash on gentle. Tumble Dry. The more you wash it the better those quilty-wrinkles get.

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