To make a quilt

I decided to take some pictures while I make my newest quilt project for a pregnant friend after SO many people have asked me how you even start making a quilt. I guess people think that you have to sew each teeny tiny square together one by one and that’s not the case at all! That’s what I thought at first too before I made my first quilt. It’s actually a lot easier than that, it just requires a little patience and some very careful cutting and measuring. I’m not going to divulge all of the measurements or how to lay everything out, because I think that would fall under some copyright infringement laws or something, and if you want the complete pattern you’ll have to buy it like everyone else- sorry!

Ok, to start, the baby quilt that I make uses 6 fat quarters (a pre-cut square of fabric about 18″ by 21″) and about 1 3/4 yds of fabric for the border. For the interior of the quilt (the fat quarters) I was going with a blue, brown, and cream theme, and for the sake of balance you want an array of dark & light fabrics. You generally don’t want to pick like 5 really light colors and then one super dark or bright color, or that particular color is going to stand out too much and it won’t be balanced.
Next, you have to iron each fat quarter and then fold then fold the selvedged edge (the finished edge) of the fabric up to the opposite edge like this:
Then you have to “square” the fabric quarter, meaning you line up the bottom fold on a line on the cutting mat, and then place the ruler on the left side & cut it to trim the fabric to completely straighten it, like this.
After I square the fabric I have to use the my ruler and cut out my fabric strips. For this quilt that I’m making I need one 6 1/2″ by 21″ and three 3 1/2″ by 21″ strips from each fat quarter. When I’m done cutting my strips from each fat quarter I’ll have a stack like this:
Then I’m going to stitch assorted 3 1/2″ & and 6 1/2″ strips together in a variety of combinations. I first lay them out and try to not repeat the same combo if possible, like this:
I put the two pieces of fabric together (right sides together) and use a 1/4″ seam. I have a quilting foot on my machine here, so as long as the edge of the fabric is right along the right edge of the presser foot I know I’ll always have a 1/4″ seam. This is very important in quilting because if your seams are off, your seams won’t line up when you piece the quilt together at the end.
After I sew the fabric together I have to press the seam with an iron. Then out of these fabric strips I have to cut them again, making two 6 1/2″ strips and two 3 1/2″ strips, like this:
I do that to each set and this is what it looks like, I will call them block A:
Remember those 3 1/2″ by 21 1/2″ strips I cut in the very beginning? Well I still had some of them set aside, and now I will stitch some of those together, again in a variety of combinations trying not to make any repeats. Before I sew any of them I always lay them out to make sure they are all different combinations, like this:
Once they are sewn & pressed I have to cut them, making two 6 1/2″ strips and two 3 1/2″ strips
I do that to all of the sets I made & they will look like this, and I’ll call them block B:
Then I’ll lay out assorted 6 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ block B units in a variety of combinations. I always lay them out once again before actually sewing them so I can make sure they are all different and that none of the same fabrics from different strips are intersecting
After I sew them together and press them I will end up with a stack of eight like this, and these are block C:
Remember those long 3 1/2″ by 21 1/2″ strips from the beginning? I still had a few left & I cut them down & call them block D. Then I add them to the blocks C that I just made. Here they are laid out first to make sure they are all in a variety of combinations:
When I sew & press them together I’ll have my first completed set of blocks. I’ll set these aside for later
Then I’ll stitch the remaining block D rectangles to the block A units I made towards the beginning and lay them out to make sure they are all different, like this:
After they are stitched and pressed I’ll have my second finished set of quilt blocks, and I’ll set these aside for later.
Now remember those long 6 1/2″ by 21 1/2″ strips I made in the beginning?
I’ll cut those down to get four little rectangles from each fabric, like this:
Then I’ll stitch these together along the long edge in a variety of combinations. For this step I will have some duplicates, but that’s ok. There’s no way around it here
After the rectangles are sewn together I’l stitch them to the remaining block A strips in a variety of combinations
Now I have my third and final set of blocks
Here are my stacks of all three styles of quilt blocks. Each and every block is different from the others and none of the patterns are repeated
Now here’s the fun part! I get to lay my blocks out and arrange them how I want them. I try to get the colors and patterns arranged so that everything is random, but also somewhat even. I have to swap blocks and turn them to try to offset the patterns
I don’t want the same patterns from another quilt block intersecting with the other block, so I’ll have to turn one of these or move some blocks around so that they aren’t touching
I also try to make it so that the same style of block isn’t right next to another, make sense?
I’m finally happy with how my quilt is laid out. It looks pretty evenly disbursed to me!
The next step is to stitch the rows of blocks together horizontally
I’ll do this to all of the rows horizontally
Then I have to stitch the horizontal rows together. This part is a little tricky because I have to make sure that the seams from where the blocks were sewn together all line up. This is where your 1/4 inch seams are important! If you did everything right then they should all line up pretty well
After my rows are all sewn together I have my entire body of my quilt top done! Now I’ll inspect my work
I can see here that my seams line up pretty nicely!
And I can see here that my seam is just a little off. Not too bad though, and when it’s all done and I free-motion quilt it all, no one will even notice really
This is what the back of my quilt top looks like with all of the seams pressed
Sometimes the edge of the quilt top isn’t completely even, but it’s ok. I can go back and “square” the quilt top just like I did with the fat quarters at the beginning
After that I just added my 6 1/2″ border to all sides & now the quilt top is completely finished! All I have to do now is layer it with the batting and backing, free-motion quilt it together, and then do the binding on the edges. (more on all of that later).
Here is Lily giving you an idea of how big the baby sized quilt is. She’s 3 and she’s a pretty tall girl, so this size is still perfect for her!
And here’s just a close up of the border fabric print with the rest of the colors. I love them! This is perfect for my friend’s baby boy 🙂
Did you get all of that? Quilting is a lot of work, but it’s really fun! I think really anyone can pick it up. It just requires a lot of very careful cutting and measuring. I hope this was a little helpful for some of you who might sew, but maybe have never attempted a quilt. You should give it a try!
xoxo, Melissa
Want to see the quilt completely finished & free motion quilted together? Check that out HERE.
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