Patchwork quilt DIY

My latest DIY project was a patchwork quilt created from my granddaughter’s old clothes.  Knowing it would be a BIG project, I started last winter and just finished in time for her 5th birthday last weekend.

The bigger the desired quilt, the more squares you need. I was making a quilt for a double bed, so I needed lots of squares. These are the original squares, and the piles of nine squares (for the nine patch block) laid out on my dining room table…

 

When researching ideas, I loved the look of the “disappearing nine patch” quilts.   This pattern is a variation of the traditional nine patch block quilt where you sew nine squares of fabric together into a three by three block.  The twist happens when you then cut the sewn blocks of nine squares through the center both horizontally and vertically.  This gives you four larger squares, each with different shapes in it so the nine equal and square blocks have “disappeared.”  Experiment with the layout before you cut through the centers so you know which fabrics will be more dominant in the final pattern.  For example, large patterns should be placed in the outer corners of the original nine block so they will not be cut.

BLOCK

You then arrange these four new squares and the four squares from each of the other cut nine patch blocks into an attractive pattern.

 

 

This will create your quilt top layer.  Here are a few pictures of my assembled (still unpressed and unquilted though) quilt top…

 

Once all your blocks and squares are cut, arranged and sewn together you will require a co-ordinating backing fabric.  The size of quilt will dictate the size of the piece of fabric you require.  Your third layer of the quilt will be your batting which goes between the quilt top and the backing.  This is my pieced backing (I used fabric I had on hand and pieced it to fit) and the (white cotton/polyester) batting…

patchwork quilt

Sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece, then sew the backing and quilt top together with the wrong sides together, leaving one short side unsewn.  Turn inside out so both right sides of quilt top and backing are showing and then stitch the last side.  There is another method that involves binding, but it is much more labor intensive.  You sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece as above,  pin those two layers to the quilt top (so batting is in the middle and right sides of both quilt top and backing are showing).  Then add strips of backing (or other coordinating fabric) to all edges to “bind” the layers together.

Other than being very time consuming, the DIY project went well.  One of the problems I did encounter with this patchwork quilt was the size of the clothing I had to use.  All were baby clothes, so quite difficult to get many 6 inch squares from any one piece of clothing.  Next time (if I ever use this pattern again) I would go smaller and use 4 inch squares.  Another discouraging fact was that these pieces of clothing were made of different types of fabric, some much stretchier than others.  That made matching the seams of the blocks very difficult.  The best advice I can give you when creating this type (or any other for that matter) of quilt is to iron/press between steps.  Iron your fabric before you cut it into squares, before you sew the squares into rows or blocks and your seams after sewing the rows and blocks and borders together.  You will thank me for this advice when your seams are easy to match together and turn out nice and straight!

My granddaughter loved the finished product, (as much as any five year old can appreciate a quilt) but I think her mother appreciated it even more as it invoked a trip down memory lane.

 

 

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DIY rag quilt

Well this rag quilt has taken me almost a year to finish, but finish it I did, finally.  Although I would not recommend this particular DIY project for a beginner sewer, you could start with a small sized one.  Crib sized would be much more manageable.

The process is simple, start with squares cut from assorted fabric.  Preferred fabrics include flannels and quilting cottons, because they fray well.  Others fabrics, such as denim, could be used but they are not as soft.  As my grandson’s room will be dinosaur themed, I chose a white flannel with blue, green and red dinosaurs on it as the main fabric.  I complemented that with solid blue, green and red fabrics and a red polka dot fabric.

Wash all fabric first, then iron it smooth before you start cutting.  Calculate how many squares you need of each fabric, keeping in mind that each finished square on the quilt requires three cut fabric squares.  Because my quilt was so large, I actually used a spreadsheet to calculate how many of each I needed.  Lots.   Use a quilter’s template (a big plastic square that has dimensions marked on it for easy measurement) to measure and cut your squares. A rotary cutter works best.   I did this step last spring when watching the Ottawa Senators in the NHL playoffs.

When you have all your squares cut, you then make the “sandwiches” using three squares in each.  The lesson I learned here is not to use the solid red or polka dot red as a middle square (the few that I did bled through the white main fabric on top when washed)   The last three pictures above show the sandwiches I used, with the last two overlapped to show the possible color combinations.

When your sandwiches are assembled, sew an X through each one to hold all three layers in place.  Then sew squares together to make rows.  It helps to have a pattern (that’s why I used a spreadsheet) to consult with to keep the squares in the right order within the rows.  Sew using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, paying close attention as to which sides should be together.  You must keep all the seams on one side of the quilt.  This is trickier than it sounds because as a sewer you are trained to put the “good sides” together, leaving the seams on the “bad side”  On this rag quilt there is no good and bad side.

rag quilt
squares sewed together in rows

When the rows are complete, you then sew them together to form the quilt.  I laid my rows out on a bed (a floor or table would work if your quilt is smaller) to keep the rows in order.  Be sure to sew around the perimeter of the quilt too, also using a half inch allowance.

rag quilt
rows laid out on bed to ensure correct order

Next, using very sharp sewing scissors or a rag quilt cutter (below) snip into all (including outer edge) seam allowances, being very careful not to snip the actual seam.  The next step is to wash the quilt (on a very low, setting equivalent to a hand washing) to encourage the seam allowances to fray.  It’s called a rag quilt for this reason.

The final result is quite satisfyingly striking, even though I had a few discouraging setbacks.  I learned these lessons the hard way:

  • use heavy duty sewing machine needles, the first few I used kept snapping because of the thickness of the fabric layers
  • wash all of the fabrics well first, before you start cutting the squares to cut down on “bleeding” (that’s where the color of one fabric soaks into another)  The worst bleeders are red fabrics.
  • use a plastic template and rotary cutter to cut your squares to ensure precise cutting.  Any errors will show up glaringly when you join the squares and rows!
  • do not use cotton thread, it breaks much more than polyester thread
  • be very careful when snipping into seam allowances.  If you mistakenly cut into a seam, your quilt will be full of holes after the first wash.  I had to reinforce a few seams that my clippers got too close to by hand sewing them.

Here is the final result, on my grandson’s double “big boy” bed!  The C is for Carter

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
and
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca

 

DIY cheater quilt

One of the DIY projects I worked on for Christmas gifts included what I call a cheater quilt. I call it that because it takes a lot less time and fabric than a real, patchwork quilt.  I have made several of the latter over the years so I know the difference.

All you need to make a cheater quilt is…

  • a panel (precut piece with a cute pattern on it) of fabric.  Choose the pattern wisely, based on how much quilting you want to do or have time for.  (Busy/complicated patterns will take much longer than simple ones)
  • a piece of complementary fabric for the backing, the same size as the panel.  Most of these panels have a row of colored dots along the edge showing the colors used in the pattern.  Use these dots to choose a coordinating or complementary fabric for the backing.
  • a piece of batting, also same size as the panel
  • some large safety pins
  • a good pair of sewing scissors
  • contrasting or complementary thread (I used white all over, but you can mix it up!)

 

 

The steps are as follows…

  • iron both the panel and backing
  • lie the panel on the floor or a table, with the good side facing up
  • place the piece of batting on top
  • place the backing fabric on top of those two pieces, with good side facing down
  • you now have a “sandwich” with three layers
  • sew three edges (2 long and 1 short if quilt is rectangular) together, using 1/2 inch seam allowance
  • snip corners of seam allowances so seams will lie flat.
  • turn the quilt right side out, so both fabrics show their right side and batting is the middle layer.
  • hand stitch last side.
  • evenly distribute safety pins throughout quilt top, pinning all three layers together.  This prevents the layers from shifting while you are quilting.  I choose spots at the edge of the various design patterns in the fabric panel as those spots will be sewn over.  (otherwise you may end up with holes in your fabric where no pattern in)
  • sew around the design patterns in the fabric panel to achieve a quilted look.  Try to stay on the lines for a tidy look.  This is referred to as “stitch in the ditch.”
  • ensure quilting is evenly spaced over the quilt to avoid bunching of batting when completed.  In my panel I stitched around the large patterns, around the edging and around the floral pattern in the corners etc.
  • remove the safety pins.  If you have placed them on the edges of the pattern as suggested, remove them as you quilt.

 

The finished project, a DIY cheater quilt, can be hung on the wall (add tabs to the top) or used as a baby blanket for the crib or stroller.  These make great, personal gifts for the mother-to-be on your gift list.  Choose fabrics to complement their nursery décor as I did here with a baby jungle and pink/green color scheme.  You can see I forgot to iron my panel and backing before I started; oops.  I hung the finished quilt in a steamy bathroom to remove the wrinkles instead.  It is not advisable to iron a finished quilt as a hot iron will flatten the puffiness.

‘Tis the season for freelance writing

‘Tis the season, my freelance writing season, as Gardens4u is now officially closed for the winter…

 

Gardens4u is closed, freelance writing season is open

 

Although this past spring and summer were wet and cool, our summer was extended recently with the most marvelous fall weather.  Unfortunately, that has come to an end, and reality is settling in.

Now my other interests are able to take over, with a growing list (I am a list person for sure) of the things I hope to accomplish this winter…

  • reconnect with my freelance writing contacts.
  • finish the quilt I started for my grandson last winter.
  • start and finish a quilt for my granddaughter.
  • make nursery curtains for my new granddaughter due to arrive the end of February.
  • clean out the few remaining closets I did not get to the past few winters.
  • reorganize the walk-in closet in our master bedroom.
  • post more frequently on this and my other blogs:   WOW  and  LOL
  • spend more time with my grandson and granddaughter (and their parents).
  • visit with friends I never seem to find the time to visit during the gardening season.
  • read more books.  If anyone has suggestions for a good read, please let me know!
  • clean my house.  Although most people do their spring cleaning in the spring, I do mine in the winter (silly me) so when spring arrives I can get out and enjoy my favourite season.
  • update my business website, adding pictures from this past season.  Be sure to check them out and add your comments!
  • exercise.  Planks are my favourite exercise for maintaining muscle tone.  Without gardening to keep me in shape I have to work extra hard in the winter to keep pounds from creeping up on my bathroom scale.

 

Phew, with that list I should be busy until spring when I can start a new garden season!