You don’t need any previous experience to make this baby crib quilt – just bags of enthusiasm. Even a sewing machine is not essential, although it does speed things up enormously. My instructions are based on the assumption that you have a sewing machine, but you could the seams by hand if you choose.
The finished size of the baby quilt is 30″ square.
1 yard of backing fabric, 1 yard of the main fabric, 1/2 yard of the contrasting fabric, rectangle of wadding approximately 1 yard square.
I always use good quality natural fabric for sewing quilts, but this is particularly important in a baby quilt because cotton allows the skin to breathe and this is essential as a baby cannot kick the quilt off if she gets too hot.
Many quilters feel that it is always best to prewash fabric. I choose not to for two reasons: first because this quilt is relatively small and second because if you are giving this quilt as a gift there is something special about the smell and crispness of brand new fabric – you can tell I am a fabric junkie, can’t you!
You will need a decent, sharp pair of scissors for cutting the fabric if you do not have a rotary cutter. I wouldn’t be without my rotary cutter, ruler and mat, but it is probably worth waiting until you are making a larger project before deciding whether to buy them.
Cut the backing fabric and binding for the baby quilt
From the backing fabric, cut a 32″ square. With what is left, cut strip of fabric 2.1/2″ wide sufficient for a length of about 130″ when joined together. This is for the quilt binding.
Make the patchwork top for the baby quilt
From the main fabric you will need to cut sixteen squares and from the contrasting fabric you will need nine squares. Each square is 6.1/2″ along both edges. If you have a rotary cutter, cut a 6.1/2″ strip of fabric across the width of fabric and then cut the strip into 6.1/2″ squares.
Lay the squares out in the pattern that you wish to sew them. For this pattern, there are five rows with five squares in each row. If the pattern on your fabric has a direction, remember to place the squares so that the pattern faces the right way – for example the hearts in my fabric are all placed to face in the same direction.
Take the square in the top left hand corner and sew it to the square next to it on the right. In quilting it is really important to keep to 1/4″ seams. That’s 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric to the seam. If your seams aren’t accurate then you will struggle to match up all the seams and squares when you sew the whole quilt together. Many sewing machiens have markings for 1/4″ seams, but if yours doesn’t you should think about making your own markings.
Sew the squares together across each row. Press the rows. In quilting the seam allowances are generally pressed to one side rather than being pressed open as they are in dressmaking.
Flip the top row so that it is on top of the row beneath it, right sides together. Match the seams of the top row with those of the row underneath it and pin the two rows together. Try and have the seam allowances facing in different directions so that they nest up against each other. This reduces bulk in the seams. You can see the pins at the top of the photo (just). Sew the two strips together, easing the fabric slightly if necessary to try and keep the seams from the two strips matching each other. Remember the 1/4″ seam.
Continue by adding the third strip to the top two rows, then do the same with the four and fifth rows. Well done – that’s the top of the patchwork quilt complete.
Layering the baby quilt
Take the backing fabric (pale pink in the photo) and lay it on the table with right side down, gently smoothing it flat. Now place the wadding on top of the backing and again smooth it gently. Place the patchwork on top of the wadding with right side up. You should have three layers of fabric as shown on the left. Smooth gently, working from the centre outwards.
These three layers now need to be secured together before sewing. Quilting pins are idea because they have a curve tohold the fabric without bunching it. If you don’t have these, ordinary pins will do, but be careful not to stab your fingers as you work.
Quilting the baby quilt
Pin the three layers together, smoothing gently as you work. Avoid pinning too near the seams as the next step is to stitch along the seams. Stitching the three layers together is called quilting. Quilting can be very ornate but for this quilt I am going to quilt along the seam lines in what is known as stitch in the ditch quilting.
This means stitching from the front of the baby quilt along the seam lines of the patchwork. Work from the centre outwards, so stitch the outline of the central square and then along the seams towards the edges of the next square along, working towards the edges of the quilt.The photo shows how it looks on the back of the baby quit. On the fron the stitching doesn’t show as it is along the seam lines.
Binding the baby quilt
Now the baby quilt is complete apart from the edges which need to be bound to neaten them up. Baste all round the edge of the quilt (long running stitches). This stops the edges of the three layers slipping while you are binding.
Take the 2.1/2″ strips of fabric that you cut from the backing fabric. Join them together to make one long strip by putting the ends together at right angles, right sides together. Sew along the diagonal as shown. Trim the excess triangle of fabric about 1/4″ from the seam.
When you open this out, you have a continuous length of binding with a diagonal seam joining the two pieces. This gives a much neater join than a straight seam would have done. Press the binding strip in half lengthways so that you have a double strip 1.1/4″ wide.
Beginning about half way along one of the edges of the baby quilt, place the binding strip on top of the quilt edge. The fold is towards the middle of the quilt and the raw edges of the binding are in line with the raw edges of the quilt. Leaving about 3″ of the binding free, begin stitching along the length, stopping sewing 1/4″ from the quilt corner.
Backstitch to secure the thread, remove the quilt from the machine and snip the ends of thread. It is always worth snipping the ends of the thread as you go because otherwise it takes forever finding themall afterwards. Fold the binding up at right angles away from the quilt.
Fold the binding back down so that it is running along the next edge of the quilt. Pin in place and start sewing again from the corner of the quilt. Repeat this step at each of the next three corners until you are sewing down the edge where you began the quilt binding.
Stop sewing about 5″ from the beginning of the quilt binding. Now you just need to join the two ends together neatly and finish the seam. You have two trialing ends of binding – well, I hope you have!
Lay them straight along the quilt edge so that they overlap. Mark a line on each strip where they overlap. I have used pen so that it will show up, but I would recommend pencil or fabric marker. Trim the ends of the binding about 1/2″ from the mark where they overlap.
Turn under the raw edge of the top (lefthand) piece of binding – along its width, so you are following the pen mark. Tuck the other piece of binding (right hand) inside the fold of the left hand piece of binding. Pin in place. By placing the pin with point towards the edge of the baby quilt and keeping it from the edge of the quilt, you should be able to finish sewing the seam with the pin in place. Never sew over a pin if you can help it – it doesn’t do your sewing machine or needle any good.
Complete the seam by sewing across the join in the binding strips that you have just pinned. Nearly done now! Just one more task and then you will have completed a baby crib quilt of which you can be very proud.
Flip the baby quilt binding over to the back of the quilt and slipstitch in place against the backing fabric. You can see why the quilt binding was folded as it was at the quilt corners. You have neat square corners on both the front and the back of the quilt.
Well done. I hope you have enjoyed making this baby crib quilt and that it has clarified a lot of the ideas of quilting for you. You could make it a lap quilt for anyone special just by changing the colours. If you would like a more comprehensive step by step introduction to quilting, I have written a series of articles on beginner quilting which will give you more detail of all the stages of making a patchwork quilt.