Step by Step on the Quilt

But I know. No big reveal yet. I’m as anxious as you are might be. Well I’m anxious because it will be all done, pretty to look at, and then I can go ahead and have this baby! Ha! Who am I kidding I’m only 35 weeks. And then we will put her in a pack ‘n’ play in our room anyways. More on that, though, because she will be in a pack ‘n’ play in our… bathroom. I know, kinda weird but it’s the second largest room in our house, the first being our living room. For real, people. Our master is kind of tight, and I wanted room for my nursing chair, plus a door to separate us in case I can’t sleep through her precious baby noises. Check out the space we have in our bathroom in this post.

Okay, as requested, a step-by-step on my quilt. Not a how-to on quilting, because anyone who is an actual quilter will probably wince at every sentence and perhaps even become slightly nauseous. I probably could have made it loads easier on myself by just taking a class or knowing shortcuts that they all know in their secret little clubs. It was just me and YouTube. And YouTube, probably because there are a gazillion ways to quilt, has broken it down into a gazillion clips. No one-stop-shop for a quick quilting lesson. If you find one, link to it in the comments, for the sanity of others!

1.) So here is where I started. I chose my fabrics and prewashed them on cold with only a tiny bit of mild detergent:

2.) And I looked for some very simple layouts around Pinterest and Google, but in the end, those two graphic patterns were so bold I thought I should just make it easy and do a 4×4 (12in by 12in) square layout. I was thinking the Ta-Dot fabric would be the binding and backing. Sorry about the random iPhone photos sprinkled through here. There were some long late evenings and the phone was handy. So I did that, and cutting and sewing those blocks together was a complete piece of cake and only took me a couple of hours. What began as a 50×50 inch quilt layout ended up at about 48x48ish by this step.

This is going to be easy! I thought naively to my delirious pregnant self.

3) I ordered some batting (this is the product I used- Warm and Natural Cotton Batting) and lay down my backing fabric. Wowza. I so did not have enough. I’d say I probably needed 2 more yards of it and I would have ended up with a ton of extra fabric so I decided to do a bunch of hard math to figure out how I could use the rest of my teal and purple fabrics to cover the back. So then my front blocks actually became my backing.

Here is the plan I came up with (I added some notes to clarify):

Notes: The “Pool” fabric, referring to the color (B) is some extra I had left over from the basket lining and can be found with the Ta Dot fabric, at Sew Fine @ It’s called Abacus and is from the organic cotton Mod Basics Collection from Birch Fabrics. Looks like she isn’t carrying it in pool any longer but someone else might be. The dotted lines are the pattern from the other side of the quilt, so I could try to line things up for when I sewed completely through to bind the quilt. I cut everything first and layed it out on the floor to make sure it worked.

4) So I cut a 24x24in piece of Ta Dot (A) and sewed each strip of the Abacus fabric (B) along the sides. On the corners, I also stitched the strips right sides together so my seams would be hidden. Then I sewed my teal fabric (C) strips together, three for a side, and sewed them to the Abacus fabric (B) in the same way. I had plenty left over so I trimmed off the excess. When I sewed over seams, I tried to press them open or to one side as much as possible, but I didn’t worry about it too much. The purple (D) strips were a bit trickier, plus that material was not cotton but double gauze, which I definitely don’t recommend for quilting in general (not to mention mixing fabric types) but I loved it dearly and wanted it so I just did it. To hell with pulling and gathering and other messy consequences. But aside from those challenges it was about as straight forward as it looks.

5) Okay! So now I had both sides stitched up, and I sandwiched them together on the floor. The 4×4 squares right side down, and then the batting, and then the crazy layout right side up on top. A normal person would have probably ironed them? Measured to make sure every possible line was straight? Ya. I didn’t do that. First, I don’t iron. Second, I didn’t know how to measure to figure out how to see through to make sure they were lined up so I just eyeballed it- folding things over to see, that kind of thing. Smoothing and smoothing some more. Picking up and tugging and smoothing. That was the professional process over here.

6) Then I safety pinned all the way through with quilting pins (curved a little and large). You can’t/shouldn’t sew over safety pins so I attached them around the center piece and at regular intervals spiralling out toward the edges, but I made sure not to put them over a seam.

7) Then I cut off the excess, making attempts to cut in straight lines. I used my measuring tape (the sewing kind). It was risky business. More responsible people might measure and mark lines.

8) Now it was time to really do it and I was scared to death. It sat over my chair for a day while I sewed the basket lining and the bear and stared at it. I watched more videos and stared at the notes I took off of YouTube videos. I sweated.

See the duck head laying there waiting to go up? It’s camoflauging itself by matching the changer exactly (be still my heart). I’ve asked Scott to hang it about 5 times but he is working like a crazy person right now. He hangs things around here by penalty of law. I don’t care about studs and he does. Two things to hang and we have ourselves a nursery reveal! So of course, I would like to see that duck on that wall.

9) I bought a universal walking foot from the fabric store (do this). Google it… yep that’s what it looks like. I have a Singer Tradition 2250, nearly brand new. If you look that up it will be listed under “What level rider would you say that you are?… I don’t know, zero, nothing, whatever the system is… I can’t do it, is that clear enough for ya?” (Jerry Seinfeld). I unhooked my tiny little presser foot and tried to hook on my gigantic transformers walking foot and, no. That just didn’t work. I googled “attaching walking foot” and tried to look up the manual for my machine, and all those paths generally led to, “what in God’s name are you doing with a walking foot on that machine?” Anyway, finally I got a flathead screwdriver and undid that little screw on the left of the whole presser foot mounting shabang and took it off entirely. Then it fit just fine. Go figure. How hard is it to just spell that out on the back of the package? Or somewhere. Somehow. Also during this adventure I realized that if I keep pressing up on the lever, my foot will actually lift even higher than I ever knew it could. THAT would have been nice to know. Like three years ago. Anyway.

10) I began by sewing around my central rectangle, in the ditch. Or sometimes I was in the ditch. Mostly. In the ditch means you’re sewing over your original seam, as closely as you can. Seems like it would be so easy. Everybody just recommends you go very slowly, especially if you’re a beginniner. You don’t want to break your needle or have to rip out a bunch of stitches if you don’t have to. So then, after that went well, I sewed around each aditional rectangle, caught a few holes where the purple fabric escaped and sewed those, and then I sewed a big cross down the middle of my 4×4 design. Then (by now I was feeling prit-ty good about myself) I sewed diagonally through the middle rectangle both ways, like a big X. The dots made it easy to do a pretty straight line with no help. I’ve been told there is invisible thread you can use so that your seams don’t show up as much, but I was too lazy to do that and I didnt have the perfect color thread because teal and purple were always taking turns. So, I just did white. Messy. Sure does look homemade, though! By now it was really beginning to feel like a quilt and I could take the safety pins out.

11) Now it was time to start the binding. Again, I kind of wanted to sit around for another day giving it the stank eye but I decided to soldier on and put on my big girl pants.

How to measure for binding: add up the inches of the perimeter (which on my quilt had now shrunk to about 44×44) and add 10 inches. The video I saw recommended strips (as long as you want) by 2 1/2 inches wide. Well I had no idea I was going to get the tightest binding ever! It’s like piping! So. If you want your strips to be wider and your binding to be well, wider. Feel free.

12) Attach your strips together.

Lay your strips together in an L shape right sides together and stitch diagonally at the corner. Before you do this, unless your strips are the perfect size, I would hold a pretend seam with your finger and unfold the horizontal piece, just to make sure it looks straight. Stitch, cut the extra corner off and press seams open (I did this with my pin box). Once you have sewn all your strips together, lay them around the perimeter of your quilt to make sure you have enough.

13) Now to attach it to the quilt. You iron the entire length of binding strip in half, right (pattern) side out. Or if you’re me, press it flat in sections with your pin box. I’m a lost cause. Then for the counterintuitive part- you pin it to the edge with the crease in and the open side along the quilt edge. The video I watched recommend you don’t start at a corner but at a halfway point on one side (this is because you need to do some sewing to attach it to the other end, you’ll see in a minute). So I don’t recommend you pin the thing all the way around, just the area that you’re working on. Then you start stitching, about 1/4 of an inch from the edge. Remember to backstitch a bit in the beginning and end of your lines so they don’t come unraveled.

Essentially you are sewing the open edge closed. When you get to a corner (fig 7 lol) you stop about 1/4 in away from the end and sew diagonally to the corner. Then you turn the quilt so that the side you just stitched is horizontal, and you fold the binding strip up (against that seam) and hold that with your finger, then you fold the edge back down and pin. Then just start sewing again from the top edge.

14) Okay now for my least favorite part. I couldn’t draw it and I had an even harder time doing this in real life, but here’s what you’re supposed to do. Stop sewing with plenty of room to spare, and then pick up and unfold both sides and press right sides together. Then, pin the place where you need to stitch where they will lay flat nicely like the rest of the binding. Ya. After the wrangling I had to do to get the strips mashed together and aligned correctly, AND wrestled under my sewing machine to stitch them together (a straight line, no diagonal edge for this one) my pin had totally jumped ship. I would just mark it with a dressmakers pencil or whatever.

Once you make that stitch, you cut the excess, fold it in half again and sew it along the edge like usual.

15) Then, you fold it over to the other side, and this is when most people iron it and then HANDSTITCH IT. Blech. I can’t imagine. So please do that if you feel so inclined. It might be kind of calm and meditative. But I had just handstitched the bear closed after stuffing and I was so done. So, another method is that you don’t iron it, you make sure the edge of the binding goes just over your original seam from the other side, and you sew it again, in the ditch. But because my binding was so tiny there was no room to pin it and I could barely hold it on with my fingers! So I just mowed over that thing, as straight as I could, as close to the inside edge as I could, all the way around.

And PRESTO people, you have a quilt.

For more quilt photos, check out my last post here.

Questions? Horror stories? If I did something wrong, I’m not going to be shocked. But please share anyway!


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2 comments on “Step by Step on the Quilt

  1. Kristen

    It is looking so cute! Looking forward to the finished nursery picts. Once Scott gets those things hung… In between saving the world and all. =)

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