Simple Block Patchwork
This is a very simple way to make a quilt. It involves cutting a square template which you will use to cut out your fabric. When cutting clothes, which are a variety of shapes, I use a cardboard template and scissors.
Once you have decided what size you want the squares of your quilt top, you will need to add a seam allowance before you cut your template. A seam allowance is created when you sew a seam but is hidden from view. Quilters traditionally sew 1/4″ in from the edge to create a seam. I use the edge of my sewing machine foot as my seam which is roughly 1/4 “. The point is to be consistent.
Start by cutting out your squares using your template. REMEMBER, you need to be accurate here to save heartache later on.
Lay them out in your preferred pattern, right sides facing up and you will work on one “column” of the top at a time.
Sew each square of a column to it’s neighbour in a long strip, by putting the right sides of a square together, and sewing a 1/4″ seam along one edge. Press the seams open. Now add another square by putting right sides together, line up the edges and sew a 1/4″ seam. Do this until you have sewn all the squares in a column into one long strip. Then do this for each column of the quilt top until all your columns are in strips and seams ironed open.
Now, the tricky part. You are going to sew each column to it’s neighbour in the same way as you joined the squares – right sides together, line up the edges and sew your seam. However, you need to ensure that your horizontal seams will match. This takes a bit of practice, so don’t worry too much about it, it depends how fussy you are, but it is the difference shown below – the seam on the right lines up in all directions.
I find the best way to get a seam lined up is to pin on both sides on the seam. The also prevents the seam underneath getting folded as you sew. Once you have two columns pinned like this, sew them together. As you approach each seam, just check it is all lined up before you sew across it.
Once you have sewn all your strips together, press your seams open. Voila, you have a quilt top!
Lots of quilters press their seams in one direction, both sides of the fabric pressed to the same side. I prefer to press my seams open, as I find this creates less bulk when you are quilting later. I also like to trim my corners, as the picture above shows, again to cut down on the bulk.
Now the fun starts – it’s time to make your quilt sandwich.
Lay out your backing fabric, wrong side up, on a flat surface. Smooth it out. Then lay your wadding or batting on top of this. (I will add a word about batting in the glossary shortly.) Finally lay your quilt top, right side up, over both of them, and smooth them out, ensuring that your quilt top is centred with batting and backing showing at each edge. Don’t worry about the size of the batting or backing fabric yet. Now you need to pin these layers together until you can sew them.
Start in the centre of your quilt, and using pins with a large head (so you can see them easily, but not too thick that they will leave holes in the top), work outwards towards the top and bottom edges, smoothing and pinning. Lots of quilter use safety pins for this stage, but I find they move too much and they are fiddly to do up. Return to the centre and work outwards towards the left and right edges, smoothing and pinning. Once you have those parts pinned, you can work your way outwards until the whole quilt is pinned. I aim to put a couple of pins in each direction in each square.
Now you are ready to quilt and bind.
Quilting is simply a way of holding all the layers in place so they don’t move about once the quilt is being used. There are lots of very decorative ways of doing this, but the method I use is called “Stitch in the Ditch.”
Binding is simply the edge part of the quilt, and again, many ways of doing it, but I use a very easy binding method which means that you can cut your quilt to size right now.
Stitch in the Ditch quilting simply means to sew along each seam of your quilt, thus creating the quilt effect, and a pleasing square pattern on the back. Put your quilt in your sewing machine, starting in the centre and work outwards. This will prevent puckering. You can roll your quilt top up so it fits under the arm of your machine. If you are working on a very big quilt, you could do it by hand, or use simple ties, where you hand sew a stitch through each point where the seams cross. This can look very pretty if you used a contrasting thread and some quilters leave the thread long on the top or sew a button on.
I also like to sew a little hidden design on the front, that shows through on the back too. Soon you start to get the nice puffy quilt effect.
This is the simplest way to bind that I know. At some point in the Stash Busting journey, I will show you the other ways I have used, but for now..
Start by creating your binding strip. Roughly measure around the edge of your quilt and cut 2.5″ wide strips until you have enough to go around the quilt. Don’t worry if you don’t have continuous pieces, because you can join them as in the photos below.
Lay your strips at right angles to each other and pin together. Fold one corner up to form a square and iron this fold. You will use this line as a guide to sew on. Open it back up and sew along the line created. Then trim the excess fabric, and iron your seam open flat on the back. Do this to add as many strips together as you need.
Now iron the whole length of the fabric in half and lay it along the edge of your quilt, with the unfinished edges together.
We are going to create a little pocket to tuck the end of our binding in for a neat finish. To do this, open up the end of the binding fabric to start with. (Actually start a little further away from the corner than I have – it makes things simpler when you come to use the pocket you create.)
Fold the outside corner of the binding in towards the seam, as in the picture above. Now fold the binding in half, and you create a neat seam and pocket, ready for finishing your binding when you have sewn around the edge. Keeping the rough edge of your quilt and your binding lined up, start sewing your seam through all the layers.
To create a nice mitred corner, stop sewing a 1/4″ from the corner. Take the quilt out of the machine, and fold the binding to the right, so that the bottom edge of the binding lines up with the bottom edge of the quilt. Now, fold it back on itself, towards the left, so it lays along the edge of the quilt. Turn the quilt, insert it back into the sewing machine, and start sewing the new edge approximately a 1/4″ from the top edge.
Do this all the way around, until you are back to where you started. Trim any excess length from the binding, tuck the end into the little pocket we created at the start, and finish sewing the seam.
Now, iron your binding away from the quilt and start to fold it over the back, and pin. You will find a little miracle happens at the corners – they open up and become perfect little mitres when they are sewn at the back.
All that is left to do is to slip stitch the binding on the back of the quilt. I usually do this by hand, but you can machine “in the ditch” of the binding seam on the front, catching in the edge of the binding on the back (but I usually miss, hence doing it by hand.) I like the invisible effect you get by hand sewing.
And THAT IS IT! Your quilt is complete. Congratulations if you have made it to the end, and you have a beautiful finished quilt. Please share your creations with me, and I will post them in the blog.
If this binding sounds very complicated, I can recommend the lovely folk at Heirloom Creations who have a video showing this process very clearly indeed.