We've had quite a few requests for more quilts and have a number of them planned in the coming weeks. Today's uses Fig Tree's nostalgic Whimsy fabric collection by Joanna Figueroa for Moda in a handy pre-cut Charm Pack. Coordinating Whimsy yardage and Bella Solids make up the back, sashing and binding. Even if you've never quilted before, you'll find this to be a very simple design in a very manageable baby size. One tiny disclaimer: quilting is known to be addictive and an adorable baby quilt like this could easily be a 'gateway project.' We take no responsibility for turning you or a family member into a wild-eyed quilting maniac with boxes of scraps hidden all over the house.
Take a look at all the great designs and colorways within Joanna's Whimsy collection. And, check out our matching neckroll pillow. I'm not sure what I love most about this collection... the colors, the designs, that cute little chicken on its nest. It's an eclectic mix, yet it all blends together beautifully. To learn more about Joanna's signature style, read our interview.
A BIG thanks to our friends at Fat Quarter Shop for providing us with all the Whimsy collection fabrics for our tutorial trio. They have a wonderful selection in stock of all the designs. And, if you couldn't tell by their name, they always have one of the best selections of pre-cuts. Thanks, FQS!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome 2160DC)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- One Charm Pack: we used Fig Tree's Whimsy Charm Pack from Moda
NOTE: Moda charm packs contain forty-two 5" x 5" squares; you need 36 for this quilt - so if you don't wish to use a Charm Pack, cut thirty-six 5" x 5" squares.
- 1-1/8 yards of 45" wide fabric for sashing and borders: we used Moda's Bella Solids in Snow
- 1 yard of 45" wide fabric for binding: we used Moda's Bella Solids in Celery
- 1¼ yards of 45" wide fabric for backing: we used Fig Tree's Whimsy Dot in Whimsy Milk and Grass from Moda
- Thin batting in a crib size: our quilt finishes 38½" square
- All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
- Quilting thread in colors to match fabrics: we used Coats and Clark Multi-color in Spring Green
- Rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Hand sewing needle
- Lots of large safety pins
- From the fabric for the sashing and borders (Bella Solids in Snow in our sample), cut the following:
Four 2½" x width of fabric (WOF) strips. Recut these four strips into thirty 2½" x 5" pieces.
Five 2½" x WOF strips.
Four 3½" x WOF strips.
- Cut five 5" x WOF strips from the fabric for the binding (Bella Solids in Celery in our sample).
- You will work with the backing fabric as one piece; no additional cutting is necessary.
- Cut the batting down to approximately 40" x 40" - 45" x 45"; you will trim away the excess when finished with the quilting.
A note about seam allowances and quilting
Paying special attention to seam allowances is important in every project, but is essential in quilting, because your seams need to match up perfectly (quilters call this ‘perfect points'). Therefore, you need to be very careful to make sure all allowances are consistent.
For ‘regular' quilts, you traditionally sew with a ¼" seam allowance. This small seam allowance reduces the bulk in the seams, and makes for a neater quilt top. For this project, we decided to use ½" seams. We did this for a couple of reasons. One, nearly all our S4H home décor projects use ½" seams, and we didn't want to confuse someone who is quilting for the first time (because this is the perfect beginner quilt!) Two, there aren't many seams in this quilt, so any added bulk will really not make a difference.
Making a guide for your machine
- Many quilters like to mark their machines to help them guide their fabric and keep a super accurate seam allowance. We learned a neat trick from Janome America Educator, Sam Fung for creating an edge to line your fabric against - Post-it® Notes! Here are the steps to follow if you wish to do this:
- With the needle in the 'down' position, use a tape measure or ruler to measure ½" to the right of the needle.
- Use a pencil or marker to indicate this measurement.
- Mark the measurement with a piece of tape.
- Sew on a fabric scrap, using the tape as a guide. We used a file folder label.
- Measure the size of the seam (from the edge of the fabric to the stitching) to ensure your seam allowance indicator is correct. Adjust as necessary.
- When you are satisfied that your seam allowance is correct, mark it with a stack of 15-20 sticky notes.
- When sewing, use this guide as a little 'wall' to feed your fabric against. Janome's higher-end models have a great accessory that does this called a Cloth Guide. This is a DIY option for your machine.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Match up thirty 5" x 5" charm squares with the thirty 2½" x 5" pieces. Pair them up right sides together along the 5" sides.
- Using a 1/2" seam allowance, stitch all thirty pairs together. Press seams toward the charm squares.
NOTE: When quilters piece together small pieces like this, they do so in a chain to avoid cutting the threads after each part is sewn - this makes the sewing go much faster, and saves thread.
- Layout your sewn and pressed pairs, to match our pattern or a design of your own, in six rows of five pairs.
- Find your six left over charm squares and put one at the end of each row, again - you can match our pattern or design your own.
- Sew the remaining seams to complete the rows. Each row will require five more seams to complete. As you did above, match right sides together, stitch and press seams toward the charm squares.
Assembling rows to create the quilt center
- Find your five 2½" x WOF strips. These go between the pieced rows to create the quilt center.
- Working from the top of the quilt to the bottom, lay the first strip, right sides together, along the bottom of the first pieced row, matching the raw edges. Pin in place. Don't worry about the excess side to side; that will be trimmed off later.
- Stitch, using a ½" seam allowance. Press seam towards the pieced row.
- Align the bottom raw edge of the strip you just stitched with the top raw edge of the next pieced row in your sequence, right sides together. Pin and stitch in place.
- Continue in this manner until all five strips are stitched in place between the rows. The very top and the very bottom are still raw edges.
- Trim the quilt center so both sides are flush.
Adding top, bottom and side borders
- Find the four 3½" x WOF border strips.
- Sew a 3½" x WOF border strip to the top and bottom of the quilt center.
- Press seams towards the quilt center. Trim any excess from either end.
- Sew a 3½" x WOF border strip to each remaining side of the quilt center. Press seam towards the quilt center and trim flush.
Layering to make quilt sandwich
- Place the backing fabric face down. Layer the batting on top of the back fabric. Layer the quilt top on top of the batting face up.
- Baste the layers together.
NOTE: You baste the quilt layers together so they stay stable as you quilt the top. There are a few ways to baste, but the easiest is to use big safety pins. You can buy these in the quilting section of your local fabric or crafts store.
- Place cotton quilting thread in the machine, and wind a bobbin to match the backing fabric.
NOTE: There are some incredible threads available for quilting. For our project, we chose Coats and Clark Multi-color Machine Quilting Thread in Spring Green. It's a blendable thread that changes color from light to dark.
- If you have a walking or even feed foot for your sewing machine, this is a good time to use it. The walking foot will help to feed the layered fabrics evenly, so they don't slip.
- To quilt the fabric and batting layers together, start from one corner, and stitch a line that runs diagonally through each charm square.
- Continue quilting diagonally through the quilt so each charm square has a diagonal line quilted through it.
- Rotate the quilt top and stitch a diagonal line from the opposite direction to create an 'X' in each charm square.
- Trim the quilt layers so that they are even all around.
- Create and attach the quilt binding, using your favorite edge binding technique or one of ours:
Bias Binding: How To Make It & Attach It
Binding Quilts and Throws
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Editing: Alison Newman