Thursday, June 21, 2012

simple baby "quilt"

The sudden realization that I could be having a baby in less than a month has thrown me into somewhat of a whirlwind of baby-prep activity - as much of a whirlwind as you can be with a giant basketball of a stomach, that is!  So I've been hunting out the boxes of baby clothes, and going through lots of junk to try to make room for this kid, and, of course, working on a few sewing projects for the little munchkin.

Here's the first of the sewing projects: a baby quilt!  I use the term quilt rather loosely here.  I tied it like a quilt, but other than that, I'm not really sure it qualifies.  But it sure is cute!

I actually bought this adorable dinosaur fabric to make this blanket for Jack, but, well... I never got around to it.  So I decided this baby needed a blanket of his own, and not just hand-me-downs.

I also decided to make it a bit bigger than a typical baby blanket.  We already have a lot of receiving blankets, and I wanted to make one that would last as he gets bigger.  So I got 2 yards of the dinosaur fabric, and 2 yards of the blue fabric for the back.  I trimmed it down a bit smaller than that, so it ended up about 60" by 42".  But you could make this any size you want - just adjust the amounts of fabric, batting, and binding to fit the size you want.

One of the best things about this project (like most of my projects - I'm lazy, remember?) is that it's easy!  Want to make a super cute and easy blanket?  Well, here's how I made mine.

What you'll need:

2 yards fabric for front
2 yards fabric for back
2 yards thin quilt batting
2 packages of satin blanket binding (4 3/4 yards each)
yarn in matching/coordinating color
thread to match satin binding

1. Lay out your fabric and batting.  I like the lay it out just how it will be when it's done - right sides out, batting in the middle.  Make sure all the layers are nice and smooth so that when you cut it to the right size, there won't be any problems.  I also like to line up the selvages to get a nice, even line.

Jack was "helping" Mommy make a blanket for baby brother.  (By helping I mean: every time I got all three layers nice and smooth, he would walk, sit, or drive his car on the fabric.)

2. Measure and mark where you need to cut.  If some of the pieces are a bit crooked (which tends to happen) even them up first so that you're measuring from a more even point.  Cut all three layers together to the size you want.

I like to cut along a straight edge, like this quilters ruler, to make sure I get straight line.  I'm not very good at cutting straight lines on my own...

3. Pin all three layers together all around the outer edge, making sure the edges line up, especially the batting which might bunch up.

4. Baste or stitch the blanket together.  You don't need to worry about the seams showing because they'll be covered up by the binding.  I did a 5/8" seam just in case any of the edges were somehow not quite lined up, that way I knew I would get all three layers.  Plus, the binding is wider than that and will cover it up.  Stitch all the way around the blanket so all four sides are sewn together.

5. Time for the binding!  First you'll want to iron the creases out - not the center fold, the creases from being wrapped around the piece of cardboard.

6. (If you're making a bigger quilt that needs more than one package of binding, follow this step.  If not, skip to the next step.)   
          a) Open out the end of both pieces of binding, and line up, right sides together, making sure the         center folds align.  Pin.
        b) Stitch together, then trim the excess so it isn't too bulky.
        c) Open it back out, and fold down along the center fold.  Now it's ready to use!

7. Starting at least 12" from a corner, pin binding around the edge of the blanket.  The binding should have one side that's a little longer - this goes on the back.  Just tuck the blanket right up into the fold of the binding, and pin to hold it in place.

8. When you get to a corner, pin it, then turn it at a right angle, and continue pinning.  There will be a pucker in the binding, but you will make it into a mitered corner when you stitch it.

9. When you get back to where you started, leave a few extra inches, and cut off the extra.  Don't pin down the very end where it overlaps yet.

10.  Using a zig-zag stitch, stitch binding onto blanket along the edge.

11.  When you get to a corner, tuck one side of the binding up under the other to form a pointed corner and pin it.  Make sure you tuck both the top and bottom.

11.  With the needle in the fabric at the corner, lift the foot and turn the quilt, then continue stitching.  

12.  Continue stitching all the way around the quilt until you get a few inches from where you started.  Fold the edge of the binding under to hide the raw edge.  Then line it up with the binding that's already sewn on, and finish sewing.  Be sure to backstitch a little to make sure it holds.

From here you could be done if you want to be.  Or you could tie it with yarn or embroidery floss to give it that hand tied quilt look.  I'll be honest - I'm not an expert at this part, so I'm not going to give you the step by step, because I'd probably explain at least some of it wrong!  But I will share a few tips and tricks that I've picked up on the few blankets I've tied.

Tip #1: Put pins at the top and bottom of each "column" as guide markers

Tip #2: Cut out a square of paper the size you want the knots to be spaced.  So if you want them 6" apart, cut out a 6" square.  (That's the size I used)

Tip #3: Don't cut the yarn until the end.  Just keep it all connected, and keep going.  Then cut between each stitch, knot them, trim them, and you're done!


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