Joel and Heidi's boy is due in May and what better way to kick off my unemployment than with a baby quilt!
[above: Heidi, the mom-to-be!]
The 48"x48" quilt is comprised of 500 pieces of fabric and both the back and binding are super soft cuddly fabric. You can run climbers' fingers across it and not feel anything.
The quilt is based off of the Cut Glass pattern in Vintage Quilt Revival. It's my usual modus operandi: find a pattern I like and modify the shape, colors, or materials.
My pet peeve with new baby items--onesies, socks, burp cloths, stuffed animals, even gift bags and congrats cards--is that they're too often pink monotone or blue monotone or all pastel. Get a full range of bright color in there, whether it's traditionally for the opposite sex or not!
The quilt is made using a foundation paper piecing technique. Rather than cutting perfect fabric pieces and then sewing those together, you use paper patterns to sew together larger fabric pieces and then cut those down to size. You can create some really crazy designs with paper piecing, from animals to Iron Man. There's numerous tutorials for paper piecing, but this'll give an overview.
Cut pieces of fabric larger than the piece you want to end up with. Here we start with green on A1. Tack the first piece in place with a glue stick dab. You're creating the blocks in mirror image, so as you look at the paper facing up, the finished side will face the table. The other linked tutorial shows this well.
Place the next piece of fabric, here the yellow A3 which is also larger than the pattern, with its right side facing the right side of the green, making sure both are extended beyond the A1-A3 line by at least 1/4" for the seam. What you're looking at below is the paper pattern facing up, then green fabric with right side facing down, then the yellow fabric with right side facing up.
This is what it looks like from the bottom.
Sew along the A1-A3 line using a short stitch length around 1.8. This will make it easier to tear the paper away later.
Flip the yellow side across the seam. You're looking at the finished fabric side, which remember, is facing the other side from the paper pattern.
Now repeat for the other ~500 seams...
Press the seams.
Trim the seam allowances to a tidy ~1/4" and use a rotary cutter to cut out the pattern.
Tear away the paper.
Sew together pieces to make a quarter block.
Repeat x4 for a full block. I left the blocks at this stage without sewing together the 4 quarter-block pieces. I made each block out of different colors and patterns and randomized where each of the quarter blocks went.
Creating the Sandwich
After completing the 64 quarter-blocks, I laid them out to randomize the green-orange-yellow and to place the plum and black blocks. Sew all those together.
To make the quilt sandwich, lay out the batting with the pieced top on top.
Use 505 spray adhesive one row at a time to adhere the top to batting. This is to keep the quilt layers in place until you quilt it with permanent stitching.
Repeat with the backside material.
Now you have a very thick quilt sandwich.
Technically "quilting" refers to the top stitching that permanently binds the layers of quilt together and provides another layer of artistic depth. This is the part I like the most since it's subtle (generally the thread blends with fabric) but adds another dimension of eye candy. The overall piecing pattern, the fabric color, the fabric contrast, and the quilting all contribute to the creative depth, and I love it when your eyes dance around finding new things. The quilting step is the most stressful since you're 20+ hours and 500 pieces of fabric into it and there's no real correcting mistakes.
This quilt was really hard since it was so thick. I normally use wool or cotton batting, but wanted something thicker to showcase the quilting, so I went with a poly-cotton blend. Plus with the cuddly fabric, I got pumped after a couple minutes of shoving it through the machine. It was very hard to make even stitches and curves. The thickest parts where the star points touch had 24 layers of fabric in the seam + batting + cuddly fabric. Baby Ruscher, you may have the thickest quit I'll ever make.
I wanted to keep the quilting somewhat minimal to preserve the softness for a baby, but play off the geometric pattern. I went with squigglies in the gray areas and stippling in the yellow centers.
To make the plum and black area further pop, I only stitched in the ditch around the diamond.
I used cuddly fabric for the binding for the first time. It took quite a bit of experimenting to finally settle on this method. This is a good tutorial for normal binding using woven quilting fabric, but cuddly fabric is stretchy and comparatively thick.
Cut strips 2.5" wide.
Join strips at a 45 degree angle until you have a single strip long enough for the whole quilt.
Stitch to quilt top first, right sides together. Normally your quilt binding would be doubled over for this step, but that's overkill and arguably impossibly thick with cuddly fabric. Use a walking foot! Create mitered corners as normal.
Fold the binding over to the back. Wrap the raw edge under so all edges are lined up. Sew close to the edge--you can see about how far from the needle:
Flip the quilt back over and the final stitching line should end up in the ditch between the binding and block (though it never does in practice). The cuddly fabric hides mis-stitches well.
Wash it and gift it!