Joel and Heidi's boy is due in May and what better way to kick off my unemployment than with a baby quilt!

Baby quilt tutorial Baby quilt tutorial

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.

Baby quilt tutorial

The Design

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.

Baby quilt tutorial

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!

Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

The Piecing

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.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

This is what it looks like from the bottom.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

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.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

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.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

Now repeat for the other ~500 seams...
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

Press the seams.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

Trim the seam allowances to a tidy ~1/4" and use a rotary cutter to cut out the pattern.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

Tear away the paper.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

Sew together pieces to make a quarter block.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

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.
Baby quilt tutorial paper piecing

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.
Baby quilt tutorial

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.


505 spray adhesive

Baby quilt tutorial

Repeat with the backside material.
Baby quilt tutorial

Now you have a very thick quilt sandwich.

The Quilting

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.
Baby quilt tutorial machine quilting

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.
Baby quilt tutorial machine quilting

To make the plum and black area further pop, I only stitched in the ditch around the diamond.
Baby quilt tutorial machine quilting

The Binding

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.
Baby quilt tutorial binding

Join strips at a 45 degree angle until you have a single strip long enough for the whole quilt.
Baby quilt tutorial binding

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.
Baby quilt tutorial binding shannon fabric

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:
Baby quilt tutorial binding shannon fabric

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.
Baby quilt tutorial binding

Wash it and gift it!
Baby quilt tutorial