A Simple Quilt Tutorial

I absolutely love quilting.  You can be so creative and imaginative when making quilts and there are so many techniques.  I’m learning new ones all the time.  Mostly, quilting is very time consuming and expensive.  But it doesn’t have to be, you can make a basic quilt in next to no time with very few materials.

I’m going to be making a baby quilt today because it is far easier, you can use fun fabrics and designs, and it is much cheaper.  A full size adult’s quilt generally costs four times the amount a baby’s quilt costs to make.

To make this basic quilt you need about 1.2 m of fabric for the quilt front.  This needs to have some sort of design on such as patchwork or a picture so that when the quilt is completed it looks like you have either spent hours sewing patchwork or applique.  You need about 1.2 m of fabric for the quilt back.  This can either be plain or patterned.  You will also need the same amount in wadding or batting, I use this one SIMPLY COTTON 100% COTTON 90″ BATTING/WADDING QUILT CRAFT PATCHWORK QUILTING FABRIC MATERIAL MACHINE HAND, a reel of cotton thread the same colour as your backing and a reel of top stitch thread.  I use Gutermann Sulky Variegated Cotton (for Machine Embroidery) No 30 300m – 4030 which comes in a huge variety of colours and as it is a large 300 m reel, it’s not too bad a price for a good quality thread.  This can match or contrast with your quilt front.  If you want you can use a different colour thread in the bobbin to either match or contrast with your backing fabric to create a different effect on the reverse.

I prewash my fabric and wadding so that it has shrunk as much as it’s going to and, hopefully, every time I wash my completed quilts, they come out the same.  It takes out the uncertainty.  However, if you choose not to do this, when you wash your finished quilt the fabrics and wadding will shrink at different rates creating a slight wrinkled, antique look which can be really effective.  You just have to decide which look you want to go for.

All the quilts I make are made of natural fibres.  I generally prefer to use natural materials anyway, but with baby quilts I never make an exception to this, it’s just not worth it.  There are two reasons for this; firstly, natural fabrics feel nicer against the skin and are breathable.  Secondly, and most importantly, synthetic fibres melt.  You would be unlikely to find a fireman who wears synthetic underwear!  Bamboo, wool and cotton will burn like any other fabric but they won’t melt and weld themselves to your baby.  They do cost slightly more, but not that much more.

The fabrics I have chosen are both cotton poplin which is good for quilting and not as expensive as actual quilting fabric.  The fabric for the front has a patchwork design and the backing fabric is a dark green with small white spots.  The wadding is made from unbleached cotton.

The first thing to do is sandwich the fabric and wadding together.  My quilt back is slightly larger than the quilt front as I am going to use it to bind the quilt as well.  You can pin them together but that takes time.  I use ODIF 505 Craft Spray Adhesive Glue 250ml Can.  I know this probably seems contradictory to my lecture this now, but this works fantastically well and can be re-positioned as many times as required and then it completely washes out.  I tape my quilt back to the floor so that it is wrinkle free before spraying with adhesive and attaching the wadding and then the quilt front.  I do spend quite a while smoothing out all the wrinkles – another reason I prefer baby quilts.  Full sized quilts take ages to smooth out and I do not enjoy that!

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Next, preferably with a walking foot attached to your machine, WALKING FOOT WILL FIT, BROTHER, JANOME, SINGER, TOYOTA DOMESTIC SEWING MACHINES  (The generic ones are incredibly inexpensive and they make life so much easier.) use a top stitch thread and a long, straight stitch.  Normally, I use a thread which is a very similar colour to my fabric so that the quilting pattern can be seen  but you’re not really aware of the thread itself, however, today I am using a bright pink to contrast with the fabric so that you can see it easily.  Beginning at the centre of the quilt and working out, sew through your quilt sandwich following the outline of your design.  So, if you had a picture of an elephant, sew around the edge of the elephant and it will begin to look like an applique.  As my fabric is a patchwork design I am sewing along every ‘join’ so that it looks like patchwork with stitch in the ditch quilting.  For longevity, your quilt needs as much quilting as possible with only small gaps between.  Your wadding will have information with it suggesting the best spacing for that product.  But always do more rather than less. Whatever stitching you do on the front will be reflected on the back.  Oh yes, and if you are using a patchwork style fabric try to choose one with larger squares than I did because there was a lot of quilting in this one!

When you are happy with the front, trim and square the edges of the quilt front and wadding, BUT DO NOT TRIM THE BACK as this is going to form the binding.

Measure the excess backing fabric around the edge and trim to an equal distance all round.  Mine is 3 cm.

Fold this in half.  You can iron it if you wish.  Then fold it over to the front, mitreing the corners, pin in place and top sew with cotton sewing thread and your walking foot if you have one.  I actually didn’t have the right colour thread for this so used a cream thread instead which, hopefully, stands out slightly less than the bright pink quilting thread.

That’s it, you’re finished.  A very basic, but lovely quilt.

 

 

Sweet Dress Japanese Patterns

I absolutely love Japanese pattern books.  A lot of people have had a meltdown when they’ve unfolded the patterns in some of these books and found that; a) there are about a million patterns on each page, b) you have to trace off all the lines for your garment, c) there are no seam allowances, you have to add these yourself.  For me, these are all bonuses.  I like the fact that I get a whole pile of patterns for very little money.  I prefer to trace off the patterns, so that I can still use the original in another size, and it is far easier to alter a pattern to fit me if it has no seam allowances to take into consideration.  Also, I can then choose the size for my seam allowances without having to work around what’s already there.

These Japanese pattern books are quite brilliant.

The Japanese pattern book I am going to share with you today is Sweet Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori.  Sweet Dress Book: 23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns  OK, so most of the models do look really sad and motionless and like they’re wearing clothes belonging to someone far larger than themselves.  (Although this is not the case with my two latest purchases of Japanese pattern books)  I’m not sure if this is just the style they favour or whether they do this so as to provide less distractions from the shape and lines of the garments.  Size-wise I assume they’ve just taken the patterns directly from the books which have been created for the larger western body, so wouldn’t fit the petite Japanese frame.

Each of these books contains a wide range of very usable patterns.  Personally, I can’t imagine making many of these patterns exactly as the designer intended, but they are very adaptable.  (Again, my two new Japanese pattern books are very different from any other in that I want to make a lot of the patterns exactly as the designers intended and I will be sharing these with you when I have made some, my dilemma is which to start with!)  Some of the Japanese patterns generally are very unfitted and would benefit from a dart or two, and sometimes I have to add more width and darts for the bust.  (They are designed for the flat chested.)  But this book has a good variety of patterns with raglan sleeves, set in sleeves, puff sleeves, bishop sleeves, french sleeves, sleeveless and straps.  It has patterns for dresses, coat dresses, blouses, tunics, trousers and playsuits.  Even a cupcake recipe!

So far I’ve used pattern ‘R’ sweetheart-bodice dress to make a top for me, but I didn’t want the gathers so I combined the top of the Japanese pattern with the pattern I made from draping my tailor’s dummy.

I really like this top and have bought more fabric to make another one.  Another of the patterns I will be using is pattern ‘W’ bell-sleeve coat dress.

I haven’t decided yet whether to make it as a short jacket or the length it is in the book, but I will line it and probably change it from a V-neck into a round neck.

Next week I will be quilting and I will be showing you how to make a very simple quilt with no piecing, applique or added bias bindings!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

 

Peasy Summer Cardigan

It’s nothing short of miraculous.  I’ve finished a summer cardigan in time for summer!

This cardigan pattern, Peasy by Heidi Kirrmaier has been sitting in my Ravelry favourites for months.  I’ve read all the comments people have posted about it and looked at all the photos of their versions.  I think the reason I was stalling was that I was unsure of the sleeves.  I’ve never really gone along with the whole three quarter length sleeve idea and, frankly, I was having difficulty getting past the fact that they reminded me of Spock’s trousers.  Maybe I should try out some cardigans with shorter sleeves though because I do spend all day pushing my cardigan sleeves up my arms!

I’m glad I eventually took the plunge and started this cardigan, but I did do the sleeves very differently from the pattern and I used an alternative yarn as well.  I chose an ice blue cotton which is such a departure from anything I normally use both in fibre and colour.  I usually favour warm fibres and warm, muted colours.  Once I made the decision and bought this yarn, I was ridiculously excited to get it finished.  It is so, so pretty and I just love knitting lace.  So much so that I tapered the cardigan’s sleeves, and added sixteen rounds of lace at the cuff to make them full length.

I loved knitting this pattern.  I did highlight the instructions for my size and jotted a few notes as there were so many things going on at once.  It worked out really well and I have some rust coloured alpaca and merino wool set aside to make another at some point.  There was one downside to this one.  It did use a lot more yarn than stated – a lot more. I usually have at least a ball of wool over at the end of a project but this time I had to buy four extra!

Now we need some more sun so that I can wear it.  My first attempt at getting photos of it ended in disaster as it was too cold and windy out on the cliffs to remove my raincoat or beany, so we had to come back to the garden to take them.

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

 

Inserting an Invisible Zip

This was a bit of a revelation to me.  Things have moved on so much in the sewing and knitting industry.  There are so many ways to sew a zip.  As a child I was taught to sew them by hand using a pinprick stitch.  But I’ve since found there are better ways and better zips.

You need a special zip designed to not show once it’s attached.  The other important thing you need is an invisible zip presser foot which has two channels in to hold on to the zip and to uncurl it as your machine sews a line of stitching really close to it.  You can use an ordinary zipper foot but you have to tack the zip in place securely before sewing and you have to constantly push the presser foot against the zip as you sew.  You can buy very cheap generic presser feet online and it’s definitely worth the investment, it makes life so much easier.  INVISIBLE, CONCEALED ZIP, ZIPPER FOOT WITH TAIL SNAP ON, COMPATIBLE FOR BROTHER, JANOME, TOYOTA, NEW SINGER DOMESTIC SEWING MACHINES  (Unless you have a 9 mm machine like I do and then you have to buy one specifically for that machine and that is VERY expensive, but actually, still worth it! Another difference in the invisible or concealed zip and any other you might have used is that you attach it to your garment first before sewing the seam, which is much easier.

So, first of all you need to finish the raw edges of your seam.  I’ve only done the top bit which will run the length of the zip because I’m going to do a french seam which will all be enclosed.

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The zip needs to be undone and placed face down 1.5 cm away from one edge and pinned in place.

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Then sew along the zip with it inserted into one of the presser foot grooves.

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When you near the zip pull, fasten off the threads and do the zip up before turning it over onto the other side of the seam and pin in place as you undo the zip.

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Then sew down this side with the zip in the other groove of the presser foot.

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Do the zip up and sew the seam below it, holding the zip out the way.

You now have a completed invisible zip which is concealed from the outside.

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These pictures make it look like I only have one arm, but I do have two!

 

Decorative Hemming

Decorative hemming or cheat’s entredeux!  In case you haven’t heard of that, as it is a bit old school, entredeux is a piece of lace that is inserted between two pieces of fabric.  Apparently people used to have time to do that.  It’s no secret that I like lace and have I often look for ways to incorporate it into garments.  This hemming technique combines hemming your garment with a really flat, non bulky hem and a very pretty, decorative strip that looks just like lace.

There are so many ways of hemming a skirt but I find this technique just amazing. This is the type of hemming I used on the duck egg blue spotty fabric on my reversible skirt.

You really do need to practise on a spare piece of fabric first with this one.  It is very scary when you have spent hours sewing a garment and finally got to the hemming and you’re faced with a wing needle which is going to put a row of holes into your lovely handmade item!  But it is so worth it.

So, as I just mentioned you will need a wing needle.

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I can’t stress enough the need to practise on a spare piece of fabric.  I’m generally very slack on this point but I did practise this one – a lot.  I tried several stitches and labelled them all with biro before deciding which one I wanted to use.  Luckily, my machine has a few stitches which are for this purpose.  It also has several stitches designed for other uses but I found they worked very well for this.  Some stitches complete this task with one row of stitching while others need two passes using the same holes.  To do this, stitch one row, then leaving the needle in the fabric while in the left hand position, turn your fabric 180 º and sew another row next to the first and the wing needle should go back into the same holes with each stitch.  You can do this very effectively with a simple zigzag stitch.  I eventually decided to use one of my machine’s built in hemming stitches.

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I set my machine to do a 3 mm wide and 2.5 mm length stitch.

Fold your hem and press.  Mark a line on the right side of your fabric where you want your line of stitching.  I marked my skirt 8 cm from the fold.  I should mention that you are meant to use a very fine thread such as Madeira for this, but I didn’t.  Once you are happy that you’ve chosen the best stitch, that your machine is set up properly and behaving, just complete your row (or two rows depending on which stitch you chose) without stopping.  Then turn your garment to the wrong side and trim off the excess fabric.

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Turn your garment the right way out and you’re done.

 

Next week I shall be showing you how I insert a concealed or invisible zip.