Category Archives: Quilting

Various quilting projects and tips.

From fabric to finished: a quilt for my soon-to-be-born son.

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I just finished stitching the last stitch of my latest quilt made especially for my baby boy! Yay! It took me 16 days to complete this project. Picked out fabric on the 15th of October and finished today, October 31st.


[Finished quilt dimensions: 41.5″ x 56.5″]

There is only one thing that I would do different if I had it to do all over again: I would make the blocks bigger. When originally cutting all the fabric for this quilt I decided to follow the direction outlined in the quilting book I was using as a guide (Radiant Nine Patch by Blanche Young, 1986). She suggests cutting all fabric in 2″ strips, use a 5/16″ seam allowance. The end result would be a 4″ block. I thought that sounded pretty good, so I got started. I thought I was cutting enough material to make TWO quilts – HAHAHAHA! Once I started laying out all the finished blocks I realized I only had enough for one quilt, and a very small quilt at that…so I decided I’d keep it for my baby boy (this quilt was originally going to be a Christmas gift for my nephew), and in the end I’m extremely pleased with the final results.

I started out machine quilting the quilt, but after two laborious passes of the quilt through my machine I decided that I’d hand quilt the quilt. It just looked terrible, and I knew it would look awesome if I did it by hand. Hand quilting takes a lot of time. I swore it off after the last quilt, then ended up doing it again this time. I guess it’s worth it in the end.

On a separate note, I had my 36 week doctors appointment today and I’m 2.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Baby boy will be here soon. Doctor said to go ahead and get a bag packed. :) I’m hoping he stays in the comfort of my womb for at LEAST another week. I really want his little lungs to be fully developed before he joins us on the outside.
[side note: my little sweet pea was born 2 days after my 36 week check up. I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced with her at this time, which is pretty close to where I am now with the boy…]

Below is a picture journal of the quilt from fabric selection to finished product. Enjoy!

new quilting project

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I have been working on a quilt for the last two weeks and it’s almost done. I will post a full blog about it (with pictures) in the very near future. So exciting! Oh, and I think I’m crazy, because I decided to hand quilt it even though I swore I wouldn’t do that again after the last quilt I just finished. Glutton for punishment I guess.

Who’s the quilt for this time? I decided it would be for my baby boy. I’m a few days shy of 36 weeks pregnant, so he’ll be here soon (32 days or less, but who’s counting). My daughter came early at 36.5 weeks, so I’m a bit nervous that he will come early as well. Time shall tell. Until then I shall quilt… :)

Finally finished the quilt!

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That’s right, folks, I thought the day would never come, but the hand quilting project is complete. Yippee!!

Here’s a quick summary of what’s been done over the last few days:

Once I finished hand stitching all of the blocks I was ready to trim the edges of the quilt. I used a 12″ square at the corners and then a 24″ ruler for the rest. Fortunately everything squared up perfectly and the quilt folds gloriously (yes, gloriously…I love it when a quilt is perfectly square (or almost so) – it makes me smile).

After trimming off all excess batting and backing I made the binding for the quilt. I used coordinating fabric to match the cornerstones within the quilt and the inside border. You’ll see the finished binding is wrapped around a spool of thread. I just did this to collect it, but later realized a GREAT way to utilize the spool while sewing the binding to the quilt. I ran a piece of elastic through the center hole of the spool and safety-pinned the ends together and put it around my neck, like a necklace. This kept the binding, which is extremely long, neat and in order (not sitting in a pile at my feet getting twisted and tangled as I was sewing). Perhaps it’s something I could patent one day – ha! Well, you never know. I guess I better get on it since I’m posting this on my public blog. You can see a picture of me wearing the binding necklace below.

To finish attaching the binding to the quilt I lined up the open ends and pressed them backwards where they met (to make a line in the fabric). I placed the fabric right sides together and sewed where the pressed lines met. Once sewn together I turned the fabric ends and lined them up with the quilt to make sure the binding was long enough to finish the edge without the quilt bunching. Not too hard to do, just make sure everything lines up before trimming your fabric. Once the binding was all attached I pressed it to the outside in preparation for finishing.

To finish the binding I simply folded it over the edge to the back of the quilt and ran a blind stitch to tack it all together. Here’s a great video tutorial on how to do a blind stitch, which includes finishing your mitered corners. It didn’t take me too long to finish blind stitching the binding. I finished one side last night and then the rest of it today. This is definitely a step I was looking forward to doing, because it’s the LAST step. ha!

So happy the quilt is done. I know my Grandma will love it.

So what’s next…..yep, another quilt. I think I’ll take a week off though and start fresh. This one shouldn’t take near as long because I’m going to machine quilt it. It’s going to be a radiant 9 patch quilt. Can’t wait to get started!!

Quilting Update: half way done!

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Today I finished hand quilting the 13th block – half way done! Hooray! Only 12 more blocks to go, which, if I finish one a day, means I’ll be done on October 9th…arg. I want to have the quilt DONE by this date, so I’m going to have to work harder. I should be able to complete two blocks in a day (now that I’m done with my latest Ice Cream Sandwich order), which means I should be done hand quilting on Monday, the 3rd of October. Then, I’ll have to trim the edges and add the binding (another hand quilting step). Piece of cake. (speaking of cake, I wish I had some right now…)

Quilting and Ice Cream

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I’ve been making ice cream sandwiches lately (a side business I have going with my mother) so my quilting has been at a halt. Today, however, I picked up the needle again and completed the 6th block of 25 blocks on my grandmother’s quilt. This is the first block I’ve completed without breaking a needle. I also completed this entire block without using a thimble. I’ve discovered that quilting without a thimble on my thumb allows me to quilt much faster, but does limit the number of stitches I can complete with one pass. Using the thimble I can make about 6 stitches, but without I can only do about three. So, even though it’s seeming faster (I don’t have to pick up the pliers every time I want to pull the needle through), it may actually take the same time because of the fewer stitches. I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to time it.

The main problem I’ve encountered with this quilt, and what I believe is causing me the most frustration, is the fact that not all the seams are folded in the correct direction within the quilt block. As I mentioned in my first post about this quilt the blocks were given to me. They were created by my great-great-aunt many years ago. The seam allowance she used when quilting is extremely small so the fold is not correct on all segments of the block. I find that I’m having to go through 5 layers of material sometimes and pushing a needle through that is very difficult, resulting in broken needles and lots of frustration.

This is a good learning though, as I will NEVER make a quilt that does not have the seams folded and pressed firmly in the correct direction (which is to the darker fabric). My next quilt is going to be a Radiant 9 Patch quilt. I plan on machine quilting it, but know that it’s equally important to press the seams in the correct direction so I don’t end up breaking the needles on my machine.

Very important information: pressing your seams with a VERY HOT STEAM IRON is mandatory. Not only in quilting, but sewing in general. By pressing your seams firmly you make your quilt, garment, drape, pillow case, etc. go from ‘homemade’ to professional!

Happy quilting times ahead. If I quilt one block a day moving forward I’ll be done on October the 9th. My parents will be in town that weekend, so I’m going to try to have it done before then. I’m going to have to get 2 blocks done a few of the days between now and then to accomplish it, but I’m up for the challenge! Let’s get this quilt done!

Block quilting method

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method shown within image:
step 1: white (2 knots)
Step 2: green, 4 parts (8 knots)
step 3: orange, 2 parts (4 knots)

As mentioned in an earlier post it takes me about 1.5 hours to do an individual block. The part I dislike the most is the starting and stopping of the thread. I have to tie a knot each time and it’s a little challenging. Plus there are a bunch of tiny little knots on the back of the quilt — 14 knots per block, ugh! I wish I could avoid this somehow, but I can’t seem to think of a better way. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Today is day three and I just completed my 3rd block! I might have the energy to start another block this evening, but I didn’t get much sleep last night so I’m a bit tired. Who knows, perhaps I’ll get a second wind.

Image of blocks completed thus far:

The first three blocks completed from right to left. You're looking at about 5 hours of hand sewing work. Shew.

Starting the sewing process!

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Quilt top, batting and backing all pined, ironed and ready to be hand sewn together.

After every thing is sewn together I’ll bind the quilt together with a 5/8ths inch border of fabric that matches the mauve color border seen next to the outside layer.

I started hand sewing the blocks together yesterday and it took me a little over 1.5 hours to complete ONE block — eeeek! At this pace I should be finished with the quilt in about a month (there are 25 blocks, one a day, then binding it all together). I may be able to complete more than one block a day, but it depends on my little sweet-pea’s nap length and my energy level at the end of the day (seeing that I’m 29 weeks pregnant the energy level could tapper off dramatically as the days progress).

I completed another block today during nap time, so I’m now 2 blocks down with 23 to go! Woohoo!