My mother-in-law is a fantastic quilter. She measures twice, cuts every precisely, irons everything, and spends months hand-quilting over a frame.
I am totally not that kind of quilter.
I started making little quilts when I was pregnant with my son, mostly because I love to pick out different fabric combinations. I don’t use patterns, I never do anything complicated, and I do everything on my sewing machine, so I guess that makes me a Cheaty McQuilter, but that’s fine.
Bigger pieces of fabric = less work, and smaller pieces of fabric = more work. It doesn’t have to involve cutting flower petal shapes and following a complicated design.
When we moved our two-year-old daughter to her big-girl bed, I couldn’t find any bedding that I liked. I decided it was time to make my first “big” quilt — i.e. something bigger than crib-sized or lap-sized.
So if you’re like me, and like the idea of quilting but not so much the measuring the repeated ironing?
I started by cutting out about a zillion (well, 12) 4” by 4” squares from 10 different fabrics, for a total of 120 squares.
At this point, I had no idea how many I would actually need. If you’re good at math, you could work out exactly how many squares you’d need on a piece of paper. But I spent most of Grade 4 math in tears, so I prefer to skip the calculations and just wing it.
I took my 120 squares and began arranging them on the floor in cubes of four. After playing around with it, I decided it would be best to have four rows of seven cubes each, and kept mumbling “4 x 7 = 28” to myself.
Once I was happy with the look of my 28 cubes, I carefully took them — one at a time — over to the sewing machine and stitched them together. Then I’d replace the cube in the arrangement, and take another one over to the machine.
After the 28 cubes were sewn, I cut short strips of bright pink fabric and sewed them to the bottoms of each cube. For the cubes at the top of the quilt, I also sewed strips to the top — giving everything a nice border. Then I sewed the cubes together so I had four long rows — each with seven cubes.
I cut long strips of fabric and sewed those to the edges of each row, so the “grid” of bright pink fabric was making a frame around all of the cubes. Then I sewed all four rows together, and it was really starting to look like a quilt!
I spread the quilt top out on the floor and decided it was definitely too narrow — and a little too short — to fit on a twin-sized bed.
This is where “planning” and “foresight” would have come in handy, I suppose. So I cut out some large rectangles of fabric, because I was done with piecing together tiny squares. I sewed the rectangles onto the main part of the quilt top, to make it large enough to cover a twin mattress.
It was time to start assembling the quilt! I spread out a big piece of plain aqua fabric as the backing (pretty side down), then a piece of cotton batting, and then the quilt top (pretty side up) to make a “quilt sandwich.”
I trimmed around the edges, leaving about half an inch of backing and batting, and pinned everything together to keep it in place.
Machine-quilting is much faster than hand-quilting on a frame, but it’s also a pain because the batting is making it fat and puffy. You can sew around each cube, down the edges, anything you want — just enough to keep the quilt layers together, and give it that soft quilt-y feeling.
I put the quilt aside at this point, and turned my attention to the special chevron-inspired trim I wanted to try. I grabbed my unused fabric squares (and my leftover fabric) and cut out a bunch of squares that were roughly 3” x 3” — don’t measure or anything, because they don’t have to be exact.
I folded a square into a triangle, and then folded the triangle in half to hide the raw edges of the fabric. Then I ironed it, tossed it in a pile, and grabbed the next square until I’d made approximately 4,000 triangles (well, 70).
To finish off the edges of the quilt, I folded the edge of the quilt top underneath by half an inch, folded the backing underneath by half an inch, slipped the flat part of the triangle inside, and secured it with a pin (or three). This neatly sealed up the “quilt sandwich,” and it was faster than doing traditional binding or a ruffle.
Our two-year-old daughter is thrilled with her big-girl bed — and her new quilt — and it’s been satisfying to admire it every time I tuck her in.
It’s certainly not as picture-perfect — or flawless — as one of my mother-in-law’s crisp quilts, but it was made with love, finger-pricks, and a lifetime supply of chevron.
Don’t forget to pin this post for later!