I love making quilts for babies. Honestly, I love making pretty much anything for a baby. In part because babies are incredibly cute and it’s a better way to show my love then secretly eating them up for dinner. But mostly because babies are tiny, which means anything you make for them is also tiny.
Have you tried knitting socks for an adult male? It will take you hours and hours, whereas baby socks can be knit up in less than an hour. The same goes for booties, hats and quilts.
The first baby quilt I made was for one of Brad’s nephews. I made the mistake of deciding to knit a quilt with different coloured squares and little intarsia animals in each square. I was twenty-one years old and had no idea what I was doing. It took months to knit that quilt, watching reruns of Seinfeld and Law and Order on TV.
Fast forward a bunch of years, and I’ve made a number of baby quilts. A process mostly refined by the two quilts I made for Max. They are still my favourite thing to sew because they are:
- Quick and easy
- Thoughtful and heirloom-y
- Super cute!
How to Make a Baby Quilt
This quilt is a simple made of squares and a double border. The first baby quilt I made for Max was with flannelette and a nine-patch quilt block.
However, I chose a simpler diagonal stripe pattern for this tiny quilt. It’s made from 3 different quilting fabrics, that Una helped me pick out (then requested that I make her a matching sundress).
- Primary Fabric: Choose two fabrics to form the border and the bulk of the quilt. You will need about 1.5 yards of each of the main fabrics.
- Contrast Fabric: The contrast fabric should be a bright and bold pattern that provides the subject of the quilt. You will need about 1/2 yard of the contrast fabric.
- Batting: You will need enough quilt batting to fit the finished quilt size of 36″ by 48″. I like to use pure cotton batting for a baby quilt.
- Backing Fabric: You will also need enough backing fabric for the finished quilt. I typically use old sheets for large quilts, but a baby quilt is small enough for another piece of quilting fabric.
- Notions: Obviously, you’ll need thread and a sewing machine. This is a simple knotted quilt, so you’ll also need embroidery floss for knotting the layers together. I’m lazy, so rather than making my own blanket binding, I just use double folded bias tape. You’ll need two packages for this quilt.
- Cutting mat: Probably the trickiest part of making a quilt is cutting everything nice and square. It really makes it easy to sew the quilt if you can just follow along the straight lines of the cut pieces. A cutting mat isn’t necessary, but it is really helpful.
Making the quilt blocks
- Start by cutting the border fabric. That way you know that you’ll have pieces that are long enough. Then cut the quilting squares. Here’s the cutting guide:
- Fabric 1: Two strips of 50″ by 4″ and two strips of 38″ by 4″ for the border. And twenty-seven squares of 5″ by 5″ for the quilt blocks.
- Fabric 2: Two strips of 43″ by 3″ and two strips of 31″ by 3″ for the border. And thirteen squares of 5″ by 5″ for the quilt blocks.
- Fabric 3: Fourteen squares of 5″ by 5″ for the quilt blocks.
- Lay the blocks out on the floor so you can get them all oriented in the right direction and set up just the way they will be organized in the final quilt. I always take a photo so that I don’t forget the order.
- Sew the quilt blocks together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. They don’t need to be back stitched, so you can easily sew a bunch of blocks together in a chain, then cut them apart. Here’s a detailed explanation of chain piecing. For this quilt, I sewed all the blocks together in a line, then sewed the lines together. But it really doesn’t matter, as long as you get them all lined up nice and square.
- Iron the quilt seams flat as you sew because it makes nice, crisp quilt squares.
- Once the centre of the quilt is finished, add the border fabric, starting with the narrower fabric, then using the wider fabric for the outside. The cut pieces are long enough that you should be able to set up the overlap in any direction at the corners. Just trim the excess fabric. Here are more instructions on how to sew a quilt border.
Putting it all together
I’ve never properly quilted anything. So this is my simple tied quilt method for people who don’t like hand sewing and don’t own a quilting machine.
- Make sure the entire front and back of the quilt are ironed. Layer your quilt out on the floor. With the batting nice and flat between the front and back of the quilt. The good sides of the quilt should face outwards.
- Using large safety pins, pin the layers of the quilt together in about 8 places. This will hold everything together while you tie the layers together with the embroidery floss.
- You will tie the quilt together at the corner of every square. Thread the embroidery floss on a large needle. Then starting at the edge of the quilt, push the needle up from the back of the quilt through all three layers, leaving a 2″ tail of thread. Then push the needle back through the layers and tie a simple overhand knot with the embroidery floss. Cut the embroidery floss leaving a 1″ tail.
- Continue working your way along the quilt tying knots at the corner of each of the squares. Make sure all layers of the quilt are nice and flat as you go along so you don’t end up with buckling in the layers.
- When all the knots are tied. Trim the edge of the quilt so all layers make a nice and neat edge. Then sew on the bias tape with mitered corners and you’re done!