I have always loved to make baby gifts, imagining the baby-to-be and anticipating its arrival. Lately this has been particularly true because I myself am expecting my first baby (a girl) this June! After years of crafting gifts for the babies of dear friends and family, I relished the idea of making my own baby something extra special. Of course, a beautiful quilt would be just that!
Picking out the fabric proved to be much easier than I had imagined. I walked into the store one day and there was a stunning rainbow of Japanese yarn dyed linen blend solids, each lovelier than the next! I instantly fell in love and bought a piece of every single color.
Using the traditional “broken dishes” pattern, I approached my work with a sense of unhurried improvisation, putting the blocks next to one another randomly and then rearranging them as I saw fit. It felt more like flower arranging than sewing, and I loved seeing my quilt grow at about the same pace I did! Once the quilt top was finished, I decided that the slow process of hand quilting it would give me plenty of time to daydream about its recipient.
It took me almost the whole length of my pregnancy to create this quilt, but if you’d like to make your own, it doesn’t have to be such a major commitment. Machine quilting and pin basting would go a lot quicker. But then again there is something lovely and very rewarding about not rushing certain projects. Kind of like growing a baby!
ps- This quilt can be made in any color palate imaginable using any quiltweight fabric. Shot Cotton, and Kona Cotton have some gorgeous color options! Also, The pretty stuffed swan in the pictures above was made by the very talented Tamar Mogendorff, you can check out more of her work here.
To make a 40-inch square quilt:
- 1/4 yard of nine various dark fabrics. I used the Linen Blend Solids in Brown, Rose, Magenta, Navy, Denim, Violet Grey, Light Blue, Lavender, and Black. (If you'd like to use fewer dark fabrics you will need 1 1/2 yards total, but if you're using 1/4-yard pieces you'll need eight total pieces because of their thin width)
- 1/2 yard of three light fabrics. I used Linen Blend Solids in Beige, Light Beige, and Yellow. (Again you will need 1 1/2 yards total, but if you're using 1/4-yard pieces you'll need eight total pieces.)
- 1/2 yard of fabric for the binding. I used the Brown Linen Blend Solid.
- 1 1/4 yards of fabric for the backing. I used the Light Beige Linen Blend Solid.
- A crib sized request weight batting.
- Neutral colored 100% cotton thread. I used color 3260
- If you will be hand quilting your quit you will also want to get Hand Quilting Thread. I used color 0928.
The beauty of this pattern is that it will work with any quilt weight fabric. For a brighter version you might want to use Kona Cotton, for richer more jewel toned take on yarn dyed fabrics you might want to try Shot Cotton.
Also, if you are planning on hand quilting please check out the "Materials" section of this previous story. (Hand Quilting uses a lot of tools.)
Put aside your backing and binding fabrics.
Keep your light and dark fabrics separate.
From a pleasing assortment of the dark fabrics cut:
- At least fifty 5 1/4-inch squares. You will probably want to cut five or ten more squares than you need so that you can have some room to play (and mess up!)
From a pleasing assortment of the light fabrics cut:
- At least fifty 5 1/4-inch squares. (Again, you will probably want to cut five or ten more squares than you need.)
Cut each square diagonally in both directions thus yielding four small right triangles. You will have (at least) 200 dark triangles and 200 light triangles.
Sewing the Blocks
You'll be sewing one hundred 4-inch blocks total. When sewing this many pieces the best thing to do is to chain piece. Do this by sewing each piece one after another without lifting up your sewing machine foot and then cutting the thread between them apart after you're done with the whole lot.
Pin each light triangle to a dark triangle along one of the short sides. Keep all the triangle pairs facing the same direction, with the light triangle on the top. This will make it easier to piece them together into blocks later. To make the finished quilt look a bit more random feel free to pin a few dark on dark pairs and light on light pairs together.
Chain piece the triangle pairs together along their pinned sides.
Press each sewn piece open with the seam allowance pressed towards the dark fabric. You now have a larger right triangle
Each block is made out of two of these larger right triangles sewn together along their long sides. The seam allowances should be facing in opposite directions as shown above.
Pin each sewn triangle piece to another one, right sides together, along their long sides paying special attention to lining up the center seams and mixing up the colors. Chain piece these pairs together and snip them apart.
Press the blocks open. You'll have to press the seams randomly to one side or another because there is no one dark side.
Sewing the Blocks Together
You should have at least 100 blocks. (It's great if you have more!)
You'll be sewing together strips of five blocks to start (shown in the diagram above) and then sewing five of these strips together into quadrants of 25-total blocks (shown in the diagram below.) You can either piece the strips and then lay out the quadrant or arrange the whole quadrant and piece the strips from that.
To sew the strips: Sew five blocks together, one after another in a pleasing arrangement. Don't worry about the blocks facing the same way, it will look nicer if they don't. Repeat five times so that you have five strips.
Sew the five strips together along their long sides paying very close attention to matching up the seams of the blocks together. Your seam allowances are going to get a little crazy at this point especially at the corners so make sure to use a lot of pins, sew slowly over them, and try to iron them in one direction consistently once they're sewn. This group of 25 blocks is one quadrant.
Repeat this to make three more quadrants.
Arrange the quadrants so that you like the way they look. Sew the top two quadrants together and then sew the bottom two quadrants together. Then sew the top and bottom together. Again, pay very close attention to matching up the corners of each block.
Your quilt top is done!
Quilting and Binding
How you finish your quilt is up to you. If you have never hand quilted anything before this might not be the best project to start with because it's a bit thick in places due to all of the seam allowances.
For a refresher on Hand Quilting you might want to check out my Windowpane Wholecloth Baby Quilt project here.
If you'd like to machine quilt it our Courthouse Steps Mini Quilt Project goes through that process in depth (scroll down to the bottom.)
Or for an even quicker way to quilt, you could tie it. For that process check out the "Finish Quilt" section of my Sunny Tied Quilt.
However you choose to finish your quilt I hope you have as much fun making it as I did!