Monday, July 12, 2010

tutorial - super quick "baste as you go" charity quilt

Yesterday's Project Linus meeting was a sewing session, instead of the usual fabric sorting, label attaching, and kit making that we do. I took advantage of the large table space to try out an idea for a super quick project, combining my favorite Quick Strippie design with the baste as you go technique I learned from Des when I first started quilting. Des, I can't thank you enough for that post - I've never seen the technique mentioned anywhere else, and it's just so fantastic!!

Before the meeting, I prepped the fabric for two quilts. For this design, it's five 6.5" strips of focal fabric, six 3" strips of contrast, and ten 1.5" strips of accent. I also cut five 2.5" strips (of contrast or accent fabric, whichever I had enough of) for the binding. The backs were already made (using my weird backing technique, as explained in a previous post). After only four hours at the meeting, I had two completely pieced and basted quilts! Here's how it works:

First sew the accent strips to the contrast strips, aligning the ends on one side. The bottom and top pieces have the accent on only one side, as you see on the left. Press the seams however you like - I pressed mine towards the contrast because it was easier darker.

Lay out the backing, wrong side up, and smooth it out.

Lay the batting out over the backing, centered and smoothed down.

By the way, I do not AT ALL recommend using crappy fluffy poly batting, but I'm still working on the monster in my closet, so that's what I'm using. If you use nice batting, this technique will be SO much easier! I was especially cursing myself at this meeting, because they had a whole huge bolt of Warm and White sitting there (donated by the Warm company - thanks folks!), free for the taking. But no, I bought this crappy batting, and I'm determined to finish the bolt!

Anyway... After laying down the batting, place the first (top) strip across the top (short) side of the backing/batting. It should be right side up, centered (equal amounts of batting on each side), and as straight as possible.

Then, lay down the next strip, with the bottom edges even. The top strip will be upside down, so the right sides of the two strips are together. Pin the bottom edges, through all layers (the 2 strips, the batting and the backing). Put your pins pretty close together, about 3 or 4 inches apart.

For sewing down the strips, I used a walking foot. I'm not sure it's absolutely necessary, but I think it helps when you have this many layers (and that fluffy batting!). Because I wasn't using my 1/4" quilting foot, I got a wider seam (more like 3/8"). Keep that in mind during your planning - if exact dimensions are important, you'll want to add an extra 1/4" to each row. And you would not want to use this technique for designs which have corner points that would get cut off.

So, drag the whole thing over to your machine, and sew down the seam. It will feel backwards, since the raw edges of the seam will be on the left instead of the right. It helps to pull the fabric from the front and back as you sew, to keep everything taut and straight. When you're done, lay the quilt out again, and fold that second row down and press the seam. Smooth down the batting and backing, making sure they are still laying down straight and smooth.

Add the third row, sew it down, flip and press. Alternate the strips and repeat all the way down the quilt. If you're using directional prints (like I am with the kitty print here), be sure you check the direction before you sew each row!

As you work your way down, you can roll up the quilt on the right to fit under the arm of your sewing machine. When you get towards the middle/bottom of the quilt, you can turn the quilt around and sew from the other direction so you have less bulk under the arm.

After 10 seams, you have a finished top AND a basted quilt. Huzzah! I didn't take a picture of the kitty quilt I was working on above, but here's a picture of the second one I made - a cute froggy print.

Yay, two quilts ready to be quilted! I'll probably do some simple meandering across the focal print rows, and some simple wavy quilting across the accent/contrast rows. For now, these are going to the bottom of the "to be quilted" pile. And now I really need to get back to working on that pile!


  1. It sounds like you got a lot done! So awesome! I'm bummed I wasn't able to make it yesterday. I love the meetings where there is time (and space) to do some sewing.

  2. this is so clever....what a cool technique

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