A step-by-step guide to making an easy baby quilt for beginners
Hello friends! Here is a step-by-step tutorial with photos for making an easy baby quilt. Baby quilts are my favorite because they are small and can be done relatively fast. Plus, there are so many adorable baby fabrics out there that making it look cute is pretty much guaranteed!
Time needed to complete this baby quilt:
3-4 nap times
Material and supplies:
- 1/3 yard each of at least 5 different fabrics for front of quilt
- 1 yard of backing fabric (I chose minky with star pattern)
- 1 yard of quilt batting
- Sewing machine
- New sewing machine needle
- Coordinating thread
- Straight pins and Safety pins
- Pencil and paper
- Crayons or colored pencils
- Cutting mat and Rotary knife
- Iron and Ironing board
First you’ll want to make yourself a map. Trust me, I’ve “winged it” in the past and this is soooo much faster! Take out a sheet of paper, a pencil and a ruler. Now, Decide what size you want your quilt. I chose 36″ X 36″ because it’s easily divisible and smaller than the normal strip of fabric on the bolt (42″) so I knew I’d have enough material. Draw a box on your paper and label it with your size. (in case you do a longer side, then you’ll know which way the fabric runs).
Now you can start playing with your pattern. You can do strips all the way across (called a strip quilt) 36″ wide and lets say 6″ tall, so you would need 6 strips of fabric, easy peasy.
I chose to do 3″ tall strips and vary the width until it equaled 36 inches. 1- 3″ block, 2- 6″ blocks, 1- 9″ block, 1- 12″ block. I layed out 2 rows in the pattern I wanted then repeated those 2 rows all the way down ( row 1, row 2, row 1, row 2…) until I had 12 total rows.
Then take out your colored pencils or crayons. Go down the left column and mark A on first row, then B on second row, then C, D, E, A, B, C… Then go across ABCDE, Next row, BCDEA, next CDEBA and so on. Now, if you look at my picture you’ll see it doesn’t follow that exact pattern because once I had it all layed out I went through and colored them (my daughter “helped”) to get a better visual and noticed some places where the same fabric was clustered in some spots. So I changed some letters around but left the sizes the same. Just make sure each row has one of each letter in it.
Now go through your pattern and mark (as I did on the right of the page) each fabric letter and a line for 3″ blocks, 6″ blocks, 9″ blocks, and 12″ blocks. Then you go through your pattern and find all the 3″ A’s and make a tally mark. Then all the 6″ A’s, and so on. Then add up your tally marks to make sure you’ve counted everything. I cut a small scrap of each fabric and taped it to the sheet in the order I wanted them so that when I’m cutting I can just reference the scrap to make sure I’m on the right one.
Time to cut! *** IMPORTANT NOTE*** YOU NEED TO ADD 1/2 AN INCH FOR SEAM ALLOWANCE. So your actual sizes to cut will be 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 and 3 1/2 x 6 1/2, and so on. The fastest way to cut them out is to have a cutting mat, a rotary cutting wheel and a straight edge ruler. Plain ‘ol scissors work too though! Reference your sheet to see how many of each size to cut. Do this for all your pieces.
Lay out your sets of cut blocks in piles for each fabric. Then pick up row one, piece A and B. Place piece A right side up on your table and Piece B upside down on top of it (facing each other) with their right edges lined up, Sew down the right edge with 1/4 inch seam allowance. (Usually, 1/4 inch is perfect if your needle is in the center position then you line up your fabric on the right edge of your machine foot.)
Now open that up and place block C on top of block B lining up the right edge and sew. Just keep going through sew, open it up, place the next piece on top, sew, open, place, until you’ve completed the row. Then set that row aside and start the next one. Lay each row on top of the last one and check that they are the same length, that way you know you got the pattern right. At the end, you should have 12 rows of equal length and no leftover pieces.
Now you’ll need to iron all those seams flat. You can either spread the seam open and iron one down to each side or you can just do both pieces to the same side like I did here. The fabric is pretty thin so I thought it would be fine (plus it a whole lot faster!) Iron down every seam on every strip.
Now that you have your seams flattened down, you’re ready to sew the strips together to form the front of your quilt.
Grab your first and second rows (if you got them mixed up during ironing, just look for the row that starts with your letter A fabric.) Make sure all your rows are in the same order as your pattern.
Lay Row 1 out so the pattern is facing up and lay row 2 right below it also facing up. Now line up your rows and flip the second row over and place it on top of row 1 facing each other. (Called “right sides together”) Line up the bottom seam and pin every 6-9 inches.
If you have a center meeting point like I do you’ll want to precisely line them up and pin them like this:
Then after you sew it, it will look like this:
See? A nice meeting of the 4 pieces in the intersection!
Now that you’ve sewn row 1 to row 2, open that up and place row 3 on top of row 2, with right sides together, pin and sew.
Keep going until you’ve sewn all your rows together, checking at the start of each row to make sure
- You’ve got the correct row according to your schematic
- You have it facing the correct direction (if you have a directional pattern like my elephant one)
- Your center seam is lined up, don’t worry about the side edges lining up because we’re going to even that out at the end and you won’t see them anyway.
Once you have all your rows sewn, you’ll want to straighten out the edges. Lay out the top piece and grab the bottom two corners and fold them up to meet the top two corners, making sure the top and bottom edge meet perfectly straight. This is so it fits on your cutting board. Line up your top edge with a horizontal line on the cutting mat to ensure that you have a standard straight line. Then line up your right side edge, you’ll want to line it up with a vertical line on the cutting mat so you have a straight line to follow. (The exact measurement doesn’t really matter since we’re customizing the size anyway) Line up your ruler or straight edge along the vertical line and cut with your rotary cutter.
Flip over the quilt and do the same for the left side.
Now you’ve got the front finished!
Now it’s time to put your layers together. First lay your back piece out face down, then your batting on top of that, then your quilt front, face up. You’ll see in my pictures that I layed it out on the carpet… DO NOT DO THIS! The stupid carpet made it bunch and I had to take out one million pins and redo it on a hard surface. I apologize in advance for the dark photos, it was late, very very late. which probably explains my lack of judgement on the whole carpet thing. Use a table or hard floor, trust me!
The back layer needs to extent about 2 inches past the front piece’s edges of the quilt. The batting needs to be even with the front piece’s edges of the quilt. Pull the backing edges and smooth, smooth, smooth. Use safety pins to secure the 3 layers together, one in middle, smooth, one in corner, smooth, one in next corner, smooth, go all the way around smoothing in between each pinning to ensure there are no bunches going on.
Before you cut pick up the quilt by the two top corners and turn it around to see the back so you can make sure it’s all smooth and straight. I use safety pins so I don’t poke myself with all that smoothing!
Now use scissors to cut your batting to the edge of the front piece. Cut the back piece so it’s about 2 inches past that.
Now we’re going to make our border out of that extra 2 inches of backing. First, fold over the edge of the backing so the cut edge meets the cut edges of the front two pieces, should be about an inch wide.
Now fold it over again and pin. Do this on all edges. Don’t worry about the corners just yet, I’ll go over that next.
To start the corners, cut off about an inch and a half across the corner.
Here’s how I do corners. Fold middle down, then left side then right side and pin. (At the end of the quilt there will be some hand sewing to make them perfect) See next picture for better explanation.
You can finesse the edges a bit to get it so the two fold meet in the center. I usually lick my finger (so it sticks to the fabric) and roll it under using my thumb and first finger. All that matters here is how it looks on the outside!
Repeat with all the corners. You’re almost ready to sew the trim piece, just do one last double check… Hold up your quilt and inspect to make sure it’s all hanging straight, there are no bunched up areas, etc.
THIS IS WHERE YOU REPLACE YOUR NEEDLE. YOU’RE ABOUT TO SEW THROUGH A BUNCH OF LAYERS AND YOU NEED A SHARP, STRONG NEEDLE.
Sew 1/4 inch from inside edge of trim. Usually this is if your needle is in the center position, line up the left edge of the foot to the left edge of fabric. If you’re using a fluffy fabric like I am here (the gray backing) it’s best to use a straight stitch, if you have a regular cotton or even flannel fabric you can do a zig-zag or some other cute stitch for decoration.
Sew along the edge until you reach the end and go 1/4 inch into the corner, leave the needle in the down position, lift up your presser foot and gently turn the quilt to the next side. Be careful not to pull on the needle.
After you’ve gone all the way around the quilt it’s time to finish the corners. THIS IS THE FINAL STEP! Get out your needle and thread that matches your trim/backing color. We’re gonna close up the corners so they look perfect! See photo below.
That’s it, you are DONE!!!!
I hope you enjoyed making this quilt as much as I did!