If you are a complete beginner, then I suggest you buy a baby quilt pattern, or find a free one online – just type in ‘baby quilt pattern’. However, the process of making a baby quilt is so simple if you have a best sewing machine for quilting that you must have if you want to learn quilting seriously.
A baby quilt is approximately 45″ x 60″ in size, and is formed from two rectangles of fabric which hold a rectangle of wadding in place.
Firstly, you need to decide which design you are going to use. Traditional baby quilts are made from patchwork, but there are other options, as always. The instructions below are for a plain quilt, with no embellishments, so that you can add your own ideas onto it. I have put some suggestions of my own at the end of the article.
BASIC QUILT INSTRUCTIONS
For the basic baby quilt you will need two rectangles of fabric. It doesn’t really matter if the size is an inch or two different from the recommended size (45″ x 60″), as long as they are the same size as each other. Use a natural material, or a polyester-cotton mix which is easily washed. You can choose from a variety of baby prints, having both sides the same, or one side patterned and one side plain to make it reversible.
Choose your wadding carefully. It is important that a baby doesn’t get overheated in bed, but he/she also needs to be warm enough. Ask the sales assistant which TOG they would recommend, and write it down. You can then write this on a tag to attach to the quilt, so that the baby’s parents know what they are buying. Make sure that it is fire retardant, and as natural as possible.
Place the two rectangles of fabric right side together. Using a sewing machine, sew up three sides of the quilt case, leaving one short side open. Neaten the edges however you like, either by overstitching or by using a French seam, to prevent fraying.
Turn the quilt cover the right way in and slip the wadding inside it. Fold the edges of the open end inwards and over-sew by hand to close it.
Use dressmaker’s pins to pin the three layers of quilt together and return to the sewing machine. Your quilt is small enough to fit under the machine so that you can sew diagonal or straight lines all over it to mesh the layers together – you could even do random stitching! If you like to, you can measure the lines out exactly, and put pins in to show you where to sew – this ensures that your lines are equally spaced.
Alternatively, you can tie little knots all over the quilt to hold the layers together. Make sure that you cut off the ends of the knots quite close to the quilt to stop bits fraying off and choking baby.
Remove pins and press.
You now have a lovely baby quilt ready to use.
You can make your quilt out of broiderie anglais fabric, but make sure that the holes are quite small, otherwise tiny fingers could get caught in them and badly pulled.
You can add a lace border to the quilt by adding it to your first ‘sandwich’ of fabric. Lay the first piece of fabric down face up. Pin the lace along the edge, FACING INWARDS. Lay the second piece of fabric on top, right side down. When you turn the fabric right way out, the lace should be in place.
Before you sew the two fabric layers together, you can sew lace strips across it. Alternate with ribbon for a really cute look.
Make a piece of fabric out of patchworked pieces of fabric. Choose a mix of baby patterns and plain pieces, or use pretty pieces of any fabric as long as they mix. Traditional colors are pastel pink and pale blue, but a lot of parents nowadays are choosing brights instead. Once you have made your patchwork the right size, finish it with one or two rows of straight edging. Continue by adding a plain backing fabric to make the quilt case.
You can personalise a baby quilt cover by using fabric paints. Make sure that they are baby safe, and don’t put them on so thick that bits might flake off. This is a great way to personalise bedding.
As with lace, you can add ribbon strips to the quilt before sewing the casing up.
You can appliqué any design you like onto a quilt cover. Choose a boat, hearts or teddies. Flowers, cars or woodland animals are also suitable. You could appliqué a child’s name, or the name of the family. Make sure that all your edges are very firmly sewn down, so that there are no frayed edges, and no bits can be accidentally torn off.
If you don’t want to do a full patchwork design, you can use oddments of fabric to make a striped quilt. Cut your chosen fabric into 3″ strips, and lay them out together to see which look good together. Sew them into a single piece using a sewing machine and proceed as above.
Making baby quilt covers is great fun. If you are making one for a particular baby, find out from the parents which color they are going to be painting their nursery before starting. If you don’t have anyone in particular to make them for, charities are always keen to have quilts to auction off.