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quilt how-to

alright, so here is the tutorial for my go-to quilt. just after snapping the first photo, yesterday became, what seemed like, the darkest day of the year. . . so the lighting is bad, but i think you'll get the gist of what i'm saying all the same. . . 



fabric. 100% cotton. two solids for front and back. third fabric for binding, can be patterned or solid, you choose. the beauty of this quilt really lies in its simplicity and flexibility. 

batting. i only use 100% cotton, mid or thinnest loft. 

thread. lots of thread in as many (or as few) colors as you choose. 

tools. rotary cutter, cutting mat, masking tape, quilting pins, binding clips. 


first. cut fabric to desired sizes. for a quilt size guide, see here. depending on the size of the quilt, you may need to do some piecing. be sure to leave batting just bigger than front and back pieces.


second. baste the quilt. very important to do a good job basting so there is no unfortunate pinching or clumping of fabric while quilting it on the machine. usually best to do this while kids are in bed since their little feet cannot resist dancing (or crawling) on large pieces of fabric stretched on the floor. begin by taping the backing to the floor as taut as possible. don't be afraid to pull. gently lay and smooth batting over taped layer. follow with "front" of quilt. smooth out and get fabric as flat as possible. starting in the center, use quilting pins (essentially safety pins with a bent arm) to secure the the three layers together.  work your way out in a circle, smoothing and flattening the "quilt sandwich" as you go. the fabric should be totally smooth. be sure to go all the way to the edges.


third. machine quilt. the fun and most time consuming part. with a walking foot on your machine, begin the quilting at one edge of your quilt. (quilt "parallel" to the shorter side, easier to manage). quilt at very a slight diagonal. removing basting pins as you go (don't sew over them, or let your daughter take control of the pedal for you while she also watches a show about mermaids. . . you'll regret it). when you reach the opposite edge of the quilt (going beyond edge of fabric, into the batting a bit) lift presser foot but keep needle in "down" position. rotate the blanket and quilt to the opposite edge at a slight angle once again. repeat until you quilted the length of the quilt. your quilt will look something like this:

switching out thread colors (or keeping the same) repeat entire process again and again and again until you are satisfied with the amount of quilting. this uses a lot of thread but looks really great. just be sure to go slowly, feed quilt through at an even pace and watch that the fabric doesn't get gathered or bunched while quilting. the walking foot helps a ton with this, as does proper basting, but keep watch just in case. if some of your lines aren't perfect, don't worry, the other quilting lines will distract, and washing and drying does wonders for covering up small mistakes. 


fourth. trim quilt. to get ready for binding, the quilt sandwich needs to be "squared" and trimmed. i like to trim two sides at once, folding it in half before evening it up and trimming. clear ruler and rotary cutter. check that all layers go to the very edge after trimming. 

fifth. bind quilt. i use the "double fold mitered corner" binding method. the same method taught in denyse schmidt quilts book and that was taught at my quilting class at purl. i love this method, and it deserves it's own tutorial. luckily, there are a few out there. hand stitching the binding is ideal, but if you are short on time, go ahead and use your machine to stitch the binding down. don't feel bad, it will still look great. (especially in the light of a much brighter day).

sixth. after binding and trimming all loose threads, throw your quilt into the washer and dryer. pull it out, admire it, wrap it for a gift or wrap yourself up inside. feel great. you just made a quilt, and it's modern and cool and probably took you less than 10 hours.  

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Reader Comments (123)

You have seriously inspired me. I cannot WAIT to do this quilt. I love having quilts around the house, but I have never found any styles that are really "me". THIS ONE IS IT. So simple, but handmade. I absolutely LOVE it. Thank you so very much for your time in posting this tutorial. Now... to decide on the colors...(planning on at least 4 to make for the beds so far.)

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

This is a fantastic tutorial. I am going to make my first quilt and will blog it and give you all the credit! Thank you! I can't wait to try it out :)

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Hi - I have started this quilt but I am having trouble keeping my lines straight across the width of the quilt. They are all "willy nilly". Any pointers for sewing the diagonal lines straight without having to draw them first? I would LOVE any help you may be able to offer. THANKS!

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

thank you for the tutorial

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpmesser

Oh, my! How I LOVE this go-to quilt. I may never look back. I made my first one using your method this week, and it was relaxing. NOT FRUSTRATING! Love it. Thank you so much for sharing. You have seriously inspired me and I can't wait to make more! Everyone I love WILL own a quilt soon!

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

I have never quilted, but you've inspired me! I love this idea. I think I'll make a throw for my couch first. Thanks!

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Hey, I was wondering, did you cut the string when you used the rotary cutter? How come it doesn't unravel/ unthread if you do? How do you get the thread to not get all knotted up in the machine?

June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

I linked over from Pinterest. After much debate on what to get my brother for his wedding (he makes way more money than my hubby and I do so I wanted thoughtful not expensive (helpful to get the poor couple started) and with only 3 days till the plane takes off I am THRILLED to have come across this. It's cute, it fits her style, and it's not as time consuming as some.
Thanks for sharing!

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Thank you so much for the quilt making instructions. As someone from the UK, can you tell me what batting is? Thank you again for putting this online and for making such easy instructions.


August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyne La Manna

I'm new to this, so please pardon the "stupidity" of this question. How does all of that material fit on a regular sewing machine? Or am I wrong to assume this is being done on a regular sewing machine. I've never used my sewing machine for anything other than sewing my husband's rank on his uniforms, but I want to do more. Please help, I'd LOVE to surprise him with a quilt that I MADE! Thank you :)

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I can not wait to make one for my son before he leaves for college next month! Thank you for sharing.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTraceyI

Love this idea for such a simple quilt. Have you ever tried basting spray instead of pinning? I just discovered it about a year ago, and I'm never going back. :)

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPolly

I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to what binding tape/fabric you used and what the green fabric is. I read through about 40 comments to see if you had mentioned it, but no dice. I would really appreciate it :)

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

This is a wonderful quilt, thank you so much for sharing the "how-to"!

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Never having made a quilt and a beginner, I will make a mini version, maybe for my kitty, first. That way, I'll have the experience before taking on the bigger quilt. Thanks ever so much, Katie.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Lesak

Same question as a few others... how does the quilt fit in your sewing machine for quilting? Is this one pieced? Does the piecing end up showing? Or do you just quilt in the direction of the piecing? I'm really excited to try this!

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Fantastic tutorial - I'd always wondered how to do this ... I really love the quilt and want to try to make my own one soon. Maybe as a throw for the beds in the boys' room? ;-)

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmilie

How much fabric would I need for a twin size throw?

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

THANK YOU! I have never dared to take on a quilt, but have been secretly wanting to for a long time. I am SO EXCITED to try this!!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Love this quilt, I am going to give it a go. Can you please tell me if you pre-washed your fabric as well, or did you just wait till it was complete? I can't wait! Thank you!!

November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I've always wanted to do a quilt this one is very simple. Can you use flat sheets instead of yard of material

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose

I started making this last night! Thanks so much!!! And as a beginner with the sewing machine, this project hasnt been impossible!

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

This would be a great way to use up all the partial spools of thread I have.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTante Renee

Love this quilt! I'd love to make one like it, but I need a king size. Would that be possible on a standard sewing machine?

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Has anyone tried this with the temporary adhesive spray to keep the layers together?

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTante Renee

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