Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beach Blanket - Quilt #2

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I promised to write about the good and bad of my experiences.  This blanket has both, but I learned some new things and in the end I like the outcome quite a bit.  In this post I'll include my mistakes, accomplishments and the cutting/piecing directions.  This quilt is made up of 72 inside squares, 2 inner borders, an outer border and the binding.  It measures 47" x 50".

Good: I'm getting much better at lining up my pieces.  Almost all of the squares are on point!

Bad: This was supposed to be a four patch... but I got started cutting and stopped reading the directions.  Oh well, I moved forward and starting making it up as I went along.  That's the beauty of quilting - it's flexible and forgiving.

Bad: Originally I had 3 sets of squares.  The focus fabric, the browns (which I did use), and squares made of the 2 inner border fabrics.  I just couldn't find a placement where I liked that last set of squares so I put them in my scrap pile and made more of the browns.

Bad: Once the inside was built I found that the material had stretched in places so it didn't lay really smooth.  Not a deal breaker, but I knew it would be challenging to do the batting and backing.

Lesson: I don't usually pre-wash my materials, but I told Judi I was planning to use flannel as the backing and she said I would need to wash both the quilt top and the backing since they will shrink differently.  Something I didn't know at the time - if you wash a quilt top before it's put together with the batting and backing - the seams fray pretty bad, and even came apart in 2 places, so I had to repair it.  From now on, I will pre-wash my fabrics before I start cutting and piecing!

Lesson: When using a focus fabric that is single directional and is intended for both the inside design and a border - make sure you have enough fabric to keep that direction by cutting the pieces both length of grain and cross grain.  Fortunately, I did.  Or, piece your inner design in different directions so it doesn't matter which direction your border is going. 

Lesson: Starch your fabrics well before cutting.  This will eliminate having to press as often during the building process and the fabrics won't stretch as much.  My new process starts with washing the fabrics, then I steam press the fabrics.  Next I apply a good amount of starch to the whole thing, turn it over and press.  Repeat for the other side.

Ok, now to the good stuff -
Materials list:
Up to 7 fabrics (I used 5)
36 - Seashell buttons
1 - DMC Perle #5 yarn

Cutting measurements are assuming 42" wide fabric and include a 1/4" seam allowance.
Fabric # Strips Width # yards
1 (part of square) 4 2.5" 3/8
2 (part of square) 4 2.5" 3/8
3 (focus fabric) 4 4.5" 5/8
4 (inner border 1) 4 3.5" 1/2
5 (inner border 2) 4 1.5" 1/4
6 (outer border) 5 * 4.5" 1
7 (binding) 5 2.5" 3/8
8 (batting) 1 50" x 53"
9 (backing) 1 50" x 53"
In my quilt, Fabric 3, 6 and 7 are the same.
* Alternate cutting option if you are using single directional fabric and you want it oriented correctly (and you have enough fabric): 2 strips, 4.5" wide (going length of grain) and 2 strips 53" long (going cross grain).
  • Sew Fabric 1 and 2 strips together to make four 4.5" strips.
  • Cut strips into 4.5" squares - you need 36 of them.
  • Cut Fabric 3 strips into 4.5" squares - you need 36 of them.
  • Lay out squares as shown (or arrange squares however you like) and sew them together by rows.
  • Sew the rows together.
  • You now have the inside built.
  • Attach Fabric 4 left/right sides first, then trim and do the top/bottom pieces.
  • Attach Fabric 5 the same as 4.
  • Sew together Fabric 6 pieces for the left/right sides so they are long enough (skip this step if you are using the alternate cutting option).
  • Attach Fabric 6 top/bottom sides first, then trim and do the left/right sides.
  • Your quilt top is now finished!
  • Cut your batting and backing, you want it larger than the top.
  • Attach quilt top to the batting.  Smooth it starting from the middle and work your way out, pinning as you go.  When you've got it as smooth as possible, replace straight pins with safety pins (makes it easier for attaching buttons).
  • Using DMC Perle #5, hand sew buttons to quilt top and batting.
  • Attach top and batting to backing, smoothing the same as above.
  • Stitch in the ditch around a few squares in the middle, and around at least one of the inner borders.  (This ensures your backing stays put during washing and heavy use.)
  • Make your binding by stitching the strips together and pressing it in half. 
  • Attach to the front of the quilt, raw edges together.
  • Flip the folded edge over the raw edge and press (just makes it easier for hand sewing).
  • Use a slipstitch to attach the folded edge to the backing.
You're done!  Congratulations!


  1. Wow, very nice. The instructions are very detailed and give the kind of practical hints that should help even new quilters succeed. That keeps a new hobby from becoming overwhelming or discouraging right off the bat. Good job!

  2. I'm so grateful you took the time to read through this. It was a lot to write and I had to go back to the blanket for measurements, math, etc. (I will now be taking notes throughout the process each time I make something). :)
    I proofread it, but by that time my head was swimming with all the details. Glad it reads well. Thank you for the comments and feedback.