I finished my third-ever quilt this week!
It’s another scrappy improv quilt, much like my first one – except bigger!
I got the idea for it while learning how to bind my first quilt. I was learning the technique of joining two strips of binding by sewing them right sides together at 45-degree angles on one end to make one long continuous strip.
It got me thinking that might be a fun way to make a larger strip on a quilt top.
This post was originally published on our sister site, Scrap Fabric Love.
I had some colorful remnants and bolt ends from eBay purchases and other projects.
But I had discovered from doing my more pieced learner’s quilt that I prefer quilts with a bit more negative space to them (my learner’s quilt was lots of sampler blocks squished together!).
So I looked around for some scraps of white and off-white for the background to really make my colorful scraps stand out.
I had some leftover white fabric already in various shades and materials – some cotton, some poly cotton. But it wasn’t quite enough.
I did a bit of online searching and found someone selling some strangely shaped off-white strips on eBay that they had left over from another project. They required quite a bit of trimming as they were cut on a curve on each end, but they were close enough, so I went for them.
I didn’t have in mind the exact size I wanted, just bigger than I’d made before! I wanted a big quilt I could cuddle up in. I laid everything out on the floor to get an estimate of how big it would be.
My basic idea was to have different height strips of my colored fabrics attached at that 45-degree angle like a quilt binding and to have each colored strip framed by a white/off-white background.
The fabric I used for this was basically remnants and bolt ends that I’d bought on eBay – see below for a video of one of my bolt end hauls and you can also see this finished quilt in the background!
It was meant to be a quick project, but it wasn’t really all that quick!
Mainly because I did a lot of fiddling around with what order I wanted the rows in and also because I ended up not using some of the strips I sewed together.
See the photo above and try to spot the strips that didn’t make the cut into the final quilt!
It also took me a while to trim all the rows to make them roughly rectangular!
Math was never my strong suit, so I didn’t do it in a very structured way!
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Scrappy Quilt Back
I also had lots of smaller scraps of these fabrics after I’d made my colored strips. I had all the triangles I’d cut off when making the 45-degree joinings.
And so, of course, I wanted to use them all up!
I made blocks of completely different sizes just based on the scraps I had left and then set them in a sort of a frame (ish) pattern on the back of the quilt – mainly because I had one big piece of white fabric for the middle of the back and lots of smaller scraps to make up the border – so my improv blocks sat in between.
One of the challenges I had with this quilt was around the basting.
I used June Taylor’s basting spray.
I don’t know if I’m just not using it right, but I just seemed to get small folds in various places even though I did try to follow the instructions and start from the middle and work my way out.
I recently got a tip from someone about just basting by spraying your quilt sandwich with water and then ironing it dry. I might give that a go next time! Does anyone else have any good tips? Leave them in the comments if you do!
This was also my first time using proper quilt batting. For my first two quilts, I used old cotton towels for batting.
I used warm and natural batting just because it seems to get mentioned a lot by other quilters.
If I’m honest, the quilt turned out thinner than I thought it would be. But maybe that’s because of all the heavy quilting (see below!)!
I’ve got two more types of batting that I’ve ordered to try for my next quilts. What kind is your favorite?
I struggled with what thread to use for the quilting. I briefly considered changing thread depending on which color fabric I was quilting on, but then I realized that would make a fairly strange multicolored mess on the back.
So, in the end, I opted for a light aqua color on top (there is a bit of that color in the floral print fabric) and white for the bobbin.
Covering Up Mistakes
When I went to quilt my scrappy quilt, I somehow got the bottom corner of the backing sort of squished up and, therefore, quilted down in the wrong place!
So, I ended up with an exposed corner at the very bottom where you could see the batting.
I could have picked out all my quilting stitches, but frankly, I just wasn’t prepared to do that.
So instead, I made a quilt label to cover the biggest exposed corner and hand-sewed it down along with another white strip of fabric to cover the small area at the bottom that was also exposed.
Walking Foot & Free Motion Quilting Choices
I had intended to do a simple quilting design! But I ended up with quilting that was about as scrappy as the rest of the quilt!
I wanted to practice both my walking foot quilting and free motion quilting.
I knew for the border, I wanted to do a pattern of straight lines with my walking foot. I did two close lines (roughly 1/4″) followed by a larger space (probably about a half inch), followed by three close lines. I then repeated that sequence all the way across the border. I’m pretty happy with how that turned out.
For the middle, I was going to do free-motion quilting, but I didn’t plan it out ahead of time as I was so eager to get started!
I started doing a stipple-type design on one of the strips, but I unconsciously started using the seams of the colored strip as a boundary.
I realized pretty quickly that that had been the wrong choice because I then felt like it would look odd to have one design so contained and then switch to an all-over design that would cross seam lines.
So….I ended up doing a different design in each section!
The long and short of it is that I made far too much work for myself and ended up really over-quilting this.
It’s all in the name of practice, though, so I’m telling myself it wasn’t wasted time!
I can now use this quilt as a reference for all the different designs I’ve tried and to remind myself which ones I liked best.
My favorites, I think – in terms of how they looked at the end – were an art deco fan type design, a sort of random point-to-point triangle-ish grid pattern, and the really basic loop-the-loop pattern.
I think next time, though, I’m gonna put a little Post-it note up on my machine that says, “Less is more.” Any one of those designs would have looked so much more effective on their own!
In the spirit of my binding-inspired quilt, I also made my first-ever scrappy binding for it.
I used this tutorial from A Quilting Life.
I cut coordinating leftover strips into roughly 9″-11″ strips and joined them at that 45-degree angle like you do with regular binding – just a lot more joins!
I spent quite a bit of time laying out different scraps to find colors that coordinated with my quilt – making the binding took a while, but I really love how it turned out, and I’ll definitely be doing it again!
The binding might even be my favorite part of this quilt!
First Time Washing A Quilt
This quilt marked another first for me.
Washing a quilt!
I haven’t yet braved it with my first two, but I figured this was the perfect test quilt to see if my colours would run in the wash!
I used two color catchers, and the quilt came out just fine. There was a bit of pink on one of the colour catchers, so I do think they were worth using.
It even dried super quickly outside, I thought. It’s a lot quicker than I had expected, given it’s three layers!
My kids are super in love with this quilt; they love playing underneath it, and they’ve never seen one this big before!
It finished at 54″ x 70″ – a nice cuddle-up size.
This is definitely my favorite quilt I’ve made so far despite all the flaws I can see in it – I love it for the colors and for the size of it.
It obviously took longer, but it just feels so much more like I’m going to use it, whereas the other two, I’m kind of a bit stumped.
What do you do with a baby quilt when your babies are toddling?
And a lap quilt? I guess you put it over your lap, given the term, but my one at least doesn’t feel big enough to really cuddle up with on the sofa.
What’s your favorite size quilt to make?
The next quilt I’m doing (which I’ve already started!) is part of the Patchwork & Poodles Inkling Quilt Along.
I’ve decided to make a denim quilt out of old jeans and a few of my husband’s old shirts.
My denim quilt is now finished, and I’ve even done a second quilt from old jeans, too!:
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