I'm definitely more of a seamstress than a quilter – I've been making everything I wear since 2016 and I'm very comfortable making pants, shirts, dresses, bras and even shoes! I have made quilts before – notably my Constellation Quilt (pattern from Haptic Lab), which I loved, but it is a whole fabric quilt, embroidered and assembled entirely by hand, with the exception of the first passage of binding. Although I learned to quilt from my mother, my last piece quilt was almost 12 years ago, so you could say it's been a long time!
I recently attended the Auckland Festival of Quilts, and although I'm still a dress seamstress, I think I must have caught the quilting bug! Since it's been so long, I thought I'd dive back into the world of quilting with a relatively simple and small project: a baby quilt for my sister's future child!
Choosing the pattern and colors of the baby duvet
I selected the Summer Haze quilt pattern from my fellow ambassador BERNINA. Suzy Duvets – the size of the baby duvet is available as a free PDF downloadand other sizes are available for purchase on Suzy’s website.
You will need a main color as well as 8 accent colors, all but one of which can be cut from a fat eighth (one color requires two, or a fat quarter). Since I've been choosing quilt fabrics for 12 years, I've stayed focused on fabrics with very small prints and similar contrast, leaning toward greens and blues with a few pops of orange-reds. The background color of the original sample is a solid cream, so I chose a fabric with a very subtle minty airbrushed effect so that it would have a bit of texture without being distracting.
Cutting and Assembling HST
Following the instructions, I cut out 15 squares of background fabric, and 15 of my assortment of accent colors. From these squares, eight HST (Half Square Triangle) blocks can be made at once – it's a really interesting and quick technique!
First, I drew guidelines on my background squares – I used a Frixion Heat Erasable Pilot Pen so the marks ironed on. Always test before using a new marking tool – sometimes Frixion pen marks can reappear or cause ‘ghost' marks, but as these guidelines will all be hidden later in the seam allowances, this won't be a problem. ‘importance.
Then I used the Patchwork foot #37 on my B 570 to sew on each side of the diagonal lines, ¼” from each. Do not sew the vertical and horizontal lines!
The piece should look like this, with two sets of lines of stitches in an “X” shape:
Finally, use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut along each guide mark. Each square forms eight perfect HST blocks! What's best for me is that it's very easy to keep the bias stabilized while you sew, so the risk of ending up with wobbly blocks is much less!
I repeated these steps for each of the remaining 14 squares, then opened each one, cut off the excess in the corners, and sorted them into piles of their respective colors.
Assembling the baby quilt top
At this point, I felt pretty addicted to the process! Building the HST was a bit magical, and I felt like I was on a roll! The quilt is pieced in strips, there is no block piecing beyond the HSTs, so this seemed entirely doable to me even though over a decade had passed since my last quilt.
I chose colors that were quite different from the pattern, so I found it helpful to number them 1-8 in the assembly diagram and then arrange my HST blocks in order so that it was easy to remember which were which.
I was very worried about keeping my strips organized so they wouldn't end up out of order – I ended up doing this by keeping them stacked in order while I assembled them then pressed them – I numbered them with my Frixion pen once they were pressed, but of course I couldn't do this pre-pressing since the pen is hot erase! It's a good system except I was so excited to see the layout of the quilt while I was sewing the strips, and I couldn't lay them out next to each other until they were labeled – I I tried at first, but I have a few. very curious kitties who wanted to see up close what I was working on!
Final assembly involved sewing these 17 strips together. I lightened the pressure of the presser foot to 55 as I found it helped navigate the bulky seam allowances a little easier. Once I found the ideal pressure, everything fell into place easily! Speaking of bulky seam allowances, I also found my awl to be very handy for holding the intersections together so they line up perfectly on the front.
It probably would have gone a little faster if I didn't stop to hold and admire it every couple of rows! Once sewn, I ironed everything flat and immediately had to take it outside to get the full effect in natural light! I'm so glad I went with the slightly textured main fabric color, I think that combined with the quilting will look great.
The final touch
As for the accent colors, they are SO different from the ones in my little pile! It was fun to step out of my comfort zone and choose ones I wouldn't usually have chosen. I think they play well together, although I also think I'd probably swap one or two if I had to do this again. It turns out that experimenting with a baby quilt works well.
I'm really enjoying this little foray into the world of quilting so far, and I can't wait to see how the rest of the project turns out! Stay tuned for Part 2, where we make the quilt sandwich and have fun with quilting!
As of this writing, I have not yet decided whether I will try quilting in the hoop with my embroidery module, whether I will try the BERNINA stitch regulator for a bit of free movement, or whether I will get some Echo BERNINA quilting rulers and give it a try – all of the options sound so fun I can't decide! Let me know in the comments which quilting technique you think is best for this project!