HOW TO MAKE A QUICK AND EASY SUMMER QUILT BY MACHINE
Finished size approximately 39 inches (1 metre) square
This is a quick and fun project to make by machine for both experienced quilters and those new to patchwork and quilting. Enjoy summer weather or bring back the memory of sunshine with this cheerful lap quilt.
What you will need: Buy the Complete Kit with Squares and Binding Strips Ready Cut.
121 x 4 inch squares in mix of designs to make the quilt top (I used 8 designs)
5 x 2½ inch x width of fabric strips (approx 44 inches) to bind the outer edge of quilt
Lap size wadding square (45 inches or 115cm square) – I used Soft & Bright polyester wadding
1 x small reel of Fine Mettler cotton thread for piecing in a neutral grey (or similar)
1 x small reel of Mettler quilting thread in neutral grey (or similar)
Square of matching cotton fabric for backing the quilt (approx 45 inches/ 115cm square)
TO MAKE UP QUILT:
Seam allowances scant ¼”. Using the fine thread join the 4 inch squares into strips of 11 squares (11 rows in all). If you wish you can follow colour arrangement I used below.
Join rows together to make quilt top square of 11 squares across and 11 squares down.
Sandwich quilt back with wadding and then quilt top.
Use quilting thread on top thread of machine and keep fine thread in bobbin - ‘stitch in the ditch’ along all seams.
Make up binding strip to use double and apply from back to bring fold round to front if completing on machine.
DESIGN LAYOUT DIAGRAM
Also see detailed additional notes.
ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR MAKING PROJECT
THREAD FOR JOINING YOUR PATCHES TOGETHER
I use a fine cotton thread in both the machine needle and the bobbin for joining patchwork pieces together as this reduces the amount of bulk in the seam. When you are working with ¼” seam allowances it is amazing how much extra bulk is added to the seam when a thick thread is used. For this project I have used a 60 weight fine cotton from Mettler. It is actually their cotton embroidery thread but is widely used for piecing patchwork and also is wonderful for fine appliqué. It can be used for both machine and hand stitching. Of course a similar weight of thread is available from other manufacturers.
JOINING YOUR PATCHWORK SQUARES TOGETHER
Set your sewing machine to do a scant ¼” seam, if it has that option, or practise stitching at a scant ¼” until you get used to judging the distance. Some machines have a special ¼” sewing foot for use in patchwork. For this project I have used a medium weight cotton patchwork fabric. The stitch length on your machine could be between small and medium. Too small could make the seam too solid and too large may not hold it sufficiently well, particularly when working with scant ¼” seams. With patchwork seams it is always said that the seam is actually ¼”. In reality you really need this to be a scant ¼” or your squares may land up at less than say 3½” when finished if you are starting with squares cut at 4”. For this particular project if your seam is slightly too big it will just mean your lap quilt is a bit smaller but on more complex patchwork it could create a problem when matching different types of block together.
Working from the left hand side of the top row (see Design Layout diagram above) take the first two squares placing the second square face down on the first one (right sides together). You may find it easier to be exact by pinning the two together. Use just ordinary dress pins if you have them. Either pin from the outside pointing in at right angles or from the inner part of the square pointing towards the corners but either way do NOT stitch over pins if you want to avoid damaging your machine needle or the machine itself. Everyone has a different way of doing this and the important thing is to find out what works for you. Now stitch a scant ¼” seam to join the two squares. The object is to join all the squares together in the top row to make a complete strip of squares which will be Row 1 on the layout diagram. You can do this individually or by chain piecing which means joining the squares without cutting the threads between each pair of squares joined hence making a ‘chain’ of squares as you go.
Squares right sides together ready for stitching
Machine stitching the two squares together
Chain piecing squares together
(i.e. stitching off one pair and after a couple of stitches machining on to the next pair etc
Chain of squares before snipping joins
For chain piecing the squares - leave the first pair of stitched squares in the machine and take the 4th square and place it face down on the 3rd square and stitch off the edge of the squares you have just joined. Make one or two stitches off the end of the fabric and then stitch on to the pair (3rd and 4th squares). Continue in this way joining pairs of squares from across row No 1 until you get to the last square which is on its own because of the uneven number of squares in row. Cut threads and take the chain of squares out of the machine and then stitch this last square to the right hand side of the bottom pair you have just stitched. Take the whole chain of squares out of the machine and carefully snip the ‘chain’ between each of the pairs of squares, piling them up in order finishing with the first pair on the top. Now take the top pair and place the second pair (right sides together) to join in the same way. Continue across until you have completed Row 1 which is the top row of squares of the quilt. You may find it useful to keep an eye on the Design Layout diagram! Continue and chain piece the remaining 10 rows keeping the rows in order for joining together later.
Joined squares 3 and 4 being stitched to joined squares 1 and 2
A chain of already joined pairs of squares being stitched
PRESSING THE STITCHED ROWS OF SQUARES
Normally in patchwork the seam allowances are pressed both together in one direction. So if you take Row 1 you first need to set the stitches by lightly pressing the line of stitching of each seam on the wrong side of the fabric. This done you can then turn the row of squares over to the right side and position the direction of the seam allowances before gently pressing the seams so that all the seam allowances are positioned and settled in the same direction. The idea is not to pulverise the seams but press gently to position them so they will stay where you want them to be.
Gently pressing the stitches on wrong side of fabric
Seam allowances pressed all one way for row of squares and all the other on adjoining row
Gently press seam allowances to keep them in one direction
Do Row 2 in exactly the same way except, when positioning the seam allowances, make sure they are pressed in the opposite direction to Row 1.
Continue in this way alternating the direction of the pressed seam allowances.
There is a very good reason for doing this which becomes obvious when you come to join the rows together. The seam allowances on one row should be in the opposite direction to the allowances on the next row so the two will ‘settle’ into position for joining together.
JOINING THE ROWS OF STITCHED PATCHWORK SQUARES TOGETHER
The exciting part comes now when you start to put your rows together and you can see how your quilt is going to look.
This time I worked from the bottom upwards so take Row 10 and flip it over and down placing the bottom edge of Row 10 on the top edge of Row 11 right sides together.
The arrows indicate the direction seam allowances are pressed enabling each row to settle in with the adjacent row by having seam allowances in opposite directions
You are now going to find that the seam allowances should sit together easily as they are pressed in opposite directions. For this I pin at right angles to the seam with the points coming downwards into each square. I put a pin on each side of each joined seam to ensure that the seams stay matched.
Take care stitching and take each pin out just as you get to it. If you take time you will probably save yourself extra work unpicking and trying again. The aim is to get the seams to match exactly.
When done you can add Row 9 to Row 10 in the same way and continue until you have all the rows together. You may prefer to join in groups of 2 or 3 rows and then join these again to create the whole top but do whatever works for you.
When you come to press the rows you have joined – with an iron set the stitches first and then gentle press the seam allowances all the same way. I actually pressed them all downwards.
Joining rows of squares removing pins just before you get to them!
Two rows of squares stitched together but before pressing
PUTTING THE QUILT LAYERS TOGETHER
Having made the quilt top it is time to add the quilt backing and wadding. Open out the wadding to allow it to relax and settle. Press the backing fabric to remove any creases. Make a sandwich of the 3 layers by laying out the quilt backing with wrong side up. Next position the wadding in the centre of this and smooth out before positioning the quilt top with right side upwards. The wadding is sandwiched between the front and quilt back as it will be when it is finished. You should have a couple of inches extra wadding and backing visible around the quilt top. You need to secure these layers before you start quilting and this can be done in various ways. I use quilting pins (stronger and longer than dressmakers’ pins) but quilters’ safety pins work very well as they do not catch your hands when you are stitching. Pin in the centre of each square so that the seam lines remain clear for quilting. When pinning – start from the centre and work outwards until the whole quilt is held securely. This way you can gently smooth the layers out as you pin but you do not want to stretch the edges out of shape.
When you get to the quilting you can continue with the fine thread in the bobbin but change the top thread to the quilting thread which is also excellent for hand stitching. You may find the quilting easier if you have a No.90 Quilting Needle in your machine and use a Walking foot (sometimes called a dual feed foot). A slightly longer stitch is best so if your stitch size was about 2.5 before I would put it up to a length of 3.
If you are new to quilting you will probably find it easier to ‘stitch in the ditch’ which is stitching in the troughs already made by the seams. This allows the stitching to sink into the dip formed where the seam joins the patches. You will find that the lines of stitching from the top of the quilt downwards need extra care as at the end of each square the direction of the pressed seam allowances changes. If you stitch slowly and watch where the needle is actually stitching, rather than letting you eye be further down in the front of the stitching, you will make a better job of keeping it under control. Try and keep all the stitches ‘in the ditch’ and you will have done a good job.
Where the needle should stitch allowing the quilting to sink into ‘ditch’ formed by the seam
Corners matched and quilting is ‘stitched in the ditch’ made by the seams
To keep the quilt from skewing – stitch all the lines of quilting in one direction so, for example, start at the top right hand side and stitch from the top downwards on each seam line. As the right hand side gets bigger you can roll this up sideways so that you have the roll of the quilt passing through the centre of the machine as you stitch.
Then turn the whole quilt so the right hand side becomes the top and again start at the top right hand side and stitch all those lines downwards which will be at right angles across all the lines of quilting you have just done. Stitching along this line is easier as the seam allowances have all been pressed one way so it is one long line to follow. The direction of the stitching as suggested should give a much better result that stitching one row down and the next one up.
HOLDING THE QUILT EDGES
After quilting along the seam lines through all thicknesses it would be a good idea to tack the outside edges around the quilt so that they do not stretch when you start to apply the binding.
HOW TO MAKE BINDING FOR YOUR QUILT
There are various ways of binding and this method is for a double binding. There are pros and cons as to whether to cut binding on the straight grain or on the bias (45 degrees from the straight of the fabric grain, which is necessary for binding a curved edge). I normally cut these strips at 2½” wide and for this example on the straight grain across the width of the fabric.
With fabric normally being 40 – 44” wide you will need to work out how many strips you need plus a bit extra as joining the strips together and finally joining the two ends on completion of applying the binding to the quilt can take more than you think. It is much better to allow extra than find you are short when you run out whilst stitching it on! For example a small lap quilt about 40 inches square will take between 4 and 5 strips.
Take one 2½” strip and press a fold right along the 40”– 44” length by putting the wrong sides together and matching the raw edges. The right sides will be on the outside and the 2½” width will be halved to 1¼”. Repeat this with each of the strips until all are prepared.
Now to join the strips to make into one long length. This is easy to do on your machine and for best results the strips, which are cut on the straight grain, should be joined on the bias so that the bulk of seam allowances formed by the join is spread across a couple of inches of the binding and should not produce a big lump by being folded on top of each other. The fold you have just pressed into each piece will help you position these correctly for stitching.
Think of this as making a long strip working from left to right. Unfold the first piece and place the right hand end in front of the needle on your machine with right side up and the fold running from left to right. Now place the second piece opened out with right side facing down but this one should be with the fold line running from top to bottom so that the two pieces form a cross. Have the selvage of each sticking out a bit as you do not want this to form part of the seam. This should look like diagrams below. You can secure with pins if you wish.
Binding strips at right angles with marked line for stitching
Binding strips turned clockwise for stitching
Binding strips in machine for stitching
When binding strips are correctly positioned together turn this a bit clockwise so that the small ‘v’ where the two fabrics cross is at the top and you need to stitch in a straight line from the top to the bottom one which will actually be stitching on the bias of the fabric. When you have done this – open out your fabric and see how this has joined the two together.
Binding strip joined with bias seam opened out on the right side of the fabric
You can add another strip to the right hand end of the second piece just added. Position the end of the second piece with fold running from left to right (right side up) and put the third piece with right side down and at right angles again. Twist a bit clockwise so you can stitch in a straight line from the top ‘v’ to the lower ‘v’ to join the pieces again. When you are sure you are adding each strip correctly you can actually join strips by adding the next strip to the end of the last strip without cutting the threads from your machine but just making a line of strips joined by a couple of stitches. This is called chain piecing.
Chain piecing binding strips
Trimming bias seams
Bias seam trimmed for use
When all strips are added - remove from your machine and trim the seam allowances to about ¼” and snip the couple of stitches between each seam. You now have one long piece which should be sufficient to bind your quilt. Before applying to your quilt you can carefully press open your ¼” seam allowances and press the centre fold again across each join. The distance between the ‘little ears’ shows how you have spread the bulk of the seam allowances along the binding strip. Before you progress just snip off any little ‘ears’ of seam allowance sticking out from the sides.
Completed bias join of binding strips folded showing little ‘ears’ before snipping
The same bias join of binding from wrong side showing how the seam is spread across the width
APPLYING THE BINDING
To apply binding completely by machine if you stitch the binding to the back of the quilt you can then roll the folded double layer over to the front of the quilt so you can see exactly where the machine stitching is going to be on the front. This is how the binding is attached in the following notes. (Should you wish to stitch the binding to the front of the quilt you can still use these notes but stitch first to the front of the quilt by machine and then, when folded over to the back of the quilt, hand stitch the fold in position on the back.)
With the top layer of the quilt upwards trim the excess wadding and backing all round your quilt top to be level with the raw edges of the quilt top. Turn quilt over to back. It is easier to join the binding on one of the sides rather than at a corner so mark about 9 inches from one of the corners (Point A on the diagram) and then another mark exactly 12 inches from that (Point B on the diagram). This will be the space where the binding tails will be joined when the rest of it has been stitched on from the back. Also mark between the two points at 6 inches (Point C on the diagram).
Point B is where you start stitching on binding
Point A is where you finish stitching on binding
Point C is in the middle of A and B
NOTE: Distance from Point A to B should be exactly 12 inches
You can keep the threads as they were from when you were quilting with the quilting thread on top and the finer thread in the bobbin with the stitch length as for the quilting.
At point B on the diagram is where you are going to start stitching. Place the binding on top of the back of the quilt. The binding should be folded double as when it was pressed with the raw edges lining up with the raw edge of the quilt. Start stitching at point B but allow a 10” tail of binding free above point B (Tail B) for joining to the other end later. Stitch through all layers until you reach about ⅜” from the corner. Stop stitching and lift the pressure foot and gentle pull the quilt forwards from under the foot without cutting the threads. Turn the quilt so you can stitch down the next side but first you need to get the binding folded to make a mitred corner. Put your left thumb between the quilt and the binding on the corner where you have stopped stitching and push the binding back towards the top edge of the quilt which should make an angled fold. Then fold the binding forwards on itself, making folded binding level with the now top edge and square along the next side to be stitched.
Stop stitching about ⅜” before reaching the corner of quilt
Gently pull forward out of machine without cutting threads. Fold binding back up to make diagonal fold. DO NOT ADD PINS
Now fold binding from top edge of quilt back towards you with the diagonal fold inside NO NEED FOR PINS
Place back under machine foot and carefully stitch through all layers from very top edge continuing with ¼" line
The fold formed by turning the corner should have done two things. Where it is pushed back to make the turn round the corner it will be on a diagonal line to the corner and where it is folded forward the fold needs to be level with the edge at the top. Without cutting the threads you can now slip the quilt and binding back under the presser foot and start stitching through all thicknesses right at the fold on the top edge again ¼” from raw. This should have created a folded mitre for when you pull the binding over to the front on the quilt. Stitch down this next side and repeat the corner in the same way. Continue until you get round the last corner and stop exactly on the mark A which is 12 inches from point B. Remove from machine and leave a piece of 10” binding extra (Tail A). This means you have two 10” pieces free which are going to be where you join the binding together.
JOINING THE BINDING ENDS TOGETHER
This is the final join in the binding and again it will be a bias join but you do this in a slightly different way as the rest of the binding is now attached the the quilt back. There should be the 12” gap in the stitching between points A and B with point C marked between them at 6”. Position Tail A binding strip (still folded) along the gap and mark with a line at point C. Do the same with Tail B binding and the two tails when overlapped will then be marked at the same point.
Open out the fabric to single layer of both tails A and B. On tail A place the cardboard guide, included with kit**, on the right side of the fabric with the double arrows at point C on the fold line and the edges of the guide level with the edges of the binding. Mark a line on the binding to give a diagonal cutting line at 45 degrees with point cut off at the bottom as shown.
** Cardboard guide is supplied in the Complete kit for Quick & Easy Summer Quilt Kit but if you are just working from these notes you can follow these instructions except, in place of the cardboard guide, simply mark a line going through point C at 45 degrees as shown. Square off the point where shown to help make a good match on the join.**
Cardboard guide on right side of binding Tail A lined up with C on the fold so cutting line can be marked
Cutting line marked on Tail A. Note the cut off tip at the bottom
Do the same thing with Tail B but this time you will see that the cardboard guide is the other
way round making the point cut off at the top rather than the bottom.
Cardboard guide on right side of binding Tail B lined up with C on the fold so cutting line can be marked
Cutting line marked on Tail B. Note the cut off tip at the top
Now you can cut carefully along these marked lines which should look as the photos below.
Tail A (left) and Tail B (right) after cutting and ready for the final bias join of binding
To make the next bit easier to handle you can pin a tuck in the quilt edge at the centre of the 12” gap as shown.
Put the right sides of the bias cut edges on Tails A and B together and you will find the cut off points make the bias seam match. Stitch a good ¼” seam.
Bringing the two opened tail ends with right sides together and then pinning before stitching
With binding off the quilt stitch the final seam
Finger press seam open and fold binding in half again as it was pressed originally.
Take pin out of tuck in quilt edge and your binding should lie along the edge of the quilt to complete the join.
Stitch the joined binding to quilt back to complete.
BRINGING BINDING OVER TO FRONT
With the binding stitched all the way round on the back of the quilt the final step is to roll the folded edge over the quilt edge to secure on the quilt front or top. You may find it easier to lightly press the binding over into position before you start stitching. Make sure that the corner mitres are folded in the same direction as on the back of the quilt to keep it all looking neat. The fold of the binding can be aligned with the stitching line you have just made from the back of the quilt. If you just want a good neat edge you can do a small zigzag with the left hand side of the swing of the needle landing on the stitching line and the right hand side being into the binding. The zigzag needs to be fairly small to be neat. Alternatively you can add your favourite decorative stitch from your machine with the left hand side anchoring the fold to the stitching line and the rest being on the binding.
Stitching binding on front
Folded mitre on binding corner
Care suggestion: As you will be using this fabric before it has been washed - should you eventually wish to wash the quilt it would be a good idea to add a colour catcher sheet in the wash to help absorb any residual loose dye. Do not soak quilt or leave very wet.
Buy the Complete kit for Quick and Easy Summer Quilt
Buy the Top and Binding Kit for Summer Quilt