January 3, 2014

Finishing Grandma's Quilt

 In November, my friend, Arren, asked me to sew a project for her, in hopes that it could be a present she could give to her Mom at Christmas. She had been saving some very precious quilt squares that her (maternal) Grandma had delicately embroidered by hand, but never got to finish. She had made 18, 13"x13" squares. Arren and I met up at our local JoAnn Fabrics and she chose a great coordinating calico fabric that would be used to frame the quilt squares. 

I then got to work, slowly perhaps, but utilizing every spare minute around my two little babes that I had. I also had family and friends help me out with the boys some while I sewed. I made a sort of finish-your-grandma's-quilt tutorial of sorts here for those who may also want to turn their Grandmother's quilt into an heirloom to enjoy! I don't claim to know how to quilt, for real, because I know that is a very precise and professional business. I, well, like to do a great job, but am not very "precise" in many things I do, so...here's how a non-quilter makes/finishes a quilt:

From the fabric store you will need about 4 yards of complimentary cotton-weight fabric to match your quilt squares, approximately 4-5 yards of 60"wide fabric for the backing (heavy weight fabric, or fabric shower curtain, cotton drapes, or a bedspread/sheet could also be used), a twin or queen sized roll of cotton batting, pearl cotton for quilting the top of the quilt, and coordinating sewing thread.
Lay your grandma's squares out in a pattern to your liking. For this design, I couldn't fit two of the above blue figures, so I excluded them from the quilt and will just frame them instead. Once I had my layout, I took a picture of it to remember the order I wanted it in. When I gathered the squares together, I made sure to keep each horizontal row together. 
1. and 2. Using a healing mat, a clear quilt guide, and a rotary cutter, I squared up each quilt square so that it was 12"x12".  While I don't claim to know many quilting principles, I do understand and emphasize the importance of having all your pieces the same size. For that reason, I recommend using the more precise rotary cutter over regular shears.
3.Each quilt piece needs to be steam pressed before sewing. Press from the back side of the quilt squares.
5.Now decide how much space you want between each quilt block, and then add 1". Cut rectangles to be placed between quilt squares. 6. Layout the first row, as you want it to look. 7.Starting at one end, sew divider (blue) piece to first quilt square. Use a 1/2" seam allowance. 8.Sew next quilt square to same divider piece. Sew first row this way, and repeat for additional rows until all quilt horizontal rows are completed.
9.Once all your rows are sewn together, 10. ....you will lay them all out. 11.With iron on steam setting, you will press on the backside of each row, making sure the raw edges are pressed toward the center of the divider pieces. 12. Measure the length of one row. This will give you the exact length that you need to cut your horizontal dividing row pieces. You will keep the same width as you did on the vertical row dividers. 13.Cut dividing row pieces with rotary cutter and ruler. Sew rows together with dividing sections.
14.Now you will cut and measure four dividing sections to be placed around the edge, as shown here, sewed on. Measure the side length of your quilt, and cut two lengths that long. Sew onto each side. Now measure top length of quilt, and cut two last dividing sections and sew on at top and bottom of quilt. 
15. On a large, flat surface, you will put your quilt layers together. First, lay your backside piece face-down (or wrong side down). 16.Next, lay out a single layer of interior batting that you purchase (check the package to make sure it doesn't need washed first). 17.Lay your quilt top on last, with right side facing up. Match up front and backsides as best as possible.
18.Starting from center of quilt, use safety pins through all three layers of fabric, to secure layers together. Place safety pins about 5-6" apart over entire quilt. **Larger sized safety pins work best for this. Be liberal in your pinning! 
21. and 22.After entire quilt is pinned, cut off excess fabric around edges. 
23. Sew on bias tape around edge of blanket, starting on top, as Lynn talks about HERE. I love how easy she makes those corners!! I made my own bias tape, so the quilt edges would match. 24. and 25. Pin under back edge of bias tape and hand sew down, using an invisible stitch.
26.I used purl cotton to add a little hand-quilting to the quilt (can purchase this at JoAnns and Hobby Lobby). You can eliminate this step, but you need to do tack stitches on your quilt as a minimum, so that your quilt layers will stay together when washed. 27.To start hand-quilting, tie a small knot in one end of purl cotton, at the other end from your needle. Make stitches through all layers of fabric. Pull the knot through the first stitch, so that it stays hidden under the first quilt layer. 28. Continue stitching in a pattern of your choice. I chose to do the stitching inside the quilt blocks for this one, but on my other quilts last year HERE, HERE, and HERE, I hand-stitched them differently. 

And here is Grandma's finished quilt. Ready to be cherished as an heirloom in your home for years and years to come. Perhaps now you'll be ready to pull out your keepsake squares and create a finished look for yours! 
I want to say a special "thank you" to Arren, for trusting me with your Grandma's special creation. It was such a joy for me to bring it together for you!

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