Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby Quilt Kit Tutorial - Machine Piecing

This Baby Quilt Kit Tutorial includes a series of five blog posts.
  1. Intro & Getting Started
  2. Cutting the Fabric Pieces
  3. Machine Piecing the Quilt Top - You're Here!
  4. Layering, Basting & Quilting
  5. Binding the Quilt
Cuddly Quilt Kits are a popular line of baby quilt kits available in the Weekend Kits store.

The purpose of this Baby Quilt Kit Tutorial is to help beginners work through the process of making one of these cuddly quilts for baby.

I'm making the Simply Chic design for this tutorial.  Visit the Baby Quilt Kits section of the store to see our complete selection!

Once you have all of your blocks cut, you're ready for Machine Piecing the Quilt Top.  This post helps beginners apply basic quilting techniques & best practices to piecing the quilt top together. This tutorial is intended to be a supplement to the instructions provided with your kit.  Be sure to read through all of the instructions before starting your baby quilt.

Setting Up the Machine:

Key items to consider when setting up your machine for piecing include the needle size, thread, stitch length, presser foot, and throat plate.  All of these areas should be checked prior to sewing.

Needle Size

I always like starting any new quilt project with a new sewing machine needle.  For machine piecing, I typically use a size 80/12 sharp needle, which I find is a good size needle for piecing medium weight fabrics.  I prefer using a sharp point needle for piecing, but a universal point needle would also work for this project.


I recommend using a quality 100% cotton thread in a light, neutral color for machine piecing.  The bobbin should be wound with the same thread.  I'm using the YLI machine quilting thread in white.

Stitch Length

When you have your machine set up with needle and thread, it's time to ensure the proper stitch length.  For piecing, you want to set your machine to make 12-15 stitches per inch.  Sew along a piece of scrap fabric, measure the number of stitches per inch, and adjust your machine's stitch length if necessary.

Seam Accuracy

Sewing accurate and consistent 1/4" seams is an important part of machine piecing.  To do this, you need to have some type of visual indicator as part of the set up of your sewing machine.

Presser Foot

Many machines come with a special presser foot that is designed to sew 1/4" seams when the right edge of the foot is lined up with the edge of the fabric.  If you have this type of presser foot, use it for machine piecing.  If your machine doesn't have a 1/4" presser foot, it's OK, you can alternatively use markings on the throat plate of your sewing machine.

Throat Plate

Some throat plates have a built in marking for 1/4" seams.  If your machine does not have a 1/4" mark, then you'll need to place a strip of masking tape on the throat plate to use as a guide for sewing 1/4" seams.  Use a piece of scrap fabric to test, measure, and adjust the tape as necessary until the seam is accurate.

Sewing the Blocks:

The Cuddly Quilt Kit instructions provide excellent layout diagrams for assembling the blocks and rows.  Arrange the blocks according to the layout diagram provided in your instructions.

Usually, when I'm piecing an all cotton quilt top together, I don't use pins when sewing smaller blocks together.  But, because of the different fabric types used for the Cuddly Quilt Kits, I recommend using pins, especially when sewing the plush and satin type fabrics, which tend to shift while sewing.

Be sure to read the tips provided in your instructions for working with plush fabrics.  It can really be a challenge to sew dissimilar fabrics together accurately, even for experienced quilters.  Follow the tips as suggested, but don't worry too much about getting everything to line up perfectly.  Baby will love it anyway :)

Remember to pin & stitch your blocks with right sides together.

You'll need to pull the pins out as you sew along.  I always stop my machine in the needle-down position, pull the pin out, and then continue sewing.

Ironing the Seams:

You'll need an iron, ironing board, and press cloth for pressing your seams after sewing.  Usually, when I'm working with all cotton fabrics, I don't use a press cloth.  But, with the plush & satin fabrics in the Cuddly Quilt Kits, it's really important to use a press cloth to protect the fabrics and iron from damage.  Simply place the press cloth between the iron and fabric when ironing.

Always press seam allowances to one side, according to the arrows shown on the layout diagram.  Seam allowances are pressed in opposite directions from row to row so that they nest together nicely where the seams meet, minimizing bulkiness.

Sewing the Rows:

Arrange completed rows on a table according to the layout diagram provided in your instructions.

Pin rows right sides together, matching seams.  I like to place pins at the seams first, making sure they're aligned.  Then, I go back and place additional pins between seams.

After you sew all of the rows together, press seam allowances to one side, according to the arrows on the layout diagram.  Here's my completed quilt top - ready for quilting!

Once you have your completed quilt top, you'll be ready to move on to the next post in the Baby Quilt Kit Tutorial - Layering, Basting & Quilting!

Weekend Kits offers a unique collection of Art & Craft Kits across a variety of crafting categories. Our goal is to help make crafting convenient, easy, and fun for all skill levels! Stop by today & be ready to make a baby quilt on your next Weekend at Home.

No comments: