Thursday, March 17, 2011

Minimalist linen quilt, a very basic quilt tutorial

  Last night [while finishing off the rest of season 5 of Dexter], I finished sewing the binding to a simple linen quilt that I've been working on for a while.  I'm in love with the complete simplicity of the shape, lines and forms.  I think that the qualities in the linen are emphasized instead of being lost as it's usual role as a filler fabric.  I quilted using my sewing machine, making organic-like horizontal lines that run across the width of the quilt.  They're not straight lines but they work well for me.  As I mentioned in the previous post, this quilt was a nice escape from my hexi quilt, allowing me to create without much thought and precision. 

Since I found the quilt to be simple and easy, I decided to put together a basic quilt tutorial.  Below, is the step by step process that I used in making this quilt.  A good thing to remember is that my way isn't necessarily the ultimate way of making a quilt, so please take my advice and know-how as an idea to inspire you into making something just as meaningful.

 I've also finished piecing and sewing my hexi quilt top and am now deciding the best way to quilt it.  Thoughts?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  I really am not sure.

Minimalist Linen Quilt Tutorial:

First I decided on what size quilt that I wanted to make.  I went with the easier and cheaper route of a lap size.  I bought a yard of a light gray linen for the backing and half yards of yellow, white and green linen for the front.  Using the yard of light gray as a founding dimension size (36"x54"), I cut out large rectangles from the yellow, white and green fabric.  (Sizes were no smaller than 18"x27")  The key to the minimal idea was to not add too many fancy block patterns or stripes.  I knew that I wanted a total of two rows of around 6 rectangular pieces to fit within the 36"x54" dimensions.

With my various sized rectangles cut out, I pinned right sides together and began sewing.  I picked up a large spool of 100% cotton thread, made for machine quilting and I've been satisfied since using it.  The thread is strong and there is a minimal amount of thread dust on my machine.

Oh and just a little reminder/advice: ALWAYS remove pins when sewing or you WILL break your sewing machine needle.  I don't know why I thought I could just keep sewing along and not realize that I was going to break a needle...lesson learned.

I am without a doubt, a lazy quilter.  Besides my little warning/advice above, I seem to find a lot of ways to try and cut corners.  Meaning, I will find anyway possible to chain sew pieces and then rows until FINALLY stopping to press seams.  And again, when it comes to pressing seams, I am that girl that will press both seams to one side.  So while I just explained my lazy-woman method of piecing and pressing, you'll need to do so too in this step.  (In either the proper sewing methods of sewing and pressing out the seams each time or my lazy way of doing it all at the end.)

Next, you'll need to piece the quilt layers together.  I ironed the back piece of light gray linen and placed that on the bottom right side down.  Next I placed the batting down on top of the backing.  I use an all-natural 100% cotton batting because it's thin but super warm and the quality really keeps the batting together.  Finally, I laid my top piece down, making sure that the front piece was placed properly on top of the back piece.

Next comes basting.  Basting is a temporary way to keep the quilt layers together while quilting.  I have only ever known to pin baste quilts and was surprised to learn that some people do in fact hand-baste for certain projects.  So in this case, I pinned together the layers using quilter's safety pins.

Next comes the quilting part.  In my case, I used my sewing machine to quilt the layers together.  Some people hand quilt and there are a lot of debates over the authenticity of machine quilting vs. hand quilting.  All I have to say is this, certain styles can be gained from hand quilting and/or machine quilting.  Neither is right nor wrong.  It's just what style is needed for each individual and unique quilt.  Tip:  Use a walking foot when quilting, you'll notice that I didn't use one [because I forgot] and some parts of my fabric looked "stretched".

 After quilting, any excess fabric needs to be trimmed using a rotary cutter and the binding is sewn on to finish the edges.  I tried 1 1/2" strips this time to create a very thin binding to the quilt.  My mother had taught me binding using 3 1/2" strips that you double up for a long lasting and durable edge.  If I were to redo this project, I would have used the wider strip.  Binding with the 1 1/2" strip was hard to manage with little room for give.

Like I said before, I love the simplicity of the quilt and it's wonderful to have while sitting on the couch with a nice book in hand. 

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