Quilting is the mother of eco-friendly crafting in my option. Nothing should be wasted and people of past generations knew that instinctively. I designed this project using scrap fabric for my eight year old daughter. She wanted a blanket for her 18″ dolls. I was so proud of her; she did all the sewing herself.
How to: I’m going to explain the parts that I helped her (Helper) and the parts that she did herself (New Sewer).
1. New Sewer (NS) Choose fabric: decide on a color scheme.
The helper could give good options to choose from.
Material needed: Use scrap fabric (lightweight cotton works well here). If you don’t have any, ask around. Fabric can also be salvaged from unwanted clothing.
2. Helper (H) Using a plastic square as a guide (found at a crafting store in quilting section) and a rotary cutter, cut out 20 squares. You could cut out the squares with scissors but it is so much faster and more accurate this way.
Size of squares = 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches
3. (NS) Layout the squares in the desired arrangement. You could use a checkerboard pattern, diagonal stripes, or randomly arranged. My daughter went with a random pattern but she had to check to make sure no square was touching a matching square. She used six different fabrics.
4. (NS) Place right sides facing (that means the prettier side of each piece should touch) and using a sewing machine; sew strips leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance. Sew in groups of four squares end to end. When done you should have 5 rows (strips) with four squares in each row.
5. (NS) Iron the seams of the strips you just sewed. (Parental guidance!)You can iron the seams allowances open (B in photo) or you can iron the seam allowances all to one side (A in photo). If you iron them all to one side it will be easier to sew with the sewing machine. If you iron the seams open you need to be very careful to not let them get bunched up as you sew over them. It will be obvious what I mean when you begin sewing.
6. (NS and H) Pin two strips together right sides facing. Line up edges the best you can. Then draw on a sewing line with a washable marker. This is very helpful to someone new using a sewing machine. Because the strips were not sewed by professionals to begin with, the squares will not be exactly lined up.
7. (NS) Machine sew the strips together. Then pin the next strip onto the end and sew, then pin another…
When sewing, try to have the seam allowances open towards you. When you run the machine over them, they will not bunch up.
Note: when the strips are all sewed together you may find that the corners of the squares don’t all meet up. No worries, it will still be super cute. We’ll leave that ambitious outcome to experienced sewers.
8. (H) Cut a strip of fabric for the top and bottom boarder. The size of these boarder pieces will be the size of one of your strips x 3.5 inches.
9. (NS) sew on the top and bottom boarder just as you sewed the other strips together.
10. (H) Now you need to cut a strip of the border fabric the length of the unfinished quilt x 3.5 inches.
11. (NS) Sew on the side borders. Now you have the top of your quilt complete. Iron the quilt top.
12. (NS and H) Cut a piece of batting and a piece of fabric (for quilt back) each the same size as your quilt front.
Material needed: use a piece of scrap batting. I had a scrap piece of 100% cotton batting left over from another project. If you don’t have any, ask a quilter or two. This small quilt will use up pieces that would otherwise be wasted.
14. (NS) Stack the layers like this: back then top of quilt right sides facing, then have the batting on the very top. Line up edges the best you can. Pin.
15. (NS) Machine sew around the edge of the quilt but leave about 3 ½ inches un-sewed. This hole is where you turn the quilt right side out. This part is a lot like making a basic pillow.
16. (NS) Hand-sew the hole closed. (H) Helper might need to demonstrate how to make stitches. (whip stitch)
17. (NS) Quilt the blanket by hand-sewing along the border starting at a corner (see A in photo). Use a running stitch. (The top side of the quilt should be facing up when you are making your stitches so you can see where to sew. Also, quilt means to sew through all layers of the quilt). Then sew along the lines between strips (see B in photo). Normally quilters quilt between the squares in the other direction too but that is left out here for two reasons: one because the new sewer will probably be tired of hand-sewing by now and two because the squares may not be lined up perfectly.
This quilt fits the American Girl Doll beds, as well as, similar sized doll beds.
Finished quilt size: approximately 18 ½ inches X 15 ½ inches.
Alternative project: A sentimental Mom might want to make a keepsake quilt made out of baby clothing when her little-one outgrows them. Just use more squares to increase the size of the quilt. This will give an added sentimental value to the quilt. I’ve saved some clothing from when my girls were babies/ toddlers. I’d like to make a small quilt out of their little dresses someday.