Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mystery Quilt 2007 - Part One

This quilt will be a finished size of 72" x 72" (6 ft. by 6 ft. - slightly less than 2 meters square), a nice size for a throw that can be used for watching TV or as an additional covering on a bed.

The difficulty level is "beginner".

This week, I will cover some very basic things about quilts and quilting, and I will provide a list of supplies you will need. This is the week to assemble your supplies and "ingredients". As I am utterly useless with Metric, all measurements will be in inches.

First off, for the purposes of this series, What I refer to as a quilt is a 3-layer blanket-type covering made from cloth and a center "filling", and secured by either hand or machine sewing - or by a number of small tied knots.

Next, we need to decide on fabric. The most commonly used fabric for quilts is good-quality 100% cotton fabric, which has been pre-washed and ironed before cutting. The pre-washing takes out a good deal of the "shrinkage" factor, as well as making sure all the chemicals from the manufacturing process are out of it. If this is your first time making a quilt, it is a good idea to use this for your fabric.

It is possible to use other fabrics. I've worked with polyester blends, silk and other fabrics. The main thing to consider is that all the fabrics you use MUST be the same weight and fiber content. Do not use wool and cotton and silk all in one quilt. Keep it simple, keep it the same! If you combine things, you may end up with a quilt that only lasts through 1 or 2 washings, because the fabrics will pull and fight with each other, tearing the more delicate ones.

The filling or "batting" as it is called can be either store-purchased batting, an old blanket or any similar warm padding. The thing to think of here is that you will be either sewing through or tying through this, so it should be something you can work with. I suggest using the store-purchased batting for the first try.


You will need a pair of very sharp scissors. The ones you use for cutting paper or opening packages in the kitchen are not going to work, you need more precision - if needs be, buy a new pair. I have a specific pair of Gingher shears that I use ONLY for sewing.

You might also want to get a rotary cutter and a mat. You need the mat if you use the cutter. While this is optional, I highly recommend it.

You will need 1 very good plastic ruler. These can be purchased at any quilt shop or fabric store, or at most craft shops. Get one that has markings on both sides, as well as nice lines that show inches, 1/2 inches and 1/4 inches along the length. This is mine - it's seen a lot of use and has never needed replacement.

Of course, you will most likely need a sewing machine. Not many are demented enough to piece their quilt tops by hand. This doesn't have to be fancy - or expensive. You'll only be sewing straight lines for the time being, and a basic machine can also be used for myriad repairs and other nice things.

You will need pins - both straight pins with round-heads, and a large number of safety pins.

2 spools of thread the color of your main fabric color (see fabric list below)

Sewing Machine oil (and the instructions from your machine on how to oil it when needed)

Sewing Machine needles Because you WILL break one just at the worst possible moment.

2 spools of Hand Quilting thread (if you will be hand-quilting)

1 package of quilt batting - preferably medium-loft. I use Mountain Mist batting, mostly because it is easily obtainable, and if I wish, I can use either 100% polyester, or 100% cotton. Usually the batting comes in 72 x 90 inch packages, which will work well for our purposes.


For this project you will need:

2 1/2 yards Fabric A
2 yards Fabric B
1 1/2 yard Fabric C
Backing Fabric

Fabric A will be the "main" color of your quilt. Choose something you can "live with". I suggest something in the middle of the light/dark spectrum.

Fabric B will be the main contrast - choose a color that goes well with fabric A, as it will seem there are almost equal amounts of these two.

Fabric C should be a contrast, but something that fades to the background. This should be the darkest color of the group. (Colors such as Navy, Forest Green, Burgundy, Dark Purple, Deep Gold or Brown would all work well for this.)

Backing Fabric - either 2+1/4 yards of 72" wide muslin (Calico, if you are UK), or 4+1/2 yards of standard width fabric. Fabric should have same fiber content as fabrics used in the top.

Wash all your fabrics (DO NOT WASH THE BATTING!!), dry them and then iron them flat. Next week we will begin cutting!


Anonymous said...

I want my quilt to look like it's a hundred years old, faded, floppy, not too thick or big. Something that would be suitable for a beach house.

If I use quilt batting will the quilt be all puffy. I want it flat. I have a grey wool army blanket. Could I use that inside? What do you suggest?

Also if I go with the wool blanket can I still cover it with cotton fabric?

I've never made a quilt but I'm going to try this one.

Sewmouse said...


You can use the wool blanket, yes, but a low-loft or medium loft polyester batting would work better, I think. If you are going to tie the quilt rather than stitch it, either one of the fillings will produce a "puffy" effect.

If you stitch it, even if you use fairly large stitches, it will appear flatter, as there is less "wiggle room" for the layers to move around. You can use the blanket inside a cotton outside, but remember that the wool is "stronger", and your ties or your rows of stitches must be closer together to keep the fabrics from "fighting" when washed.

Mary said...

Uh oh. I came over from Babzy. This looks fun. I think I am gonna do it. I have made a couple quilts before but not for a while. (Gulp)

Anonymous said...

I'll get the batting. I don't want any fighting going on while I'm trying to sleep.

Sewmouse said...

Welcome Mary!

Just a reminder - the posts for the Mystery Quilt will only go up on Sundays. Gives me time to work it up myself as well, and type up the next set of instructions!

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments that you have - I know the first quilt I ever made alone was a "leap of faith" that turned out ok. Not perfect, but OK. *grin*