Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Charm-pack baby quilt tutorial

Charm Packs are an easy way to make a simple baby quilt with a large variety of different but coordinated fabrics. To make a 42" x 42" baby quilt you will need 64 5" squares - usually 2 Charm Packs is perfect.  (Most Moda Charm Packs have around 42 squares in them, but check the back of the packaging for the exact number.)

Lay out the 64 squares in 8 rows of 8 squares each.
There's no right or wrong here, just play with the squares until it looks good.

Then stack the squares in each row, starting left to right, on top of each other.

Take the top square (square 1) and lay it face up.
Pick-up the square 2 and lay it face down on top of square one.
Pin the right side together.Bring the paired-up squares to the machine. Sew the squares together with a 1/4" seam allowance.
This usually means lining up the edge of the fabric with your presser-foot.
**A consistent seam-allowance is the KEY to good-looking piecing -
just always keep the edge of your fabric lined-up with your presser foot. **
Now open up that pair and pin square 3 facing square 2. Sew a 1/4" seam.
Repeat for the next 5 squares and for rows 2-8.Pressing may seam tedious, but it really makes a difference in how your quilt turns out.
Press your seams to one side (not open).
Then turn over and press from the top to make sure the seams are nice and flat.
Alternate directions the seams are pressed for odd and even rows.
This illustration shows rows 1 and 2 with seams pressed alternating directions.
Continue to do that in the rows that follow.Place the two rows facing each other, matching up seams.
The pressed seams should butt up against each other.
Pinning at the seams will help the square points to match up.
Repeat this process to sew all the rows together and then press the pieced part of the quilt.
There you go - not too bad so far, right?

Now for the borders you will need four strips of fabric measuring 3 1/2" x 42" (or the width of the fabric.) This means you will need 14" of yardage - or just over 3/8 of a yard (by 1/2"). If your fabric store is nice, they will measure that 3/8 yard generously and give you that extra 1/2". And if they are REALLY nice they might even cut your four 3 1/2" strips for you. So try asking.

It's a good idea to measure the length of the quilt sides before you sew, rather than just sewing a strip on and cutting-off the excess after. Your quilt will be more square, which will make it easier to quilt and to lie flat.

This is the easiest and fastest way I've found for measuring your border lengths. Before you measure your borders, carefully trim off the selvage edges. Then lay 2 of the border strips across the middle of your quilt, lining-up one end of the strips with the edge of the quilt. The other strip edges will hang over the side. (Below)
Place a pin in the border strips where the quilt ends.
And then carefully trim with your ruler and rotary cutter where that pin marks.

Then fold the border strip in half end to end to find the center. Pin the center of your strip to the center of your pieced quilt top and pin the ends of the strip to the ends of the quilt. Then space pins along the strip to secure the strip. (It is not bad if your strip is slightly smaller than the pieced part of the quilt, but this is why pinning at this point is important.)

Pin opposite side of quilt, sew borders on, and press them open looking at the front of the quilt.

Now you will repeat this process for the last two sides of the quilt. Lay the last border strips across the center of the quilt.
Mark length with a pin to trim off excess.When strips are trimmed to the right length repeat process above.
Find center of the strip and pin to center of the side of the quilt.
Pin ends and then space pins throughout before sewing strips to opposite sides.

Press open again from the front and voila!
Your top is finished and ready to quilt how ever you like. You will need 1 1/4 yards for the back. There is great tutorial here for quilting with your own machine. Or you might like to hand quilt it or tie it. Or you could take it to someone who will professionally machine quilt it for you. :)

There is a follow-up tutorial for Binding here.
You will need 3/8 of a yard (or 10" of fabric) for binding.


Cynthia said...

What a tease!

Laura Lucille said...

Thanks for the tutorial. Several years ago I vowed never to do a quilt again (first time quilter fiasco), but you are seriously making me reconsider. So cute!

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Great basics! I'm going to give this tutorial out to the people that are beginners I come in contact with. Nice job Amy. Love Wonderland!

Carolyne said...

Wow! Awesome tutorial...very in-depth.

Sherri said...

Good job...isn't Wonderland perfect?!

Stephanie said...

This is a great tutorial for those of us wanting to attempt quilting for the first time. This will be a great project for my vintage squares from your shop! Thanks for your hard work with the tutorial.

Bowlby said...

I started my very first quilt this weekend, thanks to your super simple tutorial. Thanks so much!

Scarlett said...

I love your Wonderland baby quilt and had to share with my readers your great charm pack tutorial. I linked to it on my blog at Craft Gossip.

Scarlett Burroughs
Quilting Editor, Craft Gossip

Rashida Khanbhai said...

very practical tutorial. would encourage anybody to give quilting a go.

DHB said...

This is so great! I can't wait to give it a try. I have so many scraps and left over charm squares that would work for this.

Chris Worthy said...

Thank you for this great tutorial! One question: With a charm pack quilt, do you wash it after making the quilt? I usually wash all my fabric first, but I have never worked with a charm pack. Washing all those little squares in advance sounds nuts, but I'm not sure. :) Thanks!

Sew It To Me said...

Thanks for the awesome tutorial. We linked to your post today at our site! I am excited ot try this out on our baby bedding!

Sew It To Me Duo!

TJ and Whitnee said...

This tutorial is great, especially for first time sew-ers! I'd like to share a link on sewwhattoday.blogspot.com on August 12!

Lil Bit said...

I want to make a baby quilt for my friend but I don't know where to buy the charm packs. I found the website but the shower is this weekend so I was really hoping to find a store to buy one at. Any ideas?

amy smart said...

@ Lil Bit - I don't have a way to email you so I'm hoping you'll see this post. (If not I'll try commenting on your blog. :)

Most independent quilt shops carry pre-cut Charm Packs. If you have any in your area try calling them and ask if they have any Charm Packs.

There are also dozens of online fabric shops that sell them. Try Etsy.com and under supplies search for Charm Packs - you'll come up with a ton of options and maybe someone is local and can get them to you quick.

I hope this helps! Thanks for the question - I'm sure you're not the only one wondering! Good luck!

Lil Bit said...

Thanks! I did find it on Etsy and the Fat Quarter Shop online. :)

Laura said...

I've recently tried making this quilt with charm packs and have run into a snag. Each square in the charm pack is not exactly 5 inches, sometimes off by as much as a quarter of an inch. I can't believe more people don't have trouble with this since quilting involves being so precise. Anyway how do you square it up? I pieced my rows together and am currently trying to square up each row before I sew the rows but I am having trouble knowing how to get it square.

Anne's House said...

This is so awesome! I have learned SOOOO much from your blog! I have 2 new charm packs, and I'm going to work on this today! Thank you!

Junebug said...

Omilawd, I am more of a knitter, attempting my first quilt for our family's first grandchild -my future niece! I am using your great tutorial here, but alas, I have discovered I'm a flawed square-cutter. I bought some fat quarters and cut my squares from those, but obviously some of them, though square, must be a smidge over and/or under the 5 inches, resulting in a wonky quilt. Very few corners meet :( BUT, I plan on going ahead with it anyway -have to baste and quilt and bind (gulp) and hope to be done by the weekend. If it's too wonky, I've earned a lapquilt!

FourLeaf said...

I am loving your tutorials and am in the process of making this quilt with Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda. It's looking so cute!! I've gotten all my charms and rows sewn together and am ready to press it before I begin working on the borders.

This may be a silly question, but does it matter how you press the pieced together quilt top once you've finished sewing the rows together? Do the seams need to be pressed to the sides and alternating, or do you press the row seams open? Thanks so much! -Amanda

amy smart said...

Hi FourLeaf! I don't have a return email address for you, so hoping you'll see this reply here.

Yay! I'm glad you're having fun and that Chez Moi collection is so pretty - you're going to have such a cute quilt!

I'm not too fussy about the pressing direction once the rows are sewing together. I do press the seams to one side or the other, but it doesn't really matter which. I would press from the top of the quilt, just to make sure those seams are fully flat and crisp. Have fun!

FourLeaf said...

Got it! Thank you so much Amy! You have truly inspired me to (hopefully) turn this into a heck of a fun new hobby. Thank you thank you thank you!

Joyce said...

Thank you Amy. Maybe I will get the quilt done before my niece's baby in November. But first the hip surgery in 2 weeks. I have found so many blogs from the portland area this summer- I'm from Vancouver. I guess our weather lends itself to inside fun.

Amy B said...

This doesn't indicate how much fabric for binding, does it? How much will we need? Thanks for the simple quilt idea!!

amy smart said...

Amy B - I don't have a return email address for you, so I'm hoping you'll see this reply.

Thank you for the great question. You will need 3/8 yard (or 10" of yardage) for the binding strips. I've amended the post to include that. Thanks so much for pointing it out!

Sarah Watson said...

Ahhh, that's a really nice breath of fresh air. Squares. Iron it right, pin when needed. I can handle this. :) Thanks!