Finishing a Quilt with Riley Blake and the Cricut Maker

This post is sponsored by Cricut and contains affiliate links.

A few weeks ago I shared a couple of posts showing how simple it is to cut out everything you need to make a quilt thanks to the digital Cricut Maker cutting machine and pre-assembled fabric kits from Riley Blake Designs.

If you missed them, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 for more of the background of the Riley Blake Quilt kits and how the Cricut Maker can cut all of the quilt pieces from a variety of over 30 pre-programmed quilting patterns. Today I’ll be sharing a little more about how I assembled and finished my quilt. If you are a beginning quilter, this is for you! And even if you’re an experienced quilter, I think you’ll find some helpful new tips.

At the end of the post I’m also sharing my thoughts and more details about the Maker machine and happy to answer any questions.

I chose the Pave the Way baby quilt pattern from the Riley Blake digital pattern library because I liked the simple design. I would be a great beginning quilt pattern, but also a quick pattern for anyone needing a fast finish.

After the Cricut Maker machine cut all of my pieces (except the white sashing strips – I manually cut those with a rotary cutter), I sorted the pieces into piles of the different size blocks so that I could easily lay out the quilt.

Using the pattern diagram,  layout the fabric blocks by row, with the fabrics in the order they’ll be sewn. Once all of the rows are laid out, stack the fabric for each row, starting with the far left piece on top and adding each piece to the right underneath the pile so that they stay in order. Then bring them to your machine.

Sew the pieces together in the order they were stacked, from left to right. Lay each adjoining piece right-sides-together on top of the preceding piece and continue to add the blocks to the right end of the row.

One of the keys to piecing a quilt is always using consistent 1/4″ seam allowance on EVERY seam. For some sewing feet the edge of the presser foot is a good guide – but always measure just to be sure. You can also mark your sewing machine plate with something like washi tape to use as a guide for a consistent 1/4″.

The second important tip for successfully assembling a quilt top is pressing your seams. It may seem tedious, but it makes a huge difference when you go to sew your rows together. I traditionally press all my seams to one side. This helps protect the seam from splitting and the general the wear and tear on the quilt.

I also recommend pressing from the front to make sure the pieces are open all the way and lying flat.

Tips for adding sashing and borders:

For the Pave the Way quilt the patchwork rows are spaced by white sashing strips. This quilt is called a Row Quilt because it is assembled row by row, rather then by a gridwork of quilt blocks. It’s really easy for a row quilt to become misshapen so this tip will help keep it nice and square.

First, make sure all of your rows are the exact same length. If some rows have more seams, it’s easier for them to be a little smaller than other rows. Simply trim the rows so that they are all the same length. Then do the same with the sashing strips. For this quilt, the sashing strips are almost the width of the fabric. Carefully trim the selvage edges first and then trim all of the sashing strips to the same length as the pieced strips.

Pin a sashing strip to the top of each pieced row before you sew it down. To make sure the sashing strip is evenly pined, first find the center of both the sashing strip and pieced row (I fold them in half and finger press a crease to mark the center). Then pin the two far edges. After that, evenly space the pins along the rest of the strip.

This method also works with border strips. To keep a quilt top from getting misshapen, always cut your border strips to the correct length (this is my favorite quick tip for cutting border lengths) and pin to the edges using this same method before you start sewing. This will keep your quilt top nice and square/flat, without any wavy edges.

Efficiency tip: Keep all of your same steps together as you work. For example, layout and sew all of you patchwork rows and then take them to the machine to sew all at once. Then press all of the strips at once. Then pin the sashing to all of the rows at once. Sew all sashing strips at once. Press all sashing strips at once… see where I’m going with this? This saves a lot of time with back and forth to machine, cutting mat, etc.

Again, be sure and use a consistent 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew all sashing strips and press seams toward the sashing strips.

Next, sew rows into pairs and press seams toward sashing strips again. Then sew pairs of rows into groups and then sew groups together. This method will also help you keep the quilt top square. (If you simply sew one row after another, it’s easy for the rows to get skewed and end up with a parallelogram. I’ve had this happen.)

Once the quilt top is pieced, you’re ready to quilt it. You can quilt it yourself on your home machine. First you want to baste the layers – the quilt top, the batting, and the backing fabric before you start quilting. Here is a lot more information about choosing batting and preparing your backing fabric. There is lots of helpful information about basting and quilting a quilt here.

Or you can go the route I did and hire a longarm quilter. 😉 I used Sew Shabby Quilting to do the quilting on my quilt. (She bastes and quilts it all at the same time.)

Binding a quilt means finishing the edges of the quilt. The binding for this quilt comes with the Riley Blake quilt kit. You can read more about how to finish bind a quilt here. If you are looking for more tips and instructions on beginning piecing and quilting, check out my beginner series How to Make a Quilt From Start to Finish.

And there you go! The Cricut Maker digital cutting machine and Riley Blake team up beautifully to create a variety of options to make both baby and larger throw-size quilts! To see some of the other quilts made with the different fabric kit and pattern combinations check out some of these blogs:

Have more questions about the Cricut Maker digital cutting machine? Leave them in the comments section and I’d be happy to answer you.

If you are looking for a mechanical means of cutting fabric, whether your reasons are saving time, protecting your arm joints, you hate manually cutting, etc.  the Cricut Maker is hands down my favorite tool/method of all of the multiple other digital or die-cut systems I’ve reviewed.

Here’s why: it’s the most versatile. Instead of needed to buy individual dies for each shape in a die-cut system, you can program and cut endless shapes and sizes easily and quickly – including multiple different shapes from the same piece of fabric all at once. Eventually you’ll need to replace the rotary cutting blade (as you do with any rotary blade) but that is so much less expensive than having to buy a new die for each new shape.

And a reminder: because of that special rotary cutting blade feature, it’s the only digital cutting machine able to unbonded fabric (or fabric on it’s own, without any iron-on stabilizer or adhesive.)

Making a quilt with the Cricut Maker

Also, the fabric waste is so much more minimal than a die cut system. When you program your shapes to cut, you (or the Cricut Design Space software) will place them in your cutting view in an efficient system and you’ll see exactly where on the fabric the shapes will be cut from the fabric ahead of time.

How to Make a Quilt with the Cricut MakerAlso, there are some really exciting new Cricut software capabilities on the horizon that are perfect for quilting such as programming and cutting half-square triangles or hexagons in any size you need! (Even pre-cutting out those notches so you don’t have to trim the dogear points!) I’m really looking forward to playing with these capabilities and will be sharing more about that in the future!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for other examples Kate from See Kate Sew has made a list of 10 Ways to use the Cricut Maker for Quilting. You can also see the ways I’ve used it in the past to make a cute Spring bunting or to cut perfect wool circles.

And lastly, the Cricut Maker has a kajillion other uses cutting paper, vinyl, balsa wood, as well as drawing and tracing which could be used for embroidery projects, card-making, etc. This machine is not a one-trick pony and the Cricut Design Space full of endless inspiration and projects. (You’ll need to create a free account to see them all. It’s SO fun to browse all the different projects and ideas.)

I’m so excited to play with mine more because I know that I haven’t even scratched the surface!

You’ll be seeing more future projects made with the Cricut Maker. And like I said, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

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  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    I’d love to use something like this to cut the big background pieces for a double wedding ring. Unfortunately the Cricut Maker is not large enough for what I’d like to do.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Reply
    Donna H Wiggin
    August 16, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Can the new rotary blade be used in the Cricut Explore Air 2?

    • Reply
      August 16, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      As of right now, I think it is only useable on the Maker.

  • Reply
    Donna H Wiggin
    August 16, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    I googled the question: Can the new rotary blade be used in the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the answer is no.
    New question: When peeling the fabric from the board have you experienced any fraying? I starch my fabric before cutting, can the fabric be starched before placing it on the Cricut board? Would this help prevent fraying with lower thread count fabrics? It’s getting tougher to rotary cut now that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, It sound like the Cricut Maker will be a wonderful tool for me. P.S. My daughter adores the quilt I made her using your Union Jack pattern! Thank you!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    I had next to no fraying. The blade is really sharp and makes nice, clean cuts. But I think starching would work and would help with lower thread count fabrics.

    Caroline Moore has some great YouTube videos specific to the Maker and making quilt blocks: https://www.youtube.com/user/CraftMoore/videos

    She was also telling me that there is a way to create your own cut files of specific pattern pieces. I need to learn how to do it, but I was thinking this would be really handy for cutting out lots of pieces for applique, etc.

    I still need to learn how to do all of these things, but I’m excited because I feel like the capability to really customize the pieces is there.

  • Reply
    Candi Jones Nugent
    April 6, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    No. Just no! Cricut should have put their money into their design program. Cutting fabric on a $300+ machine with a 12×24 mat restriction is laughable. They were really reaching to find something to make crafters think they needed to “upgrade”.
    I’ll stick with a self-healing mat, a hand held rotary cutter, & an Air 2.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2021 at 4:07 am

    Hi Amy! Great article. I haven’t purchased a machine yet. My issue is cutting strips. I was thinking of getting an Accuquilt Go for this purpose but would buy a Cricut if it cut sashing and borders. Any suggestion?

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