Introduction: Charm Pack Baby Quilt

About: Wife of one, mother of three & now a grandmother too! I enjoy making things and cooking edible things and eating them. aka on IRC as AstroMom

This quilt is made easy by using a pre-cut charm pack of charm squares to get a wide variety of coordinating fabrics without having to buy more than you need and cut a 5" square out of each one.  A charm pack is made up of a 5" square of each fabric, in each colourway, in a manufacturer's particular line.  Many of the fabric manufacturer's now do these, this quilt uses the "Love U" line by Deb Strain for Moda.

Following these instructions, this quilt comes out at about 38" x 44" and uses 42 charm squares, but you could make it larger or smaller by using more or fewer charms depending on your requirements.

By following this instructable to make a quilt students will learn more about colour selection (choosing the sashing, cornerstone & binding fabrics), the importance of sewing a consistent seam allowance, how pressing seams in opposing directions aids accurate patch alignment and how to make & apply a double fold binding.

Ideal for when you need a quick something for a baby shower.

Step 1: Requirements

All fabrics should be 100% cotton, 45" nominal width.
1 Charm pack with at least 42 fabrics in it
1 yard of contrasting fabric for the sashing
1/4 yard of a different contrasting fabric for the cornerstones
1/2 yard of fabric for the binding

1 1/2 yards polyester fleece (polar fleece)
1 1/2 yards of fabric for the backing
(Make sure your backing is at least 42" wide or you will need to buy more and piece the backing)
a piece of batting (wadding) 42" x 48"

Iron & ironing board
Rotary cutter
Quilter's ruler
Cutting mat
Sewing machine
Thread - ordinary sewing thread and quilting thread (but you can use the same for both)
Safety pins or basting spray
A washable or air erasable marking pen

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

For a quilt that uses 42 charms you will need 97 sashing rectangles and 56 cornerstones.  This sounds like a lot of cutting but it is made easy with a rotary cutter.

WOF = width of fabric
FQ = fat quarter
All cutting directions are for people that cut right handed, if you cut left handed I think you will need to mirror my images.

Iron your fabrics and then fold each one separately so that the selvages (the edges with the printing) are even with each other and you have no wrinkles in the fabric.  Iron again keeping the selvages matched together.  Now fold your fabric so your ironed fold is even with the selvages and iron it again.

Lay your sashing fabric on the cutting mat as shown and use your ruler and cutter to square up the end of the fabric.  Now carefully turn the fabric so that the squared up edge is at the left hand end of the cutting mat and cut thirteen 2" WOF strips.  Take each strip, unfold it once (you should still have a double layer) and cut it into 5" pieces, I get 8 pieces out of each of my strips.  Continue until you have 97 5" x 2" rectangles.

Take your cornerstone fabric and again square up the end and then cut three 2" WOF strips and cut each strip into 2" squares until you have 56 squares.

Take your binding fabric, iron, fold and square the edge as you did with the sashing fabric then cut five 2.5" WOF strips.

That is the cutting done!

To add to your 42 charms you should now have 97 sashing rectangles, 56 cornerstones and 5 binding strips.

Step 3: Layout Your Fabrics

Find a space big enough to lay out your fabrics - I usually use our bed, this time I used a smaller table.

Lay out a row of 7 cornerstones alternated with 6 sashing strips, below them place 7 sashing strips alternated with 6 charm squares.  Repeat until you have all the pieces laid out.

Swap your charm squares around until you like the layout - on this one, I didn't lay out the sashings & cornerstones due to lack of space.

Now take your erasable pen and mark each square so that you know where it goes.  My first row is 1 and each square gets labelled in turn from 1A to 1F and so on for all 7 rows of charms.  The sashing and cornerstones are all interchangeable so they don't need labelling,

Step 4: Sew the Rows

Now it is time to sew the cut pieces to make rows.  Use a 1/4" seam throughout and a fairly short stitch length - I set my machine to 2.5. 

Being careful to match your edges and corners, sew together your alternating cornerstones and sashing rectangles, placing the fabrics right sides together, but remember to stop when you have 7 cornerstones and 6 rectangles in each row.  You will end up with 8 of these strips.

Sew a sashing rectangle to the right hand side of each charm square, again matching your edges and corners.  Then sew each labelled row together in order and add a sashing rectangle to the left hand side of square 1 in each row.  You will end up with 7 of these rows.

Step 5: Join the Rows to Make the Quilt Top

Press each and every seam.  On the charm rows press the seams towards the sashing rectangles and on the cornerstone rows press the seams towards the cornerstones.  Alternating the direction you press the seams will help with the alignment of the rows in the next stage.

Take a cornerstone row and sew it to the top your A row.  As you get to each seam make sure the underneath seam is pointing in the opposite direction, if necessary stop about 1/2" before the seam, make sure the needle is down (in the fabric) and then lift the presser foot and use your finger or a small tool to sweep the seam in the correct direction.  Then put the presser foot down again before you continue sewing.

Repeat with your rows B to G.  You will have one cornerstone row left over - this goes onto the bottom of row G.

Now sew your rows together in the correct order until they are all assembled into one piece.  Now press all your seams - you can alternate the direction or have them all pointing the same way - it is entirely your choice.

Lay your completed quilt top out and admire it - you have completed the first stage! Well done!

Step 6: Prepare the Backing and the Batting

If using polar fleece, lay it out RIGHT SIDE DOWN on a large flat surface (I use our bed, you may have a suitable table or space on your floor). Smooth it out and then lay your quilt top on it RIGHT SIDE UP, allow at least 2" of backing to show all round your quilt top. Smooth out your quilt top on the fleece so that there are no wrinkles or folds in either layer.

If you are using fabric and wadding, take your backing fabric and iron it so there are no folds or creases.  Lay it out face down (patterned side down) on your bed, floor or other surface large enough.  Lay your quilt top on top of it and centre it until you can see an inch or two of backing fabric all around it.  If your quilt top is wider than your backing fabric you will need to cut your backing fabric and sew it back together to get a piece big enough.  There is a neat way of doing this diagonally as documented by John Flynn.

Once you have made sure your backing is big enough you need to cut your piece of batting (wadding) to be the same size as the backing.  Then make a sandwich as shown: backing face down, then batting, then quilt top right way up.  As you place each layer make sure there are no wrinkles or folds which would cause puckers in your finished quilt.

Step 7: Baste Your Quilt

There are a multitude of ways of basting quilts (none of them involve hot fat.....) but I like to pin baste with safety pins.  Slide a cutting mat or piece of smooth plywood or other hard sheet material under your quilt sandwich.  Start in the middle of your quilt top and put an safety pin in every charm square and every cornerstone.  If you have enough pins do the sashing rectangles as well. 

If you have a suitable well ventilated space you can use basting spray to glue your layers together instead of pinning them.  Your local quilt store will be able to recommend a suitable spray product.  The glue washes out with a normal cycle in your washing machine.

Once basted you are ready to do the quilting itself.

Step 8: Quilt As Desired!

This is the phrase which leaves me cold and empty headed on every quilt pattern I use.  For this quilt we are going to do a very simple pattern.  We are going to sew a line of stitching parallel to each seam.  By using the edge of the sewing machine foot as a guide there is no need to mark the pattern.

Load your machine with the quilting thread for the top thread, for the bobbin thread I like to use a thinner thread as shown. You can use the quilting thread on the bottom too if you prefer, or you can use a general purpose thread for both, but I like the extra body of the quilting thread, and I really like the variegated threads.  Use a new quilting needle suitably sized for your top thread.  Quilting needles are very sharp and hold the thread securely as they pierce all the layers in your quilt.  Look for advice here.  Set your stitch
length longer for quilting as the bulk of the fleece takes up the thread, I set mine to 4.0 also if you have a walking foot this is the time to use it, it helps feed the layers of fabric evenly, reducing the chances of puckers in the backing.

Start in the middle of one edge and, keeping the edge of your foot next to the seam, sew all the way across the quilt so that you sew through the charm squares.  When you reach the other side, cut your threads and go back to your starting side and sew in the same way on the next line of charm squares.  Repeat all the way across the quilt.  Do the same from the end of the quilt.  You should end up with a nice neat grid of stitching.

Remove the pins once the quilting is done and then sew all around the top as close to the edge as possible.  Use your longest ruler to trim the backing even with the edge of the top, this makes it easier to sew the binding with an even seam allowance.

Step 9: Make and Attach the Binding

Once you have done all the quilting and trimmed the backing it is time to add the binding to enclose the raw edges.  On this quilt I use a wholly machine sewn binding so start by sewing the binding to the BACK of the quilt.  If you were hand sewing the binding edge down you would machine sew the binding to the front of the quilt.

Measure the width and length of the quilt - this one is 38" x 44",  you will need a binding length of approximately 2 x width + 2 length + 4 x 5" (for the corners)  = 38" + 38" + 44" + 44" + 20" = 184" Divide this length by 40" to calculate the number of WOF strips you will need and round up.  184/40 = 4.6, so we need 5 WOF strips for this little quilt.  In the first step we cut 5 strips 2.5" wide ready to make the binding.

With a washable fabric marker draw a line at 45 degrees at one end of each binding strip. and then lay the marked end of of one strip over then unmarked end of the next strip as shown and sew along the marked line.  Repeat until you have one long strip (not a loop!!).  Press each seam open with your iron and then press the whole strip lengthways, matching the raw edges.  Finally cut the unsewn marked end at 45 degrees along the line you drew earlier.

Lay your binding on the back of the quilt starting about halfway down one side and leaving a tail of  8 to 10".  Match your raw edges and sew 1/4" in from the edge.  Sew along the edge and stop a generous 1/4" from the corner, back stitching to secure.  Turn your quilt through 90 degrees and fold your binding strip up giving a 45 degree fold, then fold it back down over itself as shown in the picture and start to sew on the fold 1/4" in from the edge as before.  Repeat for each corner and continue to sew until you are 8 to 10" from the loose end of the binding, stop and backstitch to secure.

Step 10: Join the Binding Ends

Lie your loose binding end inside the part you have not yet sewn and mark the overlap.  Then use your ruler to mark a line 1/2" towards the unsewn end of the binding strip - after cutting this will give you an overlap of 1/2" which is sufficient to sew a 1/4" seam.  Before you cut make sure you have a 1/2" overlap, not a 1/2" gap!!!!

Cut along your marked line and then pin the ends together offsetting the strips as shown so that once they are sewn together the edges align.  Check that you have not put a twist in either strip and then sew 1/4" from the raw edges.  Remove the pins and finger press the seam open.  Refold along the length of the binding and then complete sewing the binding down 1/4" from the edge of the quilt.

Step 11: Sew the Binding to the Other Side

Turn the quilt over and fold the binding to the front enclosing the raw edges.  Using a matching thread sew (topstitch) as close as you can to the folded edge of the binding, keeping it folded over to enclose the edge fully and fill the binding fabric well.  When you get to the corner stop a generous 1/4" away from the corner, backstitch to secure and cut your threads.  Turn the quilt through 90 degrees, fold your binding over the next side and the corner should fold neatly as shown.  At the inside corner take a couple of backstitches to make sure the thread will not unravel and then sew along the fold as before.  Repeat the corner technique for each corner and keep on sewing all along the fold of the binding until you reach your starting point.  Sew past your start point for about 1/2" and then backstitch to secure and trim your threads.

Congratulations, you have made a quilt!

If you want to add a label, continue onto the next step, otherwise pop your creation into the washing machine on a warm cycle to wash out all the washable marker and then dry it in the dryer or on the washing line.  This ensures that any shrinkage happens before you give it to the recipient.  This is a baby quilt and it will probably need frequent laundering!

Step 12: Label

I like to label my quilts with date and washing instructions.  I handwrite the details with a Pigma pen and then hand sew the label in one corner of the quilt.

Now it really is finished and is ready to keep a little person cosy and warm.

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