Introduction: Cozy Christmas Lap Quilt

Snuggling under a lap quilt, with the fire on, watching a good film is a popular activity in the Winter around here (especially at Christmas time).  When choosing the fabrics for the patchwork top for this quilt, I paid particular attention to the use of 'light' and 'dark' fabrics to get the desired effect.

This lap quilt is based on a pattern called 'Breaking Waves' but I sewed mine up into squares instead of zig-zags (may seem only a small adaptation but arranging the blocks in this way gives a very different finished look to the quilt).  

'Breaking Waves' is a really fun pattern to make and was designed by Daniella Stout of Cozy Quilt Designs for Hoffman California Fabrics.   You can find this pdf pattern in the Free Pattern section  on the left of the Hoffman fabric's site, when you scroll down to the very bottom.

Step 1: Materials:

This cozy lap quilt was made from...
  • A 'Jelly Roll' of MODA fabric, called 'Fruitcake' by Basic Grey design (or you could cut your own 2.5" wide strips) 
  • 3 metres (approx 3.3 yards) of plain red  for the border.
  • 1 metre (approx' 1 yard) of navy blue for the binding.
  • 3 metres ( approx 3.3  yards) green for the backing fabric.
  • Cotton wadding or batting.
  • matching sewing threads for the patchwork and cream for the quilting.
  • Sewing machine.
  • Large cutting mat (photo stage 3)
  • rotary cutter (TAKE CARE IT IS VERY SHARP see photo stage 3)
  • Quilting ruler (photo stage 3)
  • Fabric scissors.
  • pins (I just use dressmaker pins but special quilting pins are better).
  • Microstitch tag gun or quilting pins or just tacking thread and sewing needle for basting.
  • Sewing needle.

I had plenty of stips left over for other projects and didn't use all the other fabric either as I only made 6 x 4 (24) blocks for this size of lap quilt (approx 44" by 32").  I have been quite generous with my calculations for the plain fabrics (better too much than not enough!)

Step 2: Make a Tube of Strips:

The patchwork quilt top is made from strips, which need to be sorted and laid out in order; dark to light in colour. 

Three light colour strips are sewn together and three dark colour strips are sewn together to make panels and the seams are pressed with an iron.  It is well worth the time taken to press the seams for the stressy frustration you'll save yourself later on.  Trust me, I know  :)     

The clever part of this pattern comes next.  You lay a dark 3-strip panel on top of a light 3-strip panel and sew down both edges to make a tube.

Step 3: Cut the Tube Into Triangles:

Carefully press the tube with an iron. 
Cut 90 degree right angle triangles out of the tube.  I use a VERY SHARP rotary cutter and quilters ruler.  PLEASE take extra care using this cutting tool as it is very sharp. Work your way along the tube cutting out triangles (see the photo).

When you open up the triangle it makes a square with light and dark fabric stripes.

Step 4: Open the Triangles Out Into Squares:

These squares (blocks) need to be pressed and put into a pile with the darks and lights lying the same way.

Step 5: Lay Out the Blocks Into a Grid 4x6:

I always enjoy laying out the patchwork blocks for the first time.  Pay attention to the light and dark fabrics.  I usually get another member of the family to have a quick look for any obvious repetitions in colour or pattern.  Then I photograph the arrangement of blocks when I'm happy with it.  This helps with sewing up the blocks into a large panel.

Step 6: Add a Plain Red Border:

Cut six, 2.5" wide strips in red fabric to make the border.   For the long side of the patchwork top, two strips will need to be joined so they are long enough for the length.  Join these strips with a diagonal seam by laying the strips at 90 degrees and sewing them together.  The border is laid along the edges with right sides together (RS).  Sew the border on with a regular 2/8ths of an inch seam allowance.  Press the seams on the back.

Step 7: Baste the Quilt Sandwich:

When the patchwork top is completed, it's time to layer up the quilt sandwich then 'baste' the quilt (or hold the layers together while it's quilted). 

Lay the green backing fabric right side down onto the floor, then slowly and carefully lay the wadding (filling) onto the backing fabric without creasing either of them.  This is easier with  two people working together. Then the patchwork top is added next, right side up.  Gently smooth out the top, but DO NOT pull it, just smoooth from the centre outwards.  I use a Microstitch tag gun tool to hold all the layers together.  You can use safety pins or big tacking stitches, but the tag tool works for me.

I always baste on the thick rug in my lounge.  At the end I just pull the quilt up off the rug and pick off any odd bits of rug stuck to the back of the quilt.  Don't trim the excess wadding or backing fabric yet, until after the quilting has been done.

Step 8: Quilt With 'stitch in the Ditch':

Now it's time to actually quilt the quilt! I chose to 'stitch-in-the-ditch' on this quilt which means sewing right on top of the seam lines where the patchwork top was sewn together. I just use my normal sewing machine foot, but adjust the pressure on my machine to accomodate the thickness of the quilt layers.  Under my right hand on the photo, you can see the quilt is rolled up to help it pass through the sewing machine.  I use cheap rubbery gardening gloves as my quilting gloves.  Once I got used to them I found them essential for quilting as they grip really well. 

Step 9: Add the Dark Blue Quilt Binding:

After the quilting is all finished, trim the layers in the quilt sandwich carefully with sharp scissors.  

Next, make a dark blue binding from  2.5" strips to go all the way around the red border.  One of my favourite quilting sites is Quiltville.  I consulted the advice here for their quilt binding tutorial.  It was really helpful.  I learned how to prepare the binding and do the corners.  The binding on this quilt is called 'Double-fold binding'.

On the first photo you can see where to start the binding i.e. NOT from a corner.  I pin about 6-8 inches, then go ahead and sew those 6-8 inches, then pin the next six or eight inches and work my way around the quilt like this, taking extra care in the corners (see last photo).

Also at this stage I like to put another table close to my sewing table to rest the quilt on.

Step 10: Join Up the Binding Neatly:

When you've sewn all the way around the quilt, it's time to join the binding up.  If you want to see the Quiltville tutorial on binding click here.  Mark where the binding needs to be joined with a pin.  Then pull the two ends of binding away from the quilt and join them right sides together with pins as shown in the photo.  Sew a straight line making a small triangle.  Trim off the triangle as shown, then finger-press this seam open.  The join in the binding will only be visible by a diagonal line of stitching.

Step 11: Keep Warm Under Your Lap Quilt This Winter:

I always hand-sew the binding on the back of the quilt with small stitches.  Finally, I remove all the teeny tags from my tag gun with sharp scissors, taking care not to snip the fabric.  The quilt is now finished and ready to snuggle and enjoy  :)

The pattern I used was 'Breaking Waves' designed by Daniella Stout of Cozy Quilt Designs for Hoffman California Fabrics
'Breaking Waves' is in the Free Pattern section at the left when you scroll down to the bottom. 
Cozy Quilts Designs have a great site...

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