My daughter B. (8) came up with this quilt idea herself. She wanted to make a quilt for her baby doll. I thought that was great. A baby doll quilt’s smaller size makes a quilt project very doable for an 8-year old. Including piecing the top together and machine-stitching the quilt herself, it took only two afternoons. As her mom, all I had to do was prepare and add the binding to the quilt.
Your little “mom” will be tickled to make her baby doll a quilt, too. I just know it.
Please comment below if you have questions. Happy sewing!
Baby Doll Quilt
(5) 5-inch squares of 5 types of fabric (25 squares total)
25″ x 25″ square of back fabric
25″ x 25″ square of unbleached cotton batting
(2) 2″ x 45″ strips of fabric for the binding
matching thread for piecing and machine-quilting
safety pins and quilting pins
1. Decide on Arrangement
Arrange the fabric squares as you prefer. Leave them in place throughout the process of piecing the top. As rows are completed, return them to their original position.
Here’s B., deciding on her arrangement
(which we actually changed after taking this picture).
2. Construct the Rows
Take the 1st square from the 1st row right side up and lay the 2nd square from the 1st row face down on top of it. Sew them together along the right side, using 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam allowance to one side.
Lay the 2 squares open and flat. Take the 3rd square from the 1st row and place it face down on top of the 2nd square. Sew these two squares together along the right side, again using 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam allowance to the same side.
Repeat until all the squares from the 1st row are attached together. Repeat for all rows, alternating the direction you press the seam allowances. For instance, if they are pressed to the right in Row 1, then press them to the left in Row 2, and so on.
3. Sew the Rows Together
The rows are still lined up in their original placement from Step 1, although now they are sewn together. Fold Row 1 face down on top of Row 2 (Row 2 face up underneath Row 1 being face down). Pin along the top, paying special attention to where all the seams meet. Now help the young seamstress sew the rows together, using 1/4″ seam allowance, trying to make the seams line up as best as she can. Press the seam allowance to one side.
Lay Row 1 and Row 2 (now sewn together) open and flat. Take Row 3 and fold it up on top of Row 3 (so that is face down on top of Row 2). Pin them together along the bottom, once again paying special attention to where the seams meet. Help the young seamstress sew these two rows together, using 1/4″ seam allowance, trying to make the seams line up as best as she can. Press the seam allowance in the opposite direction.
Repeat this process until all 5 rows are attached together.
4. Arrange the Layers
Lay the backing fabric face down on a clear floor or table. Lay the batting over it and follow that with the quilt top facing up. Staring from the center and radiating out, safety pin all the layers together by putting one pin in the center of each square.
B.’s quilt top is layered on top of the batting and backing,
ready to quilt the layers together.
5. Machine-Quilt or Hand-Quilt the Layers
Have the young seamstress either machine-quilt or hand-quilt by “stitching in the ditch” along all the seam lines of the quilt top. My B. opted to use the sewing machine’s wave stitch (stitch width at 3 and stitch length at 3 to 4) along all the seam lines. The wave stitch is very forgiving because it isn’t meant to go straight. In addition, it looks cute and whimsical, as a doll quilt should be.
When machine-quilting, direct your daughter to smooth the fabric outward as she stitches.
B. worked her hands to smooth the fabric outward
as she machine quilted along the top’s seams.
Stitch the inner seams first and radiate outward, in order to prevent lumps. For instance, start stitching along a middle seam and add parallel lines of wave stitching until she reaches the right edge of the quilt top. Then turn the quilt around 180 degrees and add parallel lines of wave stitching until she reaches the edge of the quilt top again. Then turn the quilt 90 degrees. Starting in the middle again, add parallel lines of stitching out to the right edge of the quilt top. Now she has only to turn it around 180 degrees for the last time and work her way from the middle to the other edge.
Note: If she stitches each line starting at just off the quilt top and ends just off the quilt top, there is no need to back-stitch. When the binding is added, all those seams will be crossed, securing them.
6. Create the Binding
Here’s where you, Mom, will possibly have to step in. Take the two 2″ x 45″ strips.
Note: The following two pictures reveal the process of attaching the binding to the quilt front, although the fabrics shown are from another project.
Right sides together, place the end of one strip perpendicular to the end of the other strip, with each strip set in 1/4″ from the end of the other strip. Sew a diagonal seam to join the two strips so that they are now one long continuous straight strip. (These photos are from another project.)
Trim the excess, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.Press seams open. Fold and press the long strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. This is the binding.
7. Attach the Binding
Start attaching the binding in the middle of the bottom side of the quilt, not at a corner. Align the binding strip right sides together with the edge of the quilt, raw edges even. Fold over the beginning raw edge of the binding approximately one inch. Begin sewing 1/2″ from the fold.
Note: The following five pictures reveal the process of attaching the binding to the quilt front, although the fabrics shown are from another project.
Sew the binding to the first side of the quilt, through all layers, 1/4″ from the raw edge.Stop sewing 1/4″ before the corner. Backstitch and remove the quilt from the sewing machine.
Clip threads. Fold the binding strip up away from the quilt and make a diagonal fold. Hold the diagonal fold in place with your finger, while bringing the binding down so the raw edges of the binding are aligned with the next side of the quilt and stitch this side.
Repeat this technique around all sides, until you approach the beginning of the binding. Cut the binding end so that it will overlap the beginning binding by 1/2″ to 3/4″. Sew in place.
Backstitch and remove the quilt from the sewing machine. Clip threads. Press open.
Trim away the extra backing and batting, leaving 1/4″. Turn and press the binding to the back side. You have two choices for finishing here. You may hand-stitch the binding in place, covering the machine stitches and the raw edges of all layers with the folded edge of the binding. Or, you may use the sewing machine’s wave stitch (stitch width at about 2 and stitch length at about 3 to 4) to sew it down. In this case, stitch close to the folded edge of the binding on the back side, all the way around the four sides. Remember that the wave stitch is wide, so leave enough room for the stitching to wave back and forth, all the while remaining on the binding. It can barely cross into the backing, but try to keep it primarily on the binding.
Now your daughter can give her baby doll a nice quilt of her own. Here is my B. with her doll and quilt. Her baby doll is so happy! (And I would add, so is the little “mommy”.)
© Copyright 2007 by Wardee Harmon. Used with permission from the author.