From the moment I got my hands on my new Singer sewing machine, I’ve been dying to make a large, quilted blanket! As I shared in this blog post, my sister had a baby recently – so it was the perfect opportunity. I’ve dabbled in a few quilting projects before, but this was the first time I’d gone all-out with a large quilted blanket. I learnt a lot through making it! I thought I’d document some of the things I learnt, mistakes I made and the best advice I’ve got. So, if you’re looking for tips for making a quilted blanket, then do read on…
Tips for making a quilted blanket
Pre-wash the fabric
Regardless of where you source your fabric, how many times it was washed in production or what the composition of the material is… you cannot be sure how it will stand up to the washing machine. It’s really important to pre-wash all of your fabric (the top piece, back piece and the binding) before you sew your quilt. There’s no need to pre-wash the wadding though, as it’s pretty unlikely that it will shrink or deform (especially if it’s polyester).
Also – a good tip is to wash the quilted blanket after sewing it, too. This will help relax the fibres and freshen it up (as well as removing any residual tailor’s chalk or erasable marker lines). I’d recommend pre-washing the fabric on a 40 degrees cycle, then washing the finished quilted blanket on a more gentle 30 degrees cycle. And always lie the blanket flat and leave to air dry (don’t hang it or tumble-dry!).
A walking foot is essential
Oh man, I can’t stress this one enough. A decent walking foot for your sewing machine is so important. A walking foot has special feed dogs, which pull the fabric through from the top. That means that the quilt will be fed through the machine from both the top and the bottom at an even rate – so there’s no risk of the multiple quilt layers becoming misaligned, or bunching up.
Do yourself a favour and invest in a decent walking foot (like this one from Singer). Trust me, it’ll make your sewing so much easier and neater!
Bulldog clips will be your best friend
If you ask me, bulldog clips are an overlooked essential for any crafter. They’re sooo useful – especially in bulky sewing projects like quilt making!
When I first laid out the fabrics for my DIY quilted blanket, I used bulldog clips all around the edge to hold the layers securely in place. Sure, I could have used quilting pins. But personally, I find bulldog clips much better. Why? They’re more secure, easier to add/remove, and there’s no chance of them stabbing you..! I always have a stash of bulldog clips to hand when I’m crafting – and I defo recommend you do, too.
Ensure you have plenty of work space
My quilted blanket was one of the biggest sewing projects I’ve tackled – not just in width, but in sheer bulk, too. The wadding I used was pretty thickly padded, and the final quilt measured around 110cm square. That’s a lot of material! It’s therefore really important to ensure you have plenty of working space to make your blanket.
It also really helps if you can use an extendable table on your sewing machine. My Singer 7285Q Patchwork came with a large table that slots on to the base of the machine, to expand my working area. It definitely made this project a lot more manageable!
Don’t be tempted by the zig-zag
When it comes to applying the binding around the edge, don’t be tempted to use a decorative or zig-zag stitch. This might be down to personal preference, but I found the use of a zig-zag stitch made the finish on the binding look messy and cluttered. A simple, clean straight stitch looks far more professional. I ended up having to unpick several inches of zig-zag stitching because I was so unhappy with it! Save the zig-zag stitch for elasticated binding, where the stitching needs to expand (like a T-Shirt neck), and save the decorative stitches for smaller, more intricate projects.
Skip the patchwork – use one large piece
Traditional quilted blankets are made with multiple, small patches of fabric. They’re sewn together, before adding the wadding and top-stitching in place. (Exactly the same way I made this fabric board game).
However, this is not the only way…
To make my quilted blanket, I simply used one massive piece of fabric and top-stitched it directly. No tiny pieces. No patchwork. Nice and simple! This is a great way to take some of the daunting complexity out of making a quilted blanket – and it really speeds up the process, too.
Add in a personalised label
This isn’t really a tip or advice; it’s more of a suggestion… but why don’t you add a personalised label to your quilted blanket? After all, a well-made blanket should last for many years. How cool to add a little message to make it even more special!
For example, I added a little tag on the back of the blanket I made for my nephew. The front of the tag had my logo (so profesh, right?!) and the back had a little message for Noah. To make the tag, I used a letter stamp set and ink to write the message. I then ironed it on a high heat for several minutes to set the ink, so it won’t come off in the wash. I then stitched it in between the back layer of the blanket and the binding around the edge.
Sure, it’s pretty sentimental – but these little touches are what making things yourself are all about!
Get a good sewing machine
As with anything, good equipment can make or break a project. This is no different with sewing. A basic machine that isn’t set up for quilting projects will often give poor results, no matter how hard you try. This is why I looove my Singer 7285Q Patchwork! It’s a hugely versatile machine, with heaps of cool features that make it perfectly set up for complex projects. Read a bit more about it in this blog post.
You can get your hands on this exact sewing machine at Hobbycraft.
I hope these tips for making a quilted blanket are useful. If you have any other advice or suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Write a comment in the box below and I’ll be sure to get back to you. Happy sewing! 🙂 – Mike.
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This post was sponsored by Singer Sewing Company, but all opinions are my own. I only ever work with brands I love and that are a good fit with The Crafty Gentleman. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me blogging!