I believe this quilt qualifies for my ‘most pieces’ pieced quilt, coming in at just over 800 pieces pieced! Before this one, my What’s a Zig without a Zag quilt was my ‘most pieces’ quilt at 504 total pieces. While it was quite a bit of work to design and piece this one, it was very rewarding to see it come together. I used this quilt to describe how I make quankets, hoping that it inspires others to make and donate quankets to foster kids. Quankets are a great project for those that love the piecing aspect of quilting, but perhaps don’t have the tools, training or patience to finish in the traditional quilting method.
This quilt incorporates some new and some past project scraps. The hourglass blocks incorporated some scrap fabric from Edith, and from a quilt I made years ago for my nephew. Some of the muslin was leftover from the fitting pattern for the wedding dress I made for my daughter nine years ago.
This was donated in September to the County of Ventura, Children & Family Services, and will go to a foster child. It will also be included in this year’s 100 Quilts for Kids program.
Making a quanket
I have finally completed piecing and joining all my blocks. Now it is time to move on to finishing.
- I chose to do a 5/8″ edge binding because I did not want to distract too much from the overall design of the quilt. In the picture here, I have already sewn the edge binding to the top, and am ironing the seam that will be turned to the back. I pin the binding about every six inches, just to temporarily hold my turned seam in place.
- Once I have the binding ironed and pinned, I then use the floor in the guest room to lay out the quilt, and block it – somewhat similar to blocking a sweater. I lay it right side down, and working from the center out, start to square-up the blocks and rows, all the way to the outer edges. I find that working on the carpet provides a bit of tension, and helps to hold the quilt nicely as I make the minor adjustments to bring everything into square.
- For the fleece backing, I begin by cutting 1″ off one of the salvage edges, and then squaring the edge that is to one side or the other, like this: |_
- With the right side of the fleece facing up, I lay the fleece on top of the quilt, aligning the two squared edges to two edges of the quilt, again like this: |_
- I then pin these first two edges, pinning the fleece to the top about every 2-3 inches. *Sharp pins are essential! I pin from the quilt (top) side, as I will ultimately stitch in the ditch to finish the binding. Here is a great tutorial for this technique > stitch in ditch binding <
- Once I have the first two squared fleece edges pinned to the top, I then move to my third side. In the picture shown below, I am in the process of trimming the fleece to meet the edge of the top’s third side. While I could measure my top and cut my fleece beforehand, I find that since fleece has a fair amount of stretch to it, I get better results if I cut the final two sides of the fleece at this stage. I find that having it laid out flat on the floor lets the fabric lay more naturally, and not be accidentally stretched, as it tends to do if I do this on my cutting table – which is not big enough for the piece to be opened to its full size. I then pin the third edge, and then move on to trimming and pinning the fourth edge of the fleece.
- Once all four edges are pinned to the top, I then turn the quilt over, and block it again so that it is laying nice and square on the floor. I will ultimately tie the quilt top to the fleece backing after sewing the binding, so to prepare for this, I pin the top to the back while I have it laid out flat, as shown in the picture below. I like to place ties no more than 12″ apart, and I place the ties to compliment the overall quilt design. For this star surround pattern, I will tie in the center of the light pink stars, and in the center of the hourglass blocks, giving me a total of 13 ties.
Making a quanket
I have now moved the blocks for this quanket from my design wall to the guest bed. Before completing the estimated needed blocks, I like to see how the design is coming together, and where I may want to make adjustments.
- As you can see in the picture, if I do the planned six full blocks down, I end with my center light pink stars not getting the hot pink star surround around them. So instead of doing six full blocks for the length, I will have five full blocks and add a half block at the top and bottom.
- The same will happen with the width. As reference, the top three rows have five blocks across. I will add a single row^ (1/4 of a block) on each side, to continue the pattern to the full width of the fleece backing.
*The blocks are technically built off a standard 16-patch block pattern. I chose to have them finish at 9″. So, adding a row^ will add 2.25″ to each side.
I had calculated this quanket finishing at 4’x5′, but as it started to take shape on my design wall, I could see that I wanted the light pink stars to get the hot pink all the way around them. This adjustment will make the quilt finish more square than rectangle, but that’s okay. Luckily the fleece backing can accommodate the extra width.
Sometimes my quilts do not finish quite as I originally pictured in my head or sketched out. Between using scrap fabrics and sometimes getting lost in the calculations, I like to consider my process as being organic!