Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jersey knit baby quilt tutorial

Today's tutorial was done by a talented friend of mine, Karin. She is the Asst. Prof of Craft Design at a university in Daegu, South Korea. She is someone who inspires me to not just do what others do but to be original and use the creativity that God gave me.
She doesn't have a website/blog for me to link to but if you have any questions for her please leave them in the comments box below and I will pass them on. :)
I leave you in her capable hands.

The beautiful thing about working with jersey knit is that it doesn’t unravel, so this technique takes advantage of what your typical quilt has to hide: the raw edges!

Materials needed:

2m (yds) jersey knit fabric (1m each of contrasting colors or patterns)
½ m (yd) jersey knit fabric for the binding
Cotton thread
Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler
Sewing machine with a walking foot
Sewing machine with a stretch stitch option
For a long time I stayed away from jersey knit fabric because I thought I had to have a serger to do anything with it. But after reading my new sewing machine manual (cover to cover, of course, like any excited new sewing machine owner), I discovered I had something called a “stretch stitch”. It took me a few years, and a move to Korea before I ever put it into use, but it is what allows you to use regular cotton thread on jersey knit fabric!! It’s amazing!! Because of the way the fabric stretches, if you use a basic straight stitch with cotton (non-stretchy) thread, you can have problems with your seams ripping out. The fabric stretches, the thread breaks. It’s not pretty. BUT, the stretch stitch solves that problem.

Do you see it there, #9? It’s kind of like a compact zig-zag stitch.

Enough about the joys of the stretch stitch, let’s get down to business. The first thing you want to do is work out your quilt design. I’ve done this many different ways, with many different sizes of blocks. One thing I suggest is to keep it simple! Squares and rectangles will be all you want to deal with. Trust me!

This was my original design, keeping it very organized with all the blocks the same. But all good plans can be modified and I had some unfortunate mistakes that necessitated some modifications. The way it ended up is actually much more interesting, I think. It’s quirky anyway, so why not up the quirk-factor, right?

After planning, I started by cutting my 2 fabrics into strips (7 cm) using my rotary cutter. I didn’t take any photos when I started this, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. You can, of course, cut your fabric to whatever your pattern requires!

Next, place 2 fabric strips back to back. If you’re wondering what is the front and what is the back, check out your t-shirts. The front should look like it has tiny rows. (For the next couple photos, I’m going to use a different purple fabric because I didn’t take photos of this when I was doing it.)

Then take 2 sets and place them together, like this:

I don’t ever pin at this step because the fabric sticks together on its own. Like magic!! It makes things go a little faster, but feel free to pin if that makes you feel better .

Using the walking foot, sew along the long edges of the strips, using the ¼ inch guide on the foot. I’m between two worlds here- the world of centimeters and the world of inches. My sewing machine has inch measurements and my cutting mat has centimeters. In this case, it works to my advantage because ¼ inch = .6 cm. This gives me a little extra fabric to trim, which is helpful in keeping things straight.

Maybe I should have said this from the beginning, but there are 2 keys to making this whole thing work:
After every trip to the sewing machine, you must iron and trim. If you slack on this, then things won’t match up well, you might get frustrated. So just remember that ironing and trimming are part of the game here.
It’s REALLY difficult to rip out your seams when you are using a stretch stitch and jersey fabric. I have never been able to reuse fabric after ripping out the seam!! And it takes forever to rip out all the teeny-tiny stitches. Talk about frustrating! It would be a good idea to make a sample block first, before diving into the entire quilt. You’ll probably make a mistake the first time through and it’s WAY easier to make it on a sample!!

Press open the seam with the iron. Remember, ironing is essential!

Now you should have one side with the raw edge seam and the other side with out. Take it back to the cutting mat and line up the seam with one of the grid lines on the mat. It doesn’t matter which one.

Can you see how the sides are a little wonky? Trimming is KEY!! This is what happens when you sew with jersey knit, even using a walking foot things get stretched and pulled, especially if you didn’t sew a totally straight line. This is why I said before that I’m glad to have the ¼ inch seam allowance.

Trim each strip to 6 cm, measuring from the seam. It should be just a little that you’re trimming, like the photo below:

After sewing 3 strips together, ironing and trimming each time, it’s time to cut the square. The width of the 3 strips is 17 cm, so cut the length in 17 cm intervals. My finished squares are 17 cm x 17 cm.

You might notice that in the square above that the raw edge seams are not both on the same side. Some times I do them all on the same side, other times I mix it up. Either way is nice!

For this quilt I made 25 blocks and I played with the arrangement until I was happy with the balance.

Start with the middle block and sew it the block on the right and the left. Use the same method as sewing the strips together.

After sewing 2 blocks together, remember to iron and trim!! This time, line the seam up and trim to 16 cm.

Sew the middle 9 blocks together. You might want to pin this now to help your blocks match up.

This square should be 47 cm x 47 cm.

I always think I’m almost done at this point, but no ma’am. This is not even halfway yet, but don’t give up, especially on the ironing and trimming. You will be very happy when you’re done!

Sew the 3 blocks together on the left. Iron and trim after each seam (16 cm from the seam). Sew the 3 blocks together on the right. Iron and trim after each seam. Sew each 3-block set to the 9-block middle section. Iron and trim after each seam.

Finally, sew the 5 blocks together on the top. Iron and trim after each seam (16 cm from the seam). Sew the 5 blocks together on the bottom. Iron and trim after each seam. Sew each 5-block set to the middle. Iron and trim after each seam (see why you needed a little pep talk after the middle 9).

The quilt is now 78 cm x 78 cm. Yay! Now you’re almost done!!

This process is a celebration of the raw edges and that will continue to the binding!

Cut 3 cm strips of the binding fabric. Cut 4 lengths of strips about 80 cm (long enough for each side, plus a little extra).

Can you see how they’re curling a bit already? This is one drawback to using jersey knit, in thin pieces it curls into the front. There are 2 choices here: fight the curl or use the curl. 1.) If you care about the front side of the fabric being seen in the binding strip, then you’ll have to fight the curl. 2.) If you don’t care and are fine with using the back side of the fabric, then you can use the curl to your advantage. I chose NOT to fight it!!

Take each strip and iron it in half length-wise.

Slide the binding strip onto the edge of the quilt. It should hug the edge. Pin it a lot!! The binding has a tendency to slide when sewing.

Sew with the walking foot, using the stretch stitch, ¼ inch seam allowance. Sew the left and right sides. Sew the top and bottom sides.

The corners will look like this:

Yay!! Congratulations!! You finished!!

This can be easily machine-washed and dried. But you might want to take some photos before you wash it. Your seams and raw edges will never look so perfect again. That’s the joy and beauty of this quilt. It celebrates the raw edges, in all their quirkiness and imperfections!


Victoria said...

This is so cool! I've been doing the more traditional form of quilting for about a year now, but I love the feel of knit and have been looking for a tutorial. Thanks so much. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

Love it! And love jersey knit. So, there's no middle layer of batting it flannel? Just the two layers of jersey Interesting.

Unknown said...

It gives a really strong stitch while still allowing the knit to stretch when it's worn. knit fabrics