Learn how to make a baby quilt using simple patchwork squares. If you are expecting a new baby in your family, a handmade quilt makes an amazing present and can become a much-loved source of comfort as the baby gets older. Stashed away in a cupboard, I still have a lovingly made quilt given to me as a little girl by my neighbor who I remember as a lovely old lady who loved sewing and gave me several other pretty trinkets.
How to Make a Baby Quilt
Many beginner sewers are a little intimidated by quilting so this baby quilt pattern is a wonderful introduction to the world of quilting that will only take you a short while to complete.
If this is your first quilt then congratulations! Here are some extra tutorials that will help you along your way.
Blanket and Quilt Safety
Blankets and quilts are not recommended for sleeping babies. Here are some online resources on the best baby sleeping practices. Make sure you do your own research and make informed decisions to keep your baby safe.
How to Make a Baby Quilt - Supplies
- FABRIC FOR THE TOP - Fabric squares 5 x 5 inches (13x13cm) each.
- The number of squares you need will be determined by the size of the quilt you wish to make. When the seams are sewn, the finished size of each square will be 4.5 inches (11.5cm) square. See the suggested sizes in the photo below and the number of squares you will need.
- You can save an enormous amount of time by buying pre-cut charm squares. These normally come in 5-inch squares. If you buy 2 packets of charm squares you may want to make a larger quilt and use all the squares.
- The best fabric to use for quilts is cotton as it will breathe and feel nice next to the baby’s skin. Choose a quality quilting fabric that will wear well and can easily be machine washed. Mum’s like things that are easy and don’t need hand washing. At least I do! I’d rather be sewing.
- If you are cutting your squares yourself, try to cut accurately so your finished seams will match up nicely. Use a quilting ruler with non slip grips and a rotary cutter and mat.
- Always prewash your fabrics as you may find that your different fabrics shrink by different amounts or colors can run. (Read how to prewash before sewing and how to test for colorfastness)
- Below are some suggested sizes and the number of squares you will need for a baby-sized quilt. You can adjust the number of squares to anything you like. These are 2 common sizes. I made a quilt from squares with 12 rows of 6 which resulted in a longer shape.
- FABRIC FOR THE BACK - 1 yard (0.90m) to 2 yards (1.8m). Once again choose a quality cotton fabric in a complementary color. Your backing fabric should be 4 inches (10cm) larger than the finished top fabric. This will give you a border all the way around of 2 inches (5cm). This will be trimmed to match the top in one of the final steps before binding.
- BATTING - Low loft (thin) batting. Choose a washable batting that will wear well. Most of these are polyester but you can also get cotton and low allergy options. The batting should be the same size as the backing fabric. Remember this is larger than the top.
- FABRIC FOR THE BINDING - This can match one of the front fabrics or be completely contrasting. Binding is cut in 2 ¼ inch (5.7cm) strips and may be cut on the straight grain or bias. For more about binding, read how to bind a quilt.
- SEWING SUPPLIES – Thread, scissors, optional – rotary cutter and mat.
- SAFETY PINS - To hold the batting in before sewing. Specialty curved pins are available from sewing shops or just buy some larger regular safety pins.
How to Make a Baby Quilt - Sewing Instructions
Step 1 - Lay Out the Squares
By now you will have cut out all the squares you need for your desired quilt size.
Lay out all of your squares until you are happy with the design. Do this when you are feeling awake and fresh otherwise, you will be moving them around and around quite a few times to get it right. A large table is ideal but otherwise do it on the floor somewhere you don't need to walk any time soon.
TIP OF THE DAY - Grab your camera and take a photo of the layout. You'll be so glad you did in the event that some of the squares get disturbed or if you grab a row and then forget the order. I referred to my photo a few times.
Step 2 - Stitch the Squares
Start by grabbing 2 of your squares from the corner of the quilt and putting them right sides together. Sew one side with a ¼ inch (6mm) seam.
- LENGTH - Sew with a short stitch length of 1.5 and don't backstitch. The small stitches will prevent the ends from unraveling and they will shortly be caught in the cross seams as well.
- ACCURACY - The more accurate you are, the better for your finished quilt. If you are a beginner you can use a ¼ inch 96mm) machine foot with a guide or mark the seam with a removable pen or chalk. Those of you that have been sewing clothing with wider seams may take a little getting used to the small seam allowances. I found that after I marked the first couple of squares I didn't need to mark the rest.
Joining the Rows
Grab the other pieces of the first row and join them together. You can sew several of these at once. Just feed the next one under the machine without cutting the thread. This is called chaining them together.
Keep joining squares until you have your complete first row. Continue in the same manner for all the rows. When you are finished you will have a number of rows ready for the next step.
Pressing the Rows
Press the seams of the rows in alternating directions. The seams are pressed together rather than open. This alternating method is great for square patchworks and gives really strong seams that won't split. When you are doing more complicated quilting later, you may find that the pattern calls for the seams to be pressed open.
Joining the Rows
Next start joining the rows right sides together while matching the seams. See how the seam joins have the allowance facing in opposite directions. Use lots of pins and check the seams match well before sewing. After you have matched a couple of seams you will realize you can feel when it matches up. The seams will kind of lock in together.
Stitch Rows and Final Press
Stitch the all the rows with the usual ¼ inch (6mm) seam allowance. The seams this time can all be pressed in the same directions.
Give your pieced top fabric a final good press before you go to the next stage which is adding the batting and backing.
Step 3 - Add Batting and Backing
Add the batting to the back of the pieced fabric and then add the back fabric to the other side. This means the back and front form a sandwich with the batting in the middle.
Center the top in the middle of the backing and batting which will be around 2 inches larger than your top fabric all the way around. This simply makes it easier to handle. You will also find that things will move around a little as you quilt in the next step and the margin gives you some room for error.
Use your large safety pins to hold all the layers together. Use your hands to smooth over the quilt and make sure there are no wrinkles on any of the layers. You can buy quilters spray glue to hold the layers together but unless you are going to be making a lot of quilts I don’t think this is necessary for a baby-sized quilt. Press the layers together with your iron to remove any wrinkles or loose fabric. I did this a couple of times and adjusted the pins each time for greater accuracy.
Step 4 - The Quilting
Now for some quilting! All this does is hold the layers all together. You can stitch randomly over your quilt or straight symmetrical lines. If you want to stitch straight lines you should mark them out first either with washable chalk or even painter's tape. Just always check that your marking method doesn’t leave a permanent mark.
I sewed diagonal lines through my squares. I found it quite easy to sew from corner to corner of each square without marking. A walking foot helped enormously to minimize wrinkles. I did stop halfway to iron and smooth my quilt again. You will find that the stitching can stretch out the top a little and stopping and ironing a couple of times keeps everything in place.
Other quilting design options include a grid, random swirls or sewing on the side of the seams. There is no right or wrong, just do what you think looks good. Commercial quilters can sew intricate patterns for you if you are making something really special.
Step 5 - Trim the Edges
Trim the backings even with the top. Once again be accurate. Use a ruler to square all corners and make sure the edges are straight. Sometimes the quilting process can distort the shape a little and now is your time to correct it.
If your edges are lifting still, baste around the edge of the quilt to hold it together better before binding.
Step 7 - How to Make a Baby Quilt Binding
Now for the final step – the binding. The binding will hide your messy edges and can add a pop of color. If you have been sewing clothing you will be used to sewing with bias binding meaning that the fabric is cut on the diagonal. Quilts have all straight edges so you can save a lot of fabric and cut your binding strips straight.
There are a few steps to this process so please skip to my full tutorial – how to bind a quilt
Baby Quilt Pattern - In Conclusion
So how did you go on your first quilting project? Learning how to make a baby quilt is an ideal first quilting project and will make a new mother extremely happy when given as a gift.