Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

I got several requests to share the pattern for the Charming Baby Quilt I finished recently, so I put together a little tutorial. This quilt is very beginner-friendly: straight lines and simple piecing. It is also quite wallet-friendly as it only uses a charm pack (hence the name!) and minimal yardage for the quilt top.

The frames created by the solid fabric around the groups of 4 charm squares are perfect for showcasing a super cute fabric collection (like Sherbet Pips!). The finished size of this quilt is 44.5" x 44.5" so it's fairly small and makes a great baby quilt or small lap quilt. It would be very easy to adapt this quilt to a bigger size as well.

Charming Baby Quilt TITLE

I am no quilt expert: this is only my 4th quilt, and the 3rd baby quilt I've made -- I've learned a lot with each one and still have mountains to climb. I hope this tutorial makes sense. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section, or feel free to email me at stumblesstitches (at) ymail (dot) com.

I drew some sketches to go along with my instructions. I should warn you that I was down on the floor, sketchbook and pencils in hand, while the baby was playing in front of me and the 3-year-old was running in circles around me, hence the messiness of certain images! I am hoping they help you visualize the process.

Here we go...


Along with basic sewing equipment, you'll need:
  • 1 charm pack (or 36 5" x 5" squares)
  • 1/2 yard of Fabric A (gray)
  • 3/4 yard of Fabric B (white)
  • 1 1/3 yard of Fabric C (backing)
  • 1/3 yard of Fabric D (binding)
  • Batting (at least 46" x 46")
  • Matching thread for sewing and quilting

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

A few things...
  • Because we're working with precut material (the charm pack), do not prewash your fabrics. But do iron them.
  • Seam allowance: 1/4 inch. Press all seams open.
  • Finished size: 44.5" x 44.5"
  • Please do not use this tutorial for commercial purposes, thanks!

1. Let's start by cutting our fabric strips.

Grab your Fabric A (gray) and fold it selvedge to selvedge. Square up the top edge of your fabric. Then cut 9 strips of 1.5" width across the folded fabric (see Fig.4 -- yes, we start with 4, that's what happens when you are sketching a tutorial with 2 babes in your field of vision).

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Set those strips aside, then grab your Fabric B (white). You'll be cutting strips of 3.25" width. To make the most of your fabric, follow the same process as with Fabric A and cut strips from the folded fabric as follows:

  • 2 strips that are 3.25" x 44.5" (if using unwashed quilting fabric, it should come in almost exactly that width!)
  • 4 strips that are 3.25" x 39"
  • 6 strips that are 3.25" x 11.5" (cut 2 large strips, then cut each of those into 3 11.5" long strips)

2. Arrange your charm squares into a pleasing layout, in groups of 4. I tried to avoid putting 2 similar fabrics or colors in the same group, and I mixed up the large prints with the small. When you're happy with the look, save each group of 4 in its own little pile.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

3. Assemble the blocks.

For each pile of 4 squares, sew 2 squares together, right (aka printed) sides together, with 1/4" seam allowance. Sew the other 2 squares together in the same way (Fig.1). Press all seams open (Fig.2).

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

4. For each pile of 4 squares, sew the 2 pairs of squares together, right sides together and matching seams (Fig.3). Repeat until you have 9 blocks of 4 squares. Press seams open.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

5. Add the frame to your blocks.

Let's do this one side at a time, for all blocks (chain-piecing!). We'll add the top and bottom first, then left and right sides.

Here's how we do it. Grab your 1.5" strips of Fabric A. Then right sides together, sew the beginning of the first strip to the top of your first block of 4 squares (Fig.5).

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Trim the strip at the edge of the block (Fig.6).

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Then using the same strip, repeat the same step with the bottom of the block (Fig.7).

Important: After attaching the top and bottom of the frame, save what's left of each strip with the block. I just pin it to the block. In other words: use a NEW strip for the top and bottom of each new block. (ONE strip creates the top, bottom, left and right borders of each block.)

Repeat the same steps for all blocks until they all have the top and bottom of the frame sewn on. Then press all seams open.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

6. Now it's time to add the left and right sides of the frame to the blocks.

This is where those strips you saved come in handy. Follow the same procedure as with the top/bottom, but this time, add the left/right sides of the frame to each block. The remaining strips should provide just enough fabric to do those 2 sides (Fig.8). Trim the strip as you go.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

When you've finished adding the frame to all blocks, press all seams open.

Your blocks are done! Round of applause!

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

7. Now it's time to make our rows.

Grab those 6 pieces of Fabric B that measure 3.25" x 11.5" and grab your blocks. Choose 3 blocks you'd like to have in a row, along with 2 pieces of Fabric B.

Right sides together, sew one piece of Fabric B to the left side of one block. Right sides together, sew your next block to the left of that same Fabric B piece. Add another piece of Fabric B, and add another block. (Fig.9) Watch the direction of your prints! Press all seams open.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Repeat for the rest of the blocks and the remaining 3.25" x 11.5" pieces of Fabric B. You should end up with 3 rows.

8. Add sashing between your rows.

Grab those 4 pieces of Fabric B that measure 3.25" x 39". Right sides together, sew the first strip to the bottom of a row (choose the row you want at the bottom of the quilt top). Right sides together, sew the next strip to the top of that same row. Sew that same strip to the bottom of the next row (this will be the middle row).

Watch the direction of your prints and continue until all rows have sashing at the top and bottom. (Fig.10) Press all seams open.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

9. Time to add the final pieces of sashing!

Grab those 2 remaining pieces of Fabric B, measuring 3.25" x 44.5". Right sides together, sew one to each side of your quilt top (Fig.11). Press seams open one last time.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

Your quilt top is done! Go ahead, do a little dance!

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

10. Cut your Fabric C to a 45-46" square for the backing. The larger the better, but you may be limited if you use the width the fabric came in (usually 45-ish" before it's washed).

If you have some charm squares left from your pack, it's kind of fun to create a column with them along with whatever scraps you may have left of Fabric A or B. Sew that column to the side of your Fabric C, then trim the whole to a 46" square or larger.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

11. Create your quilt "sandwich".

There are instructions for this part of the process in about every book on quilting as well as all over the internet, so I'll skim through it. Lay your backing fabric (Fabric C) face down on the floor or other large flat surface. Add a layer of batting, then your quilt top facing up. Making sure all layers are smooth and stretched out, baste the quilt top with safety pins.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

12. If you'd like, round the corners on your quilt. I used a bowl and marked around the edge with a water soluble fabric marker. I then used scissors to trim the layers in a rounded corner (Fig.12).

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

13. Quilt your sandwich however you'd like.

I stitched straight lines 1/4 inch from my blocks' edge. I then added diagonals going through the blocks' corners. If I had to do this again, I would only do the diagonals, I think it's plenty of quilting for such a small and simple quilt.

At this point, I like to zig-zag stitch all around my quilt to secure the layers together. I find that it helps with binding too.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

14. Time to bind your quilt! You can do it, you can do it!

To bind this quilt, you will need about 5.5 yards of continuous binding strips. The yardage I provided for the binding fabric (Fabric D) is NOT for bias binding, but for straight grain binding. Cut your binding strips similarly to the strips used for the frame in Step 1. If you'd like to make traditional bias binding, plan on having at least 1 yard of Fabric D on hand.

I made binding strips that were 2" wide, which makes binding/bias tape that is 1" wide when folded, and 1/2" wide when double-folded.

There are fabulous instructions for making binding and for binding quilts on blogs such as Red Pepper Quilts, Made and Jaybird Quilts. The amazing book The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman provides incredibly detailed instructions for binding a quilt that will change your stitching life!

Note: if you rounded your corners, you don't need to make mitered corners! Just stitch your binding continuously all around the quilt.

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt

And there you go! You are DONE, my friend. Throw that quilt in the wash and have a drink to celebrate!

Tutorial: Charming Baby Quilt Jenny: Charming Baby Quilt

I hope this was a helpful tutorial. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to see photos if you end up making this quilt! Please link here or post to our Flickr pool. Happy sewing!


  1. Thank you so very much for this wonderful tutorial.

  2. awesome tutorial! your illustrations and photographs are super descriptive - even without your great writing.

    and i'm digging the rounded corners. might have to try them on the patchwork quilt that i'm working on now!

  3. Wonderful tutorial! There's one thing that had me a little confused though, you keep saying "wrong sides together" and I'm not sure if that's what you mean. When you sew two pieces together aren't you supposed to put the right sides together? Like a sandwich, the right sides are the jelly in the middle. That way the back of the fabric is facing up when you stitch, and when you open it the seam is on the wrong side of the fabric? I could be wrong about this, but wanted to mention my confusion.

    Thank you for taking the time to put together this tutorial, I haven't done a lot of quilting but this looks like something I can start with!

  4. Hi Aila, thanks so much for your comment and OH MY GOD you are right. I am so sleep-deprived, this kind of error was bound to happen. I can't believe I have looked at the tutorial 200 times and didn't notice this. Thank you!!!!! I will go edit right now.

  5. Very cute. I have a Sherbet Pips charm pack and may use it for this quilt.

  6. Thank you! I'd love to see photos if you make it! Let me know if I can clarify any step in the process.

  7. This is a great tutorial. I love the fabric. Thank you so much for sharing it. My mom passed away 3 years ago after a year long battle with cancer. My oldest sister will be visiting me this summer and bringing with her some of my mom's old clothes; the one's that make us think of her the most. We will be turning that clothes into a quilt for my daughters. I will be using your tutorial. Just thought you'd like to know.


  8. Hi Morela, thank you so much for sharing this story with us. Best of luck making the quilt and please let me know if you have any questions! I hope you'll share the finished project with us.

  9. Very nice and clear tutorial. The pictures, diagrams, and written instructions work very well together. Thanks!!

  10. Wonderful tutorial. I am making practice baby quilts, which I will give to a group that will pass them on to needy mothers. In a year or two I will make quilts for my grandchildren. This is a charming quilt and appears to be fairly easy. Can hardly wait to get started.

  11. Any hints for making this a twin size quilt? I am a beginner and would love to make this quilt as a graduation gift for my granddaughter.

    1. . First I would suggest in getting your measurements. Measure the bed and add how much of a drop (off the side of the bed) you want. Here is a good site with measurements for all sizes of beds.
      With that said I think if you could pretty much double up on the fabric she used. You might have some overages but I would rather have to much them not enough fabric. Also if you have a quilt a quilt store near by , they should be able to help you out also!!
      Hope this helps

  12. Love this quick cute pattern! One question - since you don't prewash charm packs, did you prewash the dark sashing fabric? I'm a bit worried about the color running. Thanks for your experienced advice!


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