August 22, 2010

Free Motion Quilt Along: Quilt top instructions

This is a peek at the top we will be making. I created the pattern as a variation of the "Quick Strippie" pattern at The finished size will be 32 x 41 inches. I chose this size to give us a large enough space to practice a variety of patterns, while keeping the quilt manageable for those who will be rolling a quilt under their machine arm for the first time. The size should work well with prepackaged batting options. This will be quick to cut and piece, and gives us a variety of areas to quilt within.

Fabric requirements:
large strips: 28.5 inches by 32 inches (cut three strips 9.5 inches wide)
medium strips: 12 inches by 32 inches (cut four strips 3 inches wide)
small strips: 6 inches by 32 inches (cut four strips 1.5 inches wide)
Fabric for quilt backing: 36 inches by 44 inches (most quilting fabrics are 44 inch wide, so you need 1 yard)
You will also need some fabric for a "practice pad": 2 pieces 12 inches by 18 inches

Batting requirements:
Batting for quilt: at least 34 inches by 44 inches
Batting for practice pad: 12 inches by 18 inches

The seams are sewn with a standard 1/4" seam allowance, but since there are no blocks or points to match, this is not that important. You will arrange the strips as follows:
medium, small, large
medium, small, large
small, medium, large
small, medium

Do not think too much about your fabric choices. Use any fabric you have. This is a great opportunity to use fabric that you don't really want around anymore. Seriously. Just pick three fabrics and start cutting them. If at any time you think to yourself "My god, this is one ugly quilt" then you have succeeded in this exercise, which is to make a quilt top that you are not at all attached to. I chose plain, darker fabrics so that my stitching will be easier to photograph.

Questions you may have:
  • Which way do I press the seams? Anyway you like.
  • Do I have to make all my large (or medium, or small) strips from the same fabric? No, you can mix and match fabrics as you'd like.
  • Can I piece the strips out of smaller scraps? Certainly! I made the pattern with unpieced strips so it could be assembled quickly but if you have scraps you'd like to get rid of, by all means piece them together. 
  • I don't want to make the quilt top, can I just quilt on scraps? Sure! I recommend that you make a bunch of quilt sandwiches right now, so you can grab one and start quilting when its time to go, instead of having to stop and ponder which fabric to sacrifice. 10 inches by 15 inches would be a good size for these.
  • Can I make my quilt bigger/smaller? Absolutely, do what works for you. I'd recommend keeping the strips the same width (9.5, 3, and 1.5 inches) and varying their length, or using more or less strips as needed. If you need to slightly change the dimensions of the strips to fit the fabric that you have, go right ahead. Smaller quilts won't give you as much practice space. Larger quilts will be bulkier to maneuver but I'm sure you can handle it.
  • I already have a lot of quilt tops - can I just use one of those instead? That's fine by me. The quilting exercises we do may not be the ideal designs for your particular quilt, but if that is preferable to having another unfinished quilt top in your house then go ahead and do what works best for you.
Instructions for basting the quilt will come by next weekend. See you soon!


Educación Extra de 0 a 6 años said...

Thanks for your explanations as clear. It is a pleasure to read you. See you at the next post.
A hug from Catalonia.

Quiet Quilter said...

You are giving us wide choices, which I love. I'll get going on this today! Looking forward to my first (almost) free quilting experience.

tvbleak said...

Thanks Christina, I am off to choose fabric after a couple of games of Scrabble with my sister. :^) See you next weekend.


Muchas gracias por tan claras explicación!!!
Será mi primer acolchado libre!!!
Hasta pronto!!!

Gene Black said...

How long will we be working on this quilt? I am thinking a baby quilt with this as I have two co-workers that are expecting. But I would need to finish somewhere near one due date or the other.

Caroline in NH said...

I will be putting this top together as described over the next few days. I do have one baby quilt top to quilt, and another with blocks finished that needs assembly & quilting, and I'm looking forward to being able to do something besides straight-line and stitch in the ditch!! Thank you!

Marie said...

I am so excited. I can hardly wait. I feel like I will actually be learning what I want to do. Thank you for the very clear directions (and answers to the unasked questions).

Sand and Sunshine said...

I was so excited I started my own top for this quilt-a-long two days ago and finished it up yesterday, it's bigger at 55" square, but that's okay with me big quilts aren't scary (after a king stitch in the ditch with a 6.5" throat, I can do anything).

Encarna said...

Gracias por detallarlo todo tam bien, tengo ganas de empezar....

Un saludo

Cricket said...

I am so excited about this! I'm almost...giddy. I, myself, spent the day unearthing my sewing machine which was under all my sewing stuff, which had been moved from upstairs to down a couple weeks ago. I think it's funny that this is my big challenge in starting a quilt.

Cal said...

I haven't officially joined, but I am tagging along...

Linda Lee said...

Thank you for giving a week to get things together and going! School starts this week so I will be putting in long hours there! I will look forward to getting the first step together at night!!!

Anonymous said...

Yay! This is wonderful.
Thank you again for encouraging us all and sharing your knowledge. :o)

Leah said...

Thanks for this! I will be following this with interest, but can't start until the kids are back at school.

Pamela said...

Very excited about this, can't wait to get started!

remei said...

Hola Cristina: He visto tu curso de acolchado libre y me ha encantado, quisiera pedirte , que aunque ya se que llego 2 dias tarde si es posible apuntarme. Te lo agradeceria mucho

Vesuviusmama said...

I've got a quilt top that I am ready to have in the DONE pile, but it isn't one I am crazy about, so I think I'm all set with a quilt top. Can't wait to begin!

Tamera said...

Oh my gosh, I'm so excited about this! I'm so excited that I ran across your blog!

Allie said...

I'll start digging through the stash in the morning - good way to use up the fabrics I'm not thrilled with anymore!

Anonymous said...

Okay, Im all stocked up and ready (I couldn't find the needles you recommended and so bought 90/14 universal needles instead... Hope that will be okay!) to go. This is going to be a wilt for my dog Jack, so I bought some really colorful fabric that clashes horrifically. Will post about it on my block later.

Graciela said...

Thanks Cris!!!!!! i so excited, kisses for you

Dolly said...

Wow, thanks for figuring this out so quickly !

Somehow I missed this post and the one about the winner of the giveaway. I kept seeing people posting their quilt tops on Flickr, and I thought, "now, how do they know what type and size to make?"

So glad I came over here and 'browsed' backwards through your blog. You might want to link to the specifications page on every post about the quiltalong, if you think any other person might be as daft as me !

I got my top made, onto the back and practice piece !

Mama Pea said...

Got my top put together and posted photo on Flickr. Blogged at

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