Babies need blankets. When my kids were small, I liked to think of my blanket collection as little baby drop cloths. Because, just like painters, babies are often in need of their own little piece of clean real estate, which they can then destroy as they choose. In my mind, a cute baby blanket is always the perfect gift. Our adorable design is super fast and easy to make, especially if you have a ruffler attachment.
Our thanks to our pals at Michael Miller Fabrics for providing us with this absolutely wonderful fabric for our series of seven Baby Gift projects. It's called Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield. There are three wonderfully vibrant colorways from which to choose. We selected the fabrics for our Baby collection from the Aqua colorway with its incredible hot pinks, limes and bright blues. Pretty Bird comes out this month, so check your favorite local or online fabric retailer soon for availability.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome DC2010)
- Ruffler attachment (optional... but, OH BOY, it will save you time)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the blanket front: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Aqua Pretty Bird
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the blanket back: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Aqua Bloomies
- ⅔ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the blanket ruffle: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Lime Garden Stripe
- 1 yard of medium weight quilt batting: we used a pre-packaged baby quilt size from Warm & Natural
- All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
- All-purpose sewing thread in contrasting color(s) for decorative topstitching: we used bright blue
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil or pen
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
- From the front fabric (Aqua Pretty Bird in our sample), cut ONE 36" x 36" square.
- From the back fabric (Aqua Bloomies in our sample), cut ONE 36" x 36" square.
- From the medium weight quilt batting but ONE 36" x 36" square.
- From the ruffle fabric (Lime Garden Stripe in our sample), cut EIGHT strips 3" x width of fabric (WOF). Trim off the selvedges.
NOTE: We used the rule of thumb that says your ruffle needs to be approximately 2½ times the length of the edge to which you're applying the ruffle. Since our quilt will be 35" square when finished, we multiplied 35" by 4 to get 140". Then we multiplied 140" by 2.5" to get 340". We wanted a 1" ruffle, so we knew our ruffle strips would need to be 3" to account for folding the strip in half plus a ½" seam allowance. After all this math-noodlin', we cut EIGHT 3" x WOF strips. Sewn together, this gave us approximately 352" of ruffle fabric to work with. If you are new to this technique, you can check out our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Sew all eight 3" strips together end to end. To do this, place two strips right sides together and stitch along the 3" edge, using a ¼" seam allowance. Repeat to create one long strip. Press all seams open
- Fold and press this long ruffle piece in half lengthwise.
- Hem one end of ruffle. To do this, turn one end under ¼" and press, turn under again ¼" and press, and then sew in place close to the folded edge.
NOTE: This is a LOT o' ruffling. So, we opted to use the a ruffler attachment for our Janome machine. These puppies look intimidating but are easy to use. Most machine manufacturers offer something similar to what we show. They come with pretty good instructions of how to set the ruffle depth and insert the folded fabric. If you don't have a ruffler attachment, you can ruffle the traditional way with two lines of machine basting. With this much length, it's good to do the machine basting in easy-to-work-with sections of about 18" or thereabouts. Again, you can take a look at our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy . Janome also has a good video tutorial on their Ultimate Ruffler.
- Gather the entire length of the ruffle to the approximate length of the four sides of the quilt (140"). Leave some extra length for overlapping to finish the ends. No need to have an exact measurement, just give yourself plenty to work with.
- Starting with the finished end, and with the fold of ruffle facing toward the center of the blanket, pin the ruffle to the bottom fabric (the Aqua Bloomies in our sample). Align the raw edges of the ruffle with the raw edge of the bottom fabric.
- When you have about six inches remaining before the beginning and end meet, lay out the end of the ruffle so it overlaps the beginning by about 2½".
- Cut off the excess, then hem this end in the same manner as you hemmed the other end in Step 3. If you've used a ruffle attachment, you'll need to switch back to your regular presser foot.
- Overlap the two finished ends so the ruffle lays flat and finish pinning.
- Machine baste the ruffle in place around all four sides.
Assembling the layers
- Machine baste the batting to the wrong side of the blanket front fabric using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Carefully pin extra ruffle fabric away from the corners so they do not get caught up in the stitching when the quilt top is sewn on.
- Layer the batting/front fabric and the ruffle/back fabric pieces right sides together. The ruffle is now sandwiched in between the layers. Pin in place, leave a 3" - 4" opening along one side for turning.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch through all layers around all four sides, leaving that same 3" - 4" opening for turning. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- Trim the corners. Trim the batting/front fabric close to the seam, but be careful not to cut into your stitching. Don't trim the ruffle/back fabric.
- Turn quilt right side out, pull out the ruffle, and press from each side. Use a long, blunt-end tool to poke out the corners; a long knitting needle or chopstick works well.
- Press. Turn in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Pin to secure.
Topstitching and quilting
- Re-thread your machine with contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Depending on your machine model, you may also want to switch to a decorative stitch foot, like Janome's Satin Stitch foot.
- Using a decorative, zig-zag or straight stitch; topstitch around the entire edge of the quilt approximately ¼" from the ruffle seam. This will close the turn opening. We used a decorative stitch.
- Fold the quilt exactly in half and press lightly to find the center line.
- Align your see-through ruler with this pressed crease, and use your fabric pencil or pen to mark along the crease.
NOTE: Our blanket is square but does have a directional pattern. If you have the same type of fabric, make sure you fold lengthwise with the pattern so your quilting lines run up and down with the pattern not crosswise through the pattern.
- Pin along the line to hold all your layers secure.
- Using this center line as your guide, measure and make three additional lines, each 5" apart on either side of the center line. This will form a total of seven lines, each 5" apart.
- Pin along these additional lines as you did with the center line.
- If necessary (if you used a decorative stitch around the edge), switch back to a regular straight stitch.
- Sew through all layers along each drawn line, removing the pins as you go.
- Press, fold and present your beautiful baby blanket. We attached our Sew4Home label to one corner.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Julia Chapman
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 210 and the Elna 3230.