Organic cottons have come a long way over the last several years, and one of the companies leading the pack has been Cloud9. We discovered them a couple years ago, and have watched with delight as their new designs emerged. If you believe organic fabric means dull, drab or coarse... meet Cloud9 co-founders Michelle Engel Bencsko and Gina Pantastico. They have infused their lines with happy colors and delightful patterns from the rich tones of Nature Walk to the forthy fun of My Happy Nursery. And they've done it all using 100% certified organic cotton in the manufacturing of their base cloths and eco-responsible low impact dyes. Two of their newest collections are featured today in our Beautiful Baby Quilt: Maman and Nursery Basics. This fabric was an absolute delight to work with. The base fabric is a premium 200 count organic cotton sheeting with an amazing feel that is both crisp and silky soft.
The Maman collection celebrates Cloud9 Fabrics' co-owner, Michelle Engel Bencsko's beloved grandmother, Anne-Marie Murphy, née Anne-Marie Bossaert. Of Belgian-French decent, Grandmother Anne-Marie was a woman of many talents, including illustration. It is her charming drawings of infants, children, religious themes and fairy tales, done around the time of WWII in Belgium and France, which adorn the Maman collection fabrics.
We've mixed Maman with the equally adorable Cloud9 Nursery Basics collection. You can learn more about organic fabrics on the Cloud9 website, as well as in the article we published: Organic Cottons: Sustainable and Stylin'.
Paying special attention to seam allowances is important in every project, but is essential in quilting, because your seams need to match up perfectly (quilters call this ‘perfect points'). Therefore, you need to be very careful to make sure all seam allowances are consistent. Think of it like putting together a puzzle. In the end, all the pieces have to fit together perfectly. Fabric is more forgiving than the cardboard puzzle pieces, but go slowly and be careful with your pinning and stitching. If you are new to patchwork, we have a beginner's tutorial that may be helpful.
This quilt has a traditional ¼" quilting seam allowance throughout. We used our Janome quarter inch foot to help maintain a perfectly straight line.
As we mentioned above, we have Cloud9 to thank for providing the fabric for this week's projects. You can find Cloud9 both in store and online at fine retailers everywhere, including these great folks from our S4H Shopping Directory. The collections we used are shipping now, so if you don't see them online right away, contact your favorite retailer directly to find out exactly when they will be in stock.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 7700 QCP)
- Quarter inch foot (optional but recommended)
- Walking or Even Feed foot (optional but recommended)
Fabric and Other Supplies
All squares need to be 5½" x 5½". The easiest way to do this quickly and accurately is to cut strips of fabric 5½" x WOF (width of the fabric or 44-45"). Then, cut the the strip into 5½" x 5½" squares. All our yardage measurements are all based on cutting very carefully, so one 5½" x WOF strip yields eight full 5½" x 5½" squares.
The diagram above and the photos below, show you our quilt design in the beautiful Cloud9 Organic Nursery Basics and Maman. If you choose to use different fabrics, you will need to rely on these drawings and photos to determine yardage and cuts.
- 1⅓ yards of Speckle in Shell from Nursery Basics by Cloud9 Organic for squares and borders
- 1 yard of Solid in Cloud from Nursery Basics by Cloud9 Organic for squares and back
- ½ yard of Gingham in Earth from Nursery Basics by Cloud9 Organic for squares and binding
- ½ yard of Les Petite Filles from Maman by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Toile de Bébé from Maman by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Speckle in Earth from Nursery Basics by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Gingham in Shell from Nursery Basics by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Motif in Rose from Maman by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Motif in Brun from Maman by Cloud9 Organic for squares
- ¼ yard of Solid in Shell from Maman by Cloud9 Organic for bow appliqués
- Crib size quilt batting or enough lightweight batting for a 40" x 40 square: we used Kyoto Soy Soft Soy Batting
- Fusible transfer web for appliqué: we used Wonder Under
- All-purpose sewing or quilting thread in colors to match fabrics
- Rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Large safety pins
- Seam guage
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- From the Speckle in Shell, cut the following:
FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
EIGHT 5½" x 30½" strips
NOTE: It's easiest to cut 5½" x WOF strips and then cut those strips down to 30½"; use the remaining pieces to cut the four 5½" squares listed above.
- From the Solid in Cloud, cut the following:
FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
ONE 30½" x 30½" square
- From the Gingham in Earth, cut the following:
FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
FOUR 1½" x WOF strips
- From the Les Petite Filles, cut TEN 5½" x 5½" squares
- From the Toile de Bébé, cut FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
- From the Speckle in Earth, cut FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
- From the Gingham in Shell, cut FOUR 5½" x 5½" squares
- From the Motif in Rose, cut EIGHT 5½" x 5½" squares
- From the Motif in Brun, cut TWO 5½" x 5½" squares
- Keep the Solid in Shell as one uncut piece, you will use it to trace and cut out the bow appliqués.
- Cut the lightweight batting into a 40" x 40" square.
- Download and print the Appliqué Bow Template.
IMPORTANT: This pattern consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Using the diagram above as your guide, lay out the 36 squares that make up the quilt's center BEFORE you begin to sew. It's usually easiest to use the floor to do this; make sure it's clean.
- If you'd prefer to use your own design, simply mix and match your 36 squares until you have a layout you find pleasing. It's best to avoid placing similar colors side-by-side and it looks better when you alternate small and large motifs. There's no 'wrong' design; it's all based on what you like best.
- There are a lot of pieces to keep track of, so work in a specific order, like a grid. We worked from top to bottom and left to right.
- Collect the six squares for the first row. Pin the first two squares, right sides together, along one side. Keep track of any directional prints to make sure everything is going the right way. The Cloud9 Maman has several motifs that have a definite right-side up.
- Take the third square in your sequence and pin it, right sides together, to the completed two-square piece. Sew together, using a ¼" seam.
- Take the fourth square in your first row sequence and pin it, right sides together to the completed three-square piece. Sew together, using a ¼" seam.
- You're seeing a pattern here, right? Continue in this manner until you have a full six-square row. Then, repeat to complete the remaining FIVE rows.
- When your six rows are complete, you can stitch them together. Working from the top row down, pin the first two rows right sides together. The most important thing to remember is to keep your seams in line with one another. It helps to place a pin in the seam
- In addition, in order for your seams to 'nest together' and create perfect points on the front (a perfect intersection of the corners), you need to alternate the direction of the seam allowances you are matching up. If the seam allowance in the row above lays flat to the left, the seam allowance in the row below must lay flat to the right.
- Alternate in this manner all the way across the row. Pin in place.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, sew the rows together. Your careful matching along the seams will create perfect points on the front.
- Repeat to assemble all six rows into the finished center patchwork.
- Find TWO of the Speckle Shell 5½" x 30½" strips and FOUR of the Rose Motif 5½" x 5½" squares.
- Pin one square on each end of each border, right sides together.
- Stitch in place, using a ¼" seam allowance. Set aside.
- Find the remaining TWO Speckle Shell 5½" x 30½" strips. Pin one strip on either side of the center patchwork.
NOTE: Here's a little quilter's tip: make sure your seam allowances are laying the same direction on both sides of the quilt. For example, if the seam allowance is going down on the right side, it should be down on the left side. This will help make sure your quilt lays nice and flat.
- Find those two border strips to which you just sewed the squares. Pin one strip, right sides together, on the top of the center patchwork (which now has the side borders sewn in place) and one strip, right sides together, on the bottom. As you did above, make sure the seam allowances are going in opposite directions to create your perfectly matched seams.
- Stitch both the top and bottom borders in place, using a ¼" seam allowance.
- The quilt back goes together in the same manner as the front.
- Find the FOUR remaining Speckle Shell 5½" x 30½" strips, the FOUR remaining Rose Motif 5½" x 5½" squares, and the 30½" x 30½" White Cloud square.
- Pin one 5½" x 5½" square on each end of two of the border strips.
- Stitch in place, using a ¼" seam allowance. Set aside.
- You have TWO remaining Speckle Shell 5½" x 30½" strips. Pin one strip on either side of the 30½" x 30½" White Cloud square.
- Finally, take the two border strips to which you sewed the squares, and pin one strip along the top and one along the bottom, again making sure you match the corners exactly like you just did on the quilt front.
- Stitch in place, using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Press both the quilt front and the quilt back. A good way to do this is to first press all the seams in the correct direction on the wrong side of the quilt front, then flip it over and do the final pressing with the quilt right side up.
- Repeat to carefully press both sides of the back of the quilt.
- Place your fusible web (Wonder Under in our sample) over the the top of the Bow Template. The adhesive side should be down.
- Trace FOUR bows on to fusible web.
- Place the piece of Solid Pink fabric on your ironing board, and following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the sheet of traced bows on to the wrong side of the fabric.
- Cut out the four bow shapes from the fabric.
- Peel off the adhesive backing.
- Place one bow, adhesive side down and right side up, in each corner on the right side of the front of the quilt. Center it against the seams, away from the raw edges, because you need to leave room for the binding. Press in place.
- Appliqué in place, using a tight satin stitch, mimicking the drawn lines of the bow template.
NOTE: If you are new to appliqué, check out our tutorial.
Layering the quilt front, the batting and quilt back
- Place the quilt batting down on your nice, clean floor. Layer the quilt top on top of the batting, right side up. Using the big safety pins, pin every other square through the quilt top and batting. Once the batting is firmly secured to the quilt top, trim any excess batting so the layers are perfectly flush on all sides.
- Flip the quilt over so the batting is now facing up. Place the quilt back on the batting, right side up. Place a few safety pins across it so it doesn't move. The quilt back should fit perfectly, ie. all the raw edges should be flush with the batting and the quilt front. Once the back is secure, flip the whole thing over again and re-pin all the safety pins through all three layers.
- You are going to quilt diagonally through each square with the exception of the four corner squares.
- If you have a walking or even feed foot for your sewing machine, this is a good time to use it. The walking foot will help to feed the layered fabrics evenly, so they don't slip. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, Mr. Turtle!
NOTE: Rather than starting at the very edge of the borders, we found it was much easier to start at the inside of the border and quilt through the squares first, then swing it around and do all the quilting on the borders after. Either way works, just depends on how good of an eye-baller you are!
Making and attaching the binding
- Pin the FOUR 1½" x WOF binding strips right sides together along the short ends at an 90˚ angle.
- Stitch each seam at a 45˚ angle to create one long strip. Trim the seam allowances.
- Press all the seams so your one, long strip is nice and flat.
- Press this entire long binding strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Then, all along one side, press the raw edge in to the center.
- Starting in the middle of one edge of the quilt, and working on the BACK of the quilt, line up the raw edge of the binding with the raw edges of quilt. Leave about a 5" tail at the start. Pin in place from your mid-side starting point to the first corner.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, start sewing the binding to the quilt. Go from your starting point (remember to leave that 5" tail) to the first corner.
- Stop at the corner. Raise the needle and the pressure foot. Pull the quilt out slightly from under the needle to the left of the machine. You do not need to cut the thread.
- Rotate the quilt. To turn the corner, bring the folded edge of your binding up. This automatically creates a pleat and a 90˚ corner. Pin. Line up the next side's raw edge with the raw edges of the binding, working your way towards the next corner. Pin in place about 6".
- Place the quilt back under the needle and foot to continue sewing the binding, starting about ¼" in from the top edge.
- Stop, with your needle in the down position, to continue your pinning once you get past that first 6".
- Repeat these same steps at each corner.
NOTE: A quilt can become a bit unwieldy. Sometimes it's easier to gently roll it to make it easier to handle and maneuver.
- When you're approaching the point where you started, stop about5- 6" short of this point and back tack. This will allow you the space to join your binding end-to-end, then attach it to the quilt for a clean finish.
- With the 5" tail you left at the beginning, and the tail you have at the end, unfold the binding strip and place the two binding tails right sides together.
- Determine the point where you can sew a straight seam, which will allow your binding to lay flat against quilt. Pin the ends together at this point.
- Pull the binding away from the quilt so you can place it under the foot of your sewing machine.
- Sew a seam where you pinned the binding.
- Trim the tails to a ¼" seam allowance. Press open.
- The binding should now be a perfect fit flat against the quilt.
- Pin the raw edges of the binding to the remaining raw edge of the quilt.
- Finish sewing the binding to the quilt from the point where you stopped to the point where you started, matching your seam lines.
- Press the binding up and away from the quilt front.
- Wrap the folded-edge of the binding over to the front of the quilt, encasing the raw edges of the quilt.
- Hand stitch the binding in place.
Hints & Tips
If you are new to binding, below are some of our other tutorials you can read through for help. Some of them have additional photos you might also find helpful.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna eXcellence and the Bernina artista 630.