Okay, so you should already have your fabric chosen, your design figured out, and have a rough idea of what you want your baby blanket to look like. Now comes the hard part… making patterns for the appliqué, and cutting the pieces.
Well, patterns can be easy or hard, depending on how difficult you want to make them. If you are making an appliqué character that will be symmetrical, simply draw half of the pattern on sturdy card stock, construction paper, or plain copy paper, fold it in half and cut. This will leave you with a perfectly symmetrical patter from which to trace onto your fabric. Continue drawing and cutting out the pattern pieces until you have all of them ready to go.
Now it is time to cut your fabric. If you have it, use rotary scissors and a cutting mat with a straight edge or ruler to cut your fabric pieces to be quilted together. For this particular baby blanket, I cut out four 4½” squares for the corners, eight 4½” squares for the corner adjacent pieces, and four 18½” pieces for the center of the borders. Next, I cut a 26½” square for the center and a 36” square for the backing. This will make up the base of the quilt.
Before cutting the pattern pieces, I lay the paper patterns down where they will go onto the blanket, and check whether any pieces will need to be adjusted. If everything fits well, move on to the tracing stage. If it doesn’t, cut down the pieces that aren’t working, or make a new pattern if it is really bad… and yes, this sometimes happens!
For light fabrics, I usually trace with a regular pencil, going around the paper pattern onto the fabric and being as frugal as possible because I am a cheapskate. When tracing onto dark fabrics, I use a white colored pencil. Both pencil types will wash out when you are done quilting and give the blanket a quick wash and dry before gifting it.
Next, cut out your traced fabric pieces. For this you can use rotary scissors or regular fabric scissors, whatever you find easiest to work with. I usually switch back and forth, using regular scissors for the smaller pieces, and rotary for the larger. For some of you more adventurous folks, and I have done this too on a couple quilts I’ve done for my friend Sarah’s twin daughters baby shower, just freehand the appliqué pieces without a pattern. This sometimes makes a rather whimsical freestyle look that can work, depending on the design.
So all your pieces are cut, now what? It is time to do a dry run with all the fabric in place where it will go before you start sewing. Doing this will help you decide if it needs further tweaking or if it is time to start pinning and sewing. Gotta fix something that doesn’t look right? That’s why you do a dry run. If it looks perfect, it is time to start pinning and sewing…
Come back tomorrow for Baby Blanket Part 3: Pinning & Sewing
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