Today I am taking you behind the scenes to share my process for creating handmade quilts, and what makes a Quiltlove quilt so special. From the high quality materials used, to the composition of each design, the love that goes into the quilt making process can be felt in every Quiltlove quilt ever made.
To begin, let’s cover a little bit of terminology. A quilt, by definition, is a blanket with at least three layers that are kept in place by stitching. A blanket must have that critical cozy layer of interior padding to be considered a quilt. Otherwise, it’s just a blanket. The definition of handmade is commonly understood to be made by an individual with their own hands (or tools), rather than mass produced in a factory.
Tools and Materials Used
I use a Janome Memory Craft 6700P sewing machine which is an absolute beauty. It’s strong and speedy, steady and spacious. The real reason I selected it however, is probably its gorgeous white powder coated exterior. When I’m working with my hands all day, it pays to have a machine I love and trust. I also use primarily Olfa tools such as a rotary cutter, cutting guides and a cutting mat.
All Quiltlove quilts are backed with a high quality white sherpa fabric. With a 12 mm pile, this particular minky makes quilts extra cuddly and soft. I tested a LOT of minky when launching Quiltlove (somebody’s got to do it) and this was the winner for its quality look and feel.
Quilts are lined with 100% cotton batting, which provides an inner layer of padding. Batting is available in polyester, wool, blends and other synthetics, but I prefer cotton because it offers a nice amount of heft, while remaining warm, soft and breathable.
Customer-supplied custom images are printed on white cotton calico fabric through a high-quality, commercial grade pigment printing process. I currently use a third party printer for this step, since I cannot achieve the same level of quality when printing in-house. This results in vibrant images that maintain their color over time and numerous washings.
Lastly, the fabric that surrounds the custom squares in each quilt is also 100% cotton. The majority of the solids I use are Kona, whereas small prints and tonals are handpicked from a range of different designers whose work I love. Selecting fabric for the various palettes is definitely one of my favorite steps.
Quilt Making Process
Here is a glimpse into my process for creating handmade quilts.
- Cut the squares. I hand-cut all 6.5 inch squares that comprise the quilt.
- Lay out the quilt. I lay each quilt out by lining up the squares into rows and columns before they are sewn together. There are always a few revisions involved as I attempt to distribute the colors in the customer’s selected palette and the custom squares for a balanced look. For example, spreading out squares containing handwriting, squares containing photographs, darker squares and lighter squares in a visually appealing manner.
- Sew the quilt. I sew all the rows and columns together, with a fair amount of ironing between steps (my least favorite step). I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance so what starts as a 6.5 inch square ultimately becomes a 6 inch square.
- Tie the quilt. I layer the sherpa, batting and fabric top together into a three layer “sandwich” before hand-tying knots at each intersection of pieced squares. These knots add to the quilt’s handmade look and feel, while keeping the layers in place.
- Bind the quilt. Adding a length of coordinating trim to the quilt (known as binding) is the finishing touch, enclosing the raw edges.
What Makes Handmade Quilts Different
Handmade quilts are made with love and care that can be felt in the finished product. Quiltlove quilts are made with the highest quality materials, as opposed to mass produced blankets where the bottom line drives towards inexpensive materials. In addition, my handmade quilts are laid out and sewn together with an eye for style, beauty and durability. While quilts may contain a slight imperfection here or there, it is this very touch that gives a quilt an heirloom quality.
I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse behind the scenes. If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you!
As always, thanks for reading.