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How close do I need to machine quilt this baby quilt?

Dede asks...

I am making a baby quilt that has a star, moon and dog pattern on it. I sewed around the blocks of each dog which are probably 9 inches by 9 inches.

Should I sew around the dogs so the quilting will be closer together and the fiberfill won't bunch up?

Julie replies...

You're on the right track for quilting this baby quilt.

As you choose the quilting for a quilt there are a couple of things to take into consideration:

  • What kind of batting are you using? Check the package it came wrapped in.

    There will be information on how far apart your lines of quilting stitches can be—this is the minimum amount of quilting you'll need for the quilt to hold together. Or in your case, so that the fiberfill won't come loose and bunch up in the corners.

  • Evaluate how the quilt will be used and cared for. If this baby quilt will be used and and washed frequently, I'd strongly recommend adding more quilting than suggested by the batting manufacturer.

    A wet quilt is a heavy quilt and it puts a lot of strain on lines of quilting stitches. A new mom may not be paying close attention how she lifts the quilt out of the washing machine when it's wet. It's a good bet that the quilt will get thrown in the dryer at least a couple of times, to save her time.

    The Warm Company says its Warm and Natural batting can be quilted up to 10 inches apart. If you used this batting and quilted just around the outside of your nine inch squares, theoretically, that'd be enough quilting.

    But quilting around the figures in each block, as you suggested, makes perfect sense. You'll lessen the strain on each individual stitch because there's more of them. The additional stitches will also keep the batting in place.

  • Assess your available time. It always amazes me just how long it takes to ditch quilt a baby quilt. Usually a couple of hours for me to get it done.

    Baby quilts are a perfect place to spend some time practicing your quilting, too. These quilts get washed repeatedly. The shrinkage is charming to look at and touch, but it also hides any perceived imperfections in our quilting (we are usually our own worst critics).

    For this quilt, I agree that you should add the quilting around the dogs. I'd also add quilting around the other elements, too, both for adding strength to the quilt and as a place to practice my free motion quilting.

    If you're looking for something else to free motion quilt into this project, why not try the baby's name and birth date, or perhaps happy wishes to the new parent. Quilting writing on quilts always adds another layer of interest.
Your machine quilting choices will be a combination of batting requirements, consideration of how the finished quilt is used and your time. That's a wide range of quilting that would be acceptable for this quilt. Add enough quilting stitches to make the quilt last and then just have fun!

Good question. I hope this helps you as you complete this baby quilt.


Julie Baird

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