The Dr. Who Lap Quilt – Step by Step
There’s a considerable difference between courage and reckless stupidity – The Third Doctor
This is the second quilt I’ve ever made, and the first quilt I machine quilted together myself. It’s not as complicated as it looks and in fact, I found it quite easy to piece together. Machine quilting on the other hand was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.
I will lay out some of the troubles I faced and what I learned at the bottom of this post.
Here Are The Steps I Took To Making The Quilt
1. Finding The Right Fabric
My local fabric store (Sewing World in Calgary, AB) was having a sale so I went to check it out with no clear vision of anything in mind. This is backwards thinking, but when you’re not exactly sure what you want to make, it can be inspiring.
The first fabric I found that inspired me was the Van Gogh exploding Tardis fabric. I knew I wanted this to be the main focus of the quilt so I would base all of my other fabrics around it. They had several other Dr. Who fabrics of which I chose 3. I knew this would make it really busy so I wanted to have a couple more fabrics that were plain. I found the perfect shimmery fabric by Michael Miller that came in so many colours. I am also obsessed with shimmery and sparkly things and I thought this would add more flavour to the quilt.
2. Finding A Quilt Layout
The first quilt I made, I did not follow a pattern and made it up as I went. With this quilt, I wanted to have a pattern to follow. I think that having the quilt pattern before you have the fabric would help more because you know how many and much of the fabric you need and how they can work together but I tend to work backwards as I mentioned above. I did find it helpful to have my fabric before hand because I knew that I wanted to feature the ‘exploding Tardis’ and have the other fabrics around it to compliment it. I had no idea what I wanted so I looked for a free pattern online. Robert Kaufman has fantastic free patterns. I used one called Framed Flowers.
3. Cut All Of The Fabric
First decide what fabric you want to use where and what for. Cut it as directed. Remember: Measure Twice, Cut Once. This pattern made it easy because I already knew what fabric I wanted to feature so all I needed to decide was which fabric would frame it. The rest of the fabric would then make up the squares that pull the whole thing together.
** Very Important – If you are using a patterned fabric, make sure you cut the fabric according to how you want the pattern to be laid out. For example: I made sure to cut the writing on the fabric I use to frame the ‘exploding Tardis’ vertical and horizontal to make sure it framed properly.
4. Lay Out A Couple Quilt Blocks To Visualize How It Will Look
I didn’t use the fabric the pattern suggested so I wasn’t sure how it would look. I played with the fabric until I found the pattern I liked. I also asked friends and family for their opinion. Sometimes it may take making a couple squares to see the whole pictures.
5. Read The Pattern Directions Then Lay Out And Sew Individual Blocks
The pattern came with directions on how to sew it. Make sure if you are not using the fabric suggested by the pattern, that you allocate the correct fabric to the corresponding letter so you don’t end up sewing the wrong pieces together.
I find it helpful to lay out one block, sew it, then lay out another block, sew it, and continue that process. This pattern requires you to sew the small squares together first and then cut them in half. This should all be done before you start sewing the individual blocks together.
Sew each quilt block together with 1/4″ seam.
6. Sew Individual Blocks Into Rows
Always lay them out first!
7. Sew Rows Together
Make sure you lay them out first as well!
8. Once The Quilt Top Piece Is Done – Decide What Fabric You Want On The Back
Because this is a lap quilt, I decided to go with a fleece backing in a Tardis Blue. The fact that the back piece was large enough to not have to piece together was also a bonus.
9. Lay Out Quilt Bottom Fabric, Batting and Top Piece
The fabric you choose on the bottom and the batting should be between 4 and 6 inches longer that the quilt top. Make sure to lay the wrong sides together so that the right sides are what you see when you look at the top and at the bottom.
10. Quilt Together!
I chose to hoop and machine quilt my quilt together because I quilted it together with Tardis and Dalek shapes. My Brother Dream Machine allows me to make my own patterns so I took a colouring book and used the outlines of a Tardis and Dalek to make a pattern to use to quilt the quilt together. I wanted the Tardis to look like it was spinning down the quilt and on the edges have the Daleks look like they are attacking.
Make sure you have the proper needles and feet. If you are machine quilting this together, a walking foot is really the only way to go.
My temporary table was too shaky as well so I ended up doing it on the floor.
11. Square Off and Bind
The last step is to square off the quilt which makes sure it is shaped properly and then bind it. The simplest way in my mind to bind it was to use the backing fabric. To do this you need to trim the batting an inch away from the edge (This will vary depending how big you want your binding). Make sure when trimming you do NOT trim the backing as well. The backing can then be trimmed 1 1/4 inch wider than the batting.
The next step is to fold the back piece over the batting and roll the end under so there is a clean finish. Hand sewing will give you the cleanest finish. I also recommend pinning it all first to make sure that it’s not pulling in one direction. I did not do this for this quilt, but I will definitely be doing it for the next quilt I make if I use the backing to bind it.
Here Are 4 Troubles I Faced & What I Learned
- Some of my seams where bulky so when I was machine quilting, the needle would get stuck and miss stitches. Make sure your seams are as flat as possible.
- This was my first time so I started off with the wrong needles. I learned quickly. Make sure the needles coordinate with fabric, especially if you are using a fuzzy one like I did.
- You can hoop it by square and have the design match and compliment each square. I decided not to do this because I wanted the chaos of the spinning Tardis.
- Pin the binding so it falls correctly and doesn’t pull in one direction.