Each year for Christmas, I like to give handmade gifts when possible. My mom is probably the most frequent receiver of these gifts.
This year I was stumped though.
Honestly, I’ve made her so many things and I wanted something truly unique. I’m still fairly new to making quilts, but thought I’d give it a shot! As I was figuring out exactly what design I wanted to do, I decided this would be a great gift for my stepdad as well. I came across some Scrabble tile quilts on Pinterest and thought if I did a crossword puzzle with all of us kids’ names it would really be something!
Let’s start with the kids.
There’s eight of us! My mom has four and my stepdad has four. Most of us have spouses and children. There’s even a great grandbaby now. In total, I had to create a puzzle with 42 names in it.
After a quick Google search, I found a crossword generator where I could enter in everyone’s names and it would generate the puzzle for me.
How cool is that!
This one even had the ability for me to edit it so I could rearrange the names just how I wanted them. Once I had that figured out, I took a quick picture for reference.
I found out my parents’ favorite colors. Fuchsia for my mom and marine blue for my stepdad. Joann’s happened to have some blender packs of fat quarters in those colors. I also got a package of grey blenders to bring it all together.
Each square measures 3 1/2”.
I cut the letter squares out of Kona cotton “snow”. I have a Silhouette Cameo, so I used that to design the letters and cut them all out of vinyl and pressed them to the white squares. Somehow, I miscounted and ended up with quite a few extra letter squares. Haha! I think I counted each letter including the overlapping ones. Oh well, now I have a bunch of letters for a future project!
Next comes placement.
The entire outer row is just the colored squares. I really just tried to make it look random. The second row, I counted over until the first letter and placed colored squares, then the letters and so on.
I really just went one row at a time until it was all placed on my design wall.
(Side note: my design wall is just one of those flannel backed tablecloths taped onto the wall, flannel side out)
Now we need to sew ALL THOSE SQUARES together.
I may have put this off for a few days because at this point it really seemed daunting. I started with the top row and sewed the first two squares together, ironed to one side and moved to the second row sewing those together and ironing the opposite direction. Repeated the entire way down. I followed this process for the next two squares and the next two, etc.
Now, I had several sets of two squares sewn together. I took the two from the first row and sewed them to the first two in the second row. When the seams are ironed in opposite directions, it helps to align your squares. This is called nesting the seams.
Repeat again for the entire quilt so the whole top is sets of four squares. I then sewed the first set to the one next to it to the right. Repeat for the whole thing. Sew those to the one below it and so on.
Essentially, I just kept creating bigger and bigger squares until it was completed.
Now comes the fun part.
Quilting it! I quilt on my basic sewing machine, so I try to keep my designs simple. For this one, I thought lines would look best. I found this really pretty grey fabric (also at Joann’s) that I thought would complement the front nicely. I needed five yards, cut in half and sewn together on the long sides so I ended up with one piece that was approximately 90”x80”.
I laid this out on my living room floor.
(Yes, I did iron it first 😉) Layer with batting. I like Pellon Nature’s Touch cotton batting personally. Then layer with the quilt top. This is when I draw the lines of where exactly I’d like my quilting to be. I like to use Crayola super washable fine point markers. These wash out really well as long as I wash my quilt within a few days. I have let it sit longer, and still be able to get the marker out. If it doesn’t come out with the first wash, I rub a little liquid detergent right on the lines and rewash.
I gently roll up the batting and quilt top on one half. Lightly spray with 505 adhesive spray and unroll the batting/top smoothing any wrinkles. Repeat for the other half. I do the same thing for the quilt top. I then use safety pins to pin the three layers together.
Once it’s pinned, take it to the sewing machine and start sewing those lines!
I find the least amount of shifting if I use a walking foot and start from the middle and work my way out. I’m not sure there’s really an easy way to do this on a domestic machine. I tend to roll up one side so it sits inside the machine’s throat and guide it through.
Once I finish with the quilting, I need to trim the batting and backing fabric.
It still has all that adhesive on it, so I loosen the batting from the top and back by gently pulling. Then I just slide my left hand underneath the batting while cutting with my right hand so I don’t accidentally cut into the backing.
I prefer to self bind which is where you wrap the back to the front for your binding. To do this, I leave a 1” border of the backing fabric all the way around.
I lay a 1” wide ruler next to the top and use my rotary cutter to trim the backing.
Fold the 1” trim in half towards the top, so that it’s just touching the quilt top. Then fold again so it overlaps onto the top.
The corners can be a little trickier, but what I do is continue with the folding for the current side all the way to the end. Then, I fold the next side at a right angle, then in half again to create that nice squared corner. I continue folding the rest of the length.
Repeat for all sides.
Stitch the binding down.
Done! Run through the washer to get rid of the marker and give it that nice crinkly look and it’s ready for gift giving!
I hope you like my crossword quilt! Have you tried to make a crossword quilt before? How’d it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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