Of course you know you’re a hard core quilter when you have to make the dog a patchwork bed! I decided I was tired of the old fluffy ones that we had, we seem to have one in every corner of the house! So when I found this adorable fabric I spotlight, I knew what I had to make with it. The best part is, all but one of the other fabrics were part of my stash, so I’ve used up some fabric as well!
First, you need to plan your bed size. I measured what we’d been using, and decided that 20″ square would be great. I created a patchwork design around a central feature panel, cut to 10 1/2″, keeping the piecing and seams to a minimum as those would always be weak points.
I cut 3 inch strips from my fabric and stitched them together into long strips, getting 3 5 1/2″ blocks from each, for my 8 side blocks, as well as 4 green 5 1/2″ blocks for the corners. Stitch the side blocks into 4 pairs of 2 strip sets.
Stitch strip sets on the top and bottom of your feature panel, and stitch the corner squares at each end of the side strips. Then attach the sides to the centre panel and press well. I actually pressed all my seams to the sides on this block, to increase the durability of the seams.
Layer the finished block onto 2 layers of polyester batting. I choose to spray baste all my layers together, as it was just too thick to easily secure with pins. I also chose not to use a backing piece on this panel, due to the added bulk in the finished side seams. My machine handled the polyester on the feed dogs very well using my walking foot, however that would be a personal call. I did have to reduce my foot pressure on my Janome to level 1 (out of three) and also loosened off the tension to a 7. You will need to check the settings on your individual machine.
For this first panel, I chose to outline the centre block, and then stitch the sides of each corner block. I didn’t want to quilt it heavily to maximise the softness and loft in the panel.
For the second panel, I again outlined the centre square, however I then drew a line 2 1/2″ out from that and stitched another square around the whole panel. This should help secure the seams that were stitched across. Instead of ditch stitching the square, I stitched just to the side of the seam, over whichever side had the seams pressed underneath it – more security from washing and little claws. To help secure this panel for sandwiching, I did stitch all around the outside of it also, before trimming it off.
Trim your panel square, then layer it upon your backing fabric. I used decorator weight cotton for the backing that I have had in the cupboard for several years – another win for using up the stash! I did have to piece it to make a wide enough backing, however I kept the seam very wide, and pressed it to the side. Trim this piece down to just past the outside of your front panel, then turn the front panel upside down, so you have both right sides together.
You won’t be able to pin through all these layers, so I used binding clips to secure all the edges, except for an opening approximately 1/3 the width of the panel on one side, reserved for turning. Make especially sure on the corners that all your layers are flat and secure, with nothing folded or caught up. Also pay special attention to the place where you joined the backing, do not leave this seam on the opening side if at all possible.
Using my walking foot, I stitched a generous 3/8″ seam all the way around, backstitching at each corner and at the start and finish to help strengthen those stress points. Take your time and your machine should handle the layers. Every so often you may wish to stop with your needle down and lift the foot, just to smooth out the batting. After you’ve finished, trim down each corner. If you take two snips at a shallower angle, you will reduce a lot of bulk in this area.
Turn through the gap you left, carefully pushing out the corners as far as possible. Press the backing fold to match the inside seam, then slowly fold in the patchwork layer to match, adding clips to hold it down as you go. Press all your other sides flat, rolling the seam out between your fingers to match top and bottom.
Stitch around your bed again, this time fairly close to the edge – approximately 1/8″ on my machine. This will catch down the opening, and secure all the seams that you have just created. Go very slowly with your walking foot, especially as you cross each patchwork panel. Lift your foot (with the needle down) as often as necessary to clear any puckers that might be gathering. Take the corners a couple of stitches at a time, turning it often, to give them a curve rather than a 90degree shift.
Stand back and admire your finished creations!! This whole process only took me a couple of days, with life happening to keep interrupting me, and I got to use up a good part of my stash as well! Give them a wash, to make sure any glue, dye or nasties are out of them. I’d recommend laying flat to dry, and then they are good to go!
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