Culcita Box Unboxing - March Edition

March's Culcita Box showed up in the mail a few days ago.  
Culcita Box Unboxing - March
I'm not going to say I like cookies as much as fabric, but I do really like cookies.
Culcita Box Unboxing - March
This month's box included a pattern for the first time.
Culcita Box Unboxing - March
And of course it included fabric.  These are from Art Gallery Fabric's Take Shape collection. 
Culcita Box Unboxing - March
This collection is really pretty and very modern.  I am excited but also a little bit terrified of sewing with it, I don't think I'm hip enough!
Culcita Box Unboxing - March
But I am always up for a challenge so a quilt is going to happen.  

If you are interested in signing up for the monthly subscription service, Culcita offers really flexible options with different cuts of fabric and frequency of delivery. Check out my previous posts to see what they have sent so far this year.  


Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

A few weeks ago, this box of fabric came in the mail from Culcita Box. I put it on my shelf as a motivation.  There were a lot of things on my to do list that I wasn't super excited about, so I decided that when I finished all of those things, I could make a quilt with the Sleep Tight fabrics.

Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

Once all of the boxes in the garage were (pretty much) unpacked, I put some photos on the wall, and I sent my new pattern off to my pattern testers, I got to play with these fabrics.  

Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

I knew that I wanted to keep it simple and I wanted to keep as many of the images from the Toys print as intact as possible.  I was just working with a fat quarter, but I was still able to get six of them.  They are so cute!

Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

This collection has such a great variety of grays, they have just enough contrast with each other.  And I love the detail that went into the fabrics.

Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

I backed the quilt with this Melody Miller Disco Fruit print that I picked up from the FabricCadabra sale (only $5.25/yard!).

Sleep Tight Baby Quilt

And bound it with a black solid.  The quilt is now available in my Etsy shop.

Finished size: 36.75" x 49"
Fabric: Sleep Tight by Sarah Watts (available here and here)  


Choosing a Batting

For a long time, I didn't put much thought into which batting I used. I didn't buy the cheap stuff, but I didn't seek out anything in particular.  But a couple years ago started to think: which batting should I use for this quilt?  Should I use different battings for different quilts?

And the answer is yes!  Well, you can do what you want, but for me the answer was yes and I wanted to share a little about batting with you.
My personal preference is Quilter's Dream batting.  They are one of my sponsors, but I asked them if they would be interested in sponsoring me because they are my favorite, not the other way around. So I am going to talk about few batting varieties that I like to use, or that I would like to try.
My #1 favorite batting is Quilter's Dream Cotton Select.  It is the second one down in this photo.  Cotton batting is great because it will keep you warm, but it won't make you hot.  When washed, cotton batting shrinks just a little and gives quilts that nice, crinkly texture.  It comes in 4 different lofts.
Request - the lightest weight, this was designed for hand quilting but is also great for machine quilting.  It is very drapey, and is perfect for summer quilts or warmer climates.
Select - my favorite.  It is still light weight, but has a little more substance.  Perfect for hand or machine quilting.
Deluxe - I tried this for the first time on my Loominous quilt and really enjoyed working with it. There isn't a huge difference between the Select and Deluxe, but it is a little weightier.  It was still easy to work with.  This type of batting is best for machine quilting. 
Supreme - The most dense of their cotton battings, this is great for showing definition on machine quilting and for warm quilts.  I haven't tried the Supreme loft yet, but it is on my to do list.
There are a lot of quilters out there who like to use an 80/20 poly-cotton blend batting, but I have never tried it.  What I have been thinking?  It is so soft!  I would have guessed that it would be more stiff and poofy, but it had a nice drape and was a nice thickness.  Some advantages of the 80/20 batting are that it doesn't wrinkle as much as cotton and it has minimal shrinkage.

When I first heard about the Dream Green batting, I was surprised that there is a batting made from recycled bottles, but I tried it and it is great!  It feels similar to poly batting, and it also resists wrinkles and doesn't shrink.  This is my go-to batting for quilts that are more modern looking because it doesn't get that traditional quilt crinkle.  Normally I love the crinkle, but sometimes I like a smoother, more modern look.  It also has the advantage of being a little less expensive than the other varieties.
When I want a quilt to have a puffier batting, I usually use Dream Wool.  It feels light, but it is fluffy and doesn't shrink. You can see a couple quilts made with this batting here and here.  
You can see the difference in batting puffiness in the photo above. The batting on the left is Dream Cotton Select, the one in the middle is Dream Wool, and the one on the right is Dream Puff.  
My favorite batting for baby quilts is Dream Orient.  It has the best drape of any batting I have used and it is easy to work with.  If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it for machine or hand quilting.  

This post is not comprehensive, there are many different types and brands of battings out there.  Do you have a favorite batting?  Do you use the same type for all quilts or do you like to mix it up?

Rainbow Loominous Giant Lap Quilt

I love Anna Maria Horner's Loominous collection and bought a fat quarter bundle a while back.  It made the move with us from San Diego to Salem and has been sitting on the shelf.  A few weeks ago I finally decided what I wanted to do with it and started cutting.
Rainbow Loominous Quilt
Since I was working with a fat quarter bundle, there were some limitations here, but I had fun putting the quilt together.  
Rainbow Loominous Quilt
The woven fabric was not much different than working with regular quilting cotton - it is just softer.  I had been planning to use another AMH print for the backing, but it didn't seem to do the softness of the woven fabric justice so I splurged on yardage of my favorite print from the collection for the backing.
Rainbow Loominous Quilt
If you have been reading my blog lately, you may have seen a sneak peak at the binding last week.  It is another Loominous print.
Rainbow Loominous Quilt
I tried something new for the batting.  It is Quilter's Dream Cotton Deluxe.  It is not their thickest cotton batting, but it is a little heftier than my normal Quilter's Dream Cotton Select or Request.  It was not difficult to work with and wasn't a huge difference, but it does give the quilt a nice warmth and gives the quilting a little more definition.
Rainbow Loominous Quilt
I have re-stocked my Etsy shop with a few quilts, including this one, though I may take it out.  I'm not sure I can part with this one.  

Finished size: 68" x 76"
Fabric: Anna Maria Horner's Loominous (available here
Batting: Quilter's Dream Cotton Deluxe

Giveaway Winner and Awesome Sale

The winner of the FabricCadabra giveaway is . . . Nancy!  I will be sending you an email for your mailing address.  Congrats!
I also wanted to let you know that FabricCadabra has now marked down their (very large!) sale section to 50%.  That makes a lot of their fabric around $5/yard and there are lots of amazing options.  This is a perfect time to stock up on fabric for quilt backings!

Big Stitch Binding Tutorial

Over the past couple of years, I have focused more on how I can make my quilts cozier and more durable.  This has meant using more flannels, wovens, and corduroys for backings and taking extra steps to make quilts hold up to more washing.

One issue that I wanted to address was how I could make my bindings more durable.  I do not enjoy sewing the binding on by machine.  It is durable, but I enjoy hand sewing the binding and I didn't want to give that up.  But I was having problems with the stitching on my binding breaking occasionally, especially when my kids tugged on them.  So when I made this quilt last year, I decided to try "hand quilting" the binding.
dapper squares quilt quilting
This quilt is super soft because it was made with woven fabrics and has become a favorite with my kids so it has been washed A LOT.  The binding has held up beautifully.  The above photo was taken when I made the quilt and the photo below was taken his morning.  It's not the prettiest stitching that has ever been done, but I like what it adds to the quilt.
Big Stitch Binding
Since I made this quilt, I have slowly started binding all of my quilts this way.

Big Stitch Binding
There are several different types of Perle cotton available.  I have used Valdana, DMC, and Presencia and have liked them all.  You could also use a heavier weight thread, like Aurifil 12wt, or a few strands of embroidery thread.
Big Stitch Binding
You will also need a needle, embroidery or crewel work well.  The main thing is that the eye of the needle is large enough to thread the thick Perle cotton but not so large that it is hard to pull the needle through all of the layers.  You will also need a thimble to push the needle.  A thimble will save your finger as you rock the needle through the fabric.
Big Stitch Binding
This is not exactly related to big stitch binding, but there are a few things that I like to do to my binding.  
  • Zig zag stitch the raw edges.  I think I heard about this from Heather a while back, but it gives the quilt a nice, crisp edge and I think it helps keep things together.  It only takes a few minutes and is well worth it.  
  • Press the binding toward the raw edge.  This is super quick and it makes hand sewing the binding much easier.
  • Make the binding extra wide.  How thick do you cut your binding strips?  When I first started quilting, I cut mine 2.25".  Gradually I moved to 2.5", now I do 2.75" or 3".  It is much easier to get a mitered corner with a wider binding and I love the feel.  I use a seam allowance that is wider than 1/4" and the size of the seam allowance varies on the binding material, batting etc. As you can see in the photo below, it does clip the corners of my blocks closest to the edge, but I have decided that it does not bother me one bit.  
Secure your binding with clips and choose a thread color.  I like to use a thread that contrasts with my binding, but matches the quilt.
Big Stitch Binding
Start sewing!  If you have hand quilted before, this will feel really familiar.  You can rock the needle just with hand quilting, but the needle doesn't go all of the way through the quilt. I can usually load 3 stitches on my needle before pulling it through.  If you haven't hand quilted before, this tutorial by Sarah Fielke is excellent.  
Big Stitch Binding
Here is a photo of the reverse side.  Because you are sewing through so many layers, it actually takes quite a bit of effort to pull it through to the other side.  Sewing through the binding and backing takes just the right amount of effort.  Keep going until you have finished quilt.  I miter the corners in exactly the same way as when I was trying to hide my stitches, so that hasn't changed.

I hope that helps anyone who was interested.  If you have any questions, post them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer!
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