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Baby Clothes Quilt Pattern

Written by: Leah Day

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Time to read 7 min

In this quilting tutorial, I'm cutting up Betty's tiniest onesies to make a baby clothes quilt. My daughter grew out of her cutest newborn onesies very fast. I wanted to preserve the memories of her earliest days in a fun quilt that she could play with for years to come.

Have you saved baby clothes, intending to make a quilt? A baby clothes quilt is a perfect way to preserve those memories and create a unique and meaningful item for your child. Here's how you can create your own baby clothes quilt.

Baby Clothes Quilt Pattern

Materials List for this Baby Clothes Quilt

  • Baby clothes - onesies, t-shirts, etc
  • 2-3 yards cotton flannel or woven cotton fabric
  • Backing fabric
  • Batting
  • Piecing Thread and Machine Quilting Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Rotary cutter, Long Cutting Ruler, Cutting mat

Video 1 - Make a Baby Clothes Quilt

Watch this video to learn an easy stitch-and-flip foundation piecing technique. This method helps you piece stretchy knit fabrics from baby clothes. Follow along with this quilting video to make your own baby onesie quilt top:

1. How to Cut Up Your Baby Clothes

The most time-consuming part of this project is preparing your baby clothes for the quilt. In the video above, I show the fastest method for slicing off the arms, neck band and onesie snaps. Salvaging the largest rectangles of fabric possible from the garment is the key to making this baby quilt quickly.

Don't worry about preserving every scrap. If you have a garbage bag full of baby clothes, you will have enough material to make a nice baby or throw sized quilt.

Once you get the baby clothes rough cut, then divide them into stacks based on their size. Trim the pieces into rectangles and squares of matching widths. Example: I had a stack of 4-inch, 5-inch, 7-inch and 8-inch wide rectangles. If you're working with larger onesies or baby t-shirts, you may cut wider pieces.

2. Cut Your Foundation Strips

With your baby clothes prepared, it's time to prepare your foundation strips. These strips of fabric will support the t-shirt material and add structure to your quilt. Cut strips of fabric the same width as your baby clothes pieces.

I used strips of 100% cotton flannel fabric. If you use flannel too, make sure to wash it twice with HOT water before cutting. This will encourage the flannel to shrink before piecing.

No, you don't have to use flannel as your foundation fabric for this baby quilt. A good alternative is 100% cotton woven fabric, like a cotton bedsheet or quilter's cotton fabric. Personally I like the flannel because it subtly grips the knit baby clothes fabric and provides more stability.

My quilt ended up with the following strips:

1 - 8-inch strip

1 - 7-inch strip

1 - 6 1/2-inch strip

2 - 5 1/2-inch strips

2 - 5-inch strips

1 - 4 1/2-inch strip

How long should you cut the foundation strips? The length of your desired quilt. I cut mine 48 inches long.

Video 2 - Easy Stitch and Flip Piecing Method in 60 Seconds

Arrange your baby clothes pieces onto the foundation strips. I spread out all of my quilt pieces on a big table so I could see where everything was lining up.

Overlap the pieces 1/2 inch to accommodate for seam allowance. But understand you don't have to piece this baby quilt pattern with an exact seam allowance.

Because you are foundation piecing onto the strips of fabric, your seam allowance can be wider or narrower than ¼-inch. 

This makes this a terrific beginner quilting project because it's not exact! You don't have to be a skilled quilter to be able to piece this baby clothes quilt.

Tip to Begin Sewing

It's a good idea to start with your widest t-shirt fabric pieces first. These will be the biggest and most dominate fabrics in your baby quilt.

Once you have your widest strips pieced, trim down the remaining pieces to fit narrower rows.

Once you have a nice arrangement, roll the strip and baby clothes pieces to move them to your sewing machine. Unroll and begin stitching one piece at a time. 

I used a walking foot for piecing because the knit fabrics were so thin. I found Betty's baby clothes tended to stretch and distort with my regular patchwork foot. Check out the timelapse video on the right to see this easy stitch and flip technique!

 

3. How to Piece the Baby Clothes Quilt Top

After piecing, you may notice the knit fabrics extended beyond the edges of your flannel strips. Trim the edges straight with your rotary cutter and ruler.

Next, arrange the rows of your quilt right sides together. Piece two together at a time, returning the strips to your quilt layout to preserve the arrangement. I used my walking foot for this piecing too and aimed for a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

You might have noticed that seam allowance wasn't very important for this quilt. Some quilts are forgiving like this, but not all quilts can be pieced this way. If you'd like to learn more about precise quilt piecing, please check out my book How to Piece Perfect Quilts.

If you enjoyed this style of piecing, you may like the Wonky Christmas Tree Quilt Pattern. This pattern features improv quilting techniques and the ability to piece tree quilt blocks any size and shape you like.

4. How to Make a Baby Quilt Top into a Finished Quilt

As I shared in the video above, I could give Betty this quilt top now and let her play with it. The knit fabrics would hold up for awhile, though the flannel strips would likely fray.

At this point this project is a quilt top - it still needs to be layered with backing fabric and quilted.

A quilt is comprised of three layers - quilt top, batting, and backing fabric. This quilt sandwich is secured with quilting stitches that run through all layers. It is our quilting stitches that secure our quilts and help them last for years.

Video 3 - 3 Tips for Machine Quilting with Knit Fabrics

Now it's time to quilt our baby onesie quilt to secure the layers together. This will also help our baby quilt wear well through hundreds of washes.

Learn three tips for machine quilting with knit fabrics. Hopefully this will help you avoid some big mistakes I made with Betty's baby clothes quilt:

What NOT to Do With Your Onesie Quilt

I honestly ran into trouble quilting Betty's baby clothes quilt. I basted my quilt with just a Minky backing, thinking the flannel fabric foundation strips would be enough batting in the middle.

Unfortunately the knit fabrics really began to stretch as I quilted over them. The minky backing fabric I selected didn't support my baby clothes quilt top. With no batting in the middle, the fabrics stretched like crazy.

I decided to rip out of my quilting stitches and start over. It's not fun making a mistake like this, so I hope you will be able to avoid this particular issue!

5. The Key to Quilting with Knit Fabrics

After a lot of frog stitching (rip it! rip it!) I layered my baby onesie quilt with a woven cotton backing fabric and thick needle punched cotton batting. I used Quilter's Dream Cotton in the Deluxe thickness which allows your quilting lines to be up to 8 inches apart.

This batting allowed me to leave more space between the lines of quilting and put less stress on the knit fabrics. With less quilting, there was less opportunity for the knit fabrics to stretch, pucker and pleat.

Here's something batting rarely gets credit for: it's a great stabilizer.

When quilting over fabric, a thicker batting will help to stabilize the quilt top. You can hide small puckers and pleats when quilting with a thick batting too.

Make sure to use a batting with your baby clothes quilt. Select a batting that allows the quilting to be up to 6 inches apart or wider. This will ensure the batting has been manufactured to be stable, even with minimal quilting stitches.

6. Simple Quilting for Baby Clothes Quilt

I loaded Betty's baby clothes quilt on my rolling rail quilting frame. This quilting frame is set up larger than your quilt so you can stitch across from edge to edge in one pass. I can layer and baste my quilt directly on this style of quilting frame.

Did you know you can put a home sewing machine on a quilting frame?

I used our new affordable computerized quilting software, QCT 6, to plan, place, and stitch a large scale Heart Paisley design. This quilting process was so fast and easy, Betty's baby clothes quilt was only loaded on the frame for 2 hours!

The final step for finishing this baby quilt is to bind the edges. Click Here to find my three part quilt binding tutorial to learn all the steps to finishing your baby onesie quilt.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

The Author: Leah Day

Leah Day is a sewing and longarm machine dealer and online quilting teacher. She has been designing quilts since her first nine patch quilt in 2005. Leah and Josh celebrated having a new baby in 2021. Betty has inspired many new baby quilt patterns and already loves playing in Leah's sewing space. 

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