Concrete Cabin Quilting Tutorial

© Kelly Cole 2011                                                                                                                        

Concrete Cabin is easy to construct -- and to quilt. Quilting the top together with the batting and backing makes something useful out of the beautiful design, colors & fabric, instead of a UFO lurking in the stacks and drawers. Embellishments like feathers and swirls are exciting to think about but maybe a bit intimidating to start. There are some quilts that just don't need anything fancy and the concrete cabin is one of those simple straight forward quilts that looks good simply quilted. You can make this quilt from start to finish, I promise! You can quilt the quilt in just an afternoon, it took me two 1-hour (plus a little) sessions to complete -- and I didn't even mess up that much!
Find the block tutorial here and the sashing tutorial here.

You will need to start:

  • 1 concrete cabin quilt top measuring 44" x 69" approx.
  • 1 piece of batting measuring 6 inches larger than finished quilt top ex. 50"x75"
  •            (I use an 80/20 cotton poly blend)
  • 1 piece of backing measuring 6 inches larger than finished quilt top ex. 50"x75"
  • Spray adhesive -- So much easier than using safety pins. I only recently started using 505 fix spray and it has improved my end results and given me less frustration than safety pins. I strongly urge you to splurge on a can and see what you think. 
  • 2-3 bobbins wound with 40 weight thread in color of your choice*
  • spool of 40 weight thread
  • Walking foot (recommended, but not completely necessary)

Sandwiching the quilt together is a little tricky the bigger the quilt, you need a space big enough to lay everything out nice and flat. Sometimes moving furniture is in order. For the purposes of this little tutorial I'm going to show you the steps in a smaller format, but the end result is the same.
Start with supplies

Spray backing - not fabric
Notice the zig-zag joining seam? This is a really handy way to use leftover pieces of batting to make bigger batting. Just butt the two pieces together trying not to overlap and use a wide and long 3-stitch zig zag and presto scrappy batting.
Place backing first and smooth

Flip and spray batting again

Place top and smooth out wrinkles
Make sure there is batting, backing and top
on each side 
Now we are sandwiched and ready to go! Let's get our sewing machine area set up to go and figure out the plan of attack. I like to place an ironing board to the side of the machine to catch the excess weight of the quilt. This helps with keeping the stitch straight..
<<<----This is what your big Concrete Cabin top will look like when all sprayed and smoothed out. There is backing and batting bigger than the top all the way around, it might be wonky but  as long as there is batting and backing beneath it you are good to start.
Quilting plan block by block
I said we were going to quilt this simply and nothing is more simple than 1/4" seam around the inside of each of the three squares on each block. The picture above is the order to quilt the blocks in starting from the inside and working out and around. In the 1st square start on the very inside small square.
Start inside the smallest square of the middle block at 1/4"
 from the edge of the back and side.
Roll the fabric into the throat of the sewing machine.
Stop 1/4" from the edge in the needle
down position. 
Here comes the turn, careful not to get the quilt top bunched in your thread at the back of the sewing machine. Checking your thread line and making sure the thread is correctly done will save you many headaches. This is my number one reason for sewing errors - the fabric got mixed up with the thread and put it out of line.
For each turn have the needle in the down position, lift up the presser foot and turn the quilt being mindful about where the fabric is placed. While turning roll the quilt top up into the throat space just like with the first seam. Complete the inside square in the same way and backstitch* where the seams meet up.

Next move the needle to the next outer square without cutting thread. Keep the thread taught as you pull the quilt over, doing this negates any thread or tensions issues you might create when you cut thread or reach under to cut bobbin thread and move the quilt around.
Repeat seams on middle and outer square repeating the rolling, turning, back stitching and keeping the thread intact as you go. Follow the diagram at the top and go in order all the way around the quilt.
When each block is sewn and the quilt is laid on the table go through and remove all the loose threads being careful not to cut into the fabric. Do this front and back.
 Next trim excess batting and backing around quilt. Square up the side by keeping the ruler even with the line of blocks and the top of the quilt. There is usually a little fudging around at this point but try to keep it neat.
*This is what backstitching looks like on the back of the quilt,
especially noticeable when using light fabric and dark thread.
If you don't care for this look make sure your
thread/fabric choice is appropriate.
You've done it, a quilted quilt top. Wasn't that simple? I hope you liked this tutorial and that is was easy to understand. This is the third installment of making a Concrete Cabin Quilt. You may have noticed the title of this tutorial is Quilting the Quilt, part 1. In part 2 I will show how to quilt the top in a different way using the walking foot and continuous straight line quilting. This method does not use backstitching or moving the quilt from square to square. It gives a different look but still uses simple quilting techniques.
Back of the quilt all nice neat with threads removed
We began with a stack of fat quarters to make the blocks, then sashed in a simple fashion and now the quilt is held together and ready for the last step. The binding will be the last step of the quilting process and the last installment of this impromptu quilt along. If you do make a Concrete Cabin let me know and post a picture in the flickr group. I would love to see your imagination at work.

This tutorial is one of five in a Concrete Cabin Quilt Tutorial Series
Find the other tutorials by their links:

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