Making a Bubble Quilt? READ THIS FIRST!

Bubble Quilt made from Laundry Basket Favorites II fabric line by Andover Fabrics

The “Bubble Quilt” or “Biscuit Quilt” as it is sometimes called, was designed to be a super quick and easy quilt…

A “finish it one day or weekend” quilt that you can begin and finish long before you lose interest and send it sailing into the UFO (UnFinished Object) basket.

I’ve had my eye on this particular quilt pattern for a while. Being someone who loves texture and dimension I knew I couldn’t keep walking past this unique pattern for very long.  Then one morning opportunity came knocking softly on my sewing room door (in the form of another co-worker expecting baby #1!).  Opportunity kept knocking away and I felt I had no choice but to give this eye catching pattern a try.

The fabric I chose has a wide array of soft ones and a luxurious drape. I used the medium and low value fat quarters from Laundry Basket Favorites II for Andover Fabrics

Multi colored fabric strips from Laundry Basket Favorites II collection

(You can see what I did with the high value fabric here).

And, yes…even a fabriholic like myself can succumb to fabric fatigue. A quilt that is taking longer to finish than I have the time and patience for will cause me to scratch my head and ponder why I ever started the quilt in the first place.

The big, fat truth about quilting is this:

It is quite time-consuming.

Even the “quick-and-easy-finish-it-before-the-sun-sets projects. This is why is it important to mix things up and every once in a while do something completely different. Keep things interesting.

Here is where the “Bubble Quilt” becomes a welcome respite from the meticulous cutting, stitching and tedious piecing that often accompanies a typical quilt top.

It starts with a bunch of squares and, if you so choose, (aside from the backing and binding) that can be pretty much it!

For the quilt I’m making now, the top requires a total of 128 squares. (64) 5″ print squares. Each print square is backed with a 4 1/2″ white square.

The inspiration for my quilt can be found one of several PUFF QUILTS by Heidi of Honeybear Lane. I quick look at her quilting section you’ll find she is the queen of puff or bubble quilts! Her beautiful quilts give me the inspiration to make more!

My inspiration led me to her Etsy shop where I purchased the Puff Quilt Pattern.

While this “Puff” is basically sewing a row of 8 squares and then sewing each of those 8 rows together, her pattern includes a tutorial that offers many useful tips and techniques that will make sewing this quilt much easier.

A technique that I feel makes the quilt process a bit easier is not found in the tutorial. In fact, it may turn out to be a not-so good idea as I’ve not yet found a tutorial that stuffed the squares the way I did but so far, I’ve done 2 rows and can’t see a reason to not continue.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

I’m sewing ALL the squares closed and sewing EVERYTHING together FIRST.

This is the finished front (with the bottom 2 rows filled with Poly-Fil, the remaining squares are unfilled.

Multi colored fabric squares sewn together into a lap sized quilt top

This is what the back looks like:

Backside of Puff quilt top using 5' squares

It is kind of mess… I have seams going in every direction. However, all but 3 or 4 seams DO actually nest and the points DO actually match up!

I’m showing this so you can see that you can blitz through this and skip over the time-consuming task of trying to create those elusive matching points and still have a product that is cute, cuddly and gift-worthy.

Before going into detail about how and why I went ‘Off The Tracks’ when putting the squares together let me say I did, in good faith, attempt to sew these together as instructed in the pattern. Things were moving along just fine until I reached the third or fourth row. The bulk of sewing two rows together was one thing, but with each additional row, the bulkiness of the filled squares made it almost impossible to hold all the fabric layers together and keep them together and aligned long enough to get under the needle and past the foot plate.

Those of you with more experience and patience than me may not have any difficulty sewing these rows together as the pattern indicates. Looking at all the rows lined up, I saw this technique as a potential time waster. Then as frustration (and maybe a little anxiety at the prospect of never getting this quilt finished) set in, I was somehow able to use that energy to turn on a light bulb in my head and come up with, what I felt to be, a better way.

Building a Better Mouse Trap

FAbric squares sewn together and filled and closed with Shape Flex interfacing

The first step was to gather my quilt top, iron, ironing board and remnants of Shape Flex iron-on interfacing. (If you are trying this method feel free to use any other type of webbing or interfacing. Something this lighter would be preferable as long as it is fusible only on one side.)

1. Cut a small opening in the back being careful to cut ONLY the white back.

2. Fill with Poly Fill.

3. Take a 2″ x 2″ square of iron on interfacing and place directly on top of the opening.

4. Iron for 5 – 8 seconds or until fused.

Time Saving Tip:  I cut openings into ALL the back white squares first then filled one square, slapped an interfacing square on top, ironed until fused and moved on to the next square.  Continue to the end of the row then move onto the next.

I discovered this technique allowed me to complete the entire quilt top in no time!

Multi colored bubble quilt

In the image above, you can see where I added a solid border before sandwiching with a layer of batting and the backing.  The border was machine quilted to line up with the squares.  Once the border was stitched the quilt top was trimmed into a square and bound with fabric made from 2 1/2″ strips.

Bubble quilt showing binding with mitered corner and backing

Below is a close up with a better view:

Bubble quilt close up

Finishing Touches

This quilt is not like a traditional pieced quilt where the “quilting” is a series of stitches (done by hand or machine) designed to hold the layers of fabric and batting together however, the quilting technique I used is an old technique traditionally used with quilts of this size.

I threaded strands of yarn through a “chunky” needle then sewed and tied off at the corners where four squares met – approximately 10″ apart.

An inspiration photo from Annie’s shows the ties placed in the center of each square.

Annie's Puff Quilt

I would have loved to make my quilt like the one shown above

however…

1. I would never use buttons on anything to be given to a baby or toddler and,

2. Since I have the added layer of interfacing on the back of each square, I felt placing a tie in the middle of each square would make this quilt too stiff and rigid.

I do love the quilting along the border and when I have time to make a “Puff” or “Bubble” quilt of my own, I think I’ll use this pattern!

Have you made a Puff or Bubble quilt?

Do have tips and tricks to pass along to make this process even quicker and easier?

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