In many parts of the world we have a different seasons throughout the calendar year. Yet there are many countries located near the equator with warm summer weather all year around. A quilt made with regular cotton or polyester batting would be too warm and too heavy for use in warmer climates or for summer use in more temperate climates. Summer quilts are very light weight and much easier to launder.
A summer quilt consists of a quilt top, a very light filler such as thin flannel and a backing. If you are using thin flannel as a quilt filler be sure to pre-wash your flannel. Cotton flannel has a very high percentage of shrinkage. If the flannel is not preshrunk it could cause major irregularities in your quilt after the first washing and drying. Many summer quilts are made with only the top and backing -- no filler at all.
Even if it's not summer time in your part of the world, you might want to start preparing for the next warm season.
Summer quilt with flannel
Traditional construction -- First piece the quilt top as usual. When using flannel as filler, layer the top, flannel, and backing and pin well. Lightly machine quilt or machine tack.
To machine tack lower or cover the feed dogs on your machine and zig zag in place through all layers. A summer quilt could also be tied using crochet cotton or embroidery floss. Bind your summer quilt as usual.
Alternate construction -- Piece quilt top as usual. Layer flannel filler, then the quilt top right side up and backing right side down. Using a half inch seam allowance, stitch around entire quilt leaving a space at one end to turn the quilt right side out. Trim seams and turn quilt through the opening. Press the edges well. Hand or machine stitch the opening closed. Topstitch one half inch from edge if you wish.
Summer quilts do not have to be heavily quilted as the flannel won't bunch or tear through repeated washings as sometimes happens with regular batting. The seam allowances of the quilt top are all inside so they are not fraying or receiving as much stress from pulling.
Summer quilt with no filler
Batting or flannel filler is not necessary in a summer quilt. If you wish your quilt to be very lightweight you can make it with no filler. Your quilt can be constructed using either of the above methods or using the method described below.
Large pillow sham construction
First piece the top as usual. For the backing you will need two pieces. One piece of backing could be fairly large -- almost as large as the quilt top. The other can be much smaller. Or both pieces could be close to the same size. The size of your backing will determine where the overlap will be. If you wish the overlap to be near the center of the quilt plan accordingly. It is also OK for the overlap to be near one end. There are no rules here. Be sure to make sure your backing fabric is large enough so the two pieces will overlap at least five to seven inches. Determine the location of the overlap by the size of backing fabric you have available. Piece your backing as necessary.
Preparing the backing fabric -- For the edges of backing that would not be stitched into the edge of the quilt but would overlap, press under one half inch seam allowance. Fold under a quarter inch and machine stitch. You need to hem only the one edge that overlaps on both pieces. Layer quilt top right side up, layer shorter piece of backing right side down with hem toward the center of the quilt. Then layer the long piece right side down with the hem toward the center of the quilt. The raw edges of the backing would be at the outside edges of the quilt.
Stitch all the way around the edge of the quilt using a half inch seam allowance. You do not need to leave an opening to turn because you will turn the quilt right side out through the hemmed area. Press the edges. Topstitch one half inch from edge if you wish. You may hand stitch the overlap opening closed or apply snaps or Velcro to the opening if you wish but it is not required.
You may lightly quilt, machine tack, or tie the summer quilts without batting as you desire. Many beautiful summer quilts are only topstitched around the outside edge. Enjoy your new summer quilts.
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I just received a good suggestion from one subscriber, Sonya. I would like to post her email message here so you too can read it. Here it is:
Konstantin, you forgot to mention that your pillow sham instructions apply to duvet covers as well. It is a good idea to sew 3/8" roman shade rings at the corners and at intervals along the edges of the duvet, and match these to ties or short tapes with snaps, inserted into the half inch seam around the edge. While the cover is still inverted, lay the duvet on the top side of the duvet cover and tie in place. Now, turn right side out - and you have a whole new look. Needless to say, these covers may be pieced, but are neither quilted nor tied. Consequently, they require simple designs and very sturdy seams.
Cutting longs strips of fabric for borders
If you are planning borders to be cut from the lengthwise grain of fabric, they can be either cut or torn. I prefer cutting them with the rotary cutter as I like the smoother cut edge to line up the edges of the fabric when stitching, rather than the roughness of the torn edge.
First fold the fabric in half lengthwise making sure the selvages are straight and line up. Then fold the fabric in half again. If you are using a two-yard piece of fabric, your cutting length would be eighteen inches -- a size manageable on a cutting mat. Be sure your selvages are lined up properly and fabric is smooth at the folds. Make your first cut by cutting off about an inch of fabric including the selvage. If your selvage is especially wide make a slightly wider cut. Unfold this selvage piece and check if your cuts are straight and even at the fold. If not, refold the fabric and try a small cut again. I usually cut all four of my border pieces from one folding.
But before you cut another check your previous border. If you find one is a little crooked at the fold it would be still OK to use. But be sure to re-fold your fabric before your next cut and square up the edge by cutting a very small amount off. If one strip is slightly off, each successive strip will be more crooked if you don't re-fold and square up. Continue cutting until all your strips have been cut.
Many experienced quilters prefer cutting the outside border from the lengthwise grain. By doing this you have a firm edge that doe not stretch when quilting or applying the binding.