When the Northern Hemisphere is having summer, the southern hemisphere is having winter. Those who live near the equator have a more temperate climate and those who live at a high elevation have a cooler climate year around.
Sometimes we want to make a quilt that does not have the heavy battings that are traditionally sandwiched in between the quilt layers. 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 also very light weight and much easier to launder.
A summer quilt consists of a quilt top and very light filler such as thin flannel and a backing. If you are using thin flannel for quilt filler please 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.
How to make a summer quilt with flannel
Traditional construction binding -- 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 zigzag in place through all layers. A summer quilt could also be tied using crochet cotton or embroidery floss. Bind your summer quilt as usual.
Stitch and through construction -- Piece quilt top as usual. Layer the flannel filler and then the quilt top right side up and backing right side down. Stitch around the entire quilt using a half inch seam allowance, 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 overlapping area to be nearer the center of the quilt be sure to 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.
Summer quilts may be lightly quilted, quilt, machine tacked, or you may tie them without batting as you desire. Many beautiful summer quilts are only topstitched around the outside edge. Enjoy your new summer quilts. They will be light enough to cover in the warmest weather and will wash easily.
Finishing Is Better Than Perfect!
Do you have a pile of "works in progress" (WIP) that are waiting for you to get finished? If you do you are not alone. Most quilters have this problem. When do you quit calling a project a WIP and start calling it a UFO or "un-finished object"? When does a WIP become a UFO? Is it a UFO after five years or ten years? Remember there are no "quilt police"!
If a project is something I still want to finish I would call it a "work in progress". If it is just sitting there in a box and I have no intention of finishing it, I would call that a "un-finished object".
Most quilters have many projects that are either WIP's or UFO's. First sort through them and decide what quilts you wish to finish -- those are WIP's. If you have no desire to finish a project for any reason -- you don't like the fabric, the grandchildren are all teenagers and you no longer need a baby quilt, it is OK not to finish. These are UFO's. If you don't think you will like the finished project go on to something else that does please you and finish that.
From your stack of UFO's and WIP's, choose projects you might finish for charity and donate the remainder of projects unfinished to charity or take it to your guild meeting and place it on the "free" table or wait until your guild has a "yard sale" night. You will be surprised at how often another quilter will take something you started and finish it in a way you would never have thought.
Buy a small spiral notebook or journal. List each project you wish to finish on a separate page. Give yourself a reasonable time allotment to finish them. Put an approximate finish date on the page. This is finishing date is simply a goal only -- not a requirement. If your life gets the "crazies" and you don't finish in your time plan, simply move the date back a few weeks or months and go forward. When you do finish something tear that page out of your notebook. You will only have a listing of the projects that yet need to be finished.
On each page with each project, list the items you need to purchase to finish, items such as fabric, thread, or a tool. Add fabric swatches as needed. That way the next time you go to the quilt shop you will have a ready list. Sometimes projects get put away simply because we have run out of something we need before we can finish.
If you feel that you need a large block of time to work on a certain project, try breaking the project down into do-able time commitments. If you wait for a large block of time to come first, it will never come. If you break it down into do-able time allotments you will accomplish your goals. Cut enough fabric for only a few blocks. Keep the fabric piles next to the sewing machine. If you only have ten minutes you will have time to chain piece several sections. The next time you have to work you can press these units. Another time you can stitch these units together. Another time you can cut more units. And continue. You will surprise yourself about how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time if you are organized.
Don't let your previous projects keep you from going to the quilt shop and purchasing new books and patterns. All of us love to go to the quilt shop and buy a book, fabric, and supplies for a new project. Try to alternate beginning a new project with working on one of your WIP's or UFO's. That way if you finish an older WIP or UFO you can reward yourself by working on your new projects.