Sea Horse Embroidery Quilt How To

Article Posted 02 October 2017

Marilyn Parker - Lindylou Kidsworld

Hi there, this is Marilyn Parker from Lindylou Kidsworld. This blog is going to be a “how to” for a quilt that I have just made. Hopefully it will inspire you to have a go yourself, if you are not already hooked on doing machine embroidery on larger items.

When I make a quilt, I have either a custom order to fill or an idea for a stock quilt. With a custom quilt, if the customer can’t see something they like from my gallery of previous masterpieces, I steer them towards the Bunnycup site for inspiration. I then work with them to get colours/themes or fabrics that they like. With stock quilts, I only have myself to please (and then hope it sells later on!)

I bought Bunnycup “Seahorses” a while ago. Love these quirky designs. I like to coordinate fabrics, and there was nothing around, so I kept the designs in my ”to use one day” embroidery folder.

So then two things happened:

  1. Spotlight (large fabric chain in Australia) has a new range of sea life fabrics out this season, so I scooped up 2 metres of the seahorse one.
  2. The online showcase group that I help administer is running an “Under the Sea” market in November…….. 


For my large cot quilts, I have developed a “recipe” for different styles of embroidery re sizing and fabric use.

TIP: When I use colourfill embroidery, I used software to resize the embroidery designs to suit the effect I want. I use designs that fit into a 5 x 7 inch hoop, so make them 6 inches at the wider/longest point. When I use the applique designs, I use software to resize to over 7.5 inches at the widest/longest point.

For ALL of my embroidery blocks I cut the background fabric to 12.5 inch squares. I find that by not skimping that the hoop has a better grip on things and the design doesn’t move too much. I also use a medium to heavy weight cut away interfacing to help stabilise the work (the stuff you would use in clothing).

The Seahorse designs are colourfill, so I load all the embroidery designs onto my USB stick, resize as needed, and plug in my embroidery machine. On my cutting table I set out the main fabric that I have purchased and match up the threads I will be using. I also match up 6 - 12 different pieces of fabrics that will be used for the ½ border around each block. The full width of the fabric is handy as it usually is enough to make up 4 pieces to border each square. (refer pics A – 1 & 2).

A. Fabric Matching 1

A. Fabric Matching 2

So, you will have 12 background blocks 12.5 inches square – which will be cut back to 9.5 inches once finished and pressed.

Then for each square you will have 2 lengths of fabric 1 inch x 9.5 inches, and 2 lengths of fabric 1 inch x 10.5 inches. (48 lengths in total – 24 x 9.5 inches, and 24 x 10.5 inches.)

You will also need to get your main fabric and cut it in 2.5 inch strips by the length of the fabric. You will need to cut enough strips to be able to then cut the strips in 10.5 inch lengths (You need 31 of them).

Then you need to cut 20 of 2.5 inch squares from the back ground fabric (or any fabric you like).

So you have done all the embroidery using the interfaced backed squares, and have meticulously cut the residual backing from around the embroidery. I try to leave ½ inch of the interfacing around each design- it helps to stabilise the design. You have pressed them all, and cut them back to 9.5 inches. I use a 9.5 inch template, which you can get from all good quilting stores. It saves making errors in cutting.

I always then lay all the squares out in a 3 x 4 set out to see how they look together. I will change various ones around so as not to have too much of the same colour together. I also don’t like my characters looking out, so I change squares around to make sure they are all looking toward the centre! I also lay the 1 inch strips with each square and make sure they look ok too. Again I try to have variation and not too many similar shades next to each other.

Once I am happy with the set out, I stack them up in order, with the top left hand square at the top of the pile – all ready to sew together. My machine has been set up with a ¼ inch seam foot, so I can keep my seams even and regular.

So I am at my machine with the embroidered squares on the left with the 1 inch strips of the 9.5 inch lengths. I do all of these first, usually down the length of each side of the large squares. Once I have all of them done I press the seams with a steam iron – always press the seam to the side AWAY from the white fabric (refer pic). Then bring them all back to the machine and sew the 24 10.5 inch strips across the top & bottom of each square. Press again. (refer pic B)

B. Squares with border

When all 12 bordered squares are sewn and pressed, I put them all one at a time on the cutting table again and make sure of the accurate sizing (using my 10.5 inch square template)– they should all be 10.5 inches square each now. I find I always need to trim a bit off (refer to pic). You want to have them all as perfect as possible. Be mindful to keep them in the same order all the time. (refer pics C – 1 & 2).

C. Cutting Corners 1

C Cutting Corners 2

Then using 16 of the precut 2.5 x 10.5 strips, sew one strip in between each block, with one at each end – keeping the 4 rows of 3 squares in order. Press the seams away from the white.

TIP: Pressing all seams to the side away from the white helps with placement later on, and with pretty accurate points. (refer to pic D)

D. Pressing Seams

Put these aside for now.

I was taught: measure twice, cut once.

So, take the 31 strips of 10.5 fabric and your 20 2.5 inch squares. You are going to put together 4 small squares and 3 long strips 5 times. Press all of the seams away from the white. You now have two piles like this (see pic F) I always recheck the measurements of the border (sashing) strips now too, as it is easier to adjust before you put the strips and squares all together.

E Embroidered Squares and Sashing

F Matching Seams to Pin and Sew

I take the top row of the joined squares and a strip of the joined sashing and pin them together along the top, matching up the joins, pinning as you go. You will see how the squares line up really well where you have pressed the pieces to the side. I pin vertically to the cut edges, this way there is less puckering, and usually less needle breakage. Repeat this all the way through the rows of embroidered squares. (see pics G, H & I)

G Pins on Vertical

H Matching Seams

I Front View Perfect Corners

Then go and press your masterpiece from the back making sure you keep all the seams going away from the large white squares. You will note at this stage, the small white squares will have fabric pressed onto them. This is fine. Then turn your work around and give it a press from the right side to make sure there are no tucks or puckers. Then stand back and admire your work! Top layer of your quilt is done. (see pics J, K, & L)

J Square with Sashing Complete

K Squares in Rows Complete.

L Top Layer Finished

If you are interested in how I put a quilt together and finish it off, please ask and we can discuss this another day.

My next blog will cover making a crazy patchwork bodice sundress using the koala from the appliqued Aussie animal designs (this can be adapted to any dress pattern you prefer of course).

Disclaimer: The methods I use are methods I have developed over many years of practice and making endless errors. They work well for me and I am glad to share. They in no way either reflect or are affiliated with any professional teachings.

Thank you and please visit me at my Facebook page Lindy Lou Kidsworld.

This project uses the Bunnycup Embroidery Seahorses embroidery design set.

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