How to Make an Easy Carry Stadium Quilt

When I decided to make a quilt for Erik and Mae to take to Oregon State football games to keep them warm on cool Autumn nights, I wanted something large enough for two, but easy to carry to and from the field.  I looked at a lot of different ideas for accomplishing this, but the ones I found invariably involved something like a bag or a strap that was separate from the quilt itself.  With the excitement of a game and a crowd of people, I worried that an unattached bag or strap would become separated from the quilt and lost.  I wanted to come up with something that would serve the function of keeping the quilt in a tidy package, and also be loss-proof.  This is what I came up with.

Start with this:

Carry it like this:

The quilt has attached ties to keep it in a neat bundle like a sleeping bag, and it also has a shoulder strap so that it can be carried leaving both hands free.

Want to know how I did it?  It took me a while to figure out the easiest and best solution, and it couldn't be simpler to do.   It was a little difficult to write this tutorial and decide what words to use to get the point across.  Please feel free to email me if any of this is confusing or if you have questions about it.

Okay, here we go.

Materials you'll need:

One completed, but unbound, quilt
Quilt binding, unattached
Medium-weight fusible interfacing (I used Pellon)
Approximately 4 yards of 1/2-inch wide polyester twill tape (available at JoAnn)
One quarter-yard fabric for your shoulder strap
Basic sewing supplies (thread, cutter, scissors, rulers, marking tools)

You'll first want to decide which side of the quilt you want on the outside after it is rolled up for carrying.  In this case, I wanted the quilt top with the Oregon State fabric to show when the quilt was being carried--school spirit being what it is, you know.  So I placed the quilt on the floor face down.   (Use whatever work surface is most comfortable for you.)  Then I folded it into thirds by first folding one third toward the middle,

and then folding the other side to the edge of the first fold.

Then, for ease of rolling, I first folded the quilt in half

and then rolled it up starting at the folded end.

Once you have it rolled into a nice little bundle, you'll want to take two measurements.  You'll want to know how long the bundle is to guide you in deciding how long you want your strap to be.

You'll also want to know how big around the package is to decide how long to make the ties.

My quilt bundle was 20 inches long and 19 inches around.  For ease of math, I rounded the second number to 20.

Now you'll want to decide how long you want your carrying strap to be.  I wanted mine to be long enough to use as a shoulder strap.  If you just want it to be a hand-carrying strap, by all means make it shorter.  It really doesn't matter . . . whatever feels the most convenient to you.  This project is all about carrying convenience.

You'll also be deciding the length of your ties at this point.  My ties are designed to wrap around the quilt and tie in a bow.  I made them long enough to go around the rolled quilt (20 inches) plus 12 inches for each side of the bow--a total of 20 + 12 + 12 = 44 inches.

Having made those decisions, you're ready to do some sewing.  First,  you'll want to machine sew the quilt binding to the top or outside of the quilt.  Do not finish the second side until you've attached the shoulder strap and the ties. First you'll need to make them.

To make the shoulder strap:

I decided to make my shoulder strap length the width of my fabric, or 42 inches long, and 3 1/2 inches wide (when finished).  I first cut two width-of-fabric strips, 4 inches wide (the extra half inch is for seam allowances).  Then I used one strip of Pellon midweight fusible interfacing to line one of the strips.

Press both fabric strips flat, and then iron a strip of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of one strip.  I cut my interfacing a scant 4 inches in order to reduce bulk in the seam allowances.

Once that is accomplished, place your two strips of fabric right sides together

and then sew one-quarter inch from both long sides of the strips as shown below.  Leave the short ends open for turning.

Turn the strip right side out and press it flat.  Be careful to press it so that the seam is smooth and flat and the stitching comes right to the edge.  You may need to use a stylus or a yard stick to help you get the fabric strip nice and flat.

Once that's accomplished, stitch along each long edge of the strap as close to the edge as possible.

Once you've sewn down both long edges, you can give your strap a nice heft by stitching one-quarter inch toward the center from each line of edge stitching, first one side, and then the other, repeating a line of stitching one quarter inch from the previous line, until you've sewn across the entire width of the strap.  (In other words, your lines of stitching will eventually meet in the middle.)  By stitching on alternating sides, you'll prevent your strap from developing a curve as you go.

You may decide to use less stitching or to put your lines farther apart.  I like the strength and heft this extra stitching provides.

Now you'll want to fold your strap in half and mark the middle.

At this point, you can cut off your unfinished selvage edges and then stitch close to the edge of each end of the strap to finish it off.  You do not need a finished hem, as the raw ends will be sewn into the binding when finished.

Open up your strap where you've marked the center.

Now you're going to give your strap a "handle" for strength and ease of carrying.  You may decide to skip this step.  I like the strength it gives the strap.

To make the strap handle:  

At the middle of the strap, fold it in half horizontally in order to find the horizontal center.  Finger press to make a fold mark.

Then use your fabric marker to mark the horizontal center.

Now measure four inches on each side of the vertical center and mark there.

Now fold each edge of the long side of the strap to the horizontal center beginning and ending four inches from each side of the vertical center and pin.

Now you're going to stitch around all four sides of this "handle".  Begin at one short side, four inches from the vertical center, and stitch across.  

When you reach the opposite edge of the strap, turn, and stitch down the long side until you reach the opposite side four inches from the vertical center (eight inches total), turn again, and stitch across.  Continue stitching until you've stitched all four sides of the "handle".

Once that's accomplished, you're going to zigzag stitch down the center of the strap, stitching down the edges to complete the handle.  Don't forget to switch to your zigzag foot for this!  (Can you tell I'm getting used to new contact lenses?  I wanted you to share the blur experience.  I'm really nice that way.)

Now you've completed the handle in the center of your strap.  Remove the pins.

Pause to admire your work.

With that step, you've completed the shoulder strap for your easy-carry quilt.  We'll attach it in a minute, but first, you'll need to make your ties.  

To make the ties:

I used 1/2-inch polyester twill tape for this.  You'll need to cut two ties to the desired length, in my case 44 inches each.  Then you'll need to use a lighter to melt the cut ends to prevent fraying.  (Sorry, no images of the melting part.  I sort of like my house in its current not-burned-down state.)

I wasn't happy with the appearance of these once the ends were melted, and so I tied a knot in each end of both ties to give it a more finished appearance.

Once you've done that, you'll want to fold each tie in half, and then you'll be ready to attach the strap and ties to the quilt.  

Attaching the ties and strap to the quilt:

Once you have your binding sewn on, re-roll the quilt as before.  Going to the bottom-most layer (which should be the quilt center), use your fabric marker to mark where you'll want your straps and ties to go.  I decided to put the shoulder strap at either end of the bundle and the ties toward the center.  You may decide to do it differently, depending on the length of the rolled quilt and the length of your shoulder strap.

My finished shoulder strap is 3 1/2 inches wide.  I measured in one inch from the left edge of the rolled quilt and marked a 3 1/2-inch segment for placement of the left end of the shoulder strap.  I made another mark 1 1/2 inches toward the center for placement of the left-side tie.

Repeat this step one inch from the right side of the quilt by marking a 3 1/2-inch segment for placement of the right end of the strap, and another mark 1 1/2-inches toward the center of the quilt for placement of the right tie.

I placed the left end of my strap, within the marks I made previously and pinned it in place.  Then  I placed the center fold of the tie on its mark 1 1/2 inches from the right edge of the shoulder strap and pinned it in place.

Making certain the strap was not twisted, I then repeated the same step for the right end of the shoulder strap 

and the center fold of the right tie.

You'll want to make certain that your ties are properly placed and long enough to tie in a bow before you continue.

You'll also want to check to see that your strap is not twisted, that it is the length you want, and that it is properly placed.

If you're satisfied, secure the strap ends and tie centers in place by machine stitching them within the seam allowance for the binding.  

Now, you're ready to fold over and complete your binding, either by machine or by hand, whichever you prefer.  I prefer hand-sewing the second side of my binding.

There will be stress at the points on the binding where the strap and ties are, and so I recommend machine sewing over those areas a couple of times once you've completed your binding.  This will help prevent your binding stitches from breaking at those stress points.  This is how I did it.

Since most of the stress will be on the shoulder strap, I first folded the shoulder strap up (as if it were being carried) and then pinned it flat against the binding strip.  

Then, I stitched across the width of the strap on the top side of the quilt.  By sewing from the top of the quilt, I was better able to see where my stitching was going to end up.  If you prefer, you might choose to sew from the other side.  Either way, using a zigzag stitch, sew several rows of stitching across the width of the strap at both edges of the binding.  This will make your strap nice and strong, and it will help prevent the weight of the quilt from pulling your binding stitches loose.

For the ties, I left them in the down position and sewed several rows of straight stitches at the edge of the binding to reinforce the hand stitching.

That's it!  You're finished!

Now get thyself to the next game, keep thyself warm, and cheer your favorite team on to victory!


Oregon State--Fight, Fight, Fight!


Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

What a great lesson, Barb. You amaze me with your generous nature. Many thanks.

Your daughter-in-law's red hair so reminds me of my late sister's first grandbaby who is about four months old already with a head full of the orange stuff like her mama. Same shade as your DIL's. Isn't it lovely?

Happy Mother's Day, Barb, you have been a great mom for several decades now, Congrats on successful kids.

PJ said...

Thank your for the great idea and tutorial. Love it. I'll be making mine in Purple 'n Gold. Go Dawgs!

Snoodles said...

Fabulous quilt, and a brilliant idea! I have this bookmarked....gotta make one in orange and purple....Go Tigers!!

Melissa Corry said...

What an awesome way to take the quilt along!! Love it!!

KatieQ said...

Thanks for sharing the tutorial. The pictures make it easy to follow and are much appreciated.

Sarah Craig said...

Awesome quilt, and a great and useful tutorial! Whoop whoop!!

Annabellouise said...

What a good idea. This would also be useful for the Globe Theatre in London. If you are lucky enough to get a seat (and not be a groundling), you need a cushion. This would be easy to carry and very stylish too.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Very clever and a well written tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing! In my case...it'll be made in Seattle Mariners colors.