How I made a knockoff of Anthropologie’s popular Catalina bedding in Aqua for my daughter’s dorm room.
When my daughter told me she wanted Anthropologie’s Catalina bedding in aqua for her dorm room, I figured I could make a pretty good knockoff for a fraction of the cost. While I’m happy with the results, there are a few things I would do a little differently if I had it to do over again. Read on to see how you can achieve the same look, and learn from my mistakes.
Supplies You’ll Need:
Please note: I made a twin size quilt and a standard sham, so modify these amounts accordingly if you plan on making a larger size and/or more shams
2-3 water soluble ink pens (you can get these from Walmart for $2-$3 a piece)
NOTE: DO NOT USE DISAPPEARING OR AIR SOLUBLE INK PENS! You may find that all your hard work tracing the design goes down the drain if you don’t get your project completed quickly enough!
4-6 spools thread (110 yds ea)
NOTE: If your local fabric/crafts store doesn’t have enough on hand for your project, this is a great source for Gutermann thread – search her auctions for 6 spools (you choose the color) for $9.59 w/free shipping! I used Gutermann color #600 to go with the shade of aqua we picked for this project.
3 spools elastic thread (30 yds ea) (I bought mine at JoAnn’s, but also saw them at Walmart)
Large piece of light-colored poster board (don’t get the rigid kind, just a large piece about the weight of cardstock)
Quilt batting (purchase the size needed for your project)
The rest of the supplies listed below are talked about in more detail below:
A free-motion or darning foot for your sewing machine.
Optional – Fabric dye
Optional – 4 rubber fingertips or large rubber bands
Here’s a picture of the darning foot I used on my Bernina. This type of foot has a rounded toe that travels just above the surface of the fabric, and keeps the fabric from coming up with the needle. If you don’t have one for your sewing machine, just Google “free motion foot” or “darning foot” along with your sewing machine model. There are many out there made for most makes of sewing machines. If you’ve never purchased a foot for your machine, be sure you get the correct shank type.
This is the fabric I purchased from Joann’s. It’s 100% cotton bleached muslin, 120″ wide. I purchased 6 yards at $7.99/yd. With a 50% off coupon, I spent about $25 on fabric.
Purchasing the fabric this wide allowed me to make the entire quilt without having to worry about seaming it. However, if you are making a larger quilt, you may have to.
My daughter wanted her quilt to be aqua, like the one on the Anthropologie website. I couldn’t find a fabric that would work, so I decided to dye some cotton muslin instead. I purchased several colors of Rit liquid fabric dye and made a small sample of each color. The one we decided on was the Aquamarine, straight out of the bottle (not mixed with any other color).
NOTES ON DYING YOUR FABRIC: Purchase enough fabric to complete the WHOLE project at once (i.e. if you think you might want another sham later, go ahead and get enough fabric to make it). Then dye the fabric all at once. Even using a color straight out of the bottle, it will be difficult to go back later and dye another piece separately and get the shade to match exactly.
That said, I used way too much dye when I first dyed our fabric, and it came out really dark. I think I had used a bottle and a half for 6 yards of fabric, and followed the directions, letting it agitate for a full 30 minutes. After letting it go through a full wash cycle after that, I realized that it was too dark. Fortunately, I was able to get the exact color we wanted by 1) washing the fabric again with a package of Rit Color Remover and 2) washing the fabric a third time, letting it soak for a while with a cup of bleach added to the water. If I were doing it again, I would probably start with 1/4 – 1/2 bottle of dye and go from there. I would rather have to add more dye later than to try to take dye away.
Here’s where the poster board comes in. If you look closely at the picture on the Anthropologie website, you’ll see that they used a pattern of repeating arches in different sizes. The pattern they used consists of 2 rows of large, 5 rows of medium, and 2 rows of small. Then they repeated this pattern three more times, for a total of 4 times to make the quilt. I don’t know what size quilt they used in that picture (of the quilt laid flat) but I used that layout for my twin.
If you are proficient with a graphics program, that helps. I created three different sized arches in my graphics program, the medium size twice as big as the small, and the large size twice as big as the medium. Working on each size separately, duplicate a single row of arches across the page in your graphics program and then print it out on regular paper. Cut very carefully along the lines. Lay the pattern down on your poster board and trace it. This will be the pattern you’ll use on your fabric. It won’t be long enough to trace all the way along the length of your piece of fabric, but just pick it up, move it over, and keep tracing. To keep the spacing even between my rows of arches, I created several different “strips” with different sized arches on each side. For example, looking at the picture above, you’ll see that created a strip that has medium sized arches on one side, and small sized arches approximately 1/2″ below the bottom of the medium arches. That way, when I was ready to switch to a different size arch, the spacing would be consistent. Make sense? Of course, you don’t have to do it that way if you’re good at eyeballing. That’s just the way I chose to do it.
Here’s a look at the overall rows. As you can see, the middle arches are at the top, followed by 2 rows of small arches, then 2 rows of large arches, 5 rows of middle sized arches, and so on. Also notice that the arches aren’t stacked directly on top of each other, they’re staggered. I left 1/2″ in between each row. As you can see, my tracing wasn’t perfect, i.e. some of the arches aren’t closed at the bottom, some of my arches were a little crooked, etc. In the end, those little things won’t show, I promise! Also, if you are going for the same look as the Anthropologie quilt (and, let’s face it, isn’t that why you’re reading this?) be sure to draw your rows up and down the length of the bed, not across.
NOTE: Read carefully here, because this is where I tell you what I would do differently if I had it to do over again!
TIP #1: I was aiming for a finished size of 68″ x 86″, the same size as the Anthropologie twin size quilt. I knew that the puffy side of the quilt would require more fabric than the reverse because of all the puffing, but I underestimated how much more. I honestly can’t give you an exact measurement here, except to tell you that you want to sew the fabric (as instructed in later photos) until you have the dimensions you want WITHOUT HAVING TO PULL OR STRETCH THE FABRIC. In other words, sew the top of the quilt, lay it out on a flat surface, being sure not to pull it (so that the puffs will stand up and be full) and then measure it. If it’s not big enough, just trace more arches, connecting them to the ones you already did, and sew some more until it’s big enough. (You won’t be able to do this if you don’t allow enough fabric to begin with!) I was pulling my fabric to make it fit, and as a result, I don’t feel like the finished quilt is puffy enough. :( Still unsure how much fabric to allow? If I were doing this again, I would allow about 1.5 x the finished size. In other words, for the quilt to be 68″x86″, I would probably start with a piece of fabric 68″x1.5=102″ wide by 86″x1.5=129″ long. You can always cut it smaller when you’re done, but not bigger. Please don’t hold me to these measurements though, because there are so many variables here, as you’ll discover after you read the next section.
TIP #2: The second thing I would do differently is to either 1) make my arches bigger or 2) leave out the small arches. So let me give you the dimensions of my arches. My small arches are 2″ wide x 1.25″ tall. That doesn’t include the extra 1/2″ in between rows. The medium arches are 4″ wide x 2.5″ tall, and the large arches are 8″ wide x 5″ tall. That said, I might have changed my mind on this one if I had followed tip #1 above. After finishing the quilt, I really liked the look of the large and medium arches. I felt like they were a great size.
Next step: Sew, sew, sew and SEW! Yes, this will take a little while, especially if you are making a larger size quilt (I didn’t say this was quick, just less expensive!) I worked on this part for the better part of 2 whole days while my kids were at camp. If you don’t have that luxury, leave your sewing machine out, put in a good movie, grab the remote control and work on it whenever you find a little bit of time.
For this project, we are going to combine the techniques used for shirring and free-motion machine quilting. But first, there are a few things you will need to do before starting.
1) Drop your feed dogs. If you don’t know what they are, they’re those little rows of teeth just under the needle that grab hold of the fabric and move it along. Only on this project, you don’t want it to move the fabric along, because we are not sewing in a straight line. At all. I can only speak for sure about my Bernina, but I do believe that most sewing machines will let you do this. Mine is a large button on the right hand side near the bottom that presses in to drop the feed dogs. If you can’t figure out how, consult your user’s manual or google it for your particular machine.
2) Attach your free motion or darning foot. This is also a good time to install a new needle. You’re *supposed* to do that for every new project.
3) Set your stitch length to 0. Don’t worry, you will be controlling the stitch length yourself, but apparently doing this creates less wear and tear on your sewing machine, because the parts on the inside won’t be moving unnecessarily.
4) HAND WIND the elastic thread onto your bobbin. Do NOT try to wind it on the machine, it will be wound too tightly. But don’t wind it loosely, just keep it nice and neat without pulling on the elastic. Yes, it’s kind of a pain, but we want lots of give and stretch here.
5) Tighten your bobbin (bottom) thread tension. Again, consult your user’s manual if you have never adjusted your bobbin tension. The bobbin case on my Bernina has a little screw on the outside that I adjusted with a screwdriver. Many machines (mine included) will also let you adjust the tension with the turn of a knob or the press of a button. This is what’s going to give your quilt those beautiful puffs.
6) PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! I had never done any free motion stitching before, so I practiced for over an hour on a scrap piece to not only get the feel of it, but also to get the tension the way I wanted it. It’s important here to use the same fabric that you’ll be making your quilt out of, otherwise, your tension settings will be off. LISTEN UP, because here’s another place I would do it a little differently if I had it to do over again. I would probably tighten my bobbin thread up a little tighter than I did the first time, to make my puckers stand up a little more. Just experiment, doing several rows of arches on one setting and see if you get the look you are going for. It’s hard to tell if you only do one or two rows, so try to do at least three rows. If your puffs are TOO puffy, loosen your tension. If they aren’t standing up enough, tighten your tension. Then practice some more.
7) You’ll need to back-stitch 4-5 stitches at the beginning and at the end of each row. You don’t want that elastic to pop out! Also, I found that doing a single back-stitch at the top edge of where the U’s joined each other helped to maintain the shape of the “U” a little better.
Looking at the picture above, you can see that my stitches aren’t perfectly even, but no one will notice that on the finished project. Also, I extended the lines from each side of the “U” to connect to the bottom of the “U” on the row above. In other words, that 1/2″ spacing between rows ended up being stitched. Sorry, I know I’ve switched from saying “arches” to saying “U” but it just depends on which way they’re facing in the picture!
If you’ve read all the way down to here, I’ll throw one more little bit of information in for you. I found a good website that describes free motion machine quilting and gives some tips. I wish I had seen it myself before I started. They mention what to do if your fingers start slipping on the fabric, which mine did. I ended up using some large rubber bands wrapped (not too tightly!) around the index and middle finger of each hand. That definitely helped, but the website I pointed you to actually recommends putting rubber fingertips (like the ones that you can purchase from an office supply store) on each of your thumbs and index fingers. I will definitely add these to my tool box if I do any more free motion quilting.
I also made a standard sized sham, in which case I just used the small arches and repeated them across the whole front of the sham. Again, if I had it to do over again, I would have allowed for a larger piece here so I didn’t have to stretch it so much (and therefore the puffs would have been more pronounced) and I also might have made the arches a little bigger.
If you’re wondering about the sheet of paper, it’s because I did the sham first (as a sort of practice piece). I printed the arches on a piece of paper, and then placed the paper underneath the fabric and traced. While the results ended up okay, it would have been impractical to try to move the piece of paper over and over again underneath the large quilt top. I definitely don’t think I could have gotten the arches lined up doing it that way. If you have a ping pong table you can lay your quilt top onto, that’s definitely the way to go!
After sewing the arches, I constructed the sham with an envelope closure, inserting a layer of quilt batting in between the stitched piece and a flat piece of fabric. Sorry I don’t have pictures of the construction of the sham (or the quilt, for that matter), but I can provide more detailed instructions on the construction if you want. Just leave a comment below. Also, there are many tutorials on the internet that show you how to make a sham with an envelope closure.
Above is the sham after all of the arches were stitched. Here I had pinned it flat to a blanket and then sprayed it with water to remove the ink lines. I did have to stretch it a little to make it big enough. Remember, the more you stretch it, the less your puffs will stand up. Mine here are almost flat.
As mentioned in the previous photo, this piece was layered with batting and then another flat piece on the bottom. I also layered quilt batting in between the two pieces I used to construct the envelope closure, but I didn’t bother sewing arches on the back side.
Once you’ve gotten the arches sewn, do a little happy dance, because you’re almost done!
Putting the quilt together is a piece of cake.
1) Layer the stitched piece on top of a flat piece of fabric, right sides together (my flat piece measured 69″ x 87″, allowing a half inch seam allowance on all sides) and put those two pieces on top of a layer of quilt batting.
2) Stitch along the outside edge of the quilt (I used 1/2″ seam allowance) through all three layers all the way around, leaving a hole 1-2ft wide to turn the quilt right-side out.
3) Clip the corners, serge the raw edges (optional) and then flip the quilt right-side out.
4) To sew up the hole, turn the edges of the fabric to the inside 1/2″ (or whatever seam allowance you used) and pin together. Then stitch close (like 1/8″ to 1/16″) to the edge. Finally, stitch again around the whole quilt, 1/2″ or 3/4″ from the edge, making sure to keep the seam turned fully out (pin if necessary to hold in place) and catching the quilt batting in your seam.
5) Lastly, if you ended up having to stretch your stitched piece flat, like I did, it might be necessary to tack your quilt layers together in a few spots to keep the bottom layer from rolling over to the top. I did this by finding the place where two arches were joined, and stitching over the top of that join, back-stitching and going over it again. I did this all around the outside edge, about 4-5 inches from the edge, at every large arch (on one end) and every other medium arch on the other end of the quilt. If that doesn’t make any sense, let me know and I’ll try to take more pictures and describe it a little better. But you probably won’t need to do this part if you make your stitched piece large enough.
7) Don’t forget to mist the quilt top lightly with water when you’re all done to get the ink lines out! (You could also do this before joining the quilt top and bottom, but just be sure you’re all done stitching the arches, because if you have to add more arches, you’ll want to be able to see where the rest of them are!)
I don’t have an exact cost breakdown, but I’m guessing I spent somewhere close to $50 to make both the quilt and the sham. Not bad for what would have cost me $346 + shipping and tax!
Above is a closeup of the sham.
UPDATE: Actually, both pieces are on sale now, so it would be more like $260 + shipping and tax, but depending on what your time is worth, making it yourself is probably still a bargain, especially if you want to make it in a custom color! Imagine this with fabric dyed in an ombre pattern…oooooh!
If you use this tutorial to make your own Catalina bedding knockoff, or if you are inspired by it to make something similar, please leave a link in the comments below and share. I would LOVE to see it!
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