So who’s your favorite Doctor? I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Tom Baker’s incarnation… he was the jelly-baby eating Doctor Who of my childhood in England. He was a big enough deal that I actually knitted a Tom Baker scarf for my son’s dad when we were courting!
When the series got its reboot, I was tickled to see that the Daleks were still part of the story, despite their limitations as villains (stairs anyone?) The frantic, metallic “Exterminate!” was probably one of the first geek quotes I learned, soon to be followed with a whole host of inappropriate Monty Python!
Anyway… I started playing around with the idea that there could be a Dalek quilt. After I ran several drawings by my closest geeky pals (thank you Steve and Alyssa!) this is what came out: Who’s the Bad Guy?
The quilt is 50” x 80” and is perfectly sized for snuggling. And what follows here is a step by step tutorial with photos and extra tips from start to finish. As with my other pattern based tutorials, you’ll still need to buy the pattern to get the cutting info. But I trust you’re cool with that because I trust that you support artists getting paid for their talent. Go here for your buying options, or support your local quilt store by asking them to get it in for you (it’s carried by several distributors).
So let’s get started! Give the pattern and this tutorial a quick once over before you start so that you have an idea of what’s coming. Pay good attention to the drawing at the bottom of page 1 as it names all the parts/steps. Make sure you are well stocked in your favorite snacks, beverages and videos too.
First of all – make sure you have version 2 of the pattern. Look on the back cover at the bottom left for the version number. If you have v1, then I have a couple of changes for you – they are small, and don’t need more fabric than you already bought. The changes are listed here on the Errata page. BTW… it’s always a good idea to check a pattern designer’s Errata page before you start any new pattern, just in case. We can fix the things we have in-house or in our downloads, but once a pattern has left the studio for a store, the only way we have to get in touch with you is through that page!
The pattern calls out Radiance, the silk/cotton blend by Robert Kaufman for all the Dalek’s shiny metal parts. Radiance works best when paired with a lightweight stabilizer – I used Pellon Fusible Sheerweight 906F all the way through. If all that isn’t your cup of tea, then substitute cotton and skip the stabilizer.
If you’re buying Kona cottons instead of shiny stuff, I recommend 1069 Champagne for the Gold, 159 Spice for the Copper, 139 Lagoon for the Peacock, and 1005 Aqua for the lightest blue.
NOTE: if your fabric is wider than 42”, you might need less strips in a few places, so feel free to cut out the pieces as you go to save fabric.
Just for reference, I made this top (no quilting) in three sessions totaling about 15 hours, which is why you can see different weather and light day out of the window behind my cutting table! During that time I was also photographing and writing out the tutorial steps, and watching a little too much Netflix here and there, so your mileage may vary. I had all my materials on hand before I started. Including chocolate 🙂
Cut all of the parts listed under SKIRT in step 1.
If you are using Radiance or something equally silky and shiny, you’ll need the stabilizer. At this step, I cut enough fabric and stabilizer for two pieces together. The skirt is made in three pairs, so this works out well. Cut both the fabric and the stabilizer an inch bigger than you need so that you get a cleanly cut piece at the end.
NOTE: Most stabilizers are 20” wide, so save those extra bits from the side – you can use them for smaller pieces later in the pattern. Save the leftovers of the fabric for the same reason too.
Make sure to put the sticky side of the stabilizer to the back of the Radiance. When ironing, follow the instructions that came with the stabilizer, and avoid touching your iron to anything sticky!
Once you have the Skirt Body sections cut, it’s time to cut the diagonals on the bottom. I recommend cutting these one at a time, and putting them onto a design surface as you go so that you cut the wedges in the right direction – half go to the left and the other half to the right.
I align the piece up on the mat, and cut using the mat grid to find the dimension on the side of the wedge.
Now to make the accents for the bottom of the skirt. Use black Skirt Trim fabric for this step. Cut the wedges in the same way you cut the skirt.
And finally, cut the background pieces, and wedge them like the copper Skirt pieces. Put them all in the right order on your design surface, and then sew them together.
When sewing together anything with diagonals, don’t forget to align the seams so that you have dog-ears at either end of your 1/4” so that your sides come out straight.
Press well, away from the skirt so that you don’t fight the stabilizer.
Don’t sew these together yet! We’re going to get the Dots onto each piece first, and stitch them down before it becomes unwieldy.
DOTS (or Hemispheres!)
Using the templates, draw the Rings onto fusible web (I still have a bolt of Steam-a-Seam 2 in the studio so that’s what I used). If you want to do hand appliqué and pass on the fusing, you’re on your sweet own with that! Just remember to add seam allowance to all the pieces for any kind of turned appliqué.
I have tried to cut the circles and rings using quarter-circle type rulers with the fabric folded in 4, and they just don’t cut well for this (mind you, I’ve had great success with the rulers in other applications) – there are 4 layers of fabric PLUS 4 layers of fusible to get through, and I found that I got some jagged edges that made me grumpy. So I highly recommend doing them single layer. You can also then save some materials by nesting the 4” rings inside the 6” rings.
If drafting out the circles from the templates seems tedious, I recommend drawing the circles with an old-school compass (I’ve had that set in the picture since I was a teenager – yikes!) One of my tester-peeps also tried the cutter that is both rotary blade and compass together, and said she had some decent success with it, but that you have to press down firmly.
While you’re drafting the Rings for the Dots, go ahead and draft the circles too.
Fuse the Rings onto the back of the Black fabric, and fuse the Dots onto the back of the Gold Radiance. Watch that you don’t get a sticky iron! (I forgot to take a picture here, but just imagine a huge swath of fused fabric with circles drawn all over the paper!)
Make a pot of your fave tea, load up some guilty pleasure watching on your TV and cut out all the fused Rings and Dots. Chocolate might help too. Save your larger fused scraps as they might be helpful for the Whisk, Plunger and Eye Stalk later.
Using a non-stick pressing sheet, peel the Dots and center them over the Rings – yes there should be some overlap. Fuse this pair together. If you don’t have a pressing sheet, do the following step with just the Rings, and then add the Dots second.
Place pins down the side of the Skirt sections to mark the centers for the Rings or Dots+Rings. Center the Rings at the marks, and make sure they are centered down the Skirt strip too. When you’re happy, fuse them in place. Add the Dots if you haven’t already done so – center them on the rings and fuse them down. (Egad! I forgot to take a picture of this too! Was so excited to get fusing! Just use the drawing in the pattern.)
Take each strip, and do a small, close zigzag stitch around the outer edge of the Ring, and the outer edge of the Dot. Match the threads to keep them from showing too much – I used a gold rayon from Robison Anton and black cotton 50wt from Aurifil (I do all my piecing in Aurifil too).
I chose not to do a dense satin stitch here because I didn’t want that to show as part of the design. Besides, if you don’t have really tight skills when navigating a curve with satin stitch it can easily look like a hot mess, so another reason to relax a bit with a less visible stitch. Remember – quilting is supposed to be fun!
FYI – you could skip this step, and stitch these down as part of the quilting. However, if you plan to sew around the circles with a zigzag while quilting, it means you’ll have to turn the entire quilt 360 degrees for each of the 24 circles, TWICE. So keep that in mind when you make your choice about when to sew these down!
NOW you can sew the Skirt strips together! Finally!
Next: Make the Belt. Look through your stabilizer scraps to find some pieces that will do for this, and fuse them to a strip of Gold Radiance (remember to start with a piece that’s a touch bigger so that you get a clean fuse and cut). Cut the black fabric for the belt and put it together.
Again, press away from the stabilized fabric. Sew this Belt to the top of the Skirt.
Stabilize and cut the Copper shoulder section.
Cut the corner wedges off, using your mat for reference, just like cutting the angles on the skirt.
Cut the Background corner wedges according to the drawing in the pattern. Pay attention to moving in a 1/4” from each corner – this sets you up to have dog ears when you align them to the shoulders. Sew them on, and press away from the shoulders. DON’T sew it to the skirt just yet!
Back to the fusible… make the black and gold circles for the Whisk and Plunger. Check your scraps to see if you have anything that will work before cutting out new fabric and fusible. Draft them and cut them out (probably no need for a movie this time, but sure, let’s have chocolate!)
Place pins to mark the centers for both the Whisk and Plunger circles. Center the circles vertically too, and fuse them down.
You know what’s coming next, yes? Zigzag those circles down. Or leave them to do with the quilting.
Sew the Shoulder to the top of the Belt + Skirt section.
SHOULDER + SKIRT SIDE BACKGROUND
Cut the three background pieces. Join them end to end on the shortest dimension… you can either do this with a straight seam as the pattern instructs, or you can do it with a diagonal one which I will show here. Either works fine, but the diagonal is often less visible once the piece is in place.
Layer two strips, right sides together, at right angles to each other. Draw a line at 45 degree across the corner. Stitch on the line and trim away the excess triangles leaving a 1/4” seam. You can trim then stitch or stitch then trim. If you tend to stretch bias seams, stitch first and trim second! Add the third strip to this the same way. (That is actually blue pen in the picture, not blue thread!)
Press these seams open so they lay flatter, which also helps with lowering their visibility.
Cut the long strip into the 2 side strips and sew them to the sides of the Shoulder + Skirt section. You have now completed the bottom two thirds of the quilt top! YAY!
Trace the letters onto fusible web. Don’t forget that you need three Es and two Ts. Yes, they are supposed to be backwards so that they come out the right way.
Fuse the web to the Peacock Blue Radiance. Cut them out – you might need some sharp pointy scissors to get into the center of the R and A. Probably a TV episode’s worth of watching, and definitely more chocolate. And maybe something stronger than tea.
Cut the black background for the letters. Peel and arrange the letters onto the background, making sure to leave at least 1/2” all around (you need a 1/4” for the seam allowance and the rest for breathing space). They fit quite snugly so move them close while you are laying them out.
Double check that seam allowance one more time and fuse them down.
Yep – zigzag them too (or skip until you quilt).
Cut out the Neck Ring parts. Check your scraps before cutting new fabric.
Following the drawings on Page 5, snowball the background corners onto the black Neck Ring sections. Snowballs are an easy way to make triangles without having to cut things with persnickety measurements.
Once the corners are on, sew together the right and left sides for the Neck Ring. Press away from the stabilized sections. Then sew the Gold center between these sections. In this case, press towards the center. (Oops… forgot this picture too. So I snipped it out of another one!)
Sew the Neck Rings to the Word Band (like the pattern says), or wait and sew them together at the final step (which is what I did this time).
Cut out the Dome parts listed in the pattern – don’t forget to check your scraps first. On this step I really recommend labeling the parts you cut out.
The Dome is made in two halves that are mirror image to each other, so keep that in mind as you build your way through this section.
If you have pre-read the instructions, you’re probably already reaching for the chocolate, but fret not! I designed it this way because I wanted it to be all straight line sewing. No curves to set in or oddly angled y-seams, because frankly, I’m not keen on them either! So just breathe and take it a step at a time and it will come together beautifully.
First, assemble the Dome Lights – these are symmetrical so no need to keep them separate.
Next, add the sides to the Dome Lights – and these are asymmetrical so make sure to follow the drawings. The longer side of piece G goes next to the light. They should be mirror image to each other when you’re done.
Trim the copper Dome halves – again, pay attention to the asymmetry! I find the best way to do this is to use two rulers, and measure each of the two dimensions on one ruler. You can do it from the mat, but then you might need to mark lines across the Radiance, and I’m not sure how easy it will be to get them off.
Add J and K to each Dome half, making sure to align the pieces for the overhang shown in the pattern.
Following the drawings at the bottom of page 7, mark or place pins at the junctions of J and K and the Dome.
Right sides together, pin the Light section to the Dome (the biggest side piece goes towards the center), centering it between the marks.
Stitch across this but DON’T trim out the seam allowance until after the next step. Press.
Mark each Dome section with the measurements at the top of page 8. Make sure that the Light is well within the frame – if it’s not, unpick and reposition the last seam. Once you’ve checked that, trim the sections back. And then trim off the excess seam allowance.
Sew the two Dome sections together.
We have one more little fuse-a-palooza to do, so you can assemble the top section of the quilt now, or after the next step.
Back on page 6 are instructions for cutting out the fused circles and rings that will become the Eye Stalk. If you haven’t already done those, now’s the time!
Center the Eye Stalk rings in the middle of the dome, over the center seam and fuse down. Zigzag the edges (or not).
Finish assembling the top section, and then sew it to the bottom.
Annnndddd… the TOP IS DONE!
Obviously, how you quilt it is up to you, but if you want some suggestions, here goes! I’ve taken a few pix of the quilting I did and I’ll explain my choices. First of all, I’m a relatively simple quilter – I don’t do much of the intense and dense quilting we are currently seeing a lot of. I use Warm and Natural batting – I like how it feels when it’s washed, and it can be quilted up to 9” apart. I don’t choose to quilt that far apart, but it’s good to know that if I need to leave some space for design reasons, the batting isn’t going to fall apart on me.
I do a lot of straight line quilting, and often echo the lines that are already there. I chose most of the line work on the Dome, Lights and Shoulders so that it would work with the idea that the Dalek is rounded.
I did free motion outlining around the Dots (in the black ring), Whisk, Plunger, Eye Stalk and the letters. I thought about doing a spiral inside the Dots, but my free motion control isn’t as perfect as it would need to be to pull that off! Not to mention that if I needed to unpick something, the holes would still show because of the fusing. This is one of those places where the batting will save the day.
On the Skirt, I echoed the vertical seam lines on either side with straight lines to keep the linear feel.
The background is quilted in lines that radiate from a point in the center. I did this by pinning the layered quilt to my design wall, and marking it out with a yardstick ruler pivoting around the center point.
And to finish, I did a simple black binding on the bias, machined to the front and hand finished on the back, which is my favorite way to finish a quilt.
Don’t forget to label yours!
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments so that everyone can read the answers!
If you make one, please tag me @huntersds in Instagram, and use the #whosthebadguy hashtag.