Sunday, January 6, 2008

Get Crafty: Baby Quilts

I am in the season of my life where babies abound, both in my own home and that of just about everyone else. When we host social events the kids are starting to outnumber us. Heck, when we eat alone they outnumber us! In the past 2 weeks alone, three good friends had babies. It has thrown me into on one of my baby quilting kicks. When it rains it pours, so I tend to do more than one at a time. People, especially young people, are making fewer and fewer handmade gifts these days, so I really like to make things as gifts. I enjoy letting so many beautiful pieces of fabric flow through my hands and out into the world, to be loved and cuddled by sweet babes as they sleep.

I stole my method for making them from watercolor quilting (not familiar? Google it!), and I'm not going back. I will include my basic quilt method at the end of this post. Preview: No batting, minimal pinning, rarely tacking.

I just made the one below for a baby shower for a good friend who is due in February. Sitting on top of it is a little hat I made using the same fluffy fleece fabric as the back and binding (look for a post on hats in the near future).

The four below are sort of unique among the roughly 30 baby quilts I have made to date because they have a ribbon detail. I like the look and, as I recall from my childhood, satiny things are appealing to tiny hands. It involved another step because I used some fusible tape to attach the 3/4" satin ribbon to the quilt top first and then sewed both the inner and outer edges of the ribbon through the folded-over fleece backing. The peach and purple ones were for twins.

The two quilts below were for a different set of twins (lots of twins around here). When I have enough left over squares (if I cut the quarter yards right I have exactly 4 extra 4"x4" squares left in each fabric), I like to do a light-to-dark sort of design.

This last quilt (and detail of the binding and back), is a rare example of an instance where I actually bound the quilt instead of wrapping the backing fleece around the egdes and folding under. I really don't like binding quilts because inevitably something goes wrong and I get so fed up with the project that I'm ready to throw it out rather than finish it. I am always optimistic that somehow this time the binding won't get bunchy and I won't have to rip out the stitching twice before I'm satisfied, but it never works out that way. Regardless, they do tend to look pretty good in the end and no one notices the imperfections but me.

My basic formula for making these baby quilts is as follows:
  1. Coordinate 6 quarter yards (fat or long), iron and cut into 4"x4" squares. I do not wash the fabric first (the unpardonable sin of quilting!) because it doesn't factor in much for projects so small and I like the wrinkles it causes after I wash the quilt. Homemade charm. And I'm lazy. Rotary cutter!
  2. Critical step to getting perfect corners: Iron the squares onto the thinnest fusible interfacing you can find, in the same arrangement as the finished quilt pattern will be. I buy the cheapest thin interfacing I can find, and I buy a whole bolt.
  3. Fold each row width-wise, right-sides together, and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. I do not pin.
  4. Iron on the interfacing side so all the seams fold in the same direction.
  5. Fold each row length-wise, right-sides together, and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. This causes the seams to be extra thick where the corners meet, but I don't care. If you do care, you could snip at the seam and fold and iron each row alternately, but that would be tedious and therefore incompatible with my patience level right now.
  6. Iron on interfacing side to all seams fold in the same direction.
  7. Center quilt top on a wrong-side of coordinating 1 1/4 yd piece of anti-pill fleece or other fluffy fleece.
  8. Cut fleece around quilt, leaving about 3" more fleece on each edge of quilt.
  9. Fold edges of fleece in and under, giving you about a 1" border. Pin it as you go and miter the corners.
  10. Sew around, securing the bound edge.
  11. Optional: tack or quilt the inside area. I almost never do this since it hasn't affected the durability of any of these small quilts yet.
  12. Wash and dry as you would any other laundry in your home. Baby the baby, not the quilt.

1 comment:

Natalie Roehrig said...

I receive so many compliments on the gorgeous quilt you made for Max. People are always asking if they can purchase one and are extremely impressed when I tell them a good friend made it for me. Max in only three weeks old and the amount of compliments the quilt has received is unbelievable. You are remarkably talented! Thank you so much for the quilt!