Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby Quilts

Me with Jude at 3 weeks.

The finished quilt!

It's been a LONG time since I've posted. Much has happened in my life since the time of that post in early August, including a home sale and purchase, a move, and a new baby. There wasn't much time for quilting in those months, and now that I'm back to work full-time, I'm so exhausted most evenings that I doubt there will be a whole lot of quilting getting done in the coming months either. I'm sure that things will change with time and I'll once again find myself being a more productive quilter.

Quilt hanging above changing station.

I did complete a number of projects in anticipation of Jude's arrival! Who doesn't love making quilts for babies? I started with a quilt to hang over his changing station. After thumbing through mountains of ideas, I settled on the Pink Lemonade pattern that appeared in American Patchwork and Quilting in April 2009. I opted to mix up the blues and greens throughout the quilt rather than isolating them by color along the diagonal lines. I also made the quilt about 50% larger than the pattern, as I hadn't realized that the blocks were rather small and the original only finished at about 34x42. Had I realized that before beginning my cutting, I might have sized the blocks larger, but instead I just made more of them.

I love the colors and the strong sense of line that the quilt exhibits. Jude seems to like it too. He spends a lot of time smiling at it when he is on the changing station and he stared at it from the floor when I had one of his activity mats in the room. Jonah had loved to look at the quilt I made him and I hope that Jude likes his too. It will be a learning tool of sorts in the future, as we will be able to talk about colors, shapes, and more.

Square quilt hanging above the crib.
I also wanted to have a quilt for Jude to play on. (After making all of those stars in the first quilt, I wasn't going to have him spitting up on it!) I stuck with something quite simple as an antidote to the more complicated first quilt. I had plenty of fabrics remaining, so I cut some of them into charms and then framed them with strips. I'd planned to frame the charms with 2.5" strips, but ended up feeling it was a bit too chunky, so cut down the first group and then cut the remaining strips at 2" or 2.25" wide (I can't remember and I'm not at home right now to measure). This quilt actually uses the Alexander Henry fabric called 2D zoo that inspired the color palette for both projects. While my initial plan had been to let Jude play on the quilt, I opted to hang it above his crib, at least for the time being. I do want my kids to snuggle up with and live with their quilts, but I also wanted to have something to brighten up that side of his room and to give him something to look at while he is awake in the crib (I don't think that really is all that much).

One corner of Jude's room, with giraffe prints, a book rack, and
his quilt above his crib.

We ended up settling on a giraffe theme for the room, but the "theme" is very loosely interpreted, as we weren't going to go out and purchase new bedding, blankets, and the like just to fit the theme. So we kept it mostly simple, with some giraffes showing in the quilt above, two giraffe-themed prints from Etsy (see photo at right, where they hang above the book rack), and a third, much smaller project that I designed with some able assistance from Ben.

Giraffe quilt, self-designed.
In our old house, Jonah had a small quilt on the door to his room and I had liked the idea of making one for Jude as well. So I aimed to make a simple quilt that would fit nicely on an interior door of a house. By this point, I knew I didn't have a lot of time for sewing and, as the project would need to be small for the door, I should keep it simple. So Ben helped me draw a giraffe, which I then appliqued (yes, I did actually applique!!!) and framed with small squares of the fabrics I used in the other projects. I LOVE the finished project, especially seeing all of the blue and greens dancing around the center. In the end, we aren't hanging this quilt on the door, as we couldn't bring ourselves to put a nail in the door at the new house. So it's hanging next to Jude's closet, where we can admire it just as much.

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to my dad, who made Jude a lovely wall plaque after his birth. Kudos to him for noticing the giraffes and making this precious art for Jude's wall. What a wonderful keepsake!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lorax Quilt

Completed Lorax quilt
Jonah has been a pretty big fan of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax for quite some time, though his tastes have widened quite a bit in the last couple of months. Thus, when I saw that Robert Kaufman Fabrics had a line out dedicated to The Lorax, I knew I needed to make Jonah a quilt.

I purchased the panels and a few of the prints without having a plan in mind.  I knew I didn't really care for many of the kits and patterns on the market as I personally find them a bit too busy for my tastes. After mulling some ideas for a while, I sprung into action so I could finish the quilt as a second birthday present for him. Ultimately, I opted to keep it simple, in part so that I could finish in a timely manner, but also so I didn't have to purchase additional fabric. In the end, I cut the panels to size and framed them with coordinating fabrics in the line, arranging in three rows of three and framing with a scrappy narrow border.

He was certainly excited when he opened it on his birthday (see pictures below) and he insisted for a brief period on having it on his lap when we read to him, but he has by now largely lost interest in it. I hope that changes as the weather grows colder and as he grows a bit older!

Wow - this feels so nice!
Checking out the front - look at these cool pictures from the book!
Climbing up on the table to get a better look!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rear Window

I was shopping at Patched Works earlier this year and saw Blue Underground Studios' Rear Window pattern made up with white as the frame around the alternating blocks. As I am on a white in quilts kick (particularly for babies) and there have been and will continue to be a number of births amongst our friends and family, I impulsively picked up the pattern (I'm sure I could have figured it out on my own, but I was feeling lazy). 

Not too long thereafter, I was poking around on the Fat Quarter Shop website and came across the Bella Butterfly fabric line by Patty Sloniger. I really liked the colors, which both screamed "spring" and "baby" to me, so impulsively purchased them as well.  From the fat quarter bundle, I was able to sew two baby-sized tops.

I pieced the tops a while back while watching Downton Abbey, but then they sat while I focused on some other projects. I promised Jonah's daycare that I would donate something for their Week of the Young Child silent auction this week, so finally forced myself to load it to my quilting frame last weekend and meandered over the entire quilt with white thread. I really like the final product! I hope it raises so good money for the center and that the final recipient cherishes it for years to come. I'm hoping to get the second one quilted and out to a sweet little girl in the near future.

This quilt went together very quickly and I like how it works well with some of the larger scale fabrics that are on the market right now. I could see this becoming a go-to pattern for a quick and easy baby quilt.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Superhero Quilt

The entire twin-sized quilt.
It dawned on me when visiting my sister's house at Christmas that my soon-to-be 5 year-old nephew really only had his original baby quilt from me, as well as a simple Sesame Street-inspired fleece that I sewed for his first or second birthday (I can't seem to locate a photo on my blog), whereas his younger brother received a more big-boyish quilt for his second birthday.  It was time to do something to rectify the situation!

Superheroes are very much on Alex's mind of late and it seemed an appropriate theme for a quilt for him.  However, there are only a limited number of superhero characters available in fabric right now, namely Batman and Superman. And the fabrics are rather graphic and busy.  How exactly does one use them most effectively?

Detail view.
I toyed with the idea of designing a few logos or the logo of his current favorite, Ben 10, and appliqueing them into the center of a design, but I don't really care for applique all that much, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to find matching character fabric for it. After much consideration, I decided the best route would be to find a pattern that would use large-ish squares that would let the novelty fabric shine. At this point, I recalled that Atkinson Designs' Slide Show pattern was a pretty easy sew and would allow the novelty fabrics to show (I made this small one up as a charity quilt last spring).  I purchased fat quarters online and decided to use a navy lattice to bring things together for the twin sized quilt. I love the scattered solid squares of yellow and red that pick up the colors in the novelty fabrics.
Another detail view.

Trudie Hughes quilted this one for me with navy thread in a very linear pattern I selected and turned it around in 24 hours, which meant I was able to ship it to Ohio in time for Alex's birthday yesterday. I hear that he was pleased with it (and was impressed that it included BOTH Batman and Superman). Score!!! I have a ton of extra fabric left over from the backing (I discovered I could cut the fabric in the opposite way and it used significantly less yardage), so when I get to it, I think I'll whip up a couple of matching pillowcases.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Row By Row

I'm not sure how many quilts Jonah will have by the time he is grown, but I imagine it will be several.  I often see patterns and think that they would be perfect for him, but I know that time and need are both limiting factors.  Nonetheless, I began a second quilt for him during a retreat in Door County last March. At that point, it was my first time away from him outside the work day and one brief date night, and I think it helped to be working on a project specifically for him.  I'd seen the Lollipop fabric line by Sandy Gervais that featured a cute panel with a monkey on a bicycle and I thought Jonah would enjoy it:

The panel that started it all.

Knowing that the panel would finish up smaller than what I wanted for the space above his changing station, I opted to buy the panel and coordinating fabric for a larger quilt.  Well, here we are a year later, and the panel still hasn't been made into anything (I do have a cute pattern design for using it now!), and I'm finally getting around to posting pictures of the quilt I started a year ago and completed last summer.  Better late than never!

The February 2011 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting had a pattern called "Row by Row" by Sandy Klop that I liked and thought would be fun.  It's a pretty traditional pattern, but one that I thought could grow with Jonah over time and would be made more modern by the colors and fabric design. Here it is, all done up:

The finished quilt.

I had Patched Works quilt this one so I could get a fun monkey and banana pattern in the quilting that I didn't feel ready yet to attempt on my own.  I think you should be able to see one of the monkeys in this close-up view:

Detail view showing monkey and banana in the quilting.
The quilt has been hanging over Jonah's diaper changing station for some time now, and he will often point out the dots and letters and different colors on the quilt. It is so darn cute to hear him say "qwee-ilt!" I took it down recently to measure it for the quilt show this weekend and to put on a temporary sleeve. You can tell he notices that he is missing, which really means a lot to me. I love making his room brighter and creating projects that will be keepsakes in years to come!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The finished top!
This baby quilt has been a while in the making as well, though not quite as long as my previous post.  I began it at quilt retreat in November, but was unable to finish it at the time as I needed to order backing, border, and binding fabric.  Have I mentioned that I really like to use white in baby quilts of late?  I do recognize that it is not necessarily the most practical color to use for babies, but at the same time, I do associate white with babies. Perhaps it is the idea of newness and a clean slate, etc.
This pattern, Dora (which I assume has nothing to do with the television show), is from the Leisure Arts book 3 Times the Charm! by Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson of Me & My Sister Designs. This $10 book has a lot of great ideas and I have a feeling I will use it a fair amount for smallish baby quilts in the coming years.  I chose the Kate Spain line Terrain as I loved the bright colors and designs and hoped that they would be fun for both mom and baby, providing some visual interest to look at.

The pattern in the book used a setting of 5x5 blocks, but I chose to make the quilt a bit larger, with a 7x6 setting and a slightly wider border (6" versus 3 1/2") to show off the large-scale print. I hadn't realized how much of a line the border fabric had to it until I had cut the print and applied it!  My finished version of the quilt is approximately 42"x38" (book quilt finished at 30 1/2" square).

I quilted the center part of the quilt with white thread and chose a pink thread to meander with in the border.  This was the first time that I used two different threads and rolled the quilt through the frame more than once.  Needless to say, the pink thread required some tension adjustments and I had to rip out a good portion of a row of quilting after I discovered the tension issue. Note to self: check on the tension more frequently to avoid this in the future! Ripping quilting out while it is loaded on the frame is painful work (in more ways than one). In the end, I think I could have meandered the entire piece in white and it would have been fine, but I now have more confidence in my ability to do some thread changes on my frame.

This quilt is in the mail and I hope the recipients love it!  It sure feels good to be finishing up some of these projects that have been lingering on my sewing table.

Call Me Crazy!

Finished quilt with sashing between all blocks.
This quilt has been a little while in the making.  I began it in a workshop with Weeks Ringle offered through my quilt guild in May 2011.  I enjoyed being able to use some wonderful blues from my stash to crazy piece (improvisational sewing) fabric for the blocks, and working from my scraps allowed me to reflect upon and remember previous projects that used some of the same fabrics.

In the end, I didn't end up following instructions terribly closely, however.  Blocks were supposed to be trimmed to 6 1/2" square, but I made a error with my ruler, so they were all trimmed at 5 1/2" square. No big deal, right?  I further departed from the instructions provided in the workshop as the blocks were to be set side-by-side in rows and I decided I preferred to sash them all white.  Finally, I opted not to use the super-wide 7 1/2" border around the entire quilt, choosing instead a 3 1/2" border, which was closer in size to the 2 1/2" sashing strips I employed.

Quilt as pattern directed.
I quilted it on my frame in the basement, meandering over the entire piece with white thread.  Aside from running out of thread in the bobbin a couple of times, I didn't have any problems, thankfully.  I washed the quilt in Dreft after binding it and love how the cotton batting puffs up after a wash.

In the end, my quilt finished at approximately 47" x 57", a bit smaller than the napping size the pattern finished at 50" x 73"!  In my mind, it's just the right size for a baby boy and it's off on its way as of this morning.  I hope he enjoys it a lot (even if it is months late), and that his mama will let him love and play with it (yes, I do know it is white!).

Closer view of the quilting.