My friend and old colleague, Pascale, had a baby girl on Saturday! Now anyone who knows me at all knows I don’t really care much for children or babies. I tend to call them it’s without thinking. Clearly I’m not in any way ready for motherhood, not that I wanted to be to begin with. I can get excited for other people though. Pascale has been my only friend out of the many who have had kids that I have been around during her pregnancy. To top it off, Pascale is somewhat similar to me, in that she never really seemed too interested in kids, would have been fine if she never had kids, and in her late 30’s was like, “well it’s now or never if we want to try.” They did, they succeeded quickly and she wasn’t one of those annoying pregnant people who can’t stop talking about the miracle growing inside her and instead found the process somewhat annoying, at least that’s what she told me. I quite enjoyed giving her lots of shit for the whole thing and nicknamed the baby Squid. Or Sea Monkey, depending on my mood.
Perhaps because I felt that I needed to make up for my evil comments, or for all the whining I did about god knows what when we worked together, or because I just felt like complicating things far more than I needed to, I decided to make Squid a quilt for her blessed birth. One might assume that I have some experience in the quilt making world and therefore it wouldn’t seem so outlandish to decide to make a quilt for a baby. The truth is, that beyond helping my grandma, who is a true quilter, when I was younger and maybe making a mini quilt sometime before the age of 12 with her and my following of the blog In Color Order, I didn’t have much of a clue for what I was doing. I did know what I wanted it to look like and the kinds of fabric I wanted to use. That was about it. So this post proves that anyone with a sewing machine (or even by hand if your ambitious) can make a quilt in a few steps. Let’s just hope you don’t screw up as much as I did along the way.
Step One: Pick out your fabric. I had an idea of what I wanted the quilt to look like, so I just needed to find fabric that fit my design. I really wanted one fabric to have little stars on it, but after a few fabric store stops, including Mood, I gave up. The design didn’t need to change, just the time of day in it. I did find an uber soft fleece fabric at Mood that was nice and thick to use for the backing. Because it was so thick and warm, I decided not to use any sort of filling, which just makes things that much easier. I also have enough for another quilt, because it comes on I found my pattern fabrics at a little store in Park Slope called Fiber Notion. The green and blue fabrics are actually scrap pieces I pulled from the bins and the grey was from a full bolt. I knew I wanted to make the quilt something around 36″ by 36″ or something like that, so I did the math and figured the that scrap pieces would be enough as long as I used more of the grey in the design than I had in my mind. So in the end I had, 1 yard of each of the grey and fleece fabrics and 1/2 yard of the green and blue.
Step two: Design your pattern. Once I had the fabrics home, I started to draw up the pattern of the quilt. Since I only had some much blue and green, I had to make sure I didn’t run out and have a half finished quilt. I also had to keep remembering the seam allowances, which I made a half inch to make the math easier. I figured out how long of a perimeter I could have with varying widths of the green as edging and how much blue would fit as my sky. I ended up with a cityscape pattern for a 36″ x 42″ quilt.
Step three: Measure and cut your pattern. Now, if I had been thinking, I probably would have drawn the pattern on paper, but since I was not thinking, I just dotted it out right on the fabric. Since this was really not a complicated pattern it worked fine, but it might have made it a bit faster to figure out how to make all the pieces fit together on the small scraps of blue. Anyway, I measured. I cut. I didn’t cut the fleece, just in case I messed up something on the pattern and the size was wrong. This was a good idea, because I did mess up. Remember measure 100 times and cut once. I only screwed this up on with the angled pieces, I cut them backwards and they fit together wrong which I didn’t realized until I had sew it together. I had to sew two pieces of blue scrap together and re-cut.
Step four: Pin and sew in strips. I basically worked in building strips. each building had a matching blue above it, cut in the same width. For the simple rectangular buildings, all I had to do was pin the sky to the top of the building an sew. For the more complicated ones, like my stepped building, I had to sew the smaller strips together horizontally, then put them together vertically. Once each building strip was assembled, I sewed the strips together, aligning the bottoms, cause there were a few issues at the top and I liked my skyline were it was.
Step five: Cut the fleece and sew to the front. As I said, I was glad I waited because it was not quite 36″ x 42″ when all was said and done. I just used the quilt top to mark and cut the fleece. To attach it to the front, I had to go back to my pattern drawing and decide where I wanted the extra lines to show up, cutting across my buildings and sky. The idea was to have them as solid lines that break down as they move toward the sky portion of the quilt. I didn’t really follow the lines I had drew on the sketch, but it ended up being similar in the drawing on the fleece. Sewing down the lines was a bit tricky since the fabric was so thick and I was sewing in the middle of one big piece, so the lines were even more screwed up than when I started. At least they are all pretty parallel. Shocking.
Step six: Iron, pin and sew the edge. If I had this to do over again, I would sew right around the two edges of the front and back together before pinning and sewing the green edging on. In other words, anyone trying this at home should do that, then do the following. First I sewed the short green strips into four long ones. Then I ironed them to be folded in half in half. Then I burned myself on the iron tip. I don’t recommend this and it does not enhance the design in any way. Skip that and continue to the second step of ironing. Fold 1/2 inch of unfinished edges over, back of fabric to back of fabric and iron this down. If your cutting skills are as awesome as mine, this might not always be a half inch, just make the line as straight as possible and in my case, 1 inch wide. When all the ironing is done, store the dangerous beast out of harms way and pin the green edging on by placing the blanket edge on the crease line from folding the green fabric in half. So you should have a green line on both sides of the blanket now. Pin this on and make sure your unfinished edges stay folded and tucked under as you go. Now, this is the tricky part because I wanted to sew an inch in from the edge of the blanket on all sides and most machines don’t have a marker for this. K happened to be around at this point and suggested using tape to mark the line, it worked perfectly. I needed it to be one inch so that it would sew through the folded unfinished edge, so there would only be one seam line instead of two. Another after thought would be to baste the unfinished edge so that it stays in places while you sew it down. But did I think of that no. I had a few uh-oh mistakes with it coming out when the fabric moved or my seem line didn’t catch where the fold was a bit short of 1/2 inch due to my awesome cutting.
Step seven: Iron the whole thing. Admire your work and pick out all the mistakes, far to many to count in my case, and give it away!
Phew!! That was a long one. Ack. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and understood half of what I was saying! Just so you know, I screwed up plenty on this, like a lot. But give it to someone who just gave birth less than 48 hours prior and they don’t seem to notice. Really no one notices except you. Pascale really appreciated the quilt. She told me “it makes the crib corner look like something out of a magazine.” Yeah! I’ll have to get pictures of that sometime.