Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Blog and Quilt Made Out of Baby Clothes

Hi! I'm Anne and this is the first post of my quilting blog. I have loved viewing blogs for new quilting ideas and see what amazing things people are doing with fabric. I've been quilting for over 10 years, mostly baby quilts for friends.

I was just in San Diego visiting an old friend and found myself returning with a carry-on bag full of her 2 boy's old baby clothes with the task of making 2 keepsake quilts for her family. I wish I had taken more pictures of the process b/c it was my messiest project yet. How they make baby clothes out of knits is boggling to me as this fabric was very difficult to work with. I am not a perfectionist quilter. If I had been. I think there is more I would have done to stabilize the material (like stabilizer?) but in the end I really liked the way it came out and think the sentimental value will overshadow the quilting imperfections.
To start, I divided the clothes into those with feature objects and those for borders. I "fussy" cut out the features with as much extra surrounding fabric as the clothes would allow. Then I cut up the border fabric clothes, just cutout off the seams and edges to get pieces of usable fabric as large as possible.
Above are the finished squares. I looked at the size of the largest feature object for the square center then added 2" to arrive at a block size of 8" cut, 7.5" finished. I saved very large objects for the back stripe. Realising the fabric is not as easy to work with as quilter's cotton and I because I didn't want to do any more measuring, I cut a fabric 8" square templates. I used a cheap sheet from Kmart that was fairly thin. Then I pinned the feature object to the middle of the fabric template and just lined up border fabric so it framed the picture nicely. You can see that each border is a different size. After sewing each side of the border I trimmed the fabric to the size of the template. This way I did not have to measure and cut my border fabrics, which would have been a disaster with these knits. Some block came out a little uneven and had some mild rippling at the seams. I tried using spray starch to no avail. If I did this again I would try ironing a light weight stabilizer to the border knits before sewing.
I used a walking foot to sew the blocks together, which helped a lot with minimizing the bunching. 1/4 inch seam. The seams were thick b/c of the knit fabric and template layer. I used the thinnest quilters cotton craft batting and that was enough to not feel the seams, though overall with the knits, batting and flannel backing it's a pretty heavy weight quilt and would work better as a wall hanging than usable quilt. Next time I would add a hanging sleeve before doing the binding.

The finished quilts!

I stitched in the ditch around the outside of the blocks only. The binding is from their baby blankets.

The back included a strip made from some of the larger fabrics placed between the flannel swaddle blankets they were sent home from the hospital with.

And some close-ups of the blocks... a nice way to remember the boys from their baby years.

Well, I send them off tomorrow. I'll miss them but know they'll be loved.

Happy Quilting!