Friday, March 13, 2015

How I Ended Up Making a Baby Quilt By Hand

Today I want to share with you all about my process of making a quilt for someone very special to me: my nephew. He is the reason people now can refer to me as "Aunty", which makes him extra special :)

I actually started off with making two almost identical baby quilts, one for my baby boy (who was around 4 or maybe 5 months old) and another one for my nephew (at the time his mother was still pregnant with him). Since the recipients of the quilts were both boys, there was no room for any doubts and the colors chosen were blue and green. I chose red for the color of the border because I wanted something to "break" the color scheme and give the quilt a very clear and defined edge. All the fabrics I used were in my stash, except for the red polka dot fabric which I purchased at my local fabric shop.

The making of the quilts started exactly as planned. First I measured the fabrics I intended to use, so I could calculate the final size of the quilts. Once I was determined that I have enough of the fabrics I cut them down to 4" squares. For each quilt I needed 117 squares in total (58 white squares and 59 colored squares). I kid you not when I tell you that I HATE cutting squares. I find it the most boring part of the quilt making. I wish I could have three little helpers to do that part for me, but since I don't, I had to cut them all myself. Then I sewed each colored square with a white square and ended up with a pile of double squares, as shown below.

As you can see, I had eight different fabrics for the quilts so each fabric was cut into 7 or 8 squares for each quilt. See how nice they look aligned together side by side?

Once that was done, I vacuumed my living room rug thoroughly and transformed it into a "Designing Area". For each of the quilts I laid down the double squares, moved them around and again and yet again, until I was satisfied with the design. Then I picked up everything very carefully, not before taking pictures on my smart phone to have as a reference in case I will get confused (guess what?? I got confused! Thank God I took those pictures!!). Off I went again to my sewing machine to sew the top part of the two quilts. This took quite a while, as you can imagine, but I think that because I did them both in parallel, it took me less time than if I would have finished one of them and only then started the other. You can see below how the top part of each quilt looked like after pressing the seams open.

The next step was to attach the batting and the back side to the front side of the quilt. I like to use 100% cotton batting because I think it's better for babies than acrylic batting. I also like the final look of the quilt using the cotton batting because it lays flat and is easier to handle. That's my opinion, off course, you can use whatever batting you like. Anyway, I laid my back side of the quilt wrong side up, on top of that I laid and straighten the cotton batting and on top of both of them I laid the top part with the right side up. Once all the layers were nice and flat, I secured them all together using safety pins. I did this twice (once for each quilt, obviously).

At this point I had other stuff and projects I had to finish so I took a little break from the quilts, and my sewing machine didn't like that at all and decided to take a little break of it's own. When I took it to the technician he checked it up and said that some kind of part is broken and a spare part will be impossible to get. I didn't know what to do. I got stuck with all kinds of projects, including the two quilts, and I had no way of finishing. This was quite devastating for me. My mom used to sew on this machine and I used to watch her as a child, so this was a kind of hard for me to accept.

After a few weeks of trying to find a spare part by myself, failing at that, and feeling oh-so-sorry-for-myself, I finally understood that there's no other way but to finish the quilts by hand. After all, those babies were getting bigger by the minute. I did a little research on the internet before I started just to make sure that there isn't anything special that I should know before I start, but found out that the process is similar to what I used to be doing with my sewing machine in the past.

For the quilting of the layers I chose a strong cotton floss that I also use for embroidery, and since the border was going to be red, I picked a red floss to accent it.

It turned out wonderfully and really gave the quilt a nice red "trail" amongst all the blue and green squares.

Last part was the binding. Normally, I would sew the binding to the front of the quilt using my sewing machine, and hand sew to the back. This time due to the circumstances I had to sew the binding by hand also to the front of the quilt, so it took me twice as long. Nevertheless it turned out great.

Last thing I did was to embroider my nephew's name in the quilt's bottom corner with the same red floss I did the quilting with, to personalize it and make it a unique piece of art that was made especially for him.

And there it is, the entire "blue & green with a red border" baby quilt that I ended up quilting and binding by hand was done and ready to be given to my sweet little nephew.

I have to admit that the malfunction of my sewing machine was, other than a big heart break, a big confident challenge and a boost for me to improvise and be braver in my work.

NOTE: The sharp reader probably noticed that I started making two quilts and ended up finishing only one. That's because the whole thing took me quite a long time, and between running a household and several projects all at the same time, I decided to put the second quilt on hold for the time being. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up and finish this one too.

UPDATE: Now that I have my new sewing machine I'm keen on finishing the second one. Will update as soon as I do,

This post is part of the link party on Serenity Now Blog, so go ahead and take a look at what's happening there as well.

Thanks for stopping by,

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