Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Baby Quilt is DONE!

And here it is, just in time for her first birthday!
the birthday quilt
This quilt for my new granddaughter has been quite a journey!
The design process started more than a year ago (before she was even born) with research into baby quilts designs, input from my son and daughter-in-law, info about applique quilts, butterfly quilts, butterfly shapes, elephant shapes, and layout ideas, and then lots of fabric selections and rejections (well, the rejections went into my nearly non-existent stash, so that's OK).

And then, since I didn't know anything about applique, I had to take a class - this was a class given by the very talented Judy Dohm at the Stitchin' Girls Society retreat on Vashon (don't blame her for my choice of fabrics!).
Wreath of Roses Indiana Rose unfinished Victorian Rose

Of course this was needle-turn (hand sewing) applique, and I needed to do machine applique for the baby quilt, but the basic techniques that I learned from Judy - making and marking, layering, positioning, and so on - served me well (besides, her class was just plain fun - I'll have to do more with needleturn eventually!).
I got the rest of what I needed from books (especially Mastering Machine Applique by Harriet Hargrave).

And then I started making sample blocks (the kitty helped a lot).
baby quilt design process

So here it is in process with some finished and unfinished blocks, and some blocks that would later be rejected (I've got lots of these rejects - I'm hoping I can get them to blend with each other into a different project!)
baby quilt in process

And after much sampling and many trips back to the quilt store for new/different fabrics, finally a version I could be happy with - the shapes are mostly clear, the colors and color weights are mostly balanced, and it looks whimsical and happy as well as being sweet and girly, mostly!
Baby Quilt layout - again
Not satin-stitched down yet (used a narrow band of Steam-a-Seam 2 light to hold the pieces in place) but design layout is mostly done now.

While I was working this through, however, I needed to learn how to quilt the final product (being a total beginner and all) so I took a machine quilting class (this is for using your home sewing machine to do amazing things) from Darlene Girton (great teacher - clear instruction, well organized info, encouraging and helpful) at the Quilting Loft in Seattle
Machine Quilting from Quilting Loft class
Wow did I learn a lot (and more than just these 4 samples, too!) - starting and stopping, using the walking foot (in the ditch, zigzags, rays, grids, interlocking circles), tension adjustment, dropping feed dogs and using free motion embroidery (scribbles, outlines, echos, stippling, fills) - yikes! Great class lesson book - Machine Quilting Made Easy by Maurine Noble.

So then I took another (and much more intense and scary) class over at Quiltworks Northwest in Bellevue from Harriet Hargrave and worked with marked patterns, pieced blocks, and even did a feathered wreath! Much harder, but a great class!
Machine Quilting from Harriet Hargrave class

Whew! So back to the baby quilt - just two weeks before the party, I finally found the perfect border fabric and backing so here it is, appliques are satin stitched, blocks are sewn together, and borders are applied.
Baby quilt appliqued and with borders
And here are some close-ups of the finished blocks with embroidered details and free motion quilting - leaves and flowers (these are not in order, so the designs will not flow from one picture to the next - go back to the beginning of the post to see the overall effect).
Butterfly #4 Butterfly #3
daddy elephant mommy elephant
Butterfly #6 Butterfly #5
Butterfly #2 Butterfly #1
Then I picked out a different pattern for the border (still leaves and flowers, but different, a bit).
border pattern again
and here's a peek at that perfect backing fabric
showing the backing
And one more closeup look at a section of the quilt top (draped on the sofa)
how the free-motion quilting looks bottom left corner
This is a quilt of firsts for me - my first applique, my first embroidery, my first free motion quilting,
and my son's first baby! I'm happy.

next up - the Free Motion Quilting Challenge from SewCalGal! If you're a quilter, it's not too late to join (actually, there's no pressure to produce, there's lots of great info and generous quilter-teachers, and it will go on all year, so give it a try!)


  1. You should be very happy. Great work!

  2. Beautiful baby quilt!!
    All your hard work on learning free motion quilting really paid off - your quilting is wonderful.

  3. It came out so great. It's going to get lots of love for many years. You didn't mention that the cupcake hat is also by Grandma!

  4. This babyquilt looks so beautiful!!!

  5. Thanks to everyone who commented! And yes, I did knit the cupcake hat for the little cupcake of a granddaughter!

  6. Wow! Your baby quilt is gorgeous! I love your colour choices and the appliques are fantastic. Looks like your grand-daughter approves. The cupcake hat is lovely.