Brie’s Baby Quilt

on May 4, 2006 in Embroidery, Quilting | 36 comments

I finished this baby quilt yesterday morning for my cousin Brie’s first baby. Given my last baby was born 8 years ago, I LOVE making anything baby. I’m thinking this must be a vicarious nesting response. It went into a Fed Ex box shortly thereafter, hopefully to arrive at my Mom’s house in time for the shower on Saturday.

The design is “>Denyse Schmidt’s Hop, Skip & A Jump. I really love the block. I made several for the blockswap that were 10” blocks. These are 13” x 15”. I found the larger size much easier to work with. I came up with my own method for piecing the block that was easier for me than using the templates in her book, I’ll save that for a later post.

The prints are a mix of vintage and reproduction fabrics. The solids are Kaufman Kona Cottons in ‘White’ KC9 and ‘Pink’ KC101. If I had more time to order fabric online I would have used two shades of pink, I think it would have added another dimension to the quilt. I pieced the back and printed my label on my inkjet printer. Here are full pics of the front and back.

This was my first attempt at machine quilting. I paid to have my first 3 quilts done on a long arm machine. Moving that task in-house was one of my goals this year. The cost savings is big but my overriding reason was to have complete control over the creation of the quilt from start to finish.

As a step towards my goal, I took a machine quilting class several months ago. Since then, I’ve been practicing on doll quilts that I donate to the guild. I’ve been procrastinating about doing it on a real quilt top. Let me tell you, doing a full size quilt (even this tiny baby quilt, finished size 45 x 52) is a whole different ball game. This was the most time consuming and frustrating part of the construction process. Now that it’s over I feel great and ready to take on… say…a twin bed quilt. I did feel an unbelievable level of satisfaction when it was completely done. I took lots of pictures while going through the process. I’m going to do a separate post on the machine quilting too.

Yes, JoJo, that is hand embroidery. Funny that you ask. It all started when I took the quilt top in to find some backing fabric. Kendra at Esther’s asked innocently enough “how are you going to quilt that?” She thought it would be great to stitch baby-related words on the white strips. Margaret said “oh, do it white on white!”. I said “oh, I could hand embroider it!”.

Once I start an insane idea like that it takes on a life of its own. No, just 2 strips wouldn’t look good, can’t stop yet. No, just having words on 2 of the rows doesn’t look balanced, better do at least one on each row. Oh, ‘and this little pig cried Wee, wee, wee! All the way home’, that has to go on, it’s just too cute, who cares if it’s 12 words. By the end of the hand embroidery (3 days worth on a completely ‘fine as it is’ quilt top) I was really beginning to question my sanity. It’s absolutely beautiful though and it really made the quilt special. Not all my pictures came out, I’m including a few that did. I did the following phrases and words: and baby makes three, sugar & spice, joy, love, XOXOXO, teeny-tiny toes, blessing, sweet dreams, peek-a-boo, and my favorite: …and this little pig cried, Wee, wee, wee! All the way home. (I put this on four different strips at the bottom.)

2/21/07: I’ve received several e-mails from readers asking for more detail on my construction process without using the templates. I would really like to do a picture heavy post of that process but I don’t think that’s going to happen in the near future. Here’s an interim description of what I did:

I have now made two quilts from the DS book. The Hop Skip Jump and the Ice Pops in a baby quilt size. I didn’t even try to use the templates on the Hop Skip Jump. One look at all those strips and I knew I’d never have the patience to cut them out. I should have followed my instinct on Ice Pops and just winged it. I was in a hurry and since I was only doing 9 blocks I thought it would be easy.

For Ice Pops I took the book down to my local copy shop and had them enlarge them to the right scale using the big 16 x 20 inch paper. He pulled out the calculator and figured out the most efficient way to enlarge them. I still had pieces going across the pages and had to cut and tape them together.

For Hop Skip Jump I decided to cut strips of fabric 15 inches long and 3 ½ to 4 inches wide. I used scissors so my edges were a bit off kilter vs. straight with a rotary cutter. I laid all my fabric strips on my design wall to decide which I would use where before I started piecing. I followed the dimensions in the book for the final block size of 13 ½ by 15 ¼. If I did it again I would probably give myself 16 inch long strips, I remember cutting the blocks down and some of them were pretty close. I figured out the width of my strips by dividing 15.25 by 8 strips. Each strip is an average width of 2 inches. Add in a ½ inch for a ¼ inch seam allowance and you get 2 ½ cut. I added another inch to inch and a half to give myself the ability to make some strips really wide.

That was the math end of cutting the fabric. The assembly then became a bit organic. A couple strips I left average size of 2 inches finished width, a couple more were skinny and the rest were fat. I tried to mimic the sizes I saw on her quilt on page 119.

The variation in the wonkiness of the strips was achieved very similarly to the skinny bits thing I recently used on my pieced heart. The basic theory of that approach is that whatever the shape of your strip you make the strip right next to it a complementary angle. When the two are sewn together they will fill out the square block. This is where I need pictures to show a visual of what I’m talking about. In general if a strip is fatter at the bottom than it is at the top then the one immediately to the right will be fatter at the top and skinnier at the bottom. Same with the strip to the left only the angle will be different. I cut these angles as I pieced the block. I didn’t try to do it in advance. This also allowed me to try and manage the width of my block, ie I had to use all 8 strips and try to get to as close to 15 inches wide as I could.

There were some blocks where I screwed up. I had 8 strips and the block was smaller than 15 inches. In that case I just undid one of the seams and added in a wider strip. I also made some too wide where if I cut it down to 15 inches wide I’d be cutting off an entire strip and only have 7 left. I just modified one of the strips to be skinnier. This whole process became more intuitive as I went along and towards the end it was pretty easy to use 8 strips and hit my target size.

In the end I love all the variation I got. After doing the Ice Pops quilt with the templates I can’t imagine trying to use templates for Hop Skip Jump. Too tedious for me. I also liked being able to rearrange my fabric strips before I started sewing. With the templates you would be locked into your fabric choices.

3/20/07:  I’ve added a new tutorial on the wavy seam.