Monday, November 4, 2019

This is the Last of the Little Quilts

There are times we would rather be working creatively and yet other things pull at our time and attention. This isn't necessarily wasted time. It just is. We all prioritize and make decisions based on real life events and happenings. No need to apologize!
Another baby quilt finish!
Making baby quilts for friends and family is something that {most often} doesn't feel especially creative. It's fast, fun and sorta fluffy. Boom! The quilt is done and there's a sweet little rush. It's even sorta needful once in awhile, like eating a good piece of chocolate. But the process is neither intense or particularly {deeply} rewarding. I think you know what I mean.
Finding new use for the abandoned blocks...
The way that I make the most of the experience is to simplify things. Severely. It's called managing my expectations. No baby quilt made by me is ever going to mistaken for an 'heirloom quilt'! When I know that from the start, then I can loosen up enough to barely wince at any inevitable mistakes. Like switching the wider 'middle' dark green strip for the more narrow 'side' strips.*sigh  There's always something, right?
Didn't even notice this mistake until after it was quilted!
Though initially I had all sorts of intriguing ideas about ways to set the 9-patch blocks, in the end it came down to what made the most sense {at the time}. Stacking them end to end freed me up from trimming all the blocks down to a set size. Later, after quilting, I can see why it would always be wise to do that no matter the time it takes! As you can see, the quilting shoved the fabric here and there and makes it obvious that the original piecing was just a little bit too easy-breezy. 

These quilts are made fast and simple on purpose though. Very deliberately! Just digging in and trying to work instinctively is a great refresher. It could never happen with a much larger quilt without some serious anxiety hopping on board. What about fabric waste???

For these small quilts, I rather enjoy pawing through the stash, looking for a happy color palette that would be suitable for baby. Better yet is starting with orphan blocks and trying to lift that mood up, into a totally different direction than the original make. Which definitely happened here. Very similar, but still, completely different quilts. Love that! Neither quilt ended up with a particularly polished look and in fact, an experienced quilter might want to slap my hands for not taking proper time. So what. Will baby care?
Two similar light colored fat quarters work for the binding.
Not quite right colored fabric turned over for a backing....
No, and neither will the mother. And it will be used and then eventually washed, and then used and probably washed yet again. Until it's falling apart, though of course we never wish that for any of our quilts. The literally falling apart thing! Enough said. I have zero regrets!

The quilt below is only slightly larger than my average baby quilt-- 45" x 55". Made for a 5 year old nieces birthday, it was the result of said child wondering why she didn't ever get a baby quilt made specially for her. Older brother did and alas, her younger sister did too! Oops!
Why not start out with this? My niece thinks its the front of the quilt!
Little kids don't understand the dynamics of family gifting and how making a baby quilt for Every. Single. Birth. can quickly morph into the hundreds. But yes, I was most definitely beguiled by the wide-eyed questioning sincerity and set out to make a special little quilt. 
Quilters know that this is the 'front' of the quilt....
With this one, I started with the Raggedy Ann quilt backing fabric. It was given to me shortly after one of my aunts died a couple years ago. Sorting through a box of very low quality fabrics resulted in a grand total of three decent finds. So sad to ditch the other remaining fabrics, but I determined to do something special with these if at all possible, and now the day had arrived for at least one of them!
Is the blue floral print too much for the binding?
All the fabrics in the front of the quilt were chosen based directly from colors used in the vintage backing. While searching through the stash totes, I very carefully chose out some very large print fabrics too. Generally, these would be terribly difficult to incorporate into my regular quilting, but as I pointed out earlier, it greatly helps when we start out by 'managing our expectations'. Appealing to a 5 year old wanting a blanky made by A. Audrey absolutely helped to keep the tricky decision making dilemmas down to a very low ebb. You know she's never, ever going to question anything about the design!
It's busy, busy, but oh, so fun looking....
I tried to channel a little bit of Linda from KokaQuilts when finalizing the fabric selection. Reading her blog over the past couple years has tempted me to open up to the possibility of using busy and/or large print fabrics! The first thing that I did was to make two sets of four patch blocks. Next up was fussy cutting the larger print fabrics of which I only had fatquarters {or even less} starting out! I don't know if you can tell or not, but the large pink flower square in the bottom left corner is pieced with three different pieces of the same fabric. What exactly is a quilter supposed to do when the quilt obviously needs another focal point and all worthy fabric has been sadly depleted? Make do!

The sharp yellow fabric is something I've saved back and kept on the do-no-touch list until it feels absolutely ridiculous. What am I saving it for, pray tell? The smaller red and white floral fabric were leftover strips from a prior backing on another quilt. Feels so good to use up the last of it! And the larger polka dot fabric has been deflecting me for years. 'No! Don't use me in this quilt, I'm too loud and bossy!' 

Overall, it went together super fast after I settled on the 6" measurement for the squares. Once that was figured out, then it was full speed ahead. The only real problem was adding on one more row after the base look of the quilt was set. Why I ever thought it could work properly as a square quilt is a question that will haunt me, well..., not at all. It was actually just a little hiccup in forward progress and made me have to come back and finish on a different day, in a slightly different way than originally imagined. A five-year old needs a slightly longer quilt than a baby though she is very petite. The width matters not at all here.
They couldn't be more different....
In the sweetest of sweet coincidences, the birthday of my little niece and the aunt who indirectly gifted me the backing fabric, are the very same. Can you believe the coincidence? I did not remember for some reason as I am terrible about remembering birthday dates. You can be sure this news totally made my day. Perhaps this quilt was meant to be? The momma is pleased too so that is a good thing as well. You just never know about vintage fabrics. There are people out there who will never appreciate them, no matter the sentimentality involved.

So there you go. All three of my latest fast and easy 'baby' quilt makes finished up and/or gifted in the last several days. Every one has been made 100% from the stash and in another wonderful coincidence, all of the backing was recently gifted from a sister-in-law giving away the last bits of her quilting stuff. Life is very, very good when we have hobbies such as this. I've been quilting long enough to start taking it for granted, but I don't. I won't. It means entirely too much....


  1. Love as always your go with the flow style. Making do with what's in the stash can lead you in unchartered finishes. Great job!

  2. nice to repurpose and end up with a quilt that doesn't look that way...all 3 very nice and thrifty!

  3. For something you call fast and simple, you do put a lot of thought into your baby quilts and they are beautiful. Even though you, as do I, hope they will be stained with juice from sippy cups and harbor Cheerios stuck to them, knowing they will be USED and not just looked at is the reason baby quilts are so very special.
    These are beautiful, and the blue binding is perfect.

  4. great baby quilts. I rarely make them anymore or all I would be doing is making baby quilts - the family just keeps growing and growing - I made them for my nieces and nephews but I quit at the next generation after the first 3 great nieces - they were just popping out too quickly! It is good of you to make them. I too always did nothing fancy and I was surprised when my great niece had her baby last year that she was showing her baby my great great niece laying on the baby quilt on the floor. She had taken care of the quilt and had saved it and now her baby is using it.

  5. Great baby quilts and great use of stash. Always enjoy reading the progress in your posts.

  6. What a great way to use orphan blocks. I love this quilt. IMHO quilts are made to be used and used and used some more. I will definitely remember this quilt next time I need to make one for a baby.

  7. Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventure!
    I think the adventure is so much better than any 'perfection'!
    Of course we don't want to make sloppy quilts. But are quilts supposed to be loved and
    used or stored away and eaten by moths?

  8. I loved this post, it was encouraging [enabling] for me because I am working on two high stress baby quilts right now. The pressure of due dates and showers kinda spoils the fun. I put as much angst and planning into a baby quilt as I do any other project.Maybe with this encouragement i can step back or down a little, as newborn babies do not need or actually use quilts nowadays anyway I am informed. [how un-cosy, poor mites]. Just as soon as I finish the endless dense quiltinng on my current offering for a very close friend [who prob won't use it].

    The vintage R Ann quilt/ Red Polka Dots is so adorable and special.


  9. Love your little creations and I know the babies/kids will too. I can feel your smile as your talk about your little niece and the fun you had making something for her. I guess I make things too hard, I need to lighten up and enjoy the process.

  10. Three lovely little quilts! And it must feel so satisfying to use up some stash in such a useful way, yes? Thanks for the shoutout too, I'm only beginning to realise my use of fabics is a bit different to others :)

  11. What a tremendous post - process and philosophy mixed together with three darling quilts to boot. Hooray!!

  12. I recognized the green stripe when I opened this post. It's sitting in my stash, too. I bought extra intending to use it as binding on several quilts. It's so much prettier here. I must get it out and get busy. Thanks!
    And I love the way you transferred the love of fabrics through three generations with Raggedy Ann. How fun to tell your niece that she gets a larger quilt because she's the "big kid."
    I've been making the lone stars for baby quilts recently but you are inspiring me to switch to stripes and nine-patches.

  13. I love both quilts - the colors and the fun of each of them. You certainly have a GREAT stash to work from and your eye is artistic even if you are more relaxed about construction. I think it all adds up to two terrific baby/little kid quilts!

  14. Both quilts are lovely ~ but, I especially like the one made for your 5 year old niece...and that you used the vintage fabric from your Aunt's stash AND that the Aunt & your niece have the same birthday!

  15. Thank you for such thoughtful detailed posts. Your remark: What am I saving it for? rang a bell.


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