I own dozens of quilt books. I have subscribed to Quilter's Newsletter for several years. But although I have gone to quilt shows and collected fabrics for quilts, the amount of space it takes to assemble a quilt and the amount of time it requires is daunting. Besides most of the beginner quilts (like Nine Patches) are so boring and so traditional. I want to do modern Art Quilts, but don't trust my sewing skills enough to start. So there was always a good reason not to start. There would be plenty of time later. But my nephew and his wife are having a baby (and my mother-in-law's first great grandchild) at the end of April. I thought that a Baby Quilt was something I could handle.
I wanted something small and decided on a tiny quilt of 5 by 4 six inch squares. It would be perfect for a newborn and would be small enough to carry around as a "blankie" when the child was older. Or it could be passed on to her siblings. This would be something I could finish in a week or two and could handle in one piece. I went to fabric.com and picked out six different flannel baby fabrics and a couple of yards of ultrasoft Minky plush fabric for the back.
I saw an advertisement for a tiled mirror featuring a square made of interlocking rectangles and thought, "That could make a nice quilt square". I knew it might be dangerous to start with a quilt square that could not be sewn straight across every seam, but actually it turned out to be easy enough to sew one rectangle to the center square, then sew rectangles around the center square until I had to join the last seam to the first rectangle.
Since I wanted this quilt to be completely washable and soft, I knew I wasn't going to have a pieced section in every square. I also wasn't going to heavily quilt this blanket as I wanted it flexible enough for a small baby. Also the thick Minky fabric would be crushed by heavy quilting. So I just "tied down" the center of the plain squares with an automatic embroidery pattern and some Signature tropical variegated embroidery thread on both the needle and the bobbin. I love all the different colors in this thread.
The pieced top only took a couple of hours which included me cutting out piece shapes from some stiff acrylic. My joins are not one hundred percent at each 90 degree intersections, but acceptable for my first time. I had to try a lot of different tie down sizes and styles before I could find one that would embroider through that Minky fabric, even though there was no batting. The piecing and tie downs were interesting and enjoyable. Then I had to do the binding. Cutting bias edging was time consuming and uncomfortable since the only way to do it was to lay the cutting mat on the floor. Once the bias was cut it had to be ironed into shape. Getting the folded flannel through the bias maker was difficult. And when it came to sewing the bias onto the quilt, well, I did more ripping out than sewing. I'd hate to let any quilting instructor see this!
The best thing about this quilt is that my nephew's wife LOVES it. She has dozens of aunts and cousins and grandparents. I was sure that one of them would quilt her some sort of masterpiece, but so far I am the only one that has actually made something by hand for the baby. I have lots of flannel left and several patterns for baby clothes, so before the end of April I hope to have other handmade things for her.
Will I do another quilt? I hope so. I have lots of fabric for it. But probably not in the next six months. I really want to finish some of my UFOs and keep on starting new items for Project Spectrum. I have already gathered the material for two purses (one beaded), a quilt square, and a cross stitch. Four new projects in the next six weeks is enough.