Monday, May 12, 2008

From table runners to curtains to baby quilts?

When I received my sewing machine, one of the first thoughts I had was, "Hey I should make the H's a baby quilt" since they are scheduled to deliver in June. My mom used to make these really cool puffy baby quilts for people in our family so I asked her for the directions. I think she was super excited that I was attempting a quilt b/c she arrived on our doorstep with a paperbox full of quilting books, patterns, etc.

The baby quilt pattern was a yellowed piece of paper with approximately four paragraphs of directions, resembling a recipe. The difficulty level line read: "For those with some experience". Hmmm...did a table runner and some curtains count as experience?? Probably not. I trucked on anyways.

The first thing we did (yes, Nate-O definitely helped out on his own accord) was go to the fabric store to pick out four coordinating fabrics. This proved to be a bit more difficult as I knew the H's weren't into puffy wall decoration-baby type stuff and the MAJORITY of baby fabrics fall into this category. Nate also was a fan of all of these fabric types. "It is for a BABY, honey" was what he told me when I was not agreeing with his fabric choices, responding that those were "too baby".

We settled on a fun sampling of blues (the H's are having a boy...a BIG boy if you catch my drift). I cut all of the fabric and realized that the directions had a mistake. Much like a recipe can be off in it's measurements, the directions were off in the amount of material needed. Luckily, the fabric store is one of my new favorite places to go.

Step 1: The Squares. The first step of the "recipe" was cutting out 35 squares of material and sewing them to some muslin material to make little pockets. As I ran the sewing machine, Nate trimmed all of the threads for me - a job I abhor. After making all of the pockets, you have to sew the pockets together in a checkerboard.

We then settled down to watch many HGTV episodes to stuff the little pockets full of stuffing, and then hand sew them each shut. Who knew that my hubby knew how to sew?! The result was some 3D "puffs":

Step 2: Borders.
This is where sh** hit the fan. I am not a very go-with the flow type of person. AKA I read directions and follow them. Well, apparently, quilting is sort of a go with the flow thing. The directions told me to stuff the checkerboard before doing the borders. SO, that is what I did. I attempted to sew brown borders all around the outside and lo and behold they were all scrunchy. I tried fixing them using my breadth of quilting knowledge (insert sarcastic snort here) which only worsened the problem. I lured my sister (quilter extraordinaire) over to my house with a free dinner and then told her that I had a little quilting mishap. One look at the quilt and she exclaimed - "hmm...what DID you do?". She told me that the next time i made one i should do all of the borders, etc BEFORE stuffing the squares and then i wouldn't have the problem. Had I really thought about it, this would have been the natural thing to do, but like a drone, I followed the directions! We then took all the borders off and miraculously made it look better by helping me re-pin and sew the brown borders. I also learned some quilting techniques.

Step 3: The back
. Then it was back to the fabric store to get the inner batting. We chose some uber soft organic bamboo batting for the interior. After pinning the top, batting and bottom together, it was time to tie it. Neither Nate nor I could thread the tiny eye of the needles we had with the required amount of embroidery floss. The next day, my sister showed up with some quilting supplies as a late birthday gift for me! In the bag was a bunch of needles, with eyes big enough for the job! I then set forth in tieing the layers together every 2 1/2 inches.

Step 4: Sewing the border. Well, I had gotten this far, with some help from my friends (cue background music). All that was left to do was sew the border. I decided to use one of the fancier stitch options on my machine for the border.

And voila! It was finished!

I shipped it last week in time for the H's baby shower over the weekend.

Some things I learned about quilting:
1. Cutting is EXTREMELY important. If you do not cut the fabric straight, it is more difficult to sew. Hmm..wish I knew this BEFORE i cut all the fabric! Ditto with pinning.
2. Husbands truly make great partners in large projects. I was not expecting this to be a joint venture but Nate readily volunteered to help out on numerous aspects of this project, saving me time and also making me love him even more :)
3. Sisters are invaluable...especially when they are master quilters. My sister was amazing and helping me - she went through everything very patiently and explained how and why she was doing things so that "the next time I would know what to do".
4. Baby quilts are well received! The Hs were thrilled.


Ali said...

WE LOVE IT! Honestly, it is the softest, most comfy blanket. I sat on it last night while organizing gifts. I told myself it was to get my "scent" in the fabric, but it was just so darn comfy. The fabric choice was perfect, and it is not at all akin to the "puffy wall hangings." Yes, the little boy is going to be lucky. Although I am all about passing things along to others, this one is going to stay in the family and be passed on through generations. We love the Schlotty Company!

Crazy 8s said...

Oh my gosh! I ABSOLUTELY love the blanket you made for baby LH...and its such a neat idea. I've never seen a puffy baby blanket before, and I'm sure it will be a great place to have tummy time!!!

Of course now you know that you've opened yourself up for preggos like me to ask: "How much will it cost me?" I'm so serious, by the way. Either that or I'll have to take your directions and do it by hand myself (I have 4 months to get it done)!