Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stock up for future baby quilts! Humongous sale!!

I don't order fabric online that often. I'm in the touch it-feel it camp. But I also don't have a lot of time to head out to shop anymore. Discovered through my Google quilting group that Quilter's Roundup is having a huge emergency sale. (Sorry for all you stashbusters!) Almost everything they have is 50% off, with a few 30% and 40% thrown in. Sale will end without notice, so head on over.
I've never ordered from them before, so we'll see how it goes. I know you want to see what I picked up. Here are two Northcott fabrics I grabbed 1.5 yards each of. Just loved them and they'd be perfect in some baby quilt pattern sometime. :-)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Box of Baby Quilt Patterns



So I'm browsing around YouTube looking for videos about baby quilts (And there are a surprising dearth of them. Time to buy a camera, me thinks.) when I ran across this one introducing Jenny Wilding Cardon and her first pattern book, The Little Box of Baby Quilts. Thought the patterns shown in the video were adorable, so I wanted to share them with you. They look fairly simple and I love that she's using unusual fabrics (for a quilt) to bring texture to them. So appropriate for a baby quilt!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

My current baby quilt project

So I've finally drug this guy out of a box (we're remodeling and it's been packed away) and got the sandwich made. The baby this was intended for is about a year old now, so I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with it when I finish it. :-) Can't remember what the pattern is or where I got it - I think from a TV show or just seeing another quilt - but it's a perfect example of a quilt that isn't a "baby quilt pattern" or even baby fabrics. Still works, right?

I love the blocks, but it's a pretty narrow quilt. I just didn't like any sashing options I could come up with, mostly because of the scrappy nature of the blocks. I was using a certain color palette and working my way through scraps cut using Bonnie's plan. Which meant there wasn't really enough of all the right colors do sashing. Sigh. Now, I'm not entirely sure I love it, but I'm finishing it.

Doing an overall pattern using a sage green thread on the top, so it will be quite visible. Did one row of the stitching, screwed it up because I should have been using a darning foot to allow for more of a stipple motion, so I had to pick the whole thing out to start over. Lovely. And I now realize that the stiching will really show up, so it has to be right. Or I have to switch to cream. :-)

Remodel on kitchen starts this week, so I'm hoping to figure out a place to set up the machine so I can finish this guy soon. Plus, I just miss sewing. My fabric has been packed up for almost a year now. Sigh.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Decor baby quilt

We're moving into the less practical and more decorative quilts now – the ones that help to set the theme for the room and are meant to be part of the nursery "look" and less for daily use.

Crib quilts in general seem to just be draped over the side of the quilt more than used in the quilt if only because you don't want the kid smothering under it! So this type of quilt needs a little more thought and attention to detail to up the eye-candy quotient.

So where to start? If you're making this quilt for your own nursery, it should be easy since you'll be picking the theme. If you make it for someone else, work with either the color scheme or theme they've picked for the nursery decorations. Think about how you envision it being used within the décor – draped over the side of the quilt, flung over a chair, hanging on the wall? This will determine a lot of your choices related to size or even batting.

Good pattern choices
Because this quilt is meant for "pretty", you might spend a little more time with the pattern, which means more complexity, which means more triangles. Not my favorite, but maybe you love a star block or flying geese or baskets. This is also a great place to look at some appliqué, maybe of animals or shapes that go with the theme.

Fabrics
Your main fabric will be driven by the décor, of course, and it's great if it's a nice quilting cotton. But you might find to work within the constraints of the theme, you have to work with a polyester blend or even a decorating fabric. Just use a little more care, be a bit more patient and you can bring it together.

Quilting
This might be a great place for you to practice certain quilting stitches you want to try out, such as feathers or outlining – something that adds beauty to the quilt design and isn't just meant for holding the sandwich together. On the other hand, because this quilt is meant for pretty rather than use, it might be a practical time to look at a big stitch or tying.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Security blanket

Much like Linus and his blanket, many quilts are destined to be loved to death. These are the quilts that get drug around once the child starts walking, that are cried for when they're in the wash, the ones that cause major panic attacks when they can't be found at bedtime.

If you have a security blanket in mind as you're making your baby quilt, keep in mind that this quilt will have to be a size that can be carried around by a small child, so you probably don't want to go bigger than 36" or so square. I'd also suggest a thinner batting to keep it from being too bulky to lug.

Good pattern choices
In the same way as the utility quilt, we probably want to keep the pattern as simple as possible. Unless you're just trying out some new techniques (like getting points right), stick with squares and rectangles for the simplest construction. You can make it fun by tossing in a lot of bright colors and wild designs, though.

Fabrics
Yes, you need to make sure you pick sturdy fabrics that will survive many, many, many washings. But this will be loved quilt, something kept close to the child, so think about the tactile impact as well. Flannels and chenilles might add a nice touch to increase the snuggability. (Yes, I'm allowed to make up words!)

Quilting
Again, unless you just want to practice something, keep it simple here. Add enough really solid quilting to keep the entire thing together for as long as it needs to survive. Work with the pattern you chose, but I'd avoid taking the time to do lots of feathers and instead focus on sewing it securely.

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Reference books to use for baby quilt patterns

We talked recently about what actually makes a quilt a baby quilt. My case is that any pattern can be turned into a baby quilt because I don't want you to get caught up in the "baby quilt patterns" hype. (Ha! I might be designing my own patterns at some point, so that seems a bit contradictory, right?)

So I wanted to share three great pattern reference books today that would be good additions to your library and a great place to start when you're looking for a pattern. There's nothing labeled "baby quilt patterns" here; just great basic blocks and patterns to build any quilt.


Encyclopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns
This book is a classic for many reasons, although it's less about the specific blocks and more about entire patterns. However, see the blocks on the cover? Too many triangles for me!! But you'll find some good patterns and blocks here and it's a great reference for instructions on setting in seams and the like.


101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts
This is the one I have in my own library and again, it's more about the quilt patterns than blocks. However, most of these are presented as - here's the block, here's what we did with it. All the classics are represented, along with great directions on the basics of quilt-making. And lots of pretty pictures for inspiration. I've used it several times in my own quilt designs and it would be a great place to start with a sampler.


501 Quilt Blocks: A Treasury of Patterns for Patchwork & Appliqué
If you're a little farther along in your quilting career, a book of just blocks might not scare you. And this would be the one to get. Each block is presented with great illustrations and directions. Bring your own creativity as to how to use the block, although this book does cover a lot of good uses for blocks outside of quilts.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Utility quilt defined

So a utility quilt is your most basic type, the kind of quilt you expect to end up on the floor with a baby laying on it, likely leaking some kind of body fluid somewhere. It's one that's mean to be used. You expect corners to be chewed, the middle to get puked on and the entire thing to need to be washed on an almost daily basis. Which means you want to choose sturdy fabrics, make sure the sewing is sturdy over pretty and go with a simple pattern that doesn’t require hours to do. Not because you don’t love this child, but this is a quilt to be used regularly, not cared for like a precious thing. You’re also likely to make it a little bigger so Junior has plenty of room to roll around.

Good pattern choices
Squares and strips are the rule of the day here, not your typical baby quilt pattern with appliqued animals. They go together quickly, require a minimum of fuss for cutting and piecing and have lots of options to keep you entertained. Good options include Yellow Brick Road, nine and four patches, log cabins, Roman coins, split-rails and square-in-a-square. Unless you just really enjoy doing them or want a little practice where missed points might not matter so much, triangles aren't your friend here.

Fabrics
This could be the time to go with less expensive fabrics, as long as you don't pick things that are too thin. They'll have to put up with almost daily washings, after all. I find that this is a great time to raid the scrap pile as well.

Quilting
Keep it simple and quick. Stitch in the ditch is the easiest way to go if you have a simple pattern. You could also do a cross-hatch or large stipple. Just make sure if you choose to tie the thing that you've picked a batting that can handle the looser quilting when it gets washed repeatedly.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Choosing the type of baby quilt to make

So you’re going to make a baby quilt, either as a gift or maybe for your own child. As you start to consider the pattern and fabric choice, though, take some time to think about how you expect the quilt will be used by the child (or maybe actually the mom!). There are four basic types of quilt you can make for a baby, and your choice of type will dictate a lot of the other choices you make about the quilt. My classification of quilt types? Utility, security blanket, décor and heirloom.

I’ll be looking at each type in the next few posts. We’ll talk about pattern and fabric choices for each type of baby quilt, as well as quilting options. Stay tuned!

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Is there even such a thing as a baby quilt pattern?

So let’s start this discussion with the most basic question of all – just what makes a quilt a baby quilt? What do you think of when you think of a baby quilt?

Is there really such a thing as a baby quilt pattern? Or are any patterns up for grabs?

OK, here’s my take. (And as I’m the queen, my take is what matters.) What really makes a quilt a baby quilt is just who it’s given to. Child under one? It’s a baby quilt.

It’s because it’s a baby quilt that we choose certain patterns, fabrics and colors. Because it’s for a baby, we make the nine-patch in pastels. Because it’s for a baby, we use a flannel backing. Because it’s for a baby, we appliqué farm animals rather than flowers.

Granted, there are limited uses for a quilt the typical crib size. And few people past the age of three want lambs and duckies on their quilt. But it’s a baby quilt because of the baby, not the quilt.

Why do we care? Mostly because I want you to not get stuck on thinking in terms of a “baby quilt pattern”. For the most part. There are lots of patterns that are designed specifically for a baby quilt so they include special appliqués or are designed to fit a small space or be really quick to make. But really, just about any quilt pattern will work. You don’t even have to do it in pink or blue to make it work.

Don’t believe me? Think there really is such a thing as a baby quilt pattern? Take a look at the patterns and books pictured here. They’re pinwheels, squares, attic windows – nothing specifically baby, right? So before you start stocking up on books just because they say “baby” on the cover, take a look at the patterns you currently have and begin thinking about them in a baby-ish way.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hello World and Welcome to the Baby Quilt Patterns headquarters!

Introducing a blog for everyone who loves making baby quilts and is constantly on the hunt for great baby quilt patterns. We'll be talking patterns, fabrics, styles and more here. I want to hear from you as we go along, so occasionally I might have polls for you to take or specific questions other readers want answered. This is just the start today. I look forward to many great discussions on baby quilt patterns, quilting, and the joy we bring to others with our work!