As a fairly new quilter and as someone who learns best by doing, I have made more than my share of sewing mistakes. Cutting my blocks too small (then big)? Installing the walking foot wrong? Stabbing my thumb with a safety pin then bleeding on the quilt? Sewing the backing on backward? All of the above and more.
When I discover one of these blunders, I can be heard cursing loudly, shaking my fists in the air in fury and frustration (my husband once commented, “Huh. When you think sewing, you don’t think so much swearing”). That’s right – I ride the exhilarating highs and devastating lows of quilting, living life on the raw edge (har har – my first quilting pun). The biggest thrill for me is getting to try out new blocks and new techniques, and of course getting to gift the finished product to someone I love. I recently created this gorgeous purple, grey and cream quilt with a baby elephant theme to match the nursery of my best friend’s baby-to-be. It’s got it all – customized setting squares that showcase the adorable baby elephant fabric I found, disappearing nines squares, and free-motion quilted leaves, flowers and hearts all around the border.
I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for the new quilter looking to create a baby quilt that looks gorgeous and that allows for some customizing through accessible techniques:
- baby quilts are a great project for experimenting with time-intensive new techniques such as free-motion quilting; consider free-motion quilting only the borders or only on certain blocks, which adds a personal touch without dozens of hours of work
- if you know the theme of the nursery, consider purchasing one to two specialty fabrics online that have this theme (i.e. there are two elephant fabrics in the quilt pictured) to integrate into the other fabrics
- use setting squares to highlight your specialty fabric
- when creating your quilt “sandwich,” smooth out then tape your backing fabric onto a large table (I don’t have one so taped to the hardwood floor) using masking tape. Then create your sandwich on top and pin as usual. The tape will ensure that your backing fabric doesn’t bunch as you’re pinning
- the smaller size of baby quilts means they are a good project for experimenting with new types of quilt blocks. Try a disappearing nines block (pictured) or a log cabin block, or if you’re feeling more ambitious, a paper pieced block
- standard baby quilt batting is sold in 45″ x 60″ size. I recommend aiming for a quilt size slightly smaller than this (say, 1″ less on each side) so that you leave some room for error as you pin the sandwich together.
- Create a customized label by using iron-on interfacing and then free-motion quilting your name, the year and a message if desired
What are your favourite tips for baby quilts? Got any great projects on the go? I just received a package from my new favourite fabric store (yippee!) and am starting my first log cabin baby quilt for another pregnant friend. Happy sewing!