Category Archives: Baby Quilts

Blue Squares Baby Quilt

While I was planning the pink heart quilt (a.k.a. my startled chicken quilt), my former colleague emailed me to ask if I could also make a quilt for a baby boy–her other daughter was expecting in February! I scoured the Internets again for inspiration and found another adorable mini-quilt  adorable mini-quilt that I could scale up to a baby quilt and adapt to the colours my former colleague requested.

Now, I’m a bleeding-heart liberal and have all sorts of things to say about gender colour assignation, but since this was for a paying client, I guess it isn’t really my business–I just don’t want you all to judge me for falling into gender clichés!

With that out of the way, let’s talk quilts. Particularly, let’s talk about square quilts. What you need to know is that I love them. Love, love, love them. If we were to have a debate right now about nesting seams vs. sliced bread, you can pretty well be sure what side of the argument I’d fall on. So I got to work cutting up whatever blues, creams, and whites I had to put this quilt together. I bought an Accuquilt for this very purpose, but decided to use the roller and mat to cut this time, to try to work on my accuracy in cutting, since sometimes working quickly comes at the expense of working accurately. I probably spent more time arranging the pieces on this quilt than cutting them, but I wanted to make sure that the gradation from dark to light was subtle and that there weren’t any pieces blatantly out of place.

Piecing took no time at all–I had the whole quilt pieced in about an hour. Kiwi helped.

She had a traumatic visit at the vet's that morning. You could say she was feeling... blue!

She had a traumatic visit at the vet’s that morning. You could say she was feeling… blue! (yeah, yeah, tip your waitress, yada-yada.)

I had some of the same problems with the quilting that I had for the startled chicken quilt. While the quilting on this was much simpler than the chicken quilt, I was still getting some skipped stitches (but again, this got sorted by replacing the needle). I stitched straight diagonal lines about a quarter inch from the centre diagonal line of each piece.

Finished quilt

Finished quilt.

To get the lines more or less straight, I initially used a water-soluble pen to mark the diagonal, but this was going to be less effective on the darker squares, so after marking about four of the diagonals, I switched to the Clover Hera marker,  which marks a crease in the fabric rather than applying ink to it. I bought the hera a while back, but this was the first time I’d used it and it was perfect for the job. I initially planned to also quilt on either side of the ditch, for a super-pimped crosshatch pattern, but after finishing the plain double-crosshatch I figured it looked lovely as is. I used Aurifil 4663 40wt thread for the quilting, a variegated light blue.

Quilt top detail

Quilt top detail.

The backing and binding are both from Mo Bedell’s Full Moon Lagoon, in a beautiful aqua shade.

Love how that crosshatch looks on the back.

Love how that crosshatch looks on the back.

You can see in the picture below that my machine binding still needs a bit of work, but overall I’m quite pleased with it. I can only imagine it’ll improve with time.

Backing and binding

Backing and binding detail. I adjusted the stitch length after a couple of rows–my machine defaults to 1.8 and I always forget to change it.

While this wasn’t a particularly challenging quilt to make, it is one of my favourites so far. I love the colour play in it. I hope my former colleague is as pleased with it as I am!


Entering this one in the two-colour quilt category for Blogger’s Quilt Festival. I debated whether to put this one into the baby quilt category or the two-colour category, and went with the latter, since the challenge for me in this quilt was making the colour work effectively.



In the past month I’ve felt like I’ve mostly just been futzing around. Nothing was getting done–though lots of things were on the go–and I just felt like I was getting nowhere with my sewing. I had figured that once I quit my job and was home all day I’d be sewing non-stop, but in the two weeks after I’d left the job I hardly got any sewing done at all. Firstly, because we went down to London for a few days, and secondly because I’m trying to pack up my life, since Quilting Rainbows is moving to Munich in three weeks. THREE. WEEKS.

So like any panicky person who needs to wrap up her life promptly would, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in front of my sewing machine. I’ve started and finished a few little things, and made progress on a few big things.

Right before I left work, one of my colleagues commissioned me to make a baby quilt for the baby girl her daughter was expecting. She had a very broad idea of what she wanted–something pink, with a big heart. I did a quick search around the internets and found this adorable mini-quilt by Plum and June. My colleague really liked it, though we both agreed that the grey wasn’t really on for this and that I’d go with whites and creams instead.

For all my love for half-square triangles, I’ve not actually sewn any, other than in my sister’s chevron quilt, for which I used the tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I thought I’d try the traditional method, with marking a line along the diagonal of two face-to-face squares, and well… no. That was not going to work, because the end of the line kept running sideways on me in the sewing machine. Plus, marking lines on fifty squares? Do you people know me at all?!?! (I think since about four of you read this, two of which are related to me, the resounding answer in Toronto was “YES!” while elsewhere, it was “Nope, not really.”)

Beginning square size x .64=finished square size

The problem was that the tutorial (like most Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials) uses pre-cuts, and I wanted to end up with 4” finished HSTs. WHAT TO DO?!?! (Google, of course.) The formula is essentially “beginning square size x .64=finished square size”.

Handy! Speaking of handy, guess what Germans call mobile phones? That’s right! So I saved that handy little chart right onto my… Handy! Ich muss deutsch lernen, people! (Germs also capitalize Nouns<–see what I did there?!) But anyway, I digress.

So once I had the square size sussed out, I got busy cranking out 7” squares to make 4.5” HSTs. I used fabrics I had on hand, and chose three dark pinks and three lighter pinks/creamy pinks. I don’t know why I chose the design I chose for laying out the hearts (which, looking at it now, makes it look like a startled chicken), and I made a couple of placement errors that meant the same fabric was aligned on some of the blocks, but it was a fairly minor distraction (which I only really noticed after I’d quilted the thing–oops!). Once I laid out the pink HSTs, I made cream/pink HSTs for the heart border, and then filled out the rest of the space with white/cream squares.

Quilt top

Surprised chicken

To quilt, I decided to put to practice one of the patterns taught by Leah Day in Craftsy’s Free Motion Quilting a Sampler class  (*affiliate link, see disclaimer below). I used the echo paisley design inside the heart, using a pink variegated Aurifil 40wt (4668) thread. I’m not delighted with the free-motion quilting results, but it came out okay. While I was able to create really nice paisley echos on a practice block, it’s a lot harder to do with the weight of a quilt to move along (and that’s just a baby quilt, which makes me worry about anything bigger). I think my main problem with FMQ is scale–I quilt too small and too tightly together, which means I’m working harder, and also that the design is less apparent than it would be if it were bigger.

Paisley FMQ

Paisley FMQ

FMQ detail

FMQ detail

Once I finished the FMQ, I used white Aurifil 40wt thread to straight-line stitch around the shape of the heart.

Straight-line quilting

Straight-line quilting

This is where things got ugly and words were sworn. I’d had no trouble with the thread for the FMQ, but I was getting constant thread breaks for the straight lines. I admit, I thought I got a bad batch of Aurifil and I might have said some unkind words about Alex Veronelli (but not really–how could you swear at that punim?! He’s flipping adorable), but it really made no sense that it would be the thread, because I’d been working on a bunch of QAYG straight lines a couple of days earlier and got no thread breaks at all. Then I started messing around with the tension, but still, thread breaks and skipped stitches. I looked in the manual (which, if you happen to be reading this, Janome people, you have A LOT of work to do) to try to identify the problem and narrowed it down to the needle. I don’t have many needles at home and had managed to violently break my last quilting needle when switching feet the day before. All I had was a 70, so I was using that, which is where things went wrong.

The following day I rushed off to my ghetto fabric store, where they don’t sell anything brand name (and honestly, I hate brands, but sometimes they are the only thing that works) and bought a bunch of needles. I rushed home and stuck one in, only to discover that things had gotten worse! WELL. On closer inspection, I realized I bought overlocker needles :(. The following day I went to the local sewing machine shop (not my favourite shop, but a Janome dealer) and bought some Schmetz needles. HALLELUJAH, people. I tried an 80 needle first and though there were no thread breaks, I was getting an occasional skipped stitch, so I switched to the 90 and the angels rejoiced and I finally finished quilting the damn thing.

For the back I used a Tilda fabric I’d had in my stash for ages (Huh. Just noticing how crookedly I put it on.), and for the binding I used Full Moon Lagoon from Mo Bedell for Andover Fabrics. I kind of love how the FMQ creates a really subtle heart design on the back.

Subtle FMQ heart

Subtle FMQ heart

I fully machine sewed the binding, and while it’s still not perfect, I’m pleased enough with it. Below is a detail of where the binding went wrong, but since it was right on the edge and was holding the binding together, I didn’t fix it. In other instances where there was a gaping hole, I stitched over to keep things tightly shut. I did accidentally stitch the binding to the wrong side, so the “top stitching” side faces the back and the ditch side faces the top, but I’m sure I’m the only one who’ll notice that.

Machine binding gone wrong

Machine binding gone wrong

I know I’ve pointed out all the things that went wrong or that I only consider to have turned out ok, but I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out! It took far longer to make than I’d wanted to spend on it, and in financial terms it was probably a loss, but it was interesting to make and taught me a few things, so I’ll consider the “loss” my tuition fee.

While I was working on this, my former colleague discovered her other daughter is expecting a baby boy in February and asked me to make a quilt for him. More on that in a separate post.

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case I only recommend products and services that I use and love and I love Craftsy. Deeply.


In which I am a creepy stalker

So you know how your mother always tells you not to talk to strangers? I’ve met (and not met) some of the nicest people online, all of whom were, at one point or another, complete strangers. There was the time I went to New York with two people I’d only known online, and we stayed with another online stranger. I was twenty seven then and my mother was horrified. She was sure she’d never see me again.

I used to meet people through forums (I’m not telling you which, it’s too embarrassing)(*cough* Television Without Pity, Hamster Time *cough*)(I’m not giving you links. You want to know? Another thing my mother says, frequently, is “look it up.”), but these days I trawl for strangers on Twitter, where I spend entirely too much time (I have a couple of user names, but for quilting follow me on @quiltingrainbow). One guy I’ve been following for a while makes me laugh almost every day. In his humorous way, he’s also been very forthcoming about the difficulties he and his wife were having with carrying a pregnancy to term, so I was delighted to hear that they were expecting a baby and that the pregnancy was going well. Although he doesn’t follow me, we do interact and I really wanted to make the baby a quilt because I was touched by their (admittedly sparing, 140-character at a time) story.

I recognize that sending a gift to a complete stranger who doesn’t follow you on Twitter is somewhat creepy, so before I started cutting fabric I sent a message to his sister (who does follow me on Twitter) to ask what degree of creepy it constituted. She loved the idea and thought it wasn’t creepy at all! She was about to give me his address, but I suggested that perhaps I could use her as an intermediary, because while she thought it was fine, if her brother didn’t, I’d not only be creepy, I’d be creepy and know where he lived.

I asked her for colour suggestions and she replied “purple” without hesitation, so at the Festival of Quilts, while picking up fabric of all description, I also made sure to get a few purple fat quarters (which you can see in the right-hand pile here.

Festival of Quilts loot

Festival of Quilts loot

The plan was to make a 4” square quilt top. I used my Accuquilt to cut up 4.5” squares and played around with the order on my makeshift design wall.

Fabric on the design wall. yay, nighttime pictures with shoddy lighting!

Fabric on the design wall. yay, nighttime pictures with shoddy lighting!

I threw in some squares from Pat Bravo’s Floral Elements in Sand  so that it wasn’t overwhelmingly purple. Here is the finished quilt top, which shows the dark purple squares better. I love that fabric!

Finished quilt top

Finished quilt top

For the back, I stitched an extra row of squares and placed it between a large piece of the Floral Elements and a larger piece of a Robert Kaufman purple polka dot (which I hadn’t used on the top).

Quilt back

Quilt back

Quilting detail--an even better shot of that purple fabric

Quilting detail–an even better shot of that purple fabric

While I normally quilt parallel lines a quarter inch on either side of the ditch when I make baby quilts, I decided to do some tighter diagonal stitching on this quilt, about an inch apart. I had picked up some Aurifil 40wt thread at the festival and wanted to see how it pieces and quilts. The answer is: beautifully. I was horrified by the price of the spool (over £7 for a large spool compared with around £3.50 for the Gutermann thread I use), but holy cow, people, I barely made a dent in the thing. There are 1000m of thread on a large Aurifil spool, which is more than twice as much as the Gutermann, and I think I mentioned that the Gutermann constantly jams my machine, which means that when I chain piece a baby quilt top I need to rethread the top and bobbin threads AT LEAST ten times. Not a single jam from the Aurifil. I’m a convert. Incidentally, I tried the 50wt thread, too, but just couldn’t get it to play nicely with the tension on my machine. I know this is atypical, but that’s just how it goes.

For the binding, I used the Floral Elements again, with a small strip of the lovely dark purple. I wanted to machine bind the entire thing like I had for Oscar’s baby quilt, but this time it was a complete bust. I couldn’t bear the thought of finishing the binding by hand, though, so I did something I kind of hate to do–I top stitched it and left a visible binding line on the back side. I’m not too happy about it, but I kind of wanted to just get it done.

In case you were wondering–It’s a girl!

Oscar’s Baby Quilt

This baby is kind of my fault. My friends and former colleagues A and J used to be just A and J until I quit to move to England. Guess who hooked up at my going-away party? And three years later, Oscar arrived, so it was only fitting that I would make him a quilt.

I chose colours that more or less went with the colour scheme in their apartment; anything baby-ish would have looked out of place (um, not that I’ve been there for a while–for all I know they’ve turned it bubble gum pink).

I’m partial to 4” square quilts, so for this one I used shades of grey, purple, and green.

Quilt top

The back is made of a green polka dot Tilda fabric, with a vertical line of scraps from the quilt top.

Quilt back

For the quilting, I stitched straight lines, a quarter inch on either side of the seam line. To add a bit of interest, though I’m sure not many would notice, I used purple thread for the upper quilt lines, and green for the lower ones.

Quilting detail

The binding used the same green polka dot Tilda, with a short length of one of the purple fabrics aligned to one of the square rows. I managed to completely machine bind this quilt using the tutorial by Red Pepper Quilts. It wasn’t perfect, but I was really pleased with it. I’ve since tried machine binding two other quilts, to rather disastrous results, so I’m going to have to have a rethink about binding.

Binding detail

Along with the quilt, I sent some fabric cubes that I sewed ages ago and were just sitting in a drawer, waiting for a recipient. Doesn’t he model them all well?