August 16, 2005
This poor baby quilt–I started it sometime around the end of April and only finished it now because it got put aside while I worked on the heart quilt and then on the wedding quilt and then on nothing at all during my recent slump. Still, the baby is not even six months old yet, so considering some young ones don’t get their quilts from me until their first birthday, this boy is ahead of the pack.
I believe this is the most matchy-matchy quilt I’ve ever made. Five of the nine fabrics in the top are from the same line (Robomatic by Jennifer Sampou for Kaufman Fabrics–I looked it up). I used so many because I just really like them–they’re cute without being cutesy (at least as I draw that line) and seemed perfect for a quilt for a baby boy whose sister got a girlie-girl quilt from me when she was a baby. There are funny robots and stars (and what I came to think of as “space olives”) and robot parts and robot words like “Spreep!!!”. The backing fabric isn’t from the same grouping, but it’s got the same retro robot theme and the colors are similar enough that it works.
I found the pattern in the July, 2005 issue of The Quilter magazine–why their publishing schedule is such that the July issue came out in April, I have no earthly idea. It’s the one called “Double Dutch” on this page. (Later, I found an almost identical pattern in my files, from the January/February 2003 Quiltmaker. Yet I hadn’t put that one out into the baby quilt ideas file, probably because it was done in a rather sophisticated cream, red, and black color palette.) This looks more complicated than it is. Basically, it’s a tarted-up Rail Fence, and that’s one of the simplest patterns ever. Basically, you make Rail Fence blocks, like this and then sew half-square triangles to two corners. I ran out of one of the light fabrics part way through the triangle sewing on process, so some of them have the Jetsons-esque stars and space olives and some of them are with the spare parts. I realized I had the shortage early enough to arrange it so the two prints are grouped together, one in the center and one around the outside, so one could even think it was designed that way from the start.
When it came time to start the quilting (which wasn’t until the first weekend in August, so I really picked up the pace on this recently), I didn’t want to do my typical first step of quilting in the ditch between the blocks because that would have meant putting an x right through the on-point squares where the triangles at the corners of the blocks meet, and I didn’t want to attract attention to the fact that those squares weren’t one unit. I also didn’t want to do a diagonal grid across the blocks because that would cut up the pinwheels. So I ended up quilting diagonal lines from point to center on each arm of the pinwheel, sneaking between pinwheels in the ditch of around the squares. Once the straight lines were done, I took the walking foot off and put the darning foot on and did some free motion quilting in the light areas. (In the process, I discovered that I don’t actually have to cover my feed dogs when free motion quilting–at least I didn’t notice any ill effects when I forgot to put the plate on.) I thought about stippling all the light parts to really make the pinwheels stand out, but I don’t like to do too much stippling on a baby quilt because I think it takes away from the softness and babies should have soft, cuddly stuff. I ended up stippling the squares to really join them visually and making squiggly lines down the bars, which nicely echoed the squiggly stripes in the tan print. (You can sort of see the overall effect here.)
One of the things I wasn’t 100% happy with was how much the red blocks stuck out–I liked the red but it sure dominated the green and tan–which is how I came to use red for the binding. By adding more red, it made those blocks stick out a little less. I didn’t have a picture of the baby to use for the label (though I have met him, and it seems like he’d be perfectly photogenic), so I reverted to my old way of writing with a Pigma pen on fabric, which was fine because that’s what phase I was in when I made the sister’s quilt, so now no one in the family has a fancier label. (Though I realize such a tiny detail is unlikely to be the cause of bitter sibling rivalry anyway.)
Now I really should get working on the next baby quilt, for a little girl, but I don’t have any good ideas for that one yet so I’ll keep playing with my Modern Quilt-Along project until I come up with something.