Collaborative Baby Shower Quilt

Clearly, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Clearly.    While I don’t have the excuse of an adorable addition, like Ms. Marie and her little one, Mattie, I can draw on her experience to post:  The threecleversisters host a baby shower!  Last winter, we descended upon Marie’s Brooklyn, NY apartment for a baby shower without the standard baby games but with a little craft time – quilt making!

A few years ago, I attended a baby shower in which the guests all decorated scraps of fabric that included quotes, images, or messages for the little one and his family.  The host then used those fabric scraps to create a flag decoration for the nursery.  It was such a charming idea, that I promised myself that I would do that for someone.  When Marie and I hosted Sara’s baby shower, I was in law school and there wasn’t any creative energy.  Marie, then, was the likely recipient.  I offered to do a flag or a quilt. She did the quilt.

The activity required a bit of coordination and fortunately I flew JetBlue to NYC so I could check my bags, with all the supplies, for free.  I bought some stencils from Lotta Jansdotter and Martha Stewart along with Martha Stewart’s paints.  We did some test squares – using my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandma as guinea pigs over Christmas.  It was a great way to get some of them involved since Gami, Kate, and Aunt B weren’t able to attend the actual shower.

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kclever & GG

kclever & GG

GG's contribution to the quilt.

GG’s contribution to the quilt.

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I also contacted several of Marie’s college friends and some of her husband’s extended family about decorating squares.  So many people were invited to the shower and so many people wanted to participate, the quilt was larger than the typical lap quilt.

The shower was held in January in Brooklyn.  That means there wasn’t a lot of space for 15+ people who were invited.  Fortunately, the weather was on our side, and though it was a bit chilly, we expanded the craft portion of the shower to patio.  No baby games on this one — what mom really wants to do the circumference of her belly anyway?  We CRAFTED!

Supplies 8404379025_8c12f8a399_o 8404377917_0204d83792_o8405471582_75f663659c_o


By the time I had collected all the pieces, I had 32 squares.  I planned to make a piece with the baby’s initials or name once she was announced, but 33 square does not make a normal looking quilt — 11×3?  Nope.

Instead, I chose to make a square for each of her initials.  I printed out MASSIVE font each letter from my handy Microsoft Word program and used that as an applique.  I was thrilled by how nice it turned out.

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The number was 35, 7 x 5, and with the borders and 62 x 96 in (approximately)!

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The Baby Quilt!

The Baby Quilt!


Another t-shirt quilt completed: Lessons Learned

It was a frenzied finish, of unaligned needles and slipped stitches, but I was able to complete the quilt before my self-imposed deadline.  Why MAIL a quilt to Medford, when the happy recipient would be in Portland after all?

There are a few lessons I’ve learned in this process:

1.  Measure thrice, cut once.  My dad said this to me when I very young.  I think he was working on building a bluebird house.  Back in our Oklahoma days, he took on the plight of the bluebirds who apparently were being pushed out of their habitat by larger, greedy birds.  He took to making birdhouses that would fit only the bluebird.  He’d make several and then place them on various people’s country property – I assume he had permission since he skipped the barbwire and the “no-trespass” signs.

In an effort to speed up the process, I measured once, and well, then I was stuck, especially with t-shirts. There’s no going back!  I narrowly missed Miss M’s name on one of the t-shirts when I was squaring the block!  The block was square, but there wasn’t enough room for the seam allowance without lopping off part of the name.  Fortunately it was not Miss M’s name specifically, but I look at it and it still bothers me.  Measure thrice, cut once. sigh.

2.  Silky t-shirts require interfacing.  I had planned on the interfacing to make the shirts stiffer and more reliably uniform.  I mis-judged when I was ironing (see #1) and the silky fabric of one of the jerseys did not get the interface along one of the edges.  I must have tried sewing that 3 times before I gave up and took to hand-stitching.  I could have saved so much time…

3.  Interfacing sews “funny.”  I also learned that when the interfacing is face down along the feed dogs it constantly skips stitches.  I bet I could adjust the tension or switch the needle but after throwing up my hands and walking away — then walking back — I just repinned everything so that I could swap the fabric and have the interfacing face up with the sashing fabric against the feed dogs.  Good enough.  I came across this problem AGAIN when I was trying to applique some patches on the top.  Because I needed the applique pieces facing up, the interfacing at the back of the t-shirt blocks was unavoidably facing the feed dogs.  I hand stitched those too.  Twice. FIRST without properly pinning (see below) and SECOND with somewhat sufficient pinning (see below).

4.  Use a LOT of pins.  I opted out of handsewing the binding because of time constraints.  Instead, I sewing the fleece to the quilt top inside out, pulled it through and then stitched up the whole.  What I failed to do was thoroughly — and I do mean thoroughly — pin the quilt top + fleece sandwich together.  I threw a few pins in each square and thought that would be sufficient. Sigh.  It was not.  I ripped stitches along the way and did my best to encourage the fabric to fix itself.  So not perfect.

5.  Just be glad when you’re done and don’t point out the errors!  Chances are, the recipients will be happy regardless!

Cutting Corners Quilt (Big Boy Quilt)

Last Christmas, little E figured out how to climb out of his crib.  (Yes, merry Christmas to us!)   Therefore, it was time to move little E into a big boy bed, and time for me to make him a big boy quilt!

I planned the quilt around a cute fabric I found, an Alexander Henry print called “Traffic Jam”.  As I have lamented before, it’s not so easy to get “boy”- appropriate quilting prints, so this was a great find.  The print has a rather large repeat so I didn’t want to make a quilt that would require cutting it up into too many small pieces.

With this in mind, I decided that the “Cutting Corners” quilt from Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts was the perfect pattern to showcase this fabric.  Not only does it make the most of the design,  it’s simple to put together (though in my case “Last Minute” means start in January, finish in July).  The construction is as follows:  one large rectangular panel in the center, bordered by a selection of other fabrics.   (I had a lot of the traffic jam print, so I repeated it for one of the borders).  To finish, you quilt the blanket together by sewing a series of rectangles–each successive rectangle nestled inside a larger one.

I have just enough fabric left over to make a matching pillowcase, so…watch this space!

the making of a t-shirt quilt

A friend of mine recently abandoned her full-time gig (as a lawyer) for her part-time gig (volleyball coach/teacher/mentor).  Now the Division I athlete, 3 time coach of the year, and amazing person in general, is completing a teaching fellowship program with Teach For America in the deep south of good ol’ Jackson, Mississippi.  Inspired by her dedication, I wanted to do something special for her.  We’d talked in the past of sewing and t-shirt quilts. This was the perfect opportunity. I  offered to make a t-shirt quilt of all her Ashland HS volleyball t-shirts.  She graciously agreed (I would be destroying about 15 t-shirts with the weak promise of a quilt, afterall).

T-shirts and fabric

Finding a complementary fabric was easy because I just had to go with a volleyball theme.  Next I sorted through the t-shirts to get a general idea of what was what.  There wasn’t much planning, just kind of diving in.  Next, I cut the shirts into rectangles (removing and casting aside the collars and sleeves).

I also chose to iron-on medium weight inter-facing to keep the t-shirt fabric in place.  I think I bought about 10 or 15 yards of this stuff — lucky for me it was on sale for $0.50 a yard for a while!

It seemed that many of the t-shirts designs were about 10 inches in length so I cut accordingly, alterating or expanding dimensions as necessary.  I also try to keep similar designs to similar shapes.  When that was all done, I laid them out and just played around till I got something I liked.  Once again, the handy computer labels were used to label each square (“1A, 1B, etc.)  When it was all said and done, I had decided on 6 rows.

The tricky task was cutting strips to fit between the squares so that all the rows would be of equal length.  Again, there was no plan and I scribbled my measurements on any scrap of paper I could find for that night.

my scribbles...

Each row took approximately an hour or so, and that’s about all I could devote on week nights.  Too many times I goofed on the 1/4 in addition for the seams, but I had the comfort of knowing fabric could give and I could lop off a side or two here or there to accommodate.

Here’s the quilt, ready to be, um, quilted.  It’s not the most pleasant task for a mid-July day with temperatures in excess of 100, but I have a July 21st deadline, so there’s no energy to waste complaining!

The Conclusion: Jenny & Derek’s quilt

Nearly 2 years since they were married, I finished the quilt, and I love it.  I love the colors.  I love the fabric.  And, I love that I paid the extra cash to get it professionally quilted.  For those who don’t know, all the fun curli-q’s you see on a quilt is more than likely completed with a long-arm quilting machine.  This machine is HUGE and takes up the entire room or studio.  Although it adds to the cost of an already pricey hobby, the finished product is so much nicer.  As I was reminded time and again in my quilt shop, you put in a lot of money for the fabric and even more for your TIME, and the end result should be worthy of that. With a visit from J&D this weekend, I’m super excited to present them with this much belated gift.  Yes, it’s for both of them, but considering the overpowering pinks and purples, J is probably going to appreciate it more.

The Finished Product


J&D Modeling the Quilt

Next on the line up?  A t-shirt quilt made for my friend Jodee from her volleyball coaching T’s and a baby quilt for Baby Boy Drews.  Ah, too many projects and yet so little time.