Flying Baby Quilt

Just a quick post today to talk about the third and final quilt I finished over Spring Break this year—a baby quilt for our new niece, Genevieve. I am really pleased with the final quilt and glad it’s off to its new home where it will hopefully be loved and used.

But the process of making the quilt, from the very beginning stages, was a frustrating object lesson in trusting my intuition. I started with a rough plan—picked a pattern and then decided I’d buy a fat quarter bundle of Ruby Star Society Heirloom and pick out a range of pinks and peaches and purples to use for the quilt blocks. I made those decisions early, in October of last year. And as soon as I tried pulling the colors and prints I wanted to use, I knew it was all wrong. It wasn’t going to come together to be what I wanted. Something about—something I couldn’t really name and still can’t name—was just off.

But I persisted, and kept trying to convince myself that it would be fine. I drew up quilt mock-ups and colored in the approximate fabric colors and layout and make Aidan look at it and tell me what he thought. I hung it up in my sewing room and convinced myself that it would look good. I kept pulling out the fabric over and over again and arranging it and rearranging it to tell myself the palette was right and a good match for the pattern. I went out and bought 3 yards of background fabric to complete what I needed for the top. I shopped and made plans for what I’d buy for the backing and what I’d use for the binding. And then when it finally came time to get started with the quilt, I got honest with myself, kicked all the plans to the curb, and went back to searching for a new pattern.

The good thing is that once I just accepted that what I had been planning wasn’t going to work, finding a new pattern and pulling a new set of fabrics that would work together was fairly easy. It didn’t even take me long to find the perfect backing fabric—a minky rainbow print in basically the same color palette I’d used for the quilt top. I’ve never used minky to back a quilt before, and this is where I should have again trusted my intuition. The primary concern that people have with minky as a quilt backing is that it’s actually a knit and it stretches. I am not intimidated by stretch fabrics. I have worked with all kinds of knits. I know how they behave. I know how to handle them.

But I still got in my head about basting the quilt together, and decided to follow advice I’d seen online from people who insisted that spray basting was the ONLY way to keep the minky from shifting all over the place while quilting. Some people love spray basting, which is great. I don’t. I much prefer the process of pin basting and I like the flexibility that comes with being able to adjust and repin if necessary. I kept trying to figure out why that wouldn’t work with minky backing—kept trying to understand why I couldn’t get by with pin basting and a little extra attention towards making sure I wasn’t getting any puckers on the back. I couldn’t see what it would be necessary and dreaded the whole spray basting process the whole time but did it anyway.

And it ended up being a big mistake. The minky did not shift, but the quilt top did. I had to fight through the entire quilting process to avoid puckers in the top, which is a problem I’ve never had with pin basting. I had to rip out so many areas of quilting and redo them. I had to pry the basted quilt top off the batting in two places so that I could adjust it. None of this is to say that spray basting is categorically terrible, obviously. I’m sure I’d have had a much easier time if I was more skilled and familiar with spray basting. But it sure as shit wasn’t any easier than pin basting, and I should have just gone with what I knew and what I felt good about.

Oh well. It’s done now. And finishing touches plus a good wash have mitigated most of the rough parts of the quilting. Will I learn my lesson and not second guess myself so much in the future? (Probably not.)

Project Details:

Pattern: Flying by Quilty Love

Size: Approximately 41” x 48”

Quilt top fabrics: Kona Cotton in Snow and six fat quarters from a Ruby Star Society Heirloom bundle

Batting: 80/20 Cotton blend batting from the Fat Quarter Shop

Backing: Dear Stella Minky in rainbow print

Quilting: 1.5” straight grid in all-purpose thread

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