Rainbow Baby Quilt

All the knitting and sewing I was doing during the first half of the summer came to a screeching halt in July when I started teaching two summer classes and when my two teen sisters came to stay with us for two weeks. (Although I did teach both of my sisters to knit and crochet while they were visiting. My 17-year-old sister loved knitting and is now deep in the process of making a Doctor Who scarf, while my 15-year-old sister took immediately to crochet and has been pumping out projects at a break-neck pace since she picked up a crochet hook. It’s pretty awesome.) Unfortunately, at the end of the month, I found out that I’ve developed some health issues that mean that our baby is getting an early eviction notice. Everything should be fine, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or anxiety-producing, so I cast aside the Andy Maternity pants that I was in the middle of and started work on a baby quilt in hopes that some color and simple, straight-line sewing would be soothing.

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Luckily, it worked. This is the first time that I’ve ever made a quilt, and I ended up really enjoying the process. I find that knitting and garment sewing tap into different parts of my brain, so that I tend to want to work on them at different times depending on how stressed I am. But working on this quilt produced the same kind of calming effect that a really good knitting project produces for me—it’s methodical and repetitive and very easy to get completely lost in. It was immensely satisfying to watch the whole thing come together, and it helped me work through many worries.

 

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Since this was my first-ever quilt, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I’d been planning this quilt since I found out I was pregnant, and I’m glad I had the foresight to go with something fairly easy since I ended up making this in a bit of a time crunch. The quilt design is based on pictures I found online of the Rainbow Jelly Roll Quilt that is the basis of Creativebug class taught by Heather Jones.

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I confess that I didn’t buy the class, which only focuses on assembling the quilt top. The quilt top is made by simply sewing together strips from a Kona Cotton Solids Roll-Up in the New Brights Palette, and I already knew enough about quilt piecing to feel pretty confident about sewing the strips together. So I just bought the Kona Brights roll-up and winged the top, cutting out almost all of the pink shades in the roll and eliminating a few other shades that looked a bit ugly or repetitive. I found a really cute blue and gray cloud print for the backing (I know it’s a Dear Stella design, but I’m not sure of the specific name or line—it doesn’t look like it’s available from Fabric.com anymore, which is where I bought it.) For the batting, I bought some Warm & Natural cotton batting in a pre-cut baby quilt size from Joann’s. The final quilt ended up being roughly 40″ x 53″.

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Since I really had no idea how to approach any of the quilt-making process beyond piecing the top together, I looked at the class offerings on Craftsy and ended up buying Maria Capp’s Mastering in Minutes: Finishing Quilts. I think this might be one of my best Craftsy class purchases so far. It’s actually categorized as a tutorial rather than a class, and is only about 17 minutes long. I loved this since my biggest issue with Craftsy classes has always been experiencing burn out—so many of the classes are so long and detailed, I end up losing interest. This class efficiently and clearly explained the process of prepping the quilt top, assembling the quilt sandwich, doing the actual quilting, and then doing a machine binding. The machine binding technique was especially easy and gave me a really nice finish.

 

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Because I wanted to keep things ultra simple, I just did straight line quilting 3/8” on either side of the quilt top seam lines. All in all, this is probably the easiest first quilt project I could have taken on. I’m glad I went with something so simple because it let me get the feel for the quilting process without needing to invest in quilting equipment I don’t have (like a rotary cutter, cutting mat, quilting rulers, etc.) or getting frustrated and bogged down by more complicated piecing or quilting. Plus, the end product is freaking delightful. I think this may be one of the most beautiful things I’ve made to date, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

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While I really enjoyed this project, I don’t think I’m ready to launch into more serious quilting yet. Mixing colors and prints and patterns for more complicated quilt designs isn’t something that really appeals to me at this point—in fact, it seems pretty overwhelming and like it requires a skill set I haven’t really developed. But I definitely think there are some more simple quilt projects in my future. Craftsy actually has some really gorgeous modern quilt kits available for sale that look like they’re the right level of challenge for me. I’m thinking that once the infant fog starts to lift in a few (or many) months, and I’m feeling ready to get back to some simple-ish sewing I can tackle in short bursts, a quilt kit might be a fun and easy project to work on.

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Regardless, I’m glad I got this project done before the baby arrives. I’m looking forward to enjoying some sweet snuggles underneath all these bright colors.

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Kid Sewing: Little Bathrobe and Bonus Shorts

In 2014, when I had been sewing for about a year, I made some hooded robes for our nephew and our godson. Both boys were 3 at the time and have definitely outgrown the robes now that they are getting ready for 1st grade in the fall. But our nephew has a pair of toddler twin brothers who are just growing into the robe, so my sisters-in-law requested a second robe so the twins can wear them together. It’s a simple pattern that offers the chance to sew with bright colors that I would never wear myself, so who could say no?

Beach Robes via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

The original robes made in 2014–the red robe went to my nephew

I used the Beach Robe pattern from Made Everyday by Dana (which was previously just MADE). I made the second size, which is meant to fit 18 mos – 3 years. Like the first robes, I opted for short sleeves, a partial tie, and a lined hood. Like the first robes, I also used the cheapest, thinnest towels available at Target for the fabric. You want to use a thin towel or the robe would end up way too bulky. I’m pretty sure the towels I got were labeled “quick dry” towels or something like that. I think they were ~$4 each?

Beach Robe from Made Everyday

I like this pattern enough to have made it three times now, and I like it enough to make it again in the future, but there are some things about it that annoy me. One of them is that the pattern doesn’t indicate how much fabric you need to line the hood. For the record, I bought ½ yard of lining fabric for the first two robes I made, but I easily got the hood lining pieces for this robe from a single fat quarter. My second big annoyance is that the pattern doesn’t include a pattern piece for the robe ties—it just gives you dimensions for cutting them. I realize that some people would prefer this to printing off more sheets for a pdf pattern, but I am lazy and would prefer the ease of a pattern piece.

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I made a couple of recommendations for anyone making this pattern the first time I posted about it, and I still stand by them. The pattern recommends attaching the bias binding in one pass, which is bananas to me and seems like it would be so sloppy and frustrating. I did the more traditional 2-step application method, sewing one side of the binding on at the fold line, folding the binding over the raw edge, and then top-stitching the binding in place.

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I’d also recommend ignoring the order of construction in the pattern and sewing the sleeves in flat. I actually set them in on this robe (because I was too lazy to go back and read my own post on this pattern) and felt it was unnecessarily fiddly. My final recommendation is that you really have to accept that the ends of the ties are never going to be perfect—you’re probably going to end up with a bit of wobbly stitching and a couple of puckers in the binding. The ties on this robe definitely benefitted from three more years of sewing experience, but still. It’s hard to get ½” wide double bias binding around that tight curve. (I think this last recommendation is mostly for me, because I have issues with perfectionism and those damn robe ties make my eye twitch.)

I’m equally horrified and fascinated by the possibility of seeing the new robe next to the original, given how much I think I’ve grown as a sewist in the last three years. Making this pattern definitely felt a lot easier and faster this time around, and I had the benefit of no longer being intimidated by bias binding. Plus, having a serger definitely helped—it was so much easier to finish the seams and helped keep the bulk under control.

Kid Shorts from Made Everyday

Since I had fun making a tiny thing in bright colors, I took another hour or so to whip up a little pair of shorts with some extra fabric that’s been hanging out in my stash for years. This is another Made Everyday pattern—the Kid Shorts Pattern. I sewed up the 12 mos size in the longer leg length with a simple elastic waistband and front pockets. I have a weakness for tiny, useless pockets. My hope is that our baby will be able to wear these next summer, and it should be pretty easy to adjust the elastic to fit better if necessary. If they don’t fit, I’ve got an easy gift on hand for someone else’s kid in the future. Either way, a quick and fun little project!