Baby Quilt Commission

baby quilt by Monica Hayden

I have not done this in a while – posted a brief note about some of our past projects.

Elizabeth from the Hazelwood House gift store in Hot Springs requested I make a baby quilt for a friend’s baby shower. I had completed many successful projects for her over the years.

I decided on a lovely zig zag pattern, and it was made out of flannel, which was a bear to quilt!

It kept puckering, and caused acute frustration and mayhem for the quilter. Of all the quilts I’ve ever made, this is the one, simple and cute and inoffensive though it looks, that I almost completely gave up on. I had to, at least once every 5 minutes, undo stitches and start over due to the overly pliable fabric used as backing puckering. Were it not for that, the quilt would have taken 1/3 less time to make.

The reason I chose flannel , aside from my being crazy and wishing to make life harder for myself, was that I thought that flannel was a sweet fabric for a baby – cute, snuggly, and overall as comforting as they come. In fact, other people DO quilt with flannel – here is a great example  of lovely flannel quilts:

from Nesha’s Vintage Niche or flickr here
photo from moon angel flickr -flannel back and view of machine-quilted grid

Here, in fact, a nice quilter provides great info and tips on quilting with this type of fabric. Wish I’d seen this article at the time!

The opposite side was an even softer kind of flannel. It was too big to stabilize, but then it would’ve made it stiff – besides requiring obscene quantities of stabilizer.

At the end of the day though, persistence won out, and then fluffy, nightmare baby quilt arrived at its destination and was loved and enjoyed by all.

Joining Blocks – A Commemoration of Children

I’ve been working on a fascinating project for a local woman – fascinating because it touches upon a fascinating aspect of being alive – the passage of time and the fact that our kids grow up!

This remarkable mother saved a healthy sample of every item of clothing, every blanket, every costume, every outfit that her kids treasured from the time they were babies all the way to Prom! And now she wants them all put into a quilt. This quilt will visually really impress upon the viewer the evolution of life as demonstrated by garments, and will, I am sure, bring her many hours of joy.

Now, I have in my day made many a commemorative quilt – and I have been known to make quilts out of T Shirts, ties, and any other item of cloth I wanted remembered, and as a mother myself I can certainly relate to the desire to hold on to some of the precious things that take me back to the many epochs in my now-grown-up kids’ lives, but I don’t think I’d ever run into someone who had both the foresight and the ability to actually go through with saving tubs and tubs of clothes – making sure that they are washed, moth-free, undamaged by mold or other storage issues, etc. As someone who has changed homes more times than I would have preferred, I can for one attest to how difficult it is to hold on to relics from the past, which is why I actually possess such few of them. But for those who have the ability and desire, this quilt idea – which is clearly something she’s had in mind for at least two decades – is a great way to commemorate their kids’ passage through life.

Obviously she did not save every last piece of clothing ever worn by her children, but, even with saving one of two favored pieces for each stage of their lives, that’s still quite a few!

These tubs represent just how many clothes were involved. And, as the top photo strives to show, the diversity of garment and cloth is extensive, and presents many challenges.

There are lots of kids’ stuff, with teddy bear patterns and pastel colors – some cotton, but some are crazy fabrics. Then there are children’s clothes, all in different colors and different fabrics, and then you get to the jeans and fancier teen stuff that can be made out God knows what weird tinsel and lace.

A lot of them had to be stabilized, which is a term that describes a process whereby quilters stabilize fabrics that in general are impossible to quilt due to the fact they lose their shape easily – things such as part of sweaters, fringe things, lace, parts of blankets, fleece, polyester, and silk. It definitely took a while to get all the blocks stabilized and ready to go.

She already had cut up the squares roughly into the 5″ squares she wanted into a quilt that was to be 125x110inches with a black border. I still had to go in and cut the squares more precisely, stabilize them, as previously mentioned, and also had to quilt each one. This essentially became a quilt as you go process.

But now I am finished with the most troublesome part of it all, and am now putting all the squares together and all rows together and after this will go pretty quick. and am ready to move on to the phase of joining all together, then adding the border and backing – easiest yet to come, which is always nice in any process.

Following are photos of the process as it has unfolded.

I definitely hope I can capture, with my process, whatever it was that she wished for, when she saved those garments for all those years.

Joining Process beginning

Joining Process

shows backing on stabilized pieces

joining process!

A Monster of a Quilt

Today I am going to write about a large quilt that I made for a woman who approached the quilt guild a year or so ago looking for someone to make a quilt out of old blocks that were sitting in an attic.

It’s amazing to think about how many of these random quilt blocks end up in people’s basements! Most likely the answer lies in that more quilting projects than hours of the day exist. And nobody exactly plans to exit mundi after a specific number of quilts is finished – generally the Other Side comes with no announcement and no way to plan out for the fate of poor old quilt blocks.

That’s were we, humble soldiers of the Asheville Quilt Guild, come in. For folks who find the precious remains of some long-ago industrious ancestor, we are here to provide quilting aid and a chance for old projects to be finished or resuscitated.

As with this one. I actually had to quilt it by hand, as much because the fabric was all antique and delicate, as because the thing itself was way too huge to fit in any machine. The lady had all these blocks, and some of them were joined though some of them were not, but it fell upon me to take the huge pile and make them into a quilt – which I did.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!