25 January, 2010

Upcoming sewing projects - The Baby Quilt

I have a lot of sewing to finish up this spring/summer, big quilts, little quilts, a couple of bags... But the one really pestering my brain is a baby quilt for a good friend.

Baby quilts are tricky, at least I think they are. Not only must they meet color expectations (which of course vary by recipient and the baby's gender, and let's be honest - all good quilts must meet that color expectation barrier) but there are other issues at play.

Let's start with size. I've seen baby quilts as small as 32" square, and as large as 55x60". That's a BIG range. Personally, I try to shoot for about 42-45" square, 48x42" if oblong. It's big enough to be useful well into the toddler years, but small enough to manage around an infant. That said, not all patterns modify into that size very well. Some need to be a good deal bigger to pull off correctly, some look too cumbersome if made crib sized.

Another consideration is materials. Most of the time I use quilting weight cottons, but will this quilt be used (I always hope so) or hung or put away for special? That matters to me when making fabric choices. If I know that the quilt won't ever get used, I can add in specialty fabrics like silks and things. If it's going to be hung I use different batting. If it's going to be used (again, I ALWAYS hope so) do I put on a flannel or minkee back? I love putting flannel on the back of baby quilts, it's so soft and cozy, but flannel doesn't wear as well as the cottons and sometimes it doesn't survive more than a couple of babies.  I love the feel of minkee, but I don't yet know how well it wears so I've only used it for surface appliques, not full backs. Once I've made a decision on the front and back and batting, there's quilting to consider and that, too, depends on how the quilt will be used as well as what it's made of. Flannel front and back with a fluffy poly batting to drape over the back of the bed or just used to cuddle with doesn't need much quilting at all whereas a fully cotton quilt that will be used and abused through several children and handed down to the grandkids needs a LOT of quilting.

Tied to materials is whether to buy all new fabric special for this quilt, or dig into my stash for something scrappy, or a combination of the two. Usually, it's a combination of new and already-in-stock fabric, but it is something to decide on. Btw, ALL of my stash fabric is new, I just keep all the leftovers from previous projects, and stuff I buy just because I love it, and stockpile it all like survivalists stockpile canned corn and bullets. lol I have a LOT of fabric in my stash. ;) So. Anyway. When I mention I'm making a scrappy quilt, I'm not using old cut-up shirts or anything. It's all new fabrics, just a little of this, a little of that... ;)

Next, there's pattern. I've done lots and lots of different things in baby quilts. I've done traditional patterns (like bear's paw, rail fence, and Lonestar) and I've done wacky contemporary things. There were a couple of years that it seemed like everyone wanted Noah's Ark quilts. Applique quilts. Wholecloth quilts. So I spend a lot of time digging through patterns and making sketches to find something that says 'yep, this is a good baby pattern!' for that particular family.

A lot of the pattern choice on my end depends on how the parents are decorating - if they're doing anything special at all - and what colors the parents like, which then leads me right to color. Babies, I understand, are drawn to black, white and red. I made a black and white with red quilt for a baby once, and the mom looked at me like I'd lost my mind. So... Color. This spring's mom does not want pastels, which is totally fine with me. Now I need to decide if I want to use a lot of black. I think that black is really dramatic and rich, but some people get flustered to have it in a baby quilt. Will the parents better appreciate a traditional look? Contemporary? Graphic? Kid prints? Boy stuff? Girly stuff? Both?

So, anyway, I have a baby quilt due in April and I'm still trying to decide what I should make. Anyone have ideas?

1 comment:

Kat BM said...

I still have the baby quilt you made for Jesscera of course.. it's mostly black w/ colored bars on it, it looks very much like a bar graph showing only 1 side of the bell curve.. very kewl. I've inherited it now that's this 13. She's very good at math, so maybe your quite / math graph had something to do with that! LOL