Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Turn a Fabric Panel into a Special Baby Quilt

About eight years ago, when my niece had our first grandnephew, I dug through my fabric stash and found a small animal print to make a baby quilt for her son.  At the time, my daughter warned me that I was setting a precedent.  I considered it a challenge, and since then, every grand-niece or -nephew has received a hand-made baby quilt from Aunt Renee.  Most of the time, I piece the top, but this time, I did something different.

Although we weren't sure it would be a boy, our 17th grand-nephew was born in December!  I selected the fabrics for this quilt before he was born, and tried to find something gender-neutral.

 Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts carried this darling animal print panel, as well as coordinating yardage with a smaller print that I could use for the back.  What they didn't have was a coordinating stripe to go with it, but luckily, I was able to find one that went pretty well.  

So what makes this quilt a little special?  Well, I decided to use the coordinating stripe to create 'prairie points' to trim the edges.  I found a great tutorial on-line that explained how make the prairie points using a strip of fabric, and it made the project go very fast! (http://www.favequilts.com/Borders/Video-Tutorial-How-to-Sew-Continuous-Prairie-Points/ct/1)  One caution here:  if you use a stripe, like I did, the direction of the stripe changes with each point...I kind of liked that, since it was for a child's quilt, but if you were using this technique on an adult quilt, you may want to stay away from a print with a one-way design.

Prairie points make a tactile border -- great for a baby quilt!
After I 'squared up' the panel, I created the prairie points, and pinned them to the right side of the quilt top.  I  learned that I needed to start pinning the prairie point about 3/8 inch from the corner, to accommodate the seam allowance.  I machine basted the prairie points around all four sides, then layered the quilt top, right sides together with the backing fabric, and the batting on the bottom of the quilt sandwich.  I followed my basting stitching to sew the layers together, leaving about an 8 inch opening along one side, so I could turn the quilt right side out.  (I trimmed the corners before I turned it right side out...made things go a bit easier!)  I pressed the side seams carefully, gently tugging the prairie points so they were nice and even.  Then I pinned the quilt all over to begin the machine quilting process.

It's hard to see in the photo, but I machine quilted along the outline of each animal, and in the elephant's case, around his trunk and feet.  A few of the leaves were quilted, too.  It was just enough to keep the batting from shifting during the many washings this little quilt will undergo.

Here's a funny story:  my niece called me to thank me for the quilt, but told me that her 18-month-old son thought it was for him!  He recognizes many of the animals, and just loves it!  I told her to make a switch -- let Johnnie keep the new quilt, and give the quilt I made for her oldest to the new baby.  He will never know the difference!

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