Monday, April 11, 2011

A Baby Blanket for Isaac

I've been holding onto this post for a few weeks now because I didn't want to spoil the surprise, but now I can talk about the process of making a baby blanket for little Isaac Patrick because we visited the little cutie today and gave him his birth-day present.  Yay!

The process of making Isaac's blanket started out like this: I asked Erica a few weeks before Isaac was due what kind of theme they had planned for him, and she told me dark blues and greens and turtles.  Well, surprise surprise, Joann's doesn't really carry nursery prints that fit any of those characteristics, so I had to stretch myself to figure out what I was going to do.  

After walking up and down the aisles I decided that if I couldn't create interest in patterns then I would just have to do so with texture.  I decided to focus on three colors: navy blue, hunter green, and chocolate brown.  I selected a flannel in each of the colors, different sized corduroy in each of the colors, fleece in the blue and green, and a cuddly plush in the brown. 

I took my new purchases and happily went home to finalize my design and get started.
To make things easy on myself I decided to make the blanket 36"x36", which I figure is a decent size for a baby blanket and easy enough to work with.  The design I came up with utilized a 9-square block design surrounding a center panel which would be an appliqued picture of (you guessed it) a turtle.
I sat myself down in front of the TV with my rulers, cutting mat, rotary blade, chalk line and scissors and happily cut cut cut until I had my required 108 squares.  I then carefully laid them out so that each 9-square block had one square from each fabric and no similar squares were touching each other.
While I'm always a little worried about alignment when working with 9-square blocks and making sure the corners match I have to say that I've had the easiest time with this quilt than I ever have with any of the other piecework I've done.  Maybe it's just that I've gotten to be more careful when I cut the fabrics, but these squares gave me very little trouble.  The most difficult of all of my fabric choices was definitely the brown cuddly plush since it stretched and so I had to trim many of them down to the required 4"x4" size since many had mysteriously ended up as 4 1/2"x4" squares.

After cutting everything and sewing all of my blocks together (which took about a day) I got to move onto the fun part, the applique.  

Poor Granite had to sit through all my debates about what I should do with the applique.  "Should I do a turtle facing sideways?" "Should I do a turtle looking right at you?" "Should there be more than one turtle?" "Should I do a turtle from a top view?"... and then it hit me.  I have no idea where the idea came from, but suddenly I was sketching a picture of a turtle sitting on a rock reading a book... wearing glasses... in front of a tree... with clouds in the sky.  

When I do applique work I don't ever like to just cut the fabric and hope it works, and I never really try to sew it directly on.  Instead I like to draw a picture, make it the exact size of what I want, transfer the drawing onto fusible web, attach the fusible web to the fabric, cut the design, and then fuse the design onto the backing piece.  But that's not what I did this time.  Instead I decided to skip the fusible web and just work with the fabric directly.
I worked from the background out and made the grass, tree and clouds first.  I free handed the grass while I was sewing it on, so it's a little uneven, but I liked the way it looked.  In the picture you can see a space where the grass is flat, that's the area that would be covered by the turtle on the rock, so I figured I wouldn't waste my time making it look like grass since it wouldn't ever be seen.

At this point in the design process I got excited by what I was doing and stopped taking photos.  After piecing together the turtle and adding leaves to the tree branches I embroidered Isaac's name onto his blanket using a chain stitch and then added the blocks around the appliqued center panel.  After pressing the quilt top I made a quilt sandwich using a large square of the cuddly brown plush as a backing and a piece of leftover fleece as batting (I didn't want the blanket to be too thick), and then binded the whole thing with some brown blanket binding.
I think it came out quite good.
I especially like the turtle.  Who can resist a turtle reading a good book? 
And even if you could resist the turtle, nobody could resist the brown cuddly plush backing.  Sooo soft!

Needless to say I was very pleased with the way it came out.  It was a labor of love Isaac, I hope you enjoy it!

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