When a Garment Sewer Makes A Quilt

The Task

A new grandSON is on his way: 2-22-22, so once again this NaNa needed to make a baby quilt. This will be our 5th grandchild - all lovingly birthed by dear daughter Carmen. All but #1 Grandson Cole's quilt (which was a full-size quilt created with the help of my quilting guru sister, Laurie), have been baby-size quilts, so for this garment sewist, it is a manageable project.

You must understand, I am NOT a quilter - and truly I don't even enjoy it much, at all.

My Past

Back when I had my retail storefront, a quilting department and classes were a 'necessary evil' in my mind. While I enjoy the mixing of fabrics and geometry of it all, the precision and repetitive nature honestly drive me CRAZY! To prove I CAN do it, and even to remember that I TAUGHT how to do it in our $5 Quilt Club monthly meetings, I keep one of those $5 Quilts here in my Sunroom Sewing Studio - covering up the bins of my creative sewing fabric stash.

I'm just a free creative soul, so following a pattern, making things match, etc. and doing the same thing over and over again is NOT my cup of tea. Ahhhh but for a grandson (likely the last), and to think that perhaps these quilts will be kept and treasured, well - that's what Grandmas do, right?

The Plan

I've used the same basic simple pattern for all of my 3 grandaughters' quilts (now 5, 3, almost 2 years old). For the now 3-year old's quilt, the pattern was hiding somewhere, so I did it from a picture of a previous quilt - and THAT was NOT fun!

NaNa here finds this to be an excuse to add in her 3 little granddaughter's recent 'telling'pic...

Below is the (found) basic pattern I used.

As you can see, it is just blocks of 5 strips, bound along the sides with another fabric. It seemed to me that those 'sides' were 2 different fabrics, so I went with that idea. Colors were guided by my daughter and thanks to texting and iphone photos, approved while I was shopping at one of our local quilt shops

One afternoon after a class I 'attacked' the cutting of the strips for the blocks. That done, I was ready to have a mass stitching session. I ran them into my machine using a quarter-inch foot with a blade to guide, and I think managed to get that done in about an hour - not TOO painful.

The Process

I can tell you one thing that I was careful to do - especially since several of the fabrics were batiks (and hard to tell wrong from right sides), was to place them ALL right side up in my stacks as I cut! I do believe that I pieced all 20 of the blocks 5 strips all at once, chaining from one to the next to the next. THEN, it was a snap to snip them all apart at the ironing station.

I have no idea what the little guy's name will be yet, but to me this is my 'Joshua' quilt, as I am studying the book in the Bible of Joshua right now. Both in my Precept Bible Study (Zoom on Fri. mornings), and the preacher is using it at the church we are attending. While piecing, I listened to my favorite Bible teacher, Chuck Misler (now residing in heaven), through the Blue Letter Bible website. If you haven't discovered that website, or Chuck Misler, you're in for a treat! Chuck will convince you that EVERY jot and tittle of God's Word is TRUE - as it is written. Here's a link.... https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/missler_chuck/

On top of that, I'm reading only Biblical Historical Fiction this year, (on novel #5) and have found a new author: Connilyn Cossette. The series I'm reading now is all about the 40 years wandering in the desert after Exodus from Egypt and entering and conquering the Holy Land under Joshua's leadership. VERY interesting - highly recommend. But I digress.....

I was so proud yesterday that I had it all set together, so I sent quilt guru sister Laurie a picture.... Only to have her point out that the top row was wrong. DUH..... I suppose ya'll see the mistake right off.

It didn't take me long to figure out all I had to do was to unstitch the uppermost cross-wise row, turn left to right, and add at the bottom.

SEW OF COURSE - I had to go get that fixed right-a-way.

I DO teach my sewing students that I never ever come back to sew that I myself don't have to UN-Stitch something! And that is the honest TRUTH. But, I also tell them that


So - here it is all 'fixed' and completed. And, yes, if you look closely, you'll see that due to the size and flipping of the direction of the blocks, the corners don't all align like (at least I think) they were 'supposed to', but I truly do not care! This is an heirloom, and one to be USED, not for a quilt competition - at least that's how I look at it.

Quilting & Binding

Using the Serpentine Stitch, stretched out in length, I 'crossed' basic block vertical and horizontal block lines every 2", and 'wandered' out a presser foot's width to alternate sides. Not rocket science, but I felt the idea and stitch echoed the round motifs found in the 'polka dot' and circular shapes within the fabrics.

I used a medium grey on the top and a dark grey on the bottom - both selected to blend in as much as possible.

To apply the binding, it worked 'opposite' of the norm. Why? Because for durability in the long run, I didn't feel that hand-stitching for the final step f the binding would be the best. Therefore, instead of stitching the right side of the 2" wide binding to the right side of the quilt, hand finishing at the backside, I did the opposite: stitching the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the quilt and then 'finishing' with a machine stitch on the right side. See process photos below.

Note the Quilt Guide Arm installed on my sewing machine. I also made use of the needle position (width adjustment on straight stitch) to place the stitching line exactly where I wanted it. It was about 1/2" - tad more.

The above photo also shows how the miter is done - stopping the seam allowance width away from the next edge and flipping the binding back so that edge was aligned as shown. I still remember my employee, friend Norma - quilting teacher, showing me how this was done. Bless her soul.....

Below is the next step of the miter, folding strip down so that the fold at the top aligns with the edge just done. Here you can see the quilting arm at work. I used to think that I had to start sewing EXACTLY at that intersection of the seamlines, but now I realize that I can start at the raw edge...

Also - Pressing was the next step - Binding firmly AWAY from the quilt, then seam allowance under to meet the other raw edge....

I teach my students that you canNOT sew without pressing. Most of the young girls have never used iron and LOVE IT! I tell their moms to let them iron all the pillowcases in the household - and perhaps even the top edge of sheets. I also got to 'practice' on my Dad's handkerchiefs, but I do believe that is a thing of the past..... Then, 'finagalin' gets the miter to fold in and look good..

Here's the stitch I used. I adjusted settings to width of 2.0 and length to 1.8. I 'aimed' at locating the vertical portion of the stitch exactly in the seamLINE, but didn't always succeed at that - which was OK with me. I then also hand slip-stitched the miters in on both the front and the back of the quilt.

Not 'quilt' perfection, but I can assure you that this machine stitching will NOT 'give way' to lots of hard wear. As I finish writing this blog, it is in the washer/dryer to give it that scrunched 'quilted' and loved effect.

Finishing Thoughts

I will add that purchasing these fabrics - 1/2 yard of each of the block fabrics, 5/8 of the two fabrics that 'border' each block, and the backing ran me about $80 in this day and age! Amazing..... And when I see what beautiful antique quilts go for at a local auction house, (rarely even $50!), it just makes me CRY.

What does not taking expert quilting skills is the LOVE stitched in. Here's that complete little family - on Christmas Eve after their dog got run over hours before (hence the fine appearance of the Daddy!) Please pray that he arrives safely and NOT in a snowstorm (they live in central IN), that his (geriatric at not even 39) Mama do well, and that he is perfectly formed as all her others have been. God in his omniscience has all that in control, and will give us strength to parent and grandparent (even from afar) however he arrives with all the love little ones need. MY task these days is to do all I can to preserve the inalienable rights with which he is born and the FREEDOM that he is entitled to being lucky enough to be born in the USA.

I hope the talented, precise Quilters among you get a kick out of my 'views' on quilting. Remember, I honor and praise your skills - they just aren't what the good Lord has given me.

Alas, I DO want you to know that I teach basic quilting to my little students here at the Sunroom Sewing Studio. Here's a private student with a good start to her twin-size quilt. And yes, those are her fabric choices.....

She now reaches the foot pedal easily, but another 'Little' is a bit challenged to reach the pedal..

Next up: to stitch the doll using the leftovers of Granddaughter #3's quilt. The leftovers from THIS quilt are in a bag, ready to make this little guy's Boy Doll for when he turns 2. I'm thinking this little guy will also get that 'Dress Myself Doll' (as seen in the drawer) instead of the Quiet Book that I made for the other little ones.

With all my sewing 'stuff', I finally landed on keeping all my house/grandma sewing in one place. Now, if I just didn't need a note to remind me where that 'place' is.........I know! I'll put a picture here in this Blog post as my 'reminder'.

The Reward for Reading this Entire Blog Post

I've decided to make this Blog Post into a Newsletter, so I'll once again offer my 'Valentine' to Site Subscribers... a FREE Gift of either of my CREATIVE SEWING PRODUCTS all about how to transform a sweatshirt into a jacket - the Perfect 'coat' for the Springtime coming. Select your choice: Book or DVD in Comments Section of the order. If you don't designate, I get to pick.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY AND I pray that you, too, have little ones in your life for whom to stitch some Love Gifts!

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