I’m not a big quilter. My grandmother made over 200 quilts in her lifetime, winning awards throughout Manitoba. They were all machine pieced and hand quilted, in great detail and with impressively small, even stitches. She had her manual Singer machine electrified in the 40’s, and I still have the machine and the pedal part that was removed. My mother quilts, and she used to sell comforters from our sheeps’ wool, hand-quilting many layers of wool batting between layers of broadcloth to keep them stable. You’d think that quilting would be in my genes, but somehow it’s not.
So when a friend or family member is having a baby, my first instinct is to knit something, not to sew a quilt. But sometimes, a quilt is needed, even a simple one. For my brother in law’s second child, a quilt seemed like the thing to do.
This is a riff on my mom’s favourite baby gift, which is the most simple blanket you can quilt. She uses two pieces of flannel or one flannel and one quilting cotton, with a layer of polyfill in between. She machine quilts some lines across it to hold everything together, and uses the flannel to bind it. It takes very little time to make, is very cozy and soft for babies, and with some adorable prints, it looks anything but boring.
For the top, I wanted to do a little more than just one print. So I chose some quilting cottons, starting with some biology and some physics. Because every baby needs some math in their life. Add to that some space: a little night sky, plus a little day sky. Fill it out with a few complimentary fabrics from my stash, and I have a delightfully nerdy, child-friendly theme.
Which means for the back, I needed something equally nerdy: robots! This is a nice soft flannel, which makes a perfect back and binding for a baby quilt.
For the piecing, I did a super simple pattern. Some 6 by 6 inch squares, mixed with some 6 by 3 inch rectangles. To make sure I cut the right number of each size, I used Inkscape to gameplan the colours. It’s not perfect when the fabrics have busy patterns, but it makes it easy to see if you have too many light or dark pieces bunched together. This is the final version.
As a non-expert quilter, I sort of wing it with the cutting and sewing. I sew together the rectangles into squares, then sew the squares into columns, then sew the columns together.
Once I have the top together, I pin it together with a layer of polyfill batting and the solid piece of flannel, leaving a couple inches of flannel all around. Then I machine-quilt some diagonal lines to keep everything together. That’s obviously not possible with a big quilt unless you have a fancy quilting machine, but my machine could just handle this baby-sized quilt.
Finally, I folded the flannel backing over the front to make a binding, and topstitched it in place. And voila, a beautiful baby gift in an afternoon! That's much quicker than knitting :)