Jackson’s Baby Quilt

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

Jumping back into writing on the blog after being away for so long is a hard thing to do. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote a post in this space. We welcomed our baby Jackson last November, who, a few days after being born, was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). He’s had two surgeries since then, and our family made the decision to move to San Antonio to be closer to his team of cardiologists. I’ve written about the experience extensively at another blog (Our Baby Jackson Bedingfield), in case you’re interested in reading. Jackson is doing much better these days, thank God. He continues to amaze us (and his doctors) by the speed at which he’s growing and progressing. He truly is a blessing, and our little miracle baby. <3

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

So, today I want to jump right in and tell you about Jackson’s baby quilt. (It’s been over a month since we’ve taken these pictures, and I can’t believe how much he’s already changed!!).

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

Pattern: Flock of Triangles from Denyse Schmidt Quilts

Fabrics: Kona Cotton solids (Cloud, Delft, Navy, Indigo, Windsor, Cadet, and Snow), Kaufman Oxford Yarn Dyes in blue (although I don’t see this color available anymore), Kaufman Essex Denim, Carolina Gingham (1/8″ royal and 1″ navy), and Liberty of London Katie & Millie print in Blue. For the back I used Kona Tangerine.

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

There is a long story to share about this quilt! Needless to say I think I put a lot of pressure on the whole project, and I wanted it to be just PERFECT. I had actually been collecting some special fabrics for a baby quilt for several years, but unfortunately I hadn’t quite settled on which pattern I wanted to use. I went back and forth with the design for several weeks. I wanted it to be traditional but not TOO traditional that it didn’t seem fresh and current. I really love Rita from Red Pepper Quilts. She has such a fresh, modern take on traditional quilt patterns, so I decided to go with her 16-patch Be Squared quilt pattern. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the fabrics I’d been collecting, which were all dark grays, blues, and neutral creams. I had planned on adding a punch of orange or pink, depending on whether the baby would end up a boy or girl. So I got started on this very tedious pattern, only to realize four months later that the quilt started to look like a giant checkerboard. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quilt pattern, but rather my failure to think about the color palette I had chosen to use in the pattern. It made me a little dizzy each time I walked into the sewing room, and I thought – if it’s this hard on my eyes, how is it going to look to the teeny tiny baby? (Side note: I still have the quilt blocks saved from this quilt, and plan to soften it up by finishing with some soft gray sashing, which I think will really help break up the design).

So in September, I made a change of plans and picked a new palette of some of my favorite Kona blues. I ended up settling on several Kona solids, including Cloud, Delft, Navy, Indigo, Windsor, Cadet, and Snow. I also wanted to include some prints in the mix, so I added in two ginghams, an oxford stripe, and a Liberty floral (I couldn’t help myself with the floral). ;) I ended up going with the Flock of Triangles pattern from Denyse Schmidt‘s first book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts. This was my first sewing book, ever, and the orange triangle quilt was one of my favorites from the book, so it only makes sense that I chose the pattern. I knew the bold triangles against a white backdrop would be such a fun, simple pattern for this baby to grow up with.

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca PateSo, I had finally set on a pattern and a set of colors, but then made the mistake of getting right to cutting before testing out even one of the quilt blocks. Before thinking twice, I had cut out all the triangles according to the pattern instructions (plus a few extra, since I hadn’t yet decided on a ratio of solids to prints). After sewing my first two triangles together, I didn’t really like how I had to eyeball the seam allowances in order for the triangles to match perfectly (take a look at my very technical drawing, above). I realized then I could have used two sets of half square triangles to make the same triangle block, but since I had already cut out all the big triangles I would have to do some re-work. I ended up cutting all the big triangles in two, and started sewing together two half-square triangles for the block, but every single straight edge was cut on the bias, so piecing the entire quilt was a lot more complicated than it should have been. Oh, well. Lesson learned. Plus I got a lot of practice sewing on the bias. ;)

Most of the quilt top was done before Jackson was born, and I finished it up pretty quickly once we had moved and were settled in our new house in San Antonio. I had originally planned on another backing – a beautiful red and white checkered print from Denyse Schmidt’s Greenfield Hill line. But in the end I decided to go with a punchy orange (Kona Tangerine) to match Jackson’s favorite toy, a little lion rattle (which, of course, made an appearance in the photos). I’m glad I was able to wait and decide on the color, because I feel like taking inspiration from Jackson’s toy makes the whole thing that much more special. :)

I knew from the beginning I wanted to quilt it myself, so I settled on a pretty basic straight-line quilting, about 1/4″ from each seam. The quilting went a lot quicker than I had anticipated (it was my first big quilt project to quilt, even though I’ve done some smaller pillows and bags in the past). I did have a little trouble with the spray baste I used (it was my first time to use spray baste, and after some trouble it gave me with skipped stitches, it will probably be the last). For the binding I referred to Rita’s tutorial on her website, Red Pepper Quilts, which was super easy to follow.

Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

I, of course, added a label to the back of the quilt. I think it’s very important to document quilts with the maker’s initials, recipient’s initials (if applicable), and the city and year in which it was made. In the past, I’ve always embroidered my labels, but I figured being a baby quilt and all, that this one will go through the wash a lot, so I wanted something a bit more sturdy than hand-embroidery. I had seen some tutorials online for quilt labels made on Spoonflower, so I tried one out and really like how easy it was!! I’ve always drafted my quilt labels on PowerPoint or Word as a template, so I kept things simple and did the same here. I didn’t worry too much about the frills – I just like to make sure the quilt is documented. And then I couldn’t help but add a little heart in there, too. :)

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(We took these pictures right before nap time – can you tell? This boy is full of expressions!).

In the end, I’m really, really happy with how it turned out! The quilt is not perfect, to say the least, but I love watching Jackson use it and play with it every day. He’s started to play peek-a-boo a lot lately, and loves to hide behind his quilt to play. It just melts my heart!

I’m hoping Jackson enjoys his quilt over the years, and more than anything I hope he knows how much love I put into making it for him. :)

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What a Bunch of Squares – Quilt Top

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Now that my final exam is over and done with (happy dance!), I’m excited to get back to sewing!!!

In my last post, I showed you some quilt blocks I’ve been working on (the pattern is “What a Bunch of Squares”, found in Denyse Schmidt’s first book). I didn’t mention it before, but I’ve been working on that same quilt since August (though not continuously), and I am so ready to finish this thing up!

Slowly but surely, I finished up all the quilt blocks last month. The blocks themselves weren’t that difficult to put together, really. In fact, if anyone’s looking for a good beginner’s quilt pattern, I’d say this is it. The squares are nice and big (measuring at 17.5″ squared), and the wonky pattern takes the pressure off making perfect measurements with your pieces. And because I used a solid white color for the border, I wasn’t super worried about matching up each corner perfectly. Although, I am getting a lot better at it with each quilt I make. Take a look at all the pinning that takes place to ensure the seams match perfectly.

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I think the part that took me the longest was deciding the order in which to place each square. I probably spent close to an hour with the pieces laid out on the floor, arranging and rearranging until I was happy with the layout of the colors and shapes. Then I spent the last two nights in my sewing room, stitching the blocks together until the quilt-top was complete. After the final press, I dragged it to our bedroom to lay it out on the bed and take a look at the final piece.

I really love the overall effect of the quilt in our room – I think it really brightens up the space. The only thing I would maybe change is the layout of some of the colors. You can’t see it in the photo above, but something that I noticed immediately is that there’s too much green in the bottom right corner, and the whole right column has the same purple color scheme. This is something that I look out for while placing the order of the blocks (I try and distribute the same colors, shapes, and direction of patterns evenly throughout the quilt top, to make it look “even”, more or less). I considered ripping apart the 4th row and rearranging two of the blocks, but quickly decided against it and try to “embrace” this small imperfection (although, it’s much less noticable in the pictures, which makes me think no one will ever notice but me).

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Does anyone else tend to do this with their projects? I find that as soon as I finish a project (or a big step of a project), I immediately start to pick apart every detail and convince myself it’s not perfect. But, if I wait long enough, I’ll look back at what I made and end up really liking the finished product. I did the same thing with my basketweave quilt I finished last summer. I really didn’t care for the placement of blocks at the time I finished – but a year later, it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made.

In the end – I’ve decided to go with it and call it complete! I’m sending this quilt top off to the long-arm quilter again. I really want to start quilting on my own this year, but I think I should start learning with a smaller quilt first. I would probably lose my patience with this queen-sized quilt, so I’m sending it off! I can’t wait to show you the completed quilt later this spring.

xo, Amanda

P.S. These little pups are too much, I can’t help myself. They’re not allowed in my sewing room, so they just stand at the doorway and supervise. :P

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(all photos taken by me with my Canon Rebel SL1 or iPhone5)

On my Sewing Table, Lately…

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As usual, school is taking a lot more free time out of my day than anticipated. It’s a shorter semester, so I’m working hard to just make it through each week. Good news is – I’m halfway done with the semester already, and once the weather finally warms up I’ll be free to do more fun things on my list!

One of those things being quality time in my sewing room! Yup, I finally finished setting up the place, and although it’s not completely organized and tidy yet, I decided to get right to it and begin working on a project I left undone last summer (before we packed up the house and moved). I mean, if I only have a few precious moments in my day, what’s a better way to spend it – sewing or cleaning? Kind of a no-brainer.

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I’m so so excited about this quilt. It’s a pattern from Denyse Schmidt Quilts book (the first sewing book I purchased!) and it’s one I’ve wanted to make for a while now. I love how graphic the squares are. And even though the quilt is made from an actual pattern, the squares are still very improvisational, which I find very therapuetic to put together.

The colors I chose are a lot brighter than something I would normally pick, but I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out so far! I think they’ll really brighten up our bedroom – just in time for spring.

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Anyway, I can’t wait to show you the finished quilt! I’ll share more details once it’s completed, but in the meantime, I wanted to show you some close-up shots of a couple of my favorite squares.

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I’ll be back later this week to show you another (therapy) project I’m working on – knitting!! :) Perfect for all this cold weather we’ve been seeing lately. Although – I can’t believe this picture was just taken a week and a half ago – we’re enjoying temperatures in the 70’s and even 80’s this week!! Crazy!

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