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. :)

20150607-2015Jun_untitled_069-245Jackson's Baby Quilt | Blanca Pate

(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. :)