baby animals quilt

June 26, 2017

The baby quilt is finished!  It is adorable and the kids were thrilled!  My girlfriends gave them a baby shower a few weeks ago and when it was opened, I confess to getting teary eyed.  I was so happy to see my son and his darling wife be so thrilled with the gift, knowing they were part of a 16 year old tradition.  My book club friends (of over 40 years) started making group baby quilts for our first grandchild of each of our children.  So far we have made 14 baby quilts and it's possible we may make one or two more!  Over the years my son has seen me be part of this quilt making process and it was fantastic to see a 34 year old man get excited about the idea that his baby was going to be part of this tradition. Sigh. I simply love this time in my life. The quilt is now hanging on the side of the crib, waiting for the little guy to be born!

A group baby quilt is not that difficult and can be made by women with all skill levels.  You may need one expert in the group to guide you, but not everyone needs to be good at sewing, just enthusiastic!  We like to give ourselves at least 3-4 months to make a quilt. Below are the general directions to make a 40" x 52" (approximate size) 12 block baby quilt. 

Just for ease of making, we make all our baby quilts exactly the same. This consistency and familiarity makes participation easier for the less experienced sewers.  Each baby quilt is made up of 12 embroidered squares connected with lattice strips and connecting blocks. However, they all look completely different because of their color choices and embroidery design choices. We've never made one that hasn't been adorable. To start, the new grandma-to-be and the new mom-to-be pick out a simple embroidery pattern from Aunt Martha's Transfers.  Usually the fabric store carries them, but if not, they are available online. Tessa chose baby animals in cross-stitch.  

Go shopping: Next, with pattern in hand, head to the fabric store and pick out 3-4 fabrics: white for the blocks, a color for the lattice strips and another for the small connecting blocks, then finally the backing fabric. Use only highest quality 100% cotton suitable for quilting. The lady at the shop can help you figure out how much yardage you need, but for this size, we get 2 yds. white for the squares, 2 yds. fabric for the backing, ½ yd. for the connecting blocks and 1 yd. for the lattice strips. Also, get a dozen or so DMC Six-Strand Embroidery Floss in at least 6 favorite colors.  Make sure you get black and red for the eyes and mouth if you are making animals.  You'll also need 3 packages of Wrights Bias Tape Wide Single Fold (do not get anything else, not even the quilt binding, trust me, the Wide Single Fold is best), thin baby quilt sized poly batting, and a spool of matching thread for piecing plus one spool of white or off-white hand quilting thread. Also, everyone needs an embroidery hoop, several embroidery needles, several quilting needles, a threader, and a thimble.

The mother-to-be won't see the baby quilt again until it's finished!

Cut the Fabric: Machine wash and tumble dry all fabric. Iron if necessary. Cut off selvage edges and throw out. Cut out the white squares large enough to fit the design, making sure to add plenty of extra room around each design.  Using the package directions, carefully iron on the transfer designs. With the corresponding colors, cut lattice strips and connecting blocks, also adding a ¼" seam all around.  These are the sizes we cut:
→12 white blocks, 9 ½" x 9 ½"
    You can cut them larger to help with embroidery; the final trimmed size is 9 ½" square.
→31 lattice strips, 9 ½" x 3 ½"
→20 connecting squares, 3 ½" x 3 ½"

(A rotary cutter and self-healing mat are helpful for cutting!)

Embroidery: We are 6 women and always make a 12 block quilt, giving each of us 2 designs to embroider, then later, to quilt.  Invite your friends over, hand them each 2 squares and enough embroidery floss for each design, plus needles and other supplies.  Give a little embroidery lesson if necessary.  Stem stitch, outline stitch, lazy daisy stitch and French knots are the most common embroidery stitches. Directions can be found online. Give them a finish date, usually two weeks is sufficient.  

Assemble the Quilt: Gather the finished squares from your friends and if necessary, trim to their final size of 9½".  Machine or hand stitch your pieces together, see photo below.  When your quilt-top is pieced together it is time to make your "quilt sandwich".  Lay your backing fabric on the ground, wrong-side up.  Lay the poly batting on top and smooth it out.  Lay quilt top over and smooth again. Baste your quilt sandwich together with large basting stitches or basting pins. Trim the backing and batting to within 1 inch of the top.  

Quilting: Set up a quilting schedule.  Each friend will choose a week in which she will hand-quilt two blocks and the surrounding squares and lattice strips.  Give a little hand-quilting lesson if necessary or send them to a you-tube lesson.  You may want to trace a quilting design lightly in pencil.  For this quilt, we quilted along ¼" of every seam, and "free-handed" around each animal (see the close up of the ducky above.) The quilt is now gone for 5 weeks!  When one girl is finished, she takes it to the next girl and she works on it for a week, then passes it on, and so forth.

Binding: After all the quilting is finished the binding goes on.  Follow the directions on the package, and machine sew the binding to the edge.  Trim off extra fabric and with a tiny blind stitch, hand sew the binding edge to the back.  Removed basting stitches or pins. Machine wash and tumble dry quilt. It's done!   Quilts are very sturdy and meant to be used daily and washed often!

We've done this 16 times and I like to think we are old pros! Our children and grandchildren call the quilts, the book club quilts, or the grandmother quilts. Making, giving, and receiving them is a sweet tradition that we all treasure. It's a fun and very sweet project, and I hope you'll consider making this one of your new traditions! 

The embroidered squares are back and ready to be trimmed to size.

The piecing is in process.

The quilt sandwich is assembled and basted with pins.  You can also baste with basting thread.

You can see the hand quilting has begun at the top of the quilt.

The binding is finished.

Washed and dried and ready for baby!
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  1. I love everything about this quilt--the beauty of it, the tradition, the friendships that go into it, and most of all, that your son will finally be part of this tradition.
    Thank you for the link to Aunt Martha's Transfers. I love the baby animals. Maybe
    I'll make a pillow. Carol in Long Island

    1. Thank you Carol. The Aunt Martha transfers are so cute! I especially love the vintage ones!

    2. I agree about the vintage patterns. I couldn't find the baby animals your group used in your quilt, but I've just found some Woodland Critters on EBay that are very similar. I'm very taken with the way just a few lines of cross stitch can indicate the whole animal. Can't wait to get started.
      Carol in Long Island

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Susann. It's one of those things that you start, and you really don't know what you are getting into at the time! I'll tell you, all our kids treasure there quilts. I should do a blog post and show them all.

  3. ADORABLE.....

    What a beautiful keepsake!


    1. Aww, thanks Margie. It’s me, Norma, Rene, Margit, Carole and Karen! All our kids have them. I keep thinking I’m going to make a blog post and show all of them. One of these days!

  4. I loved working on this quilt!

  5. honestly so beautiful!

    and i LOVE the new look! :) xx

  6. Hi Kristen, I am visiting from Linda's blog post. Your blog looks beautiful and I love your beautiful designs. This quilt is amazing. So nice to meet you. Happy Knitting and Crocheting. Your site on Raverly is beautiful. Happy July.

    1. Hello Celestina and welcome! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you'll come again!

  7. No wonder they look so happy! This blanket is a true heirloom to treasure for years to come!

    1. Thank you Leah. We sure have had fun over the years!


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