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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Making a baby quilt - Elephant ears and eyes (part 3)

More progress on the quilt - I'm in the middle of a couple of fiddly bits on the elephants to sore them out. Ears and eyes. 

First and also undocumented (oops, sorry) I stitched all the pieces of the elephants together with invisible stitch - so the elephants are a now a single unit rather than a head, body and bunch of legs.

Ears, much like the other pieces are based on a paper template, fusible web and turning in the cut edges. I then pinned this to the elephant and stitched together:

On to the eyes. Embroidery - arg. I have embroidery thread from old cross-stitch endeavours, but really I am just winging this and basing what I need to do on stuff that my Mum taught me when I was a kid. 

So the eye. I used a basic satin stitch for the white and black of the eye and outlined with a running stitch. It's not my forte at all, but luckily this turned out ok, I think. 

I'm chuffed with this - they look cute. I like how they are taking form. 

Next is the balloons - I would have had more on this but I forgot to wash the fabric - and I'm a grown up now and know this isn't a stage you miss (see here). But happy with the result so far!

Making a baby quilt - Appliqué sun (part 2)

I mentioned my first steps of my baby quilt in my last post, here.

I made some good progress this weekend, luckily as the baby was due last Friday - luckily the baby is shy and hanging on and buying me some time (thanks baby!).

When I left off I had done most of the elephants - folding in the edges of the various pieces they are comprised of and securing with fusible web. 

Next I tackled the sun. I wanted this placed in the top left corner - I find it helpful to have the quilt topper out so I can test composition options:

I used a conveniently yellow piece of scrap paper to check size and placement. 

Also at this point I was looking at different options for binding - the red at the bottom was considered and then discarded. I have other plans for red. 

Back to the sun - when I tried this I decided that I wanted a spikey (?) sun rather than a smooth round one. Nice. Much more work!



1. I used the paper template to trace a circle of fusible web and yellow fabric with a 1/4 in seam allowance. Two points to note here - first, the little 'v's nicked out of the seam is a good trick to help turn in a round seam. Second, I folded the template circle into eighths to give the width of each of the sun-rays (spikes!)

2. Folding in the seam allowance bit by bit and pressing as I go to secure with the fusible web.

3. All edges folded in and secure, on the reverse side.

4. Right side up - main bit of the sun done!


5. For the spikes/rays I cut out a triangle template with the edges of the same witdth of the folded template in picture 1. I cut out eight triangles of fusible web, and eight triangles of yellow fabric (with a 1/4 inch seam allowance). I placed the triangle of fusible web in the centre of the fabric, nipped the corners off to help with the folding in, and pressed in each edge of the eight triangles. 

6. I pinned each of the triangles to the circle and stitched together with invisible stitch. 

Sun: Done. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Making a baby quilt - Appliqué and elephants (part 1)

One of my best friends is having a baby very soon (too soon, quilt-wise) and I am making a baby quilt for her. 

Years ago when the first of my friends got pregnant I decided to do the same thing and made my first quilt. I think I sort of understood the basic principle (a batting sandwich) but it was a pretty challenging experience - and as I chose to do the whole thing by hand, lengthy too.

But it turned out pretty well in the end and my friend was really chuffed. 

Anyway, that was over 6 years ago and I have no idea how I got from the pile of material stage to the one above. It involved appliqué...lots of invisible stitch...and a bit of luck?!

Well, I'm doing it again and this time I will try to document the process better. 

I knew I wanted to do something similar to my first one. I really like how fun and bright the quilts look. I figure they are more likely to be used as a playmat or even a wall hanging so I wanted to do a fun scene. This time with elephants. 

With all projects I start with a small sketch, just to see if what I have in my head makes sense in terms of composition and proportion.

I drew the sort of shape I wanted the elephant to be - then tried to place it on the quilt, at which point I thought I wanted to add a baby elephant and a sun and some balloons to balance it out.

I'd like to pretend that there was a little more technical planning at this stage but nope, those scribbles are about it!

I had some fabric left over from the first quilt but needed a load more so I got to head over to the fabric shop. I live in south London and this is my closest go-to haberdasher. 

So I stocked up - lots of patterns - maybe too many? Er. Oh well. 

Also useful to document the other equipment I'll need for this project. 

- self healing mat 
- rotary cutter
- sewing scissors
- tape measure
- pins
- various thread
- washable vanishing marker
- wax
- craft paper
- pencil
- fusible web

I'll also use my sewing machine although the vast majority of this will be hand sewn. 

So the first thing I did was wash all the fabrics. This is exactly the sort of boring-but-really-important step I would have tried to skip out of when I was a kid. It's tedious and I'm usually raring to get going with my project and really resent this delay. 

But I'm older and wiser now and although its still tedious it really is a must for any quilt project - you have to wash the quilt at the end and how devastating if you have colour run or shrinkage? 

So wash the fabric first. You'll never regret it. 

My quilt is going to be about 120cm x 85cm. This will maybe shift a bit with trimming and eventual binding. The first thing I did was to piece the quilt top. This was quite simple, 2 pieces: the blue sky and the green with daisies. I ran this across on the sewing machine. 

Next up I tackled the elephant. There are 2 options here. You could cut the whole elephant shape from one piece (easier) or the elephant would be made up of different sections (legs, head, body) - this is more fiddly but I prefer the way it looks - it gives more detail and 3-dimensionality to the elephant. 

So to do this I first drew the elephant out, in the size i wanted it for the quilt, on craft paper. I cut out the different pieces.

Then I arranged these on the fabric. Make sure you think about the eventual orientation - I wanted my elephant facing right so here have places the right orientation on the right side of the fabric - but you could of course flip the templates over and place them on the wrong side of the fabric - the latter may be preferable if you are marking up with pencil and don't want this visible on the right side of the fabric. 

So here you can see that I used vanishing marker to mark about 1/2 inch around each piece of the template. This will eventually be folded in on the finished appliqué. 

One additional step here which isn't essential and I stupidly forgot to photograph is the use of fusible webbing. This does help with the folding in of the edges and eventual positioning on the quilt top. The fusible web should be cut out  the same size as each elephant piece (ie, without the seam allowance of the fabric)

Below is step by step of prepping a piece of the elephant, in this case a leg.. 

At the top of the picture you can see the paper template - this is the size and shape we are aiming for with the final piece. 

In this picture you can see I have the piece of fusible webbing in the centre of the piece of fabric. 

I have folded over the left hand side of the fabric (over lapping the fusible web) and pressed it in place with an iron. The web then 'sticks' this in place. 

(NB. You can see that I have trimmed the bottom right corner with a diagonal - this makes it easier to fold in and less lumpy as there is less fabric folded in) 

I then placed the template back on the piece to check the next fold. I lined up the left edge of the template and left pressed fold of the fabric.  

Then, as shown, I folded up the bottom of the fabric pressing it with my fingers and keeping it in line with the bottom of the template.


I then carefully slid out the template and used the tip of a warm iron to press the fold down and stick down with the fusible webbing.

I repeated this for the next 2 sides until all edges of the piece have been folded in and secured with the fusible web. 

This shows the right side of the leg and another one that I completed. They should be the same size as the paper templates. 

This stage can be a bit fussy, especially with small pieces like this but the folding in of the raw edges is important to avoid fraying on the final piece. 

I repeated the above with all the elephant pieces for the big and little elephant. I could then lay these out on the quilt top to see how they looked:

Not great pictures but you get the idea. It's nice to see it all coming together. More progress on this soon!