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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! 



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