My cat and artistic collaborator Plumpton is like a crack addict when it comes to turkey. He once tried to crawl inside of one and nearly succeeded before he was caught with his paws in the cookie jar so to speak. So he is looking forward to the big day and plans to gorge himself and then sleep it off. Hey, isn’t that what he does every day?
I did not plan to make this quilt. I wanted new quilts or comforters for my bedroom but could not justify buying new ones when the old ones were perfectly fine and I was just tired of the way they looked. Then I started searching for the perfect duvet cover. I didn’t see anything I liked. Then I saw quilts I liked in a catalog and thought about making a patchwork design duvet cover. I started dreaming in patchwork and going on line and looking at quilting supplies and fabric. That’s when I got the idea of making quilts for my bedroom using the old comforter as the insides. Have I ever done this before? No. But the Internet is full of blogs and tutorials with information on how to do things. I read and watched videos. A lot of videos. I read books. The main idea I came away with is that a beginner (me) should start small. It was then that I remembered that a baby was due in our family in a few weeks and, if I put the (sewing machine) pedal to the metal, perhaps I could make a baby quilt.
What about the fabric? I knew the little Tater Tot was a boy. I had some great fabric I found at Jo-Mar in Philadelphia, along with some Bohemian Chic style tablecloths bought at deep discount. Not appropriate for a baby boy quilt. So I went looking on line and saw all these kits and jelly rolls and charm packs with gorgeous color coordinated fabric meant to be cut and sewn together. But that didn’t resonate with me. This project wasn’t about recreating someone else’s idea; I wanted to create my own palette and I wanted to recycle fabric. So I bought old clothes at thrift stores, and raided my small fabric stash and closet. A co-worker gave me fabric that belonged to her late aunt who had made baby quilts for her family. That seemed appropriate to use. I brought everything home, washed and dried it, ripped out the seams in the clothes and ironed everything.
Plumpton helped me to “audition” the colors. He took his job seriously!
I decided to make the quilt five (six inch) blocks across and down and to have blocks on both sides. Because I intended to do the quilting on my sewing machine and didn’t have a walking foot, I used a baby blanket for the inner layer. My first step was to cut out 50 blocks, arrange them in two sets of 25 and sew each set together.
One side sewn together.
After I completed both sides, I sandwiched the baby blanket in the middle using spray adhesive to hold everything in place and smoothed out the layers. I put in a few pins for added stability. Then I started to machine quilt. It was here that tips from two friends came in handy. I had watched one video where the quilter started machine quilting from an outside corner. “No,” instructed Jeri Beading Yoda, “You start from the center and go out.” And since I had never machine quilted anything, Susie B recommended I practice on some cheap fabric first. I’m glad I did.
I used a modified zig zag stitch because I knew my quilting was going to be crooked and this stitch would sort of hide that.
After quilting, I trimmed everything square and sewed on the binding.
Here I am machine stitching part of the binding. I did it over about three times before I was happy with it. I ended up machine stitching one side of the binding and hand sewing the other. You can see this technique here.
They say you should sign the quilt, so I did. I thought it was important to mention that I sewed it on a machine that had belonged to baby’s Great Grandmother Vicky. It wasn’t until after I signed the quilt that I remembered that Vicky had made me a beautiful quilted jacket on the very same machine.
Here is the finished baby quilt.
I wanted to make something special for my two-year-old Step Potato who was expecting a little brother. When you’ve been the only kid for two years, an addition to the family can take some adjustment. And what happens if you need some attention at night but Mom or Dad can’t get to you right away because Baby Brother is wailing in his bassinet? I knew Step Potato was going to need a friend he could lean on during those tough times. After thinking it over, I decided Step Potato could use a scary looking monster who would be a loyal friend, assistant and protector. The monster also had to be soft and throwable. Most importantly, Step Potato needed an experienced monster who could deal with the sort of despicable creatures who live under children’s beds at night and who could watch over him as he slept. That was how I decided to make J. Monster Baskin. When the going gets tough, the tough get sewing.
I took a wool sweater and felted it in the washing machine. It was nice and soft. Monster ready. So, I had my material, but what kind of monster? The monster had yet to emerge.
I got a piece of heavy plastic, drew a monster pattern on it with a marker and cut it out. This was a very slap dash process as the pictures show, but the creature was starting to make himself known.
I cut two identical monster shapes out of the felt and pinned them together in preparation for sewing. That’s when the complaining started.
“Ouch,” he yelled, “That hurts! What do you think I am, a pin cushion? Watch it sister! Yaah!”
Do you know how disconcerting it can when something you are sewing yells at you? (Actually, it’s happened to me before so I wasn’t too alarmed. Still, it was rude, don’t you think?)
“Dang, that’s sharp, lady! Where you gonna put that? Yikes! Ooch!!”
“You just take a chill pill and calm down, ” I warned the monster, “If you squirm in the sewing machine I just might stuff you with Rice Crispies and throw you to the pigeons. I mean it now.” (Actually I didn’t mean it at all, but he quieted down right away. You have to be tough with these guys.)
I think I heard him sob a little as I sewed him up. I was determined to sew him right the first time so I would not have to resort to the seam ripper. Stuffed monsters put seam rippers in the came category as Medieval instruments of torture. I do have some compassion.
Now he looked like J. Monster Baskin. I started to stuff him with fiberfill. He didn’t make it easy.
“Oof, Oof,” J. Monster groaned like a linebacker. “Wait! Yowl, he screamed, “Watch where you’re putting your fingers, lady!” J. Monster warned me as I poked fiberfill through a hole I left in his side. I thought I saw him blush.
“Hey! That tickles-Watch what you’re doing! What’s that? Ha! Ha! You’re killing me Stop, stop! ” J. Monster got the giggles and started racing around the table. Whenever I tried to grab him he would wriggle out of my grasp. I was getting exasperated.
“Quit it, come back here, lie down and let me finish!” I ordered him, “Unless you want to be some pigeon’s girlfriend,” I added. He sobered up fast and came back muttering under his breath. But he let me finish stuffing him.
I hand sewed J. Monster’s last seams. He was very brave this time and didn’t cry at all. Now, anyone who has ever seen a Western knows that removing the bullet is much more painful than being sewn up. Still, I thought J. Monster endured the procedure well; quite an accomplishment for a young monster. But J. Monster was panting. I thought I should let him rest after his ordeal and left him sitting by the sewing machine while I went to have dinner.
“Hey! Where you going?” he called. “Come back here –You’re not finished yet!!”
J. Monster didn’t know I was in the next room because he didn’t have eyes and he couldn’t smell dinner because he didn’t have a nose. So how could he talk? He didn’t have a mouth either. Maybe you can tell me.
I returned after dinner and fashioned a nose for J. Monster from a piece of stuffed felt and sewed it on. Then I needle felted him some bloodshot eyes and a pair of monstrous eyebrows.
“So it was you all along!” he said looking at me accusingly,” It was you the whole time! Why I oughta. . .” I started to feel a bit apprehensive, but then he seemed to forget all about the pinning, sewing and stuffing. Stuffed monsters don’t have very good memories you know.
“Kid?” he croaked.
“What?” I asked.
“Where’s the kid? he demanded.
“Step Potato!” he growled.
“He lives with his parents in another town,” I explained.
“Oh,” he paused. “How we get there?”
“By car,” I answered.
“I drive. We go now!” He hopped off the table and scampered for the door.
“Wait, not yet,” I explained, “We’re going in a couple of days.”
“Not yet?” he squeaked looking at me mournfully. (I didn’t know monsters squoke.)
And for the next few days, J. Monster kept asking me “When do we leave, when do we leavewhendoweleave?”
Finally the day of departure came and I carried J. Monster to the car.
“Me drive,” he reminded me. (As if I would let a monster drive.)
“You’re riding in the trunk with the baby quilt,” I informed him, ” and be glad I’m not shipping you by mail!”
The whole way to the Step Potato’s house I heard a voice coming from the trunk. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?Arewethereyet?”
We finally arrived and I delivered J. Monster Baskin into the arms of the Step Potato. He hugged his monster, then promptly threw him against the dining room wall. I thought I heard J. Monster Baskin sigh contentedly.
And would you believe that J. Monster has not said a word since? At least not to me.
Monster waiting impatiently to leave for the Step Potato’s house wrapped in the baby quilt. I will post the story of the baby quilt next week.