Baby Zoe’s quilt is probably the most ambitious project I’ve ever undertaken where I’m super-concerned about how it will turn out. Generally I make things for myself and give them away when they turn out ok. (Just kidding, I've given away some truly awful things but they only seem bad as I look back on them) I promised Baby Zoe’s mom a really good baby present like 3 or 4 years ago and then suddenly she’s pregnant and it’s time for me to deliver on my promise before she delivers her little baby.
Luckily the baby’s sex was determined in the winter when there are less things to do outdoors and more time for ridiculously time intensive projects. The baby’s room was going to be done in black and pink, so the day I learned that is the same day I ordered a pattern from McCall’s (craft pattern M5870) and made a mad dash to Jo-Ann Fabric and Wal-Mart to start building up my arsenal of really cute baby-themed blacks and pinks. I also added a bunch of gray stuff because I think of gray as being like pastel black and baby stuff is all about being pastel.
I am pretty used to buying fabric, but the quilt pattern called for bunches of felt and webbing, not to mention the little decorative touches like buttons and ribbons. Overall, I did pretty good and bought most of what I used in the quilt in those first few shopping trips.
I spent the first weekend that I worked on this just cutting out the backing and the felt pieces that would make up the lambs and piecing them together. My Grandma’s Singer sewing machine started going on the fritz around this time so I sewed alot of the pieces by hand while watching re-runs of MTV’s True Life series. The sewing machine is about 30 years old and I say that it was going on the fritz again, but that just means it was going on the fritz because it was being used. It doesn’t seem to give me problems when I am not using it. Doing the hand-sewing thing gave a really cool grassy effect to some of the little lamb hills, but it also got really time consuming really fast.
I spent a good chunk of time just running my machine back and forth to Missouri Sewing Machine company where they fixed it up, warning me that it could easily get out of whack again due to its age. Pshaw, I said, it’s built to last. It will be fine. I hemmed one pair of pants and then it broke. I took it back almost immediately, even though I had dinner on the stove and it weighs like 30 lbs and I have to lug it a long way to get to my car, which I had just done to take it in the first time. So of course I’d gotten there almost in tears but sticking to my convictions that yes, this machine is built to last. So they fixed it back up for free while I took careful notes so I could do it myself next time it was out of whack. They said again how I should think about buying a new machine.
I relented, bought a Jamone and cranked these babies out in like one hour. At this point I decided to abandon the pattern because, for my purposes, the lambs were all it was good for. I increased the lambies to 5 and ditched some of the basic 9-square squares and sought a good improvisation.
Can you see the little log-cabin pieces? I love that they give this very commercial pattern a less commercial look. I did make them bigger and took a jillion photos, but only of the back sides, which I thought were so pretty in a stained-glass way. I just love this!
Then the pieces really started coming together with details for their eyes and noses. The pattern calls for little buttons for eyes so I bought some really cute pink ones at Wal-Mart for about a dollar. I mentioned that to my friend Alison who I never suspected had any working knowledge about babies. She said absolutely I. could. not. put little buttons on a baby quilt, because what if the baby were to pull one off, try to eat it and choke on it! Well, that sufficiently freaked me out, so I decided to do French knots.
Buttons would have been easier, if potentially lethal. Having never done French knots before, I felt lost at sea but found a youtube video with a play by play. Check out this awesoome-ness both for its helpfulness and this lady’s awesome fingernails. They are art in themselves.
I also got some really good French knot advice about being patient, and sure enough, on try 10 or so, after only a little bit of crying, one stuck. After that they all stuck. I just needed to slow it down.
Another closeup. If you have the McCall’s pattern, you’ll see that I used only one row of three squares between the lamb pieces.
I made this edging by ironing the same fabric that’s on the back because the quilting edging I bought felt too stiff for a little tiny baby. I wanted it to be softer. At the bottom I embroidered the baby’s name and birth year.