Monday, September 20, 2010

The One with Ellie's Memory Quilt

Well, Ellie is 5 years old now, and I have finally completed her memory quilt. It was actually completed for a time when she was only a year old. But then the binding was coming off and needed to be repaired and I got the opportunity to quilt the blanket on my grandmother's quilting machine. So I took off the binding and the backing and redid the whole assembly. Anyway, after quilting it and redoing the binding, it is complete again and I thought I'd update this post accordingly.

I began making this memory quilt for Ellie as gift her first birthday. The idea was to use some of her onesies and other clothes to make the quilt top as a way to commemorate her baby-hood. Originally, I thought it would have been cool to have what she was wearing when she first came home from the hospital (I did get that one), what she was wearing when she started crawling, walking, talking, etc. It turns out, however, that these grand moments in childhood are not so easily defined. So instead, I just took the onesies that I liked best, were special presents just for her and, when possible, commemorated special events.

The first step was the hardest for me: cutting up her clothes. Of course, I saved plenty of clothes for any future baby girls and I just couldn't bear to cut up anything too valuable. I had to constantly reassure myself that onesies are cheap and usually stained and it would be easy to replace them for another baby. I also had to convince myself that Ellie would enjoy them much more as a blanket than tucked away in storage for years on end until someday I pulled them out for her to look at or play with or (shuddering at the thought) dress her own baby in.

Having gotten over my fear of destroying onesies, I spent a good bit of time laying them out in the perfect pattern. And then of course I sewed them together in strips and then assembled the strips. I picked out a cute border fabric at Joann's and some pink minky fabric for the back. Originally, I just stitched along the border to "quilt" the pieces together, but eventually I was able to quilt it with my aunt and grandmother. My aunt got me started and even stitched Ellie's name in one of the squares, which I really love.


The exact dimensions of this quilt aren't really necessary, but some people have asked so here they are: 


Ellie loves it and I'm glad I did it. Olivia's is in the works and just waiting to be quilted. Should I make one for Henry? Would a little boy ever care about something like that?

P.S. Here are some things I learned making the first quilt that have come in helpful on the second:


  • use an iron-on interfacing on the back of the squares of clothing to help them keep their shape and be more durable during the whole quilting process. I didn't do this for Ellie's and there are some wobbly lines that could have been avoided. Most baby clothing is stretchy, so it's important to have something that keeps it in its place.
  • I originally used this tutorial to make the binding. In the second round I did a blind hem stitch. In general, if there is a part of quilting or blanket making that you don't know how to do, I would suggest looking it up on YouTube or searching tutorials via Pinterest. I could make a tutorial, but there are so many already out there, that I don't feel like it is necessary.
  • This particular quilt ended up being about 40 inches by 51 inches. There are 35 squares made from 6-inch blocks of onesie material. I used quarter-inch seams, so the blocks end up being 5 1/5 inches each. You should be able to get two blocks from each onesie, though, so you don't necessary need 35 articles of clothing you are willing to destroy. Clothing that is stained or otherwise unusable is the best resource, since it can't be handed down to future children or donated. Be aware that especially if you are using newborn or 0-3 month sizes of clothing, you will likely need to take them apart at the seams in order to get enough fabric to make a 6 inch square. 
    The two borders are 2-inch border (1.5 inches after sewing 1/4 inch seams) and 4 1/2 inches. I bought 1/4 yard of the first and 1/2 yard of the second. The back, if you use these exact measurements, should be about 1 1/2 yards of fabric, at least 44 inches wide. If you aren't sure exactly how much you'll need, finish the quilt top and then buy the backing and quilting batting once you know the dimensions.
  •  I am currently working on the second edition of this quilt for my second daughter and have done it a little differently. I am using 4 inch squares instead of 6 inch, and I have 88, but since you can get 3-4 out of each onesie, I still didn't need too many. 
  • You can choose to cut the clothing however you like, but 6-inch squares are probably the biggest you will be able to get if you use teeny tiny baby clothing. It would also be fun to do long rectangular pieces, or smaller square, or maybe even triangles! I'd love to see the different things that could be done with this. (So if you make one, send me a picture!)

(And now you can see the original pictures from this post, which I won't remove so people can find this post via Pinterest pins of these photos.)







7 comments:

  1. I LOVE this and want to do it but after to cut up onsies and before u sew, do u do amything to keep then a square and stiff like in ur picture? Padding underneath?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello!
      When I did this first quilt, I didn't add anything to them to help them maintain their shape. It worked okay, but I am currently working on my second daughter's memory quilt and added a lightweight interfacing to add some resilience to the onesies and I think it made it easier to work with. I also added a layer of quilting batting for warmth and durability.
      I hope to update this post soon with more information. Thanks for your inquiry and good luck with your quilt!

      Delete
  2. Hi there! I love this idea & want to do one for my baby but I had a few questions so I have a starting point for the blanket. 1. How big is the finished blanket? 2. How many onesies did you use & how big did you cut each square? 3. How much fabric did you buy for the border & the backing. Thanks for the info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! Thanks for your inquiry! I intend to make a legitimate tutorial for this one day, but for now I'll answer your questions as well as I can without it. This particular quilt ended up being about 40 inches by 51 inches. There are 35 squares made from 6-inch blocks of onesie material. I used quarter-inch seams, so the blocks end up being 5 1/5 inches each. You should be able to get two blocks from each onesie, though, so you don't necessary need 35 articles of clothing you are willing to destroy. Be aware that especially if you are using newborn or 0-3 month sizes of clothing, you will likely need to take them apart at the seams in order to get enough fabric to make a 6 inch square.
      The two borders are 2-inch border (1.5 inches after sewing 1/4 inch seams) and 4 1/2 inches. I bought 1/4 yard of the first and 1/2 yard of the second. The back, if you use these exact measurements, should be about 1 1/2 yards of fabric, at least 44 inches wide. If you aren't sure exactly how much you'll need, finish the quilt top and then buy the backing and quilting batting once you know the dimensions.

      P.S. I am currently working on the second edition of this quilt for my second daughter and have done it a little differently. I am using 4 inch squares instead of 6 inch, and I have 88, but since you can get 3-4 out of each onesie, I still didn't need too many. I also used a light interfacing on the back of each onesie square before sewing them to each other to give them a little more strength and resistence and I think in the long run it is going to make a big difference! I bought 1 1/2 yards of iron-on interfacing for that part.

      Thanks for your inquiry and good luck with your quilt!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the info. That should help a lot. I may try to start with the 4 inch squares since I have some preemie clothes of hers that I would like to include in the quilt.

      Delete
  3. That is so awesome. I am going to have to do something like this. There are so many little outfits and blankets I hate to just get rid of!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am going to be making one with my grand daugther's monthly onsies. what do you think would be the additional materials since I will only have 12 squares. They are all white onsies so using the back I do not believe would be a good idea.

    ReplyDelete

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