Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Geekiest Baby: Underwater Themed Quilts

Each year that I've blogged, I've sewn a giant sea animal. No such adventures this year, but I have sewn a couple of nautical/sea animal quilts for SHB. It's my first foray into quilting, and I've gotta say, it's pretty addicting. I used to look at quilters' blogs and quilt shops and wonder why on earth anyone would be into cutting up perfectly cute fabric into lots of tiny pieces that had to be measured and sewn exactly right, and then deal with all the hassle of trying to shove yards of fabric under and around on a sewing machine...and now I can say I (kind of) get the appeal. It's kind of fun to be able to get so many different prints into one object, and you really can't argue with the functionality (and cuddliness) of a finished quilt. I'm still not convinced about the fun of the actual quilting process (my walking foot has been acting up, and I can't adjust the pressure of my presser foot on my cheap sewing machine), and I'm purposely choosing quilt designs that don't require a lot of meticulous attention to detail, but generally I like it! First up, a not-overtly-babyish nautical quilt:

Included in this quilt are fabrics from several of the garments I've made in the past few years (Victorian bathing dress, Alice in Wonderland, pencil skirt, Father's Day shirtdress, nautical shorts, lobster dress, Belle cosplay)  plus a couple of fabrics from the stash of a friend's late MIL, who was a seamstress. I really love all the history and meaning carried in this quilt. 
Since this was my first foray into quilting, I opted to omit the batting and go for a fleece backing. This gray and navy chevron from Joann's was perfect for the nautical theme. 
Of course, since this was my first quilt, my stitch lines pretty wavy and my squares don't match perfectly at the corners...

I actually made this first quilt for SHB with very little planning -- it was just a spur of the moment project because I was sorting my remnant stash, and I noticed how much blue fabric I had that would all coordinate nicely -- just some quick sketches on post-it notes, and I suddenly found myself cutting out several squares. That first quilt was so gratifying, I immediately went out and OD-ed on cute sea animal prints at the closest indie fabric store (absolutely amazing store, BTW...excellent curation of quilting cottons, Japanese fabrics, and apparel fabrics!).

There's so much cute in this, I might die. If I weren't so pregnant mature, I would make (and wear) dresses from all of these fabrics.
The whale fabric wasn't quite wide enough to span the whole quilt, but I think I did a pretty good job of piecing it semi-unobtrusively!
These sharks were my favorite. 
For this quilt, I used real batting in between two layers of quilting cotton, which was much harder to work with than the fleece backing/no batting option. I quilted this one with wavy lines because of the ocean. Actually, it's because I didn't trust myself to sew straight lines. 
Unfortunately, the wavy quilting lines accidentally made the backing (also from Joann's) pretty wavy too. But that's just part of the character of home-made quilts, right? Right? And in the spirit of honesty, that teal strip is there only because the polka dot fabric wasn't quite wide enough on its own. 

And then just as a bonus, because sports team fabrics were on sale at Joann's, I made a concession to Mr. Cation's love of a certain baseball team:

Wanna take a wild guess as to why there's a strip of orange fabric in the middle? If you said it's because I was stingy and didn't want to pay for more than a third of a yard of licensed fabric, you would be correct! Thankfully, I had a perfectly coordinating orange fleece remnant at home. 
Since the top was fleece, I left out the batting again and just used part of a thrifted sheet (from the same sheet as the Totoro bouncer cover!) for the backing. I went for a more abstract straight line design this time. 
I got really good at mitered corners by the third quilt. My favorite detail? The fact that I was able to use the same gray and white striped sheet to make the binding for all the quilts! It coordinated so well with each, and it's a nice detail that ties the three of them together. 

Just to prove how into quilting I got, these three quilts were all made in the span of oh, 2.5 weeks? I had to take a break after that quilting frenzy, though, and make some other stuff. I still am slowly collecting fabric for a geeky science quilt though, so that's coming up eventually...

Summary (boring stats, just for my own record-keeping)

Quilt #1:
Fabric: 100% cotton scraps, cut into squares, all prewashed, and a yard of 100% polyester anti-pill fleece for backing
Pattern: None
Hours: Twelve or so...I spent a lot of time playing around with square placement.
Total cost: $5 for the fleece, everything else was stash

Quilt #2:
Fabric: 1/4 yard each of the prints, 1.5 yards of the polka dot, and 2/3 yard of the teal, all un-pre-washed...we'll see how it looks after washing! I used a 50/50 bamboo rayon/cotton batting, too.
Pattern: Loosely based off of this easy baby quilt
Hours: Twenty? It was much larger and harder to manipulate, plus more print placement and trying to deal with grainlines on the teal borders
Total cost: About $45, all bought new specifically for this quilt (except for the border)

Quilt #3:
Fabric: 1/3 yard of SF Giants' fleece, a scrap of anti-pill orange fleece, 100% cotton sheet, thrifted, for backing
Pattern: None
Hours: Five
Total cost: $5, again, only the Giants' fleece was bought new, everything else was stash

Final thoughts on all three: Quilts are so satisfying to look at when they're done, and it's refreshing to make something that doesn't really require fitting. Even if I make a mistake in measuring or cutting, it doesn't really affect the final product other than to give it more um, quirky individuality. I don't think I'll ever get more complicated than these simple tops and straightforward quilting "designs" (if you can even call them designs!), but it's nice to make something cozy for SHB that has my love sewn into every stitch, or some such nonsense...


  1. Gorgeous! I LOVE that whale print - in fact, I made one of my very first ever garments with it, an Oliver + S dress for a little girl!

  2. love them, especially the water one!! its so funny - when I was looking to buy fabric for my quilt, I was looking at the same set of fabric (on!!! if i didnt see the world map one, we would have accidentally have the same themed quilt, which would be quite fun :D

  3. There's just something about quilts and babies. I know that someone will post a stern warning about deadly toxins, but I recommend the quilt basting spray. It's just so much easier than dealing with all those safety pins.
    While you've got the quilting bug, consider making a quilt with PUL backing. Tada! Urine proof matting for when the doctor tells you to give baby some diaper free time to clear up diaper rash.

    1. IndoorKitty is right! Spray 'n Bond is my new best friend! It helped me applique poly-stretch crushed velvet on itself at work recently - on a machine without presser foot pressure reduction! It is da BOMB!

      ~ Brooke

  4. All very cute! I really like the wavy quilting you did on the second one! Perfect solution for not having to be precise with straight lines. =)

    I completely understand the enjoyment because it doesn't require fitting - that's why I like making hats and bags sometimes.

    When I cut up my new geeky science fabrics for the dress (or dresses? still deciding on second garment) I plan to make, I'll send you some scraps for your quilt.

    ~ Brooke

  5. Wow! I love the quilts! You've done a very good job coordinating the fabrics and color choices! The first two are very impressive for first times (esp. the one for SHB it's just fabulous) and the Giants one is a classic! I like it! All sports material should be this creative! Wow, I have to say I'm really loving this underwater theme!!! I might just steal that motif if I ever have a kid! XD

  6. Nice! That underwater quilt is fantastic! Well done transfering your garment sewing skills into quilting - it seems like most people go the other direction.
    I made one quilt top and 30% of another for two extended-family SHBs, but I wussed out when it came to the actually quilting and made my mom do it. Now she's super into quilts and is taking care of all the family SHBs so I can stick to selfish sewing! (In fact I'm going to send her this link as inspiration, I really like that vertical stripe design of the sea life quilt.) To each his own, I suppose, but it's nice to like both.
    Plus thanks for the heads up on that Oakland fabric store, I'll have to check that out next time I'm up there.

  7. These are all cute but I absolutely love the second: particularly that shark fabric! My older son would adore this!

  8. great quilts - i love your sense of design, with slightly asymmetrical color blocks... reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright cantilevered house designs or Japanese woodblock print aesthetics. The nautical one is my favorite - love the little lobsters! :)

  9. These are adorable, love the little theme you have going on. I was very skeptical about ever sewing a quilt, but ever since my daughter was born I've wanted to give it a go, my pieces are simpler but still in need to be sewn can't wait to see the final outcome.

  10. Hey, this is not quilt related, but as a sewing mom I had one damn piece of advice. Make your own sling. Those two big welded metal rings? They live in the parts drawers in the hardware store. Ask for 2"welded rings/steel if you're not into hunting at this point. Much cheaper and far better than the online ones.

    Hey, you are making another person who needs a costume! Congrats and welcome to the monkey house of parenthood!

  11. So, um, when do we get a picture of baby Cation? :)

  12. Quilting grows on you like fungus... at first you're just like: WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS?! (Like you said) And then before you know it, you're like: Hey this is kinda ok! And you start stalking the cute prints on the quilting shops and planning endless quilts and wondering why you're putting yourself through the aggravation... and I still don't know the answer but I love the finished products! LOL

  13. We miss you ... How are you; Write something ...


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.