Ellie’s Mountains Baby Quilt

I like making quilts. I really like helping other people discover the joy of quilting. My niece, Kimberly, has been a frequent collaborator—the two of us have spent countless hours together in my studio, cutting, pressing and sewing our way to a new quilt. My latest baby quilt is for Kimmy, as she and her husband Steve, just welcomed their first child. To tell the story of this new quilt, we have to look back…

November 2011 – Kimmy wants to know, could we make a king-size quilt in time for Christmas to give to her boyfriend Steve? After I got done laughing, I conceded that we could probably piece a king-size quilt top by Christmas, give it to him, then take it back to finish the quilting.

Cotton fabrics pulled from my stash
Fabrics pulled from my stash for a green and brown quilt. The first thing we did was stretch that color palette to include some yellow and orange

Since we were short on time, we opted for a quilt block that could be made from strip sets sewn in long straight lines.

3″ strips sewed into sets, ready for squares to be cut on a 45 degree angle.

We created 10″ blocks in a variety of values, light to dark, without a clear plan for the final layout.

Some of the original blocks arranged on the design wall for consideration.

With many after-work sewing sessions, we delivered a king-size top before Christmas. The final design included solid color sashing and triangles to fall over the edge of the bed on both sides.

Kimmy and I celebrate a finished quilt top with excellent assistance from my cat Bitty.

The following year, Kimmy finished the quilt by learning to quilt on a long-arm machine. I stuck the leftover blocks and scrap pieces in my stash and we moved on to other pieces.

Fast-forward a bit to 2013 – Kimmy joined Steve and his family for a vacation in mountainous Montana, where he proposed to her. Our families happily melded around this young couple in the years that followed, and we’ve shared their joy as they married, established their home, and this year, announced they were expecting a baby.

I knew right away that I wanted to make a baby quilt and use some of the leftovers from Steve’s king quilt. Cutting them differently, I came up with a new block that could be sewed into a 4-patch that led to an interesting yet different pattern from the original quilt. And I thought I was all done piecing.

New blocks made from the leftovers of another quilt.

Then, I heard from Kimmy that they had chosen a theme for the nursery—mountains. I thought maybe the quilt I had pieced so far could fit into a mountains theme – it had pointy triangular peaks. Still, it was a pretty abstract connection to the theme. Maybe I could put together just one row of mountains and place it on the back?

Once the mountain strip existed, I added blue sky and a large green piece for the foreground, but it seemed to need something between the mountains and the green.

Sky, mountains, field…but is it enough?

Back to the drawing board – what if I improvised some curvy green strips to place between the mountains and the grass? If I hate it, I could always leave it out, right?

This improvised strip was eventually cut smaller, but it added something important…roads to get in and out of the mountains.

The straight horizontal seam in the sky bothered me, so I decided to add some clouds to disguise it a bit. The clouds were cut from a light turquoise and white paisley fabric to give them some life.

By this point in the quilt construction, I had learned that Kimmy had been admitted to the hospital a month early, and it appeared that we would be meeting this new child sooner rather than later. During the days she was in the hospital, I spent many long hours quilting and thinking about the new family that was about to be.

Layered, pin-basted, ready to quilt!

The quilting is a combination of stitching in the ditch, done from the back and free-motion stitching, done from the front. Having a pieced back was a little challenging due to the bumps caused from seams. Quilting with a single fabric back is definitely easier going, but I was happy with the results. By the time I was finished, I liked the back as much, maybe more than the front.

Ellie’s Mountains Baby Quilt
The back, or the front?

A Postscript:

Baby Ellie on her new quilt, watched over by the ever-vigilant Sula the dog.

I quilted the grid from the patchwork side, and the rows of circles from the mountain side.

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