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.
Since we were short on time, we opted for a quilt block that could be made from strip sets sewn in long straight lines.
We created 10″ blocks in a variety of values, light to dark, without a clear plan for the final layout.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.