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Making up some baby quilts

My cousins have added 3 new branches to our family tree in the last year or so. I would typically gift a quilt to any new babies shortly after their arrival. However, as you well know, we are living in "interesting times" and many things don't go typically. So, to make a long story short, I have 3 baby quilts I'm working on to deliver at our family Thanksgiving gathering in 2021.

I feel like this is a good opportunity to share with you the whole process a quilt goes through. If you haven't used longarm services before, this will be a good walk-through of the process here at Melanie Makeups. I offer in-person consultations here in my home studio, Zoom consultations, or we can handle it all over e-mail.

It all starts with a beautiful quilt top. You will make this yourself if you're just looking for longarm services. I take commissions to do the piecing if that's what you need.

This project is an "I Spy" quilt for baby #1. The pattern is from Missouri Star Quilt Company and they have wonderful tutorials if you're a beginning quilter. Even for a more advanced quilter, the videos are a great overview of the project. This went together fairly quickly; maybe 6 hours of sewing time.

Now that the top is done, it's time to decide on a backing fabric, batting, and quilt design. I'll take pictures of the backing later, but it's gray with pink lines in a plaid design and colorful spots. This is for a girl, and I wanted a simple backing because the front is the star! I chose cotton, but I've worked with minky, flannel, and fleece and they all make super cuddly baby quilts.

As a customer experience, if you brought this quilt top to me, we would sit down and talk about the final purpose for the quilt so we could decide on the batting. Or you could supply the batting you want to use. I intend for this quilt to be used for playtime on the floor, snuggling on the couch, or maybe nap time. I make my baby quilts pretty large so they can be used for many purposes and loved for years to come. I'm going to use warm and natural cotton batting for this one. It will quilt up beautifully and be easy to wash. A lot. It is a baby quilt after all. Babies aren't the cleanest people -- I imagine you're aware of that.

Now for the fun stuff! We have to pick a quilt design. I'm going to do edge to edge because this is a utilitarian quilt. It will hold everything together, hang in there through many washings, and custom work just doesn't make sense for something like this. I take a picture of the quilt top and open it in Adobe Illustrator, where I can layer various designs on top and try them out. We can do this in person, I share my screen on Zoom, or I can email the pictures later. This is what I tried for this quilt:

We will choose thread colors later, but when I layer these designs on the picture I use a contrasting color so you can see it. Usually 3-4 designs make the "final cut". I have hundreds of designs to choose from, so I think about the overall design of the quilt, the recipient, and the final purpose when I choose designs to show my customers. We also talk about what you have in mind. Perhaps this is going to a person who really loves flowers or you really want something simple and classic. I narrow the designs down, but I'm always open to showing more or something different if these aren't what you had in mind.

The next step will be deciding on a thread color. I'm going to go with a gray thread on this one so it blends in with the background and doesn't distract from the design. When you're here, I grab threads and pool them on the quilt so you get an idea what they will look like. If we're consulting virtually, I send you pictures with thread choices. We talk about what colors you have in mind and I use that as the basis for my decisions.

Time to load this one on my quilt frame! You may have noticed some wrinkles on the quilt top in the picture. That's due to the way it's hanging on my design wall. When I load a quilt, I go over each row before I quilt, snipping any stray threads, looking for holes or lumps in the quilting, and flattening out any wrinkles.

Which design would you choose? I picked the one I like and I'm off to the machine. Stay tuned and follow me on Instagram (melaniemakeups817) if you want a peek before I share it here!

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