Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baby Frolic: A Quilty Finish

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

–Ruth Hamilton, Song for a 5th Child

This sweet quilt is for a wonderful friend and very special new baby. I think for you to appreciate this, it requires a little backstory. This friend of mine is, in a word, amazing. She just gave birth to her 11th baby. And all the other ones before the new little one are well taken care of and loved, disciplined, polite, clean, hard working, helpful {her third son is my Lawn Boy}, kind to each other and others,
respectful, wonderful people. I would like them to adopt me. When ever I stop by, their house is clean and everybody is busy. When he's not at work, the father of this family is doing dishes or working in the garden or playing with the children or cleaning the giant tub in the master bath, and the kids are doing homework or helping out with the chores or playing nicely with each other, and my friend is making delicious meals or bottling tomatoes or doing laundry. With each baby, my friend experiences complications that are more than just an annoyance. But she keeps on doing what she should be doing, getting up early to make lunches and pancakes from scratch, and keeping her home a nice place for her family. If it were me, I'd just lay down and have a nap. All. the. time.

This amazing and sweet friend of mine is always first to offer a helping hand to anyone who needs it, but the only way to get her to accept any help is to thrust it upon her. So a few weeks ago I showed up on her doorstep, sleeves rolled up to help with whatever it was she needed doing at the time. She gets really nesty when she's expecting and likes to have the blinds cleaned and the windows washed and the chandelier in the front hall dusted. I rattled off every chore I could think of from washing dishes to vacuuming to scrubbing toilets and she told me that the blinds and windows and chandelier had already been done, the laundry was under control and the day was well in hand. She invited me in, though, and we visited for an hour before she had to go pick up kids from the high school. Near the end of our visit, I noticed that she had dinner ingredients on the counter. I could have been putting her dinner together for her while we chatted. As I was getting ready to leave, she loaded me up with tomatoes and zucchini from her garden and a really great recipe for zucchini soup. She opened the fridge to offer me the left-overs of her soup {which I flatly refused} and said, don't look at the fridge. It is kind of a mess. And I was like, 'clean the fridge' :wall:. I forgot to say :wall: 'clean the fridge' :wall:. I left feeling like my plan to help out had completely backfired. Not only had I not helped her out at all, I had gotten in the way of her getting her dinner put together and she helped me out with a new recipe to try, plus ingredients.

I arrived at home, feeling discouraged at my complete ineptness and I let the Little Bugs talk me into letting them have frozen pizza for dinner {do you see the irony here :crazy:?}. About 45 minutes later, the oldest girl {who, by the way, is a fabulous babysitter} showed up with the biggest casserole I've ever seen {seriously, it fed us for four meals} with fresh green beans and homemade mashed potatoes and lots of cheese on top. I realized that the ingredients in this casserole were the ones I saw sitting on her counter, that I should have been assembling for her while we talked. I deduced that she had planned to make two casseroles and freeze one for after the baby came, but instead she gave the second one to us. I wanted to crawl under the couch and never come out. I made plans to pay her back the next week {I took her Chicken Pot Pie and Peach Pudding Cake} and then got to work on a quilt for the new baby, while her delicious casserole baked in my oven.

I'd been wanting to do something with the leftover bits from my Frolic jelly roll, so I pulled them out and counted them up. I had just enough to make 12 nine-patches, with a few left over squares {which I combined with some cut yardage to make a 13th nine-patch for the tag on the back}. I also had enough of the not-quite-solid green in my stash to sash the nine-patches and then I went on-line to see if I could find any Frolic yardage. I hadn't seen it at any of the LQS's and even if it had been available locally, it had been long enough since it came out that the pickings would have been slim. The planets aligned just right because I found some on a Labor Day special at 40% over at the Piece n' Quilt Store {she's still got a few pieces left on sale, but not quite at 40% off} that went perfectly with what I had to make an adorable baby quilt. As it happens, Natalia's shop and studio is about 40 minutes away from my house, so I took a little drive and picked up my fabrics {I also enjoyed seeing all her work up close and personal}.

In two days I had the quilt top nearly finished. And then Grace needed some serious maintenance. I had a bit of thinking time on my hands. I laid the quilt out on the living room floor design wall to see how it was coming, and as nice as the green sashing was, it just wasn't sweet enough for a baby girl. So I reworked my plan. As I mentioned, the planets had really aligned when I got my Frolic yardage from Natalia. It worked out nicely because although she unfortunately did not have quite enough of the pretty coral plaid fabric I'd picked for the back and binding, she did have the not-quite-solid coral fabric that went so nicely with it. I had a little over a yard of the plaid and I took two yards of the coral knowing that I'd have a ton of coral fabric left, but she only sells in yard increments and I didn't want to piece the strips of it that I was going use on the back to frame the plaid fabric. After I cut the pieces for my quilt back I had more than enough of the coral fabric to do the sashings around the nine-patches in that. I pulled out my seam ripper {thanks, Iris} did a little {or a lot} of frog stitching. And then I waited for Grace to come back home.

While I waited, the baby was born, so I decided to get the tag done for the quilt back. I was originally going to use a fabric pen to write the information on the tag, but since I had a little time on my hands {never mind all the chores I was going to do while Grace was away}, I decided to embroider it. On a 2" square. Pure madness :crazy:. Click on the photo to see it in better detail. Trust me. You don't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because a tag like this will never happen again. I'd been using Baby Frolic as a working title for this quilt, and when it came time to make the tag I didn't have anything better so, I kept it. It seems a rather unfortunate name now, though. As I was stitching it in, I realized it sounded awfully close to baby colic. I hope it doesn't jinx the baby.

When Grace got back from the spa, this quilt was the first thing on my list of priorities to finish. I got the top and back together and decided that I was going to quilt it with loopy flowers. I'd been admiring them since I did the quilting on my sister's Snowball Quilt. In preparation, I stayed up one night when I was too tired to do anything else but too listless to sleep, and doodled out about 16 notebook pages of loopy flowers in pencil while I watched re-runs of The Ghost Whisperer. I've heard from several experts that doodling it out beforehand really helps with the quality of the quilting. It felt pretty awkward the first six pages or so, but then I got the hang of it and started to refine the flowers, making the petals longer and more graceful, instead of small and squat. Then I got to work. I had a few spacing issues as I worked, so about half-way through I re-pinned the quilt so the pins would be markers for the center of each flower. I used little paper 'spacers' I cut about the size of the flowers I was quilting to make the spacing and placement more even. It may not have been the best idea, because half the quilt is evenly spaced with uniform sized flowers and the other half is a crazy, over-grown cottage garden :lol:.

The quilt is all finished and ready to be delivered to the new baby {I hope I get to hold her when I drop it off}. I even washed it. Up until now, I wasn't sure how I felt about washing a quilt after it is finished. But I've formed my opinion. While I was sewing the binding on, I realized that this quilt was too stiff to use to cuddle a baby in and it needed washing, so it would be all crinkly and soft and cuddly {and so that all the quilting imperfections would magically disappear}. Quilts that are going to be used {and/or quilted by me} need to be washed before they get used. But pretty, artsy quilts {like the Dragonfly quilt} that I take to the professional machine quilter's and am going to display are quilts that I'm most likely not going to wash.

Here is the full quilt {for those of you who aren't satisfied with the artsy photos}:

And here is the back:

This might just be my opinion, but I think this quilt makes a great September finish! Click here and on the buttons below to see some other great finishes.

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


Candace said...

It is beautiful, I love the yellow sashing fabric.

Shay said...

Oh E! (I'm sorry but you're E to me ..) That's just darling. What a beautiful gift for a very special little one. I love the quilting, it's just perfect.

That woman sounds amazing. And so are you.

Tracey Jacobsen said...

it's really beautiful! And I'm sure she thinks her casserole was well spent.

I LOVE the quilting, and yes, that tag is something.

wonderful work.

Sarah Craig said...

Elizabeth, it's absolutely beautiful! You are a wonderful writer, and I really enjoyed reading your story... You ought to submit this one to QuiltStory! Thanks for linking up to Thank Goodness It's Finished!!

Michelle said...

Elizabeth, the baby quilt is just beautiful. I love the colors, the design, and the quilting. And I agree, drawing out FMQ designs first does seem to help.

Enjoyed hearing about the recipient's family. Some people are just natural parent material--and it sounds like your friend got in line twice!

Barb said...

What a lovely quilt and story!

Unknown said...

A beautiful quilt and a beautiful friendship.

-- Colleen @ Made by Colleen

pinksuedeshoe said...

Wow, that's great. Great story, great friend and great quilt. I seriously need to get up the guts to tackle the FMQ.... it scares me.

QuiltNut Creations said...

You're friend is amazing! And the quilt; LOVE-IT! The tag on the back; seriously a 2inch square?? Awesomeness!

Love the loopy flowers; the quilt is adorable(especially all washed and crinkled; perfect for a new baby!)

And I have to say, I am so jealous you got to meet Natalia. There are so many amazing quilters in Utah; you included!

retdairyqueen said...

I just love this post What an amazing person your friend is and I'm sure she is pleased to call you her friend too
The quilt is just beautiful

Jennifer Lovell said...

I think my favorite picture of all of those was the back of the quilt, because it really showed me the power of the loopy flower. Then I was able to see it better on the front of the quilt. Love that loopy flower.

I agree with you about the coral being better for this baby girl than the green--good choice : ).

Your friend--has she won the mother of the year award yet? It must be challenging to see someone who is so "in order" all the time and has so many kids--yikes! In case she reads this blog (does she read blogs?), I think she is amazing and wonderful, and I would love to know her. BUT, I know you, and that makes me lucky enough! Love you!

Paulette said...

Oh, Elizabeth, it's such a beautiful quilt! Love the fabric, of course, but your quilting of it is just gorgeous with those flowers. Your friend is blessed in many ways, to have a new healthy baby girl and a dear friend like you to make her this quilt.

Annelise said...

darling darling!! i love those colors and am once again blown away by your talent. i am blessed to be able to call both this amazing lady of who you blog AND the amazing lady who blogged a friend and for that i am grateful ;)