Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sewing for Pea - Patchwork Play Quilt

This is the second installment of my "Sewing for Pea" series (Pea is the nickname for the baby we're expecting in November). And I must admit, as a novice sewer, I am pretty chuffed with this one!

It's a lightly padded quilt that can go on the floor for the baby to lie/play on (I'm going to put a play arch or mobile over it). Since I love print and colour, I really wanted something that was playful, but would fit in with my home and look a bit funkier than the pastel fluffy bunny style or garish primary coloured fabric playgyms available at the baby stores. It's washable so saves you having to get the rug or carpet cleaned everytime the baby decides to make a mess while on the floor.

It was really easy to make - another Lotta Jansdotter pattern from her book "Simple Sewing for Baby". Basically you cut a number of squares and rectangles in various fabrics, the only requirement being that they are all 20cm wide, sew them into strips, sew the strips together and then back with padding and backing fabric.  The full instructions are below. The finished quilt is approximately 98x98cm - big enough for baby and toys, but small enough to put in the washing machine.

I enjoyed making this so much, I even made a second one using different fabrics for another baby due later this year ; )

By the way, you see the fabric with the monkey pattern - that's my very own design and the first fabric I've had printed, very exciting! For more on that design, see this post: Surface Design Week 5.

Here are the instructions to make the play quilt.

Supplies needed:

* Cotton squares and rectangles (enough to create 5 x 100cmx20cm strips - see below)
* 100cmx100cm backing fabric (for e.g. a heavy linen or cotton)
* 100cmx100cm polyester wadding
* thread
* pins
* hand-sewing needle
* scissors
* iron
* point turner/knitting needle
* ruler and paper or fabric marker


1. Cut fabric squares and rectangles from your chosen fabrics. They can be different lengths, but must all be 20cm wide. I used a paper template which I pinned to my fabric before cutting it to make sure I got the width consistent. You could also just use a fabric marker to mark out the squares before cutting them. You'll need enough pieces to make 5 x 1m long strips.

2. Lay out your pieces into 5 strips. Once you are happy with how they are laid out you can begin sewing them together. Take the first two pieces, pin right side together and machine sew along the width on one edge (backstitching at the beginning and end). Then take the next piece in that strip and do the same. Repeat with all the fabric sections until you have 5 x 1m strips (trim the strips if necessary to get the same length).

3. Then you need sew the strips together in the same way - pin the first two strips right side together and machine sew along the length, back-stitching at the start and finish. Then repeat with the next strip until you have all 5 strips sewn together.

4. Measure out your backing fabric (I used a heavy linen from Ikea) and polyester wadding to the same dimension as your patchwork piece (100x100cm).

5. Pin the polyester wadding to the wrong side of the backing fabric and baste/tack together (i.e. stitch temporarily with long stitches by hand) around the entire quilt.

6. Pin the heavy fabric and pieced fabric, right sides together (the polyester wadding will be on the outside) and machine stitch all the way around (back-stitching at the beginning and end), leaving a 15cm opening on one side. You can now remove the tacking stitches.

7. Trim all seam allowances to 6mm (except at the opening), clip the corners at 45 degree angles and turn the quilt right side out (using a point turner or knitting needle to push out the corners). Press the seam edge flat with a medium hot iron.

8. Fold under and press the seam allowance at the opening, slipstich or pin in place and then machine sew around the edge of the whole quilt.

9. Then it's up to you how you want to quilt the blanket. I simply did a "stich in the ditch", machine sewing along the lengths of the pieced seams.

Voila - my funky floor play quilt. Fun for baby, practical and not offensive to the eye!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sewing for Pea - Tag Blankie

I'm expecting my first baby in around 2 months (eeekk!). All very exciting and a little daunting at the same time.  We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl, so the baby's working title is "Pea" (or "Little Pea"), since that what it looked like on the first scan. Now I know I'm not going to have much time for, well anything, once Pea is born, but among all the baby paraphernalia that is apparently completely necessary, I really want the baby to have a few things that I have made for him or her.  So this is the first of a few sewing projects I have planned.

I decided to start with something really simple (I have very little sewing experience) and today made this "tag blankie".

Apparently someone noticed how babies love sucking on the silky tags of blankets and so designed a mini blanket edged with lots and lots of tags for the baby to pull and suck on - hence the tag blankie was born. I used a pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's book "Sewing for Babies" to make mine.

I used some funky graphic heavyweight cotton fabric from Ikea and some brightly coloured ribbons (in gender neutral colours of orange, turquoise and grey) - I don't see why babies have to be surrounded by sappy pastels!

Here are the instructions:

1. Cut out 2 x 33cm squares of your chosen fabric. Be sure to wash, dry and iron your fabric beforehand to prevent shrinkage after you've sewn your blankie.
2. Cut lengths between 14-20cm of ribbons in different colours and widths  (I used 5 on each side, 20 in total).
3. Place the 2 fabric squares right side together and sandwich the ribbons, each folded in half, between the two pieces of fabric, lining up the ribbon edges with the edge of the pieces of fabric. Working one side at a time, pin the ribbons and the fabric pieces together.

4. Machine stich around the (still inside-out) blankie, securing the ribbons as you go. Make sure to leave a 15-20cm opening on one side and back-stich at the start and finish.
5. Trim the seam allowance to 6mm (other than the opening) and trim the corners at a 45 degree angle.
6. Turn the blankie the right way around and, using a long pointed tool, like a knitting needle, poke out the corners. Press the blankie with a medium hot iron, fold the fabric at the opening inside and press that too (at this point you can also insert your final ribbon piece).
7. Finally, machine stitch the blankie all the way around including the opening, back-stiching at the start and finish.

Voila! You have a tag blankie!

I love how creative you can get with the different colour and fabric combinations.  I may make a few of these as baby gifts for other expecting friends.