Monday, August 18, 2014

DWM 8/18/14: The Continuing Saga of the Special Baby QUilt

Last week I worked on the special baby quilt, which is for a specific soon-to-come baby. Baby Max will be mom & dad's second child. Mom's a vet tech and dad's an outdoorsman, so this cute forest critter print is perfect for them.
Fabrics for Special Baby Quilt

I knew I'd have to be careful about the bold contrasting colors against the delicate print. As you can see in the photo, a small proportion of accent color complements the print, but too much would overwhelm it.

I designed a layout that would feature a lot of the print, and allow the accent colors to be highlighted in a medallion pattern.  Here it is, FMQ'd but not bound. (Sorry for the poor color - it's gloomy here today and the outdoor photo doesn't do the print justice,)
Ugly Special Baby Quilt

I don't like it. The bold colors are still too overwhelming for the delicate print. It's not cute. It's not even attractive! I'm not proud of it and I don't want to gift it.

I spent some time playing in EQ and decided on a chain block design with white in it, and several accent colors including lighter levels of color as well as the key shades matched from the print. Lighter levels add interest and make it more juvenile, and white makes it softer and more restful to look at. I used the print sparingly in the blocks and used it for the sashing and border. The greater variety of values and the choppier chain block design work much better.
New Special Baby Quilt

I've started the quilting. The blocks will be quilted with a simple all-over diagonal grid. The grid will fill in the white and print sections of the block and further define the block shape. The print sashing & borders will get a loose meander, not as tight as the FMQ in the ugly quilt.

Fortunately, I had enough of the critter print for the backing, and I had already prepped the binding but didn't use it on the ugly quilt. When I bought the 6-yard cut of fabric at a sale, I didn't think I'd ever use that much, but I'm sure glad I had it all because there's only scraps left.

I'm much more pleased with the new version. I'm hoping to get it quilted and bound within the next couple of days. The baby's not officially due until Sept. 9 but is expected to come early, as in any day now.

Although I've been quilting for over 20 years, I still learn something with every quilt I make. This summer I've been learning a lot - the hard way - about value and proportion and contrast. What I've learned is that delicate, pale ground prints that have dark colors used sparingly within them do best with choppy piecing and several values of accent colors, not just one or two darks that match the print. Valuable lesson!

Maybe the ugly quilt top could have been salvaged with custom quilting such as feathers, etc. in the negative space. That would have been way beyond my FMQ skill level and I don't have time to put it on my long armer's waiting list. As is, I'll eventually bind it and put it in the donation pile.

Linking up today with Judy at Patchwork Times.


  1. Hard lesson, but I agree. When we purchase fabric our nose is right next to it. However, viewed from a distance all the colors in a print blend to make it something else. My Elegant Garden quilt features an elegant multicolor floral on a black background. Everyone who saw the quilt from a distance thought it was brown! All the colors muddied up the black.

  2. I like your solution to add in more, softer colors to blend with the special fabric.