In a period of two months, four new babies have been delivered into my circle of friends and family. Some planned and others unexpected, four different states, three girls and a boy. Congratulations, all.
I, however, am absolutely staying away from unfiltered water for a while—beer and wine will do me fine. Also, having my husband now gone for an extended deployment will certainly help on that front. Phew! Maybe the baby deluge of 2013 has ended? Maybe not ...
So, I've always wanted to quilt. The mechanics of quilting always seemed straightforward to me. But I'd never actually done it before last week (or rather, I'd never gotten close to finishing a project ... there are many stitched together pieces in my wake). I even have a few books in my library of fantastical quilts created by insane minds. But I've never actually done one myself. Granted, that hasn't stopped me from haunting fabric stores and buying scraps of this and that over the years—similar to how I collect paint chips at hardware stores. (Poor, Patient Badger.)
When I bought my sewing machine a few months ago to make new curtains and slipcovers for the Airstream, I had no idea how often I would pull it out and use it. I've since sewed so many hems and attached so many Coast Guard insignia. Altered necklines, and repaired tears. Generally messed around with the thing. It's a dream to use—I couldn't be happier with the purchase.
But then all these babies kept coming ... and I kept visiting fabric stores.
One day there I was at one of the many local fabric shops, thinking I would make a quilt to send with Badger on his Arctic deployment ... when I saw this drunken elephant print. How could I not immediately match it up with some other fabrics, buy some fun thread, and make a quilt for my irreverent tattooed friend in Austin? An old college buddy with a fresh baby named Ripley. Ripley. Such an awesome name.
The elephants were pink (a color I rarely ever touch—I am as ungirllike as anyone you will ever encounter) but thankfully, the background was grey and the bottles were absinthe colored, so I had a color palette to work with. It took me a while to find the matching fabrics, but I was thrilled when I marched out of the store and straight to the laundry to wash and dry the three yards of cottony goodness. (Also pictured above is a bit of pink that I never used—I had thought maybe for the border but it didn't go that way.)
And I found some incredible pink-and-green thread that would be perfect for the appliqué I planned to do ... the pattern and design was coming clear to me as I wandered around the shop.
I ironed everything flat and then started cutting out elephants ...
As it turned out, I needed something about the size of eight-by-eight squares, so I created a wicked-fancy template out of a piece of printer paper, and started cutting them out too.
I had no idea what I was doing, but again, the mechanics seemed simple enough, so I loaded up some thread and started sewing the elephants onto the squares. Easy as pie.
Really, the machine did all the work, I just guided the elephants along ...
In the end I had twenty-two of them ... eleven on green backgrounds and eleven on grey backgrounds.
Given how cool Ripley's name is, I decided to include that in the center of one side. Also, being a woman of a certain age, I cannot hear the name Ripley and not think of aliens ... green ones for some reason, so her name in green just made sense. It had to happen. I sketched the letters, cut them out, and sewed them into place. There was a learning curve with all the angles, but it got done.
And Ripley's initials ended up on the back.
Badger came home at some point the next day (he had been standing duty on his ship during my late night of sewing). He was barely surprised that the Airstream was covered in drunken elephant squares. He's a good sport when it comes to my various [absurd and far-reaching] projects. He even played with the sewing machine options—he likes to understand how things work. Below is a scrap of what he made. He's a very versatile diesel mechanic!
We had a nice few days together over the Fourth of July while the quilt project languished and got moved from place to place as we needed the space. But then he had duty again a few days later and I got back to sewing. Merging the pieces together was a snap. It's all about cutting perfectly sized squares to start ... as I'm sure any standard quilting book would have told me, but I just dove in. And again, the machine did most of the work.
I laid it all out, matched the two sides up with cotton batting between, put huge pins through everything to hold it steady, and got to the actual quilting part of the quilt. Fun and easy. I used grey thread on the grey sides and green on the green sides so that the quilting stitches are basically invisible.
Given that I am not a quilter, I don't have any of the correct tools for making quilts or their borders. And there are probably much better ways to do what I did, but I used what I had on hand—my antique T-square. And the old girl worked just fine ...
I ironed a double-seam into the long pieces and attached them to the edges ... seemed reasonable enough to me. Sewed them into place. Once again my mini travel iron came in very handy.
And voila! A baby quilt sewed with love from the belly of our Airstream.
Two long sessions was all it took ... and I loved the process.
Happy Birth Day Ripley!
And Congratulations Rachel and CWS!
Postscript: I didn't include the cost of this quilt when I wrote this post before, but I wanted to capture it somewhere—all in, it was $50. That included three yards of fabric ($35), two spools of thread ($12), and the batting/filler ($3).