Babies and Quilts
By Barbara GashBabies and quilts seem to be a natural pairing. Both words conjure up soft and cuddly images.
When a new baby is expected, there's no better way to mark the occasion than with a small quilt for the crib. From the most basic "cheater" cloth that looks pieced but isn't, to the more complex appliqued quilt, this is an enduring expression of love. What's more, most babies bond with that special square of fabric, developing a closeness that can last for years. (Many a mother has wondered if her child would be dragging his or her tattered "blanky" to school!)
Even if you're a beginner, this is a great project to work on during pregnancy. In the planning stages, you might want to ask yourself some questions:
Think about what would be appropriate to your climate, color scheme and lifestyle. The theme and colors might be determined by the baby's gender if you know it ahead of time. Fabrics must be washable, durable, and soft; 100% cotton is most popular. Unless you're a very traditional person, don't feel you have to play it safe with pastels and tiny prints. Babies love color, so try something that's bold and bright.
You'll probably want to choose the pattern and/or technique before selecting fabrics, or perhaps the two will burst into a concept simultaneously. Look in coloring books, pattern catalogs, quilt books and shops for inspiration. If you like to do strip piecing, stick with that. If the idea of a crazy quilt appeals to you, try to incorporate patches of fabrics that may have significance in your family.
Another idea is to use solid cottons and calicos, and applique shapes of animals or birds on the background fabric. The "Peaceable Kingdom" or "Noah's Ark" themes, for example, make enchanting quilts. As the babies get older, they will love to identify the animals.
If you just want to make a quick coverlet for your baby, check your fabric store for "cheater" fabric, already printed, in a crib-size panel, and sometimes even bonded to batting. All you have to do with these is to bind the edges, or sew a ruffled border. Another idea is to buy small amounts of "juvenile" printed cottons, and piece them together for the quilt top. Growing babies enjoy looking at these.
Lots of good books and classes are available to give you further inspiration and help with techniques. Two of the best resources include Special Delivery Quilts by Patrick Lose (C&T Publishing) and Quilt It for Kids by Pam Bono (Watson-Guptill Publications).Remember that the creation of a baby quilt does not require perfection. What is required is that you enjoy the process. Be sure to sign and date your work; it may just become a legacy. You may want to launder it lightly before presenting it to your baby with love.