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Monday, January 16, 2012

Rag Quilt Baby Blanket (Isaiah's Memory Quilt)

Isaiah's Hope
I have had the pictures for this quilt ready to go for a long time.  However, posting it for me has been hard because I made it for a little boy that I thought I would meet this month.  We were due on January 21st.  This, however, was not meant to be.  At fifteen weeks into the pregnancy, we discovered that our little boy had passed away.  I had made quilts for my four previous children, so it felt weird not making one for Isaiah.  Though it was a sad process instead of one of joyful anticipation, I am glad that I made it.  Having another "something" to remember him by has been comforting for me.

The finished size of this quilt is 50 by 70 inches, which is great for a baby floor quilt or makes a good  throw size for an adult.  One of us often snuggles under Isaiah's quilt during "movie night" downstairs.  You will need five coordinating fabrics.  Pick your favorite fabric to use as the large block.  The other four will be used to make the four-patch blocks.  There are a total of 35 blocks.  I would recommend getting 2 3/4 yards of flannel fabric for the large blocks.  This will give you a little wiggle room for getting your edges straight, etc, when cutting the blocks.  (When I am working on a project, I hate it when I cut something wrong and then have to order more fabric or hit a quilt store before I can get started up again!)  For the smaller blocks, I would get 7/8 to 1 yard of flannel fabric each.  Yes, you will probably have too much.  You can use the extra fabric for a coordinating pillow or burp rag.

To cut the main blocks, keep the fabric folded in half and cut it into nine 10 inch strips. (Don't worry about cutting off the selvage at this point.)  Keep the fabric folded.  For each strip, cut off the selvage and then cut 2 10 inch blocks. (You will have a front and back for each block, ready to go!)  You need 18 complete squares.
For the four-patch blocks, leave your fabric folded.  Cut into 5 1/2 inch strips.  For each strip, cut off the selvage and cut into four 5 1/2 inch squares (front and back).  You will have some extra squares. 

Figure out where you want the fabric to be located in the square.  Now sew two squares together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  As you can see from the picture, the seams will be pointing "out" toward you as you are looking at them.  What I love about this technique is there is no ironing involved!  I sewed the blue checkerboard square to the haybale square.  Then I sewed the tan farmer and red print squares together.  Then I sewed the pairs of squares together.  Make sure you are sewing them with the correct orientation so that all of the squares look the same.  Check to see if your fabric has an "up" direction.  You will want to make sure it is pointed "up" in your squares.  My blue checkerboard fabric has an "up," the others did not.  You need 17 four patch squares.

Now it's time to put this thing together.  Still using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew alternating blocks together.  For row one, start with a large block followed by a four patch block.  For row two, start with a four patch block.  Each row will have five blocks, and there are 7 rows.  Make sure each four patch block is oriented correctly.  Once your rows are complete, sew the rows together.  One awesome thing about this quilt is that the rag seams hide the fact that your corners don't match up perfectly.  As one who has always valued speed over precision, this project is perfect for me!
 Next, sew around the entire quilt again using a 1/2 seam allowance.  I like to sew another time around the quilt about 1/8 inch inside the first stitching to make sure the fabric is well-secured.

Now you have a quilt with edges sticking out toward you.  Not that attractive yet.  It's time to clip this baby!

If you don't have one, get a pair of spring-loaded scissors.  They are about $16 at Walmart, but worth their weight in gold for the number of cuts you are going to make!

Carefully cut your seam allowance close to your stitching (without cutting into the stitching, of course.)  I like to cut about every 1/4 inch or closer if possible.  The closer together you make your cuts, the better the fabric will fray.  When you get to a place where the fabric is sewn in another seam, cut as close to the seam as you can to free up your fabric to clip it.  Be patient: for me the clipping usually takes longer than sewing the quilt.  Put on a good movie and get clipping!
Once you are finished, clipping, wash and dry the quilt at least two times.  After each drying time, take the quilt outside and shake vigorously to get rid of the frayed threads.  Clean the lint trap often!
I made a label for the quilt on my computer using June Tailor Sew-In Colorfast Fabric Sheets for Ink Jet Printers.  Here is a link to the product: Colorfast fabric sheet.  You can find them at most quilt shops or buy off of  Design your label, print out, and follow instructions to colorfast the fabric.  I cut about 1/4 inch around the label, fold under and iron, then whipstitch the label in place on the back on one of the blocks.  I took a picture of one of the fabrics and used it in Microsoft Word to make my label.  I placed a white rectangle shape on top of it to place the text inside.  One down side to this product is that you are not supposed to use detergent to wash it; if you are making this as a gift, be sure to let your recipient know! 

Hope you enjoy making these quilts as much as I do!

If you want to make a bigger quilt, double the amount of fabric.  I made a 7 by 10 block quilt for my son, Evan.  It covers the top and sides of a twin mattress--perfect for a bunk bed!

Another alternative, and quicker method:  use all 10 inch squares.  I have made many baby blankets this way, and they go together in a snap!  Mix and match several different fabrics for a scrappy look.  You will need a total of 35 squares.  I typically get 5/8 yard of nine different fabrics.  Here is an example:

You can also use 7 inch squares to make a quilt.  You will need a total of 80 squares.  Sew 10 rows of eight.  Here is a quilt I made for my nephew:


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