The completed memory quilt and the many lessons learnt from it

Still on the high you get from a finished project – woohoo!

Picking up from my last post, this is how I got to my finished quilt.

I decided to just quilt the top of my quilt, and not the backing. So Friday morning, as soon as my little man was napping, the sewing machine was out. I ‘stitched in the ditch’ round the edge of the border, where it bordered the patchwork. I need much more practice stitching in the ditch. I’m still very much straddling it at times.


And then I quilted star shapes on to the plain squares.


Squared up the quilt top and wadding.


Saturday morning, another nap time. I pinned on the backing. Then hubby took little man out for a walk so I could finish off.


Sewed a 1/4 in seam round the edge, leaving about 12″ open at the bottom for turning out.


Cut the corners and turned out, hoping for the best.

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Then all that was left to do was to close the opening with a slip stitch. Not easy for me as I’m ridiculously bad at slip stitch. Ideal opportunity to catch up on the Children in Need Sewing Bee.


Then it was into the washing machine on a hand wash setting followed by a gentle spin. Little man was asleep again at this point, so I rewarded myself by sitting in the sun and reading my book.


Once the spin cycle was done, it got an airing on the washing line, then was left to dry inside overnight. Some repair work was going to be necessary the following morning …


One of the seams had come apart ever so slightly and my rubbish slip-stitching looked awful, so that had to be done again. On the plus side, I got to catch up on more tv, watching Strictly from the night before. I was determined to have it finished Sunday morning, ready to hand over on Sunday afternoon. Mission accomplished. I even had time to get out our posh camera to take some photos of it.

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And here is the blanket, being enjoyed later that afternoon.

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Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

While I’m enjoying the comedown from finishing this memory quilt, I’m also getting itchy fingers to get onto the next one. Even better, it’s a girly one for the big sister of this little boy. I find girls clothes so much nicer. I’ve also had some orders come in off the back of this one so my (imaginary) order book now contains three more quilts/blankets, a Christmas stocking (made from last year’s Christmas outfit), matching cushions for my first two memory quilts, a memory bear and, finally, a teepee! Think I could be quite busy over the coming months!

Anyway, to wrap up, here’s what I learnt from doing my first memory quilt:

  • cutting up the baby clothes takes a lot longer than I anticipated, especially once you factor in adding the interfacing
  • it’s better to have lots of bigger squares, as lots of smaller squares looks too busy
  • backing fabric is expensive!
  • so is wadding
  • ALWAYS to check the colour-fastness of unwashed fabric before sewing with it
  • I need to improve my stitching in the ditch
  • I need to seriously improve my slip stitching

I’m hoping the next one will be a lot quicker, now that I know what I’m doing. In theory.

If at first you don’t succeed …

So it’s been two weeks since I posted about the memory quilt. That’s because not much has happened. As usual, I really thought I’d be finished by now, but life gets in the way. I’ll try and summarise what I’ve managed to do on it recently.

I’m having to rely on the dates on the photos (‘Moments’ in iPhoto) to prompt me. As it turns out, I didn’t do much last week.

On Tuesday, I took my rotary cutter to the bedlinen fabric I bought off ebay to make up the backing and the borders.

Wednesday, I attached the lengthwise borders.


Thursday, I attached the widthwise borders.



Having spent a bit of time researching how to finish a quilt without binding, in order to replicate the look of the memory quilts I’ve seen, I stumbled across ‘bagging out’. I’ve also seen it referred to as a pillow case finish. Depending on what I read, I needed to cut my wadding and backing slightly bigger than or exactly the same size as the quilt top! I got as far as cutting the wadding down and spray-basting the quilt top onto the wadding.

And then I did what I always do when I’m not sure what to do next: put it off.

Well, in actual fact, little man and I went to stay with a friend in Bristol for the weekend, whilst Mr Unfinished Crafter babyproofed the whole house. Very successful babyproofing. Not such a successful trip to Bristol. Little man showed his disdain for public transport by throwing up all over himself after his first ever bus ride. So, there we were, stranded in Bristol city centre with a baby covered in sick. And, of course, I’d forgotten a change of clothes. Then I returned to work on Monday after a whole year of maternity leave. I’m only working two days a week this year, then three days a week from next year. Anyway, I digress, back to the quilt.

After much procrastination, I was still unsure what to do. Should I quilt just the top and the wadding, so the backing was ‘clean’ like the memory quilts I’ve seen appear to be. I decided to quilt just the top and the wadding so I gave it a good iron to reactivate the glue in the spray baste. (Note, Children in Need Sewing Bee on in the background.)


I marked on the stars I’m going to quilt, with the aid of little man’s bath toy.



But then, I started to doubt myself. If the backing isn’t quilted, will it be loose from the top and wadding? I was going round in circles, so I consulted my crafty friends again.

I also ‘fessed up that I hadn’t washed the backing fabric. I was planning to wing it, but having doubts. Risky, we decided. So I washed the backing on a quick wash. And, guess what? The colour ran. Which was a problem, given that I’d used the same fabric for the borders and not washed that first either. So, out came the seam ripper and off came the borders. I’m not going to lie, it was soul destroying. But I did manage to catch up on The Apprentice in the meantime.


Borders and backing went for a spin In the washing machine and then enjoyed the autumn wind.


I then did a colour fastness test on a scrap of the (now washed) fabric and it passed. Phew. Out came the iron. Then the pins. Then the sewing machine. Borders are all now back on. Ready for the next stage. I just need to decide what to do next.

First birthday makes

The memory quilt took a backseat last week while I was busy preparing for my little man’s 1st birthday bash which took place on Saturday.

The first thing I made was a timeline of his first 12 (well, 11, actually) months.



Despite trying to be as organised as I could, and baking the birthday cake on the Thursday night, Friday night still passed in a blur of baking and decorating cakes. I’d bought some rice paper cake toppers with jungle animals on. We had a jungle theme as that’s the theme in his nursery. I’d thought it’d be really quick to whip up and ice 24 fairy cakes. Which it would’ve been, if I hadn’t had to cook dinner (courgette lasagne), turn my sponge from Thursday into two sponges sandwiched with jam and buttercream, ice and decorate it.

Anyway, at 10:30pm, with lots of help from my husband, we’d managed to get the royal icing on the cake, add the (pre-bought) decorations and write the little man’s name on it. I had been hoping to make my own fondant icing and cut it into letters, but had to abandon that due to lack of time. Bit rough and ready, here it is.


It tasted quite nice and didn’t cost anything as I had all the ingredients already.

I put up the bunting I made for his christening out of an old duvet cover.


And today, his actual birthday, he received a lovely handmade gift from my friend, Emily who has just started blogging here. It’s a crocheted blanket. Which he took an instant shine to, and so the best photo I got was this.


Very disappointingly, the Waybuloo card I made in the hope of it being read on CBeebies, did not appear on the TV. Must up my game next year, or at least send it in within the timeframe next time.

Anyway, despite the card putting a slight dampner on things for me, the little man himself has enjoyed a lovely few days of festivities. And that’s what matters.


Memory quilt top sewn

Behind my self-imposed schedule, as usual, but I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished sewing the top of the memory quilt.

On Friday morning, I completed my first row. Which was actually two rows sewn together. I’ve been sewing the squares in blocks of 4s for the bigger (6×6) squares and blocks of 16s for the smaller (3×3) squares. Which actually equates to two rows at a time. In the evening, and onto a row which consisted of a lot of little squares, I was close to throwing the sewing machine out the window whilst I struggled to align the joins of the little squares. Some I had to redo at least three times. Not my best Friday night ever. Anyway, here’s row 1.


On Saturday, desperate for time saving methods, I started chain sewing the little squares. Rather than cut the thread each time I’d sewed two squares together, I just chucked another pair under the needle, leaving a little gap between the pairs. Can you see the chain?


By the end of Sunday, I’d sewn another two rows of two. So six rows down, four to go. Not where I’d hoped to be, but I didn’t get the me-time I was hoping for, which meant crafting took a backseat. Here’s the six rows together.


Monday night, another extension, my plan was to get it all sewn that night. Nope! Poorly baby. Penultimate row of two done.


Tuesday morning, back on it. Last row of two finished.


Tuesday afternoon, thanks to my little man helpfully having a good nap, I trimmed the rows so they were all the same width and sewed them all together. Voila!


I suggested to the friend who is paying me to make this blanket that I quilt stars on some of the plain squares. As demonstrated by my son’s bath toys!


Good idea, hey? She agreed.

Having ordered some wadding from America which was not the twin size I ordered, my next lot arrived which was, thankfully, the right size. Incidentally, I contacted the American company who supplied the first lot of wadding and it turns out it’s a problem with Amazon. They’ve refunded me and I have two lots of free wadding to use on future projects … Result!

So next up, I need to order the backing. I need three metres. Which is proving expensive. So, my cost-cutting solution is to buy a single bedsheet or two and use that instead. Watch this space, but not for a week or so. In the meantime, I’ll be busy with little man’s 1st birthday celebrations. Gulp.

Sew it begins

Sewing of the memory quilt has begun! Things should speed up from hereon in. She says hopefully.

After another evening of piecing last night, which started like this:

I’m using the pink single duvet as a side guide. Clearly, it doesn’t go.

I was struggling with how to use the smaller squares to fill in the gaps. Use lots of the same like this?


Or mix it up a bit, like this?


Having consulted my crafty friends/gurus, I opted for the latter.

The next challenge was how to get it all upstairs onto the spare bed, without messing it all up. The problem with a crawling baby roaming around is that I can’t leave it out during the day, so end up having to pack it all up each night. So I thought the spare bed would be a good new home for it. Anyway, I digress. I seized upon the idea that I might be able to roll the duvet cover up, row by row. Worth a try rather than having to transport all the squares upstairs and then reassemble.


Amazingly, it worked! I felt like I’d won the lottery. Time saved, woohoo!


I was going to have an early night tonight, but then Mr UnfinishedCrafter informed me that he had booked the tv to play on the Playstation. So, instead, I’ve pinned my first row, dusted off the sewing machine and started the sewing. Hurrah. I’ve done the first block and then hung up my sewing hat til tomorrow.




CBeebies birthday card

My attention has been diverted from the memory quilt while I’ve been busy working on a birthday card for my little man who turns one on the 14th. My brother has had great success getting cards he’s made for his girls read out on the birthday slots on CBeebies. So no pressure.

Stanley (my little man) enjoys watching Waybuloo of an evening. I thought I’d be a mum that doesn’t encourage tv-watching. But come the witching hour, I’ll take anything that helps us to get through to bath time. It’s a programme about four ‘Piplings’ who live in a land called Nara. They do yoga! And there’s children (called cheebies, bit creepy I find) that join in with the yoga poses.

So, it had to be a Waybuloo themed card.

I’m not much of an artist so I cheated and printed off colouring in sheets of two of the characters (Nok Tok and Yojojo) to use as templates.





Their faces posed a bit of a challenge. Rather than colouring them in, I used a piece of scrapbook paper and just coloured in the eyes.



Added their mouths …


Made the background. Couldn’t have a blue sky as Nok Tok (the blue one) would’ve blended in.


At this point, I encountered a slight hitch when my photo printer ran low on ink. But I managed to print a reasonable photo on normal paper on our normal printer. I added his name and age. Voila!


I’ve just posted it off to CBeebies for the princely sum of £3.20. I don’t get it back and it may not even appear on the TV channel on the day of his birthday. I really hope it does. I’ve not helped my chances as they ask to receive cards 4 weeks before the birthday. But, seriously, who’s that organised? I thought I was good starting it with two weeks to go.

Now I can get back to the quilt. It’s non-stop! Who knows how I’m going to get anything done when I go back to work 2 days a week in a few week’s time.