Tag Archives: Baby quilts

Stars for Nora

A nephew and his wife have a new baby, and she is perfectly perfect! Her name is “Nora.”

A few weeks ago I started planning a quilt for her to feature this fabric.


Well, “planning” is too strong of a word, because as far as I got in the process was pulling other corals and peaches and yellows from my stash. There was no concept to create a plan around.

And then one day, a fellow Stashbuster linked the pattern for this quilt in a comment.

I like quilts with blocks of multiple sizes, one more reason I like medallions. This one is made in a 4 x 5 layout of 21″ blocks, for a total size of 84″ x 105″. It has five stars of four sizes per big block. It’s easier to see when you look at just one block.

Yes! That is one block! And there are 91 patches in it! Though it is complex, it actually isn’t hard. The hardest part was figuring out the sizes of the units. As mentioned, each big block finishes at 21″. Two blocks across is 42″, perfectly sized for a baby quilt. I gleaned enough from cutting instructions to fill in the rest. Here are my notes:


My original thinking was to use those peaches and yellows, but I decided to broaden the palette some. One of the reasons was this cute fabric with carrots, which I’ve had for years.


That made adding greens easy. Another small quilt in my past added turquoises, so I tried them and they helped brighten the scheme. Besides the plaid above, you might also notice other gridded fabrics in the mix. The lattices tie the theme together even more. Using the speckled fabric in the background, rather than pale yellow, completed the plan.


Stars for Nora. 42″ square. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

This was the third of four quilts I completed in August. September has other things going on, so it was nice to finish a few things. (And if I am slow in responding to your comments, have patience! I’ll check in as soon as I can!)


Son’s Liberated Baby Quilt

This morning Jim and I cleaned a room, the room our son refers to as mine. When we moved to this house, my room was intended as a guest room, as well as for my sewing and crafts. It is again the guest room, but it no longer holds my studio. Now the family room and his room hold my long-arm machine, domestic machine, and all my quilting supplies. His room is no longer his, though he won’t officially recognize its change in status.

The room we cleaned this morning has Son’s remaining belongings, a bed and a dresser. One of the other remnants of his life with us hangs on the wall. It is a small quilt I made for him, what I call his baby quilt. In fact, I made it when he was 20, a few short years ago.

His life has changed dramatically since I made this, going from college student to Air Force pilot, from Iowa to the Pacific Northwest, from in love to engaged. My life has changed, too, as has my quilting.

When I made this quilt, I wanted to try new things. I had a Gwen Marston book (the first of the several I now own) and wanted to try the “liberated” style. I did not love the process of making the quilt. It did not feel “free” to me but both chaotic and contrived.

My evolution in quilting makes this more comfortable now than it was then. Last summer I finished a quilt that uses some of the same liberated approach.

African star 1

African Star. 42″ x 44″. July 2014.

Truly liberated quilting need not be “anything goes.” Nor does it need to include contrived, even patterned (or paper pieced!) “wonky” stars. Liberated quilting at its best is mindful quilting. Rather than mindlessly following someone else’s pattern and rules, we can make decisions thoughtfully. We can follow recognized design principles to break the rules. We can create for ourselves. Sometimes that means perfect points and evenly spaced blocks. Sometimes it does not. We are liberated when we choose for ourselves.

We Have A New Baby!

Okay, NO, we don’t have a new baby. Our oldest niece and her husband are foster parents for a new baby girl. I don’t know how long she will be with them. It’s possible I’ll never meet her, as they live in another state. But I’d like to welcome her and congratulate them.

I’ve decided to send this sweet quilt in celebration. On the label I’ll use her first name and middle name — her last name might change. And with luck it will be something she’ll have, always.

Quilt is about 51″x40″.

The Baby’s Quilt

Though we’ve usually been blessed with great neighbors, we haven’t maintained ties with all of them. As we’ve moved, or they have, some friendships have faltered. Others, though, remain.

Seventeen years ago we moved to a new home. The neighbors to our right had lived across the street from us at our previous home. They thought they could get away, but we followed them! And next to them lived a woman with her daughter, a beautiful girl about five years older than our son. Over the years The Girl and Son developed a special relationship. When he began taking clarinet as a fifth grader, he balked at practicing, which led to frustration for all of us. The Girl played clarinet in the high school band, and we asked her to sit with him while he practiced. With that simple solution, he practiced willingly and improved dramatically. And they forged a friendship that continues to this day.

The Girl grew up and moved to college. After grad school she married a high school classmate. As a wedding present I made this mock-Amish quilt. It has a disappearing 9-patch center. I’ve always liked the graphic impact of it.

Last fall we found out that The Girl and her husband are expecting a baby, due in a couple of months.

In January I decided to demonstrate how to turn a medallion center block on point. I considered what center block to use and chose a star-in-a-star. Years ago I made a wall hanging with a similar design, and it had an Amish feel, too. So as I pulled fabrics for the tutorial, I looked for a mixture of darks and brights to emulate it.

What I found surprised me. My stash is full of bits and pieces. Until last year I rarely bought a full yard of anything, unless I had a plan for it. Often I run out of fabrics with just scraps to go, and often I sub in others for those that have run out. But I had enough left of a dark purple to create setting triangles and a border. And I knew this would become a special project, much more than a tutorial sample.

This would become The Baby’s quilt.

The purple fabric was from the back of the wedding quilt you see above. As a friend said, “the wedding quilt is having a baby quilt!”

The Baby’s quilt, 46″ square. 2014.

You’ve seen the back of the quilt already, but here it is again.

Construction of the top was very simple. The focal point a variable star framed by variable star points. The complete star-in-a-star measures 16″. With the striped green interior border, the center is 20″. Turning the center on point took it to about 28.25″. For the last purple border, I cut it as wide as I could, given what little fabric was left. The finished quilt is 46″, and I think by chance the proportions came out very well.

Then I was faced with quilting. While I could have done a simple edge-to-edge pattern, I wanted something to highlight the shapes. For the first time I used a ruler base and ruler with my long-arm machine, to create a zigzag design around the outer border, and to echo the interior lines. Besides that, I free-motioned a spiky leaf through most of the background. I still have a lot to learn with my quilting, but generally I’m very happy with how it turned out.

The last challenge will be delivering the quilt and watching while it is opened. Because The Girl lives in another state, we hope to use Skype or FaceTime to see them open it.

Good neighbors are special, but good friends are precious. We are fortunate that The Girl, her husband, and her mom continue to be part of our lives. And we look forward to meeting The Baby later this year.

Baby Quilts

In early December one of my granddaughters will celebrate her tenth birthday. We celebrate her, of course. But I also celebrate the beginning of my quilting life. Before she was born I decided to make a baby quilt, my first quilt ever.

It was a miserable, horrible, unhappy experience. Completely ignorant about quilting, I didn’t know what great tools there are to make the process easier. I had no rotary cutter, no cutting mat and rulers. The sewing machine I had at the time had tension problems. I often thought of throwing the machine out the window; the only thing that stopped me was knowing that replacing the window would cost more than replacing the machine.

Still, the quilt was finished on time and presented to my daughter at her baby shower, prior to the baby’s birth. And I told her then that I didn’t care how many babies she had, I would never make another quilt. Ha…

The next three were for other grandchildren and were motivated by guilt. Since that time I’ve made or helped make dozens of quilts of all sizes, probably more than one hundred of them. That’s pretty prolific output for someone who swore she would never make another!

With seven grandchildren now, I’ve made baby quilts for each of them. Besides those, I made a few as gifts for friends. Most of the baby quilts I’ve made were donated for distribution in our community.

Tips for baby quilts:
1) Quilts of simple designs (just squares or strips) are more likely to be used than ones with more complex designs. Of course the babies don’t care either way, but fancier designs may be hung on the wall (which is a nice tribute, too) or put away as an heirloom or memento. Memento quilts are NOT remembered by the babies when they get older, unless it as something they were not to enjoy.

2) Let the parents’ color preferences for the baby’s room guide you, if you know them. Another great way to have your quilt put away is for it to clash with the baby’s room. Some people don’t appreciate the colors of love.

3) Wash fabrics before use. Quilters disagree on whether fabrics should be washed before creating a quilt. Since I have sensitivities myself, I always wash the fabrics first, and I use fragrance- and dye-free detergent, no fabric softeners, and no dryer sheets. Babies are sensitive. If you want the quilt used, wash the chemicals out of the fabrics. If you have pets that use your sewing space, wash the finished project again before giving it. One more benefit of washing fabrics before cutting and sewing is that any shrinkage and color bleeding should be resolved before the baby gets the gift.

4) Don’t use buttons, as they can provide a choking hazard.

5) Label the quilt. A label can be as simple as a small piece of fabric with the baby’s name and birth date, as well as your name, written in indelible ink. Hand-stitch the label to the back of the quilt to provide information that can be lost through time.

6) Let the parents know any laundry instructions. If the fabrics are 100% cotton and the batting is either cotton or polyester, washing is pretty simple for a quilt of this size. A delicate setting will abuse the quilt least.

Here are my grandbabies’ baby quilts.

The first one — my first quilt ever! — was for the granddaughter mentioned above.

Only the “center” inside the green border was from the original quilt. I already repaired and enlarged it, from the green border out. She still loves it.

This is the second quilt I made, one of those motivated by guilt. As you can see, it is simple squares in the colors used to decorate the little guy’s bedroom. The real feature here is the baby. I had treated myself to a new sewing machine by then, and also bought my first cutting mat, rotary cutter, and rulers. All these “modern” tools made the process much simpler and more enjoyable.

After making the quilt above, I worried his older sisters might feel slighted, so I made quilts for them, too. The girls were 5 and 7 when they got them.

The quilt below was for another grandson, who is 6 now. My skills had improved markedly by then, but I don’t necessarily like this quilt any better than the others. It is just different, not better. I love nursery rhymes, so when I found this great fabric with old favorites on it, I bought enough to make four quilts. So far I’ve used it for three, including the one below.

This was for a grandbaby now 3 years old. His dad is an aeronautical engineer, his grandpa (Jim) is an amateur astronomer, and his uncle (our son) is in the Air Force.

The last baby quilt made was for our most recent grandson, who is almost 3. The top has only one block with borders. The block style is called “Burgoyne Surrounded.” I found a great throw pillow case at our local Mennonite relief store and used the baseballs in the center and on the corners from it, as well as the main pillow panel on the back of the quilt, shown below.

The last “baby” quilt I’ll show today is a small quilt made for my son and presented on his 21st birthday. He is my baby, even at age 25.

Do you make baby quilts? Do you have special tips to share?