Embroidered Baby Quilt

I started working on a 12-panel embroidered quilt project (my very first quilt project!) in 2012, and I finally finished it up last night! It only took 4 years! The theme of the quilt is what I like to refer to as "Bugs in Ball Jars," though the official Jack Dempsey Needle Art name is "Creatures in Jars." I loved the stamped block designs, but wasn't wild about the colors suggested. They seemed too drab for a baby blanket, so except for the floss I used for the jars (pewter grey and turquoise), I used scrap floss I'd saved from previous projects. In spite of a three-year delay from start-to-finish on the embroidery, it didn't actually take that long for me to finish all the panels since I worked most of it in a simple outline stitch, with the occasional satin stitch added in for parts I wanted filled in. Instead of cutting each block out of the larger fabric first, I kept them in 4-by-4 panels to make it easier to work with a hoop. Once the embroidery was complete, I used a rotary cutter to trim the panels to size.


The original quilt pattern used two tones of dark green material for the backing and stripping around the blocks, but I wanted to liven it up a bit and give it a bit more color. I chose to go with a nature-inspired color palette, with pale green, blue, brown, and yellow stripping, and a complimentary paler yellow backing. I wasn't entirely confident my fabric selections would work since I was going "rogue" with the pattern, but I went with my gut.

After cutting the stripping to the appropriate lengths, I did a test lay-out to see how everything would look when positioned in the proper place.


Once I was happy with the layout, I pinned and stitched the panels into columns. I then sewed the green stripping to the central column before sewing the outer columns into place.


The next step was to sew on the outer stripping border to complete the quilt top. Once that was done, I started tracing my quilting pattern onto the stripping with a washable fabric marker. I used two different templates: one that I cut out of a cardboard piece for the smaller stripping pieces to use as a stencil; and another that I placed under the material and traced through on the outer borders. I wanted to go with a vine design to stick with the quilt theme, which in hindsight wasn't the best idea since this was my first attempt at quilting and swirls aren't the easiest pattern to deal with.


I did do a quick test block on scrap fabric, with some batting, to make sure I had the tension set up okay and practice with the swirly vine pattern. NOTE: Machine quilting a small scrap is A LOT easier than working with a toddler-sized quilt.


The next step was to lay the backing material wrong side up, place the batting on it, and then lay the quilt top down. I hand-basted the pieces together so they wouldn't shift, working from the center out. And then, I started quilting my design, starting from the middle and working my way out.

I wish I could say things went smoothly, but they didn't. The bobbin tension kept going wonky on me, the basting didn't entirely stop the fabric from shifting, and the machine ceased up and needed some TLC.

Once the quilting was complete, I decided to bind the edges by folding the backing to the front to give it a bit more dimension. I used a 3/4" double-fold that I stitched to the top using a blanket stitch on my machine. About halfway around, my needle broke. I replaced the needle and finished up, and I'm mostly pleased with the end result (as long as I don't look at the back).


I'm thankful I got some good advice from my mom on pulling this together, and I can't wait to start my next quilting project. Thanks to Aunt Becky, I know exactly where to look for fabric deals, and with the project books Aunt Pat gave me, I'll have plenty of ideas to get my creative juices flowing.

5 Days of Christmas Crafts: Day 5 - Felted Twelve Days Ornaments

On the fifth day of crafting, My project was to be:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree.

I feel like I should start out with a disclaimer. I started this project 3 years ago, after I was given a Debbie Mumm craft book for inspiration. Inspired I was! And I embarked on a project that I finally completed this morning, just in time for my blog post. Now, to be fair, I only work on holiday crafts in November and December, while my husband is watching football on TV and my little guy is in bed. And although the project took me a long time to finish, it can be completed in a reasonable amount of time if it's scaled back and not shoved in the back of the craft closet for long periods of time.

SONY DSCOne of the ideas in Debbie Mumm's craft book was to make 12 Days of Christmas ornaments from felted wool scraps. I thought it was a great idea, and that it would be even cooler if I made the correct number of ornaments for each of the lines of the song. (Note: I realize that technically, on the third day - for example, the gifts are 3 French Hens, 2 Turtledoves, & a Partridge in a Pear Tree, for a net total of 6 gifts that day, and so on and so forth until the cumulative total equals 364 total gifts).

I didn't do the math at the time I made the decision, but I did realize that making ornaments the way the song was written was too epic an undertaking for me. As it was, by only doing the first set of gifts per day, that's 78 ornaments. That's nothing to snooze at, either.

I don't usually have wool scraps laying around, so I opted to use felt. I like felt because the cut edges don't unravel and it's easy to work with, but I think you could use any fabric you have on hand to make this work. Felt has a bit of body to it, so I didn't need to use interfacing. But if you use cotton, wool, or other fabrics, it's something to consider so that the ornaments hold their shape.

To make Felted Twelve Days Ornaments, you will need:

Pattern and/or wax paper

Felt (variety of colors)

Embroidery floss and a needle (or a sewing machine and thread)

Straight pins

General Directions:

Since the pattern for the ornaments came in a nice book, I didn't want to clip them out. I traced the pattern onto wax paper, cut them out, and used that for my pattern. This is also a great technique for making custom patterns of anything you see in books, magazines, online, etc. Trace onto wax paper (I like it because it's semi-transparent), cut, and voila! A pin-able pattern.

Next, I cut out the felt. I cut two pieces for the front and back of the basic forms, and then a single piece for the detailing, since I only needed those for the front of the ornament. Because I was making multiple ornaments for all but the Partridge in the Pear Tree, I scaled it up accordingly.

SONY DSCFor example, for my swans, I cut two white swan bodies, one grey wing, and one yellow beak per ornament. To complete all seven swans, I ended up cutting 14 swan bodies, 7 wings, and 7 beaks.

When it came time to assemble the ornaments, I pinned the detailing to the front of the ornament, and used a blanket stitch to sew it on. I did this by hand, but if you prefer machine sewing, have at it. Once the front of the ornament was prepared, I used a blanket stitch to sew the back on. Sometimes, I added sequins for some added dazzle or used a decorative stitch to make patterns, as you'll see below.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree-

SONY DSCOn the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two Turtledoves-

SONY DSCOn the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French Hens-

SONY DSCOn the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four Calling Birds-

SONY DSCOn the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five Golden Rings-

SONY DSCOn the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six Geese A-Laying-

SONY DSCOn the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, seven Swans A-Swimming-

SONY DSCOn the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight Maids A-Milking-

SONY DSCOn the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, nine Ladies Dancing-

SONY DSCOn the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten Lords A-Leaping-

SONY DSCOn the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eleven Pipers Piping-

SONY DSCOn the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve Drummers Drumming-

SONY DSCIt turns out that 78 ornaments take up a lot of display space, so unless you're planning on having a sizable tree, single versions of the ornaments might be better (and shouldn't take three years to complete 😉). I ended up making a felt display tree to tack them to, which I'll use as a wall hanging.

SONY DSCIf you have any ideas on how to improve on this craft project or would like to share pictures of your 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments or other design based on this blog post, please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you.