Commission T Shirt Quilt Made From Baby Clothes
Update: This pattern is now available for purchase in my shop! An easy quilt pattern for any skill level.
I recently finished this commissioned quilt made from baby clothes and now that it is safely in the client’s hands, I wanted to share it with you and talk a little about it. It was so incredibly fun to make! Her original request was for a quilt using her son’s clothes, sized to fit his twin sized bed. We exchanged emails discussing designs, types of clothes, colors, etc. Ultimately she entrusted the final design to me, which is flattering and intimidating. I don’t ever want to disappoint, but I do love a good challenge!
Two boxes of baby clothes arrived. Unfortunately I can’t find my notes on the number of pieces she sent, but it was plenty. The clothes were 95% knits, as most baby clothes are, with an assortment of onesies, t-shirts, receiving blankets, things like that. Knits are stretchy, and need to be stabilized with fusible interfacing first before they can be sewn into a quilt. While I did that, it gave me time to think about a design that might work.
The design challenge-
– To create a baby clothes quilt that her son could grow with. With every step of creating this design, I asked myself if my 13 year old son would mind having it as part of the design of something that would live on his bed (which, let’s face it, is a large part of the decor of any room).
– Incorporate memorable pieces from every garment, which meant all of the colors and patterns had to work- together.
– The cut clothing pieces should still be large enough evoke memories. This is an important one. For example, included was an Obama t-shirt, his face and his name on the front. I was ok cutting through the image a bit, but wanted there to be enough of it there as a reminder. There’s a lot of memory tied up in those tiny clothes, and cutting them down to the point of being unrecognizable didn’t feel as interesting.
It took quite a while to stabilize the knits with lightweight fusible interfacing (roughly enough time to watch all three seasons of The Great British Sewing Bee), which is the first step (after washing). This step is s l o w, but so necessary and as we all know, preparation is everything. It removes the stretch out of the fabric, and makes it all more, well, stable! To stabilize them, I cut out the largest panels of the individual outfits, cut away the ribbing around the legs, etc. Cut away a lot of the fasteners (but kept some in, to incorporate into the design after I got the okay from mom).
Once all was stabilized, it became clear that the best way to find some kind of pattern/color cohesion among the pile of clothes was to reduce the variables down to light and dark color values. There were just too much going on to break it down more than that. I started by separating all the clothes into 2 piles to see what there was more of (lights). I began playing with half square triangles, and the nuts and bolts pattern you see here emerged quickly. Having more light valued fabrics than darks, I decided the actual nuts and bolts would be made of the darks, leaving the light values for the “background”.
There were some special squares to incorporate-
I did a stitch in the ditch quilting along the squares with neutral thread, then added ties with grey wool yarn that will mat up into balls when the quilt is washed and hopefully will be very durable. I think the outcome was worth the effort.
The Nuts and Bolts Quilt Pattern is now available as a downloadable quilt pattern. Go forth, brave and noble souls, and make your own version of Nuts and Bolts. Upload your in process photos and get inspiration on Instagram by searching #wisecraftnutsandbolts. Keep in mine it’s definitely not just for baby clothes, it would be a fantastic scrap quilt as well.
I would love to create a custom quilt made from baby clothes for you and your family! I am offering a couple of spots for 2016. If you are interested in more details, see this listing.