12 November 2010

baby shower gift: cut chenille baby blanket

I love this internet thing we have. Seriously, where did I get my project ideas before I entered Blogville? My imagination? Psh.

There are so many great ideas other people have. And I get some great ones right to my Google Reader inbox. Take this blanket. This "Heirloom Cut Chenille Baby Blanket" from Aesthetic Nest. As soon as I saw it, I got so excited to make it for my new baby nephew. (The one who attended this swanky baby shower in utero.) If you want to make one, definitely click over to Aesthetic Nest and check out her tutorial. It's very easy to follow.

But stay here first, to check out my pics and some notes on the process. :)

For this blanket, I used 1 1/2 yards of printed cotton. Not the super thin quilting fabric, but one with slightly heavier weight. It has to withstand a lot of stitching.

I also used 1 1/2 yards each of three flannels in colors that coordinated with my printed cotton. Patterns don't matter, as they won't show much.

Oh, and binding of some sort, and thread. Lots of thread.

For me, the hardest part of this whole process was laying out the fabric. That flannel is darn sticky, and positioning layer upon layer was a two-person job. (Thanks, Hubs.) The nice thing is that you don't have to be too precise–uneven cutting, variations in fabric, etc. will be trimmed off later. 

I didn't pay much attention to the order of flannels, because the quilt in the original post didn't seem to have any one color stand out. However, I freaked out a little when I saw the print side against the green polka dot. Yikes! But I wasn't worried enough to make the effort of re-layering the flannel, so I forged ahead.

Before I started sewing, I pinned all the layers of fabric together in hopes that there would be minimal shifting. The fabric still shifted quite a bit, but less than I expected. I placed pins perpendicular to the fabric edges, and was still finding pins in the rug a week later. I think placing the pins parallel to the cut edges would be better.

When you're ready to go, use a measuring tape, string, yardstick, etc. to mark one center diagonal line, from corner to corner. Mark on the flannel side, and then sew along your line.

For all subsequent rows, turn the fabric over so the printed side is up. This is the side you want to look nice. The flannel side will be more forgiving of thread tension issues and the like.

Just look at those pretty channels! I used the presser foot as my guide to make 1/2" rows of stitching. It is a lot of sewing and turning. I alternated sides (stitching one row at a time on either side of the center line). This helped me avoid gathering too much fabric in the center cavity (what's that called, anyway?) of the machine.

Check your bobbin frequently! Like, every row. It empties quickly. Do newer machines have some kind of alarm to tell you when your bobbin is running out of thread? Cuz that would be super cool.

The quilting is monotonous, but you'll find a rhythm. Don't forget to get up and take a break every 30 minutes or so. And check your bobbin when you come back. :)

 I just loved the feel of it at this stage. I couldn't stop touching it!
This is when I nipped off all the extra threads on the edges.

Next comes cutting the flannel. This is pretty terrifying, as you have to slide your scissors through each channel and cut the flannel, but not the printed cotton. I had to keep looking underneath and checking to make sure I wasn't cutting the cotton. The author of the original post used a special chenille cutter, that would probably be easier, but I managed just fine with good fabric scissors.

After cutting comes binding. I'm not going to go into that. But just Google "binding a quilt" and you'll get a plethora of tutorials.

After the binding is finished, hold your breath and toss it in the washing machine...and the dryer. When it comes out of the dryer, magic will have happened:

So pretty, right? The green is a little more dominant than I'd like. But I'm confident that with repeated washings, the chenille will get fluffier and the colors will even out. And all you moms know that baby blankets get washed quite often, so I'm not worried. :)

It was quite a hit at the shower. My sister (nephew) received three other handmade blankets from other crafty friends. What a lucky kid!

Update 1 Jan 2011
Per reader request, here are the sources for the fabrics:

I bought all the fabric from Fabric Depot in Portland, OR. https://www.fabricdepot.com/

They currently have the green flannel available online. 
Both the green and orange flannel were from David Textiles.

The brown flannel is "Tweet! Tweet!" S#G4005 by Hoffman California International Fabrics (2009). http://www.hoffmanfabrics.com

The print fabric is Riley Blake Designs Pattern C7061 WHEELS by My Mind's Eye (2009). http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com