Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tile Tango Baby Quilt

I had fun last weekend with a baby quilt for my niece and her husband, who are first time expectant parents.  This was such a fun quilt to work on, and it has an even better story.  Thad and Charlene (the expectant parents) married a few years ago.  While attending a reception in their honor, I met Thad's mother, Jane.  Jane contacted me a few months ago with this "opportunity".

 The story starts 36 years ago when Jane was pregnant with Thad.  Her friends gave her a baby shower and each woman who attended the shower made a quilt block.  They gave Jane the blocks at the shower.  (Make a note.... Don't give a pregnant new mother who is not a quilter a pile of blocks... make the quilt for her!).  Jane has kept the blocks for all these years.  She cherished them, but always felt badly that she hadn't made anything with them.  I'm so glad that she called me!

I love a good challenge (good thing!).  These blocks were all different sizes and there were 13 of them! Some are painted, some are embroidered, some appliqued.

We don't know the gender of the baby, so I used 30's prints in many different colors, a white background, and yellow border fabric.


I showed Jane several patterns, and she liked the Tile Tango pattern from Atkinson Designs. (On sale through the end of April, 2012).

The cool thing about this pattern is that I could use it to set 13 blocks.  If you count the tiles, the first 5 rows have 13 "framed" 9-patch blocks.  This also makes a good size for a baby quilt.

I also thought this would be a good pattern to modify slightly to accommodate slightly different sizes of blocks.

 The pattern calls for framing 9-patch blocks and setting them with solid background blocks.  But I framed the focus blocks and set them with 9-patch blocks in between the frames.

To make the 9-patches, the pattern takes you through the process of sewing strips together, sub-cutting them, and then using those pieces to make the blocks.

So far so good.... now on to the fun part!

I arranged, and re-arranged, and  re-re-re-re-rearranged the blocks until I was happy with them.  I had some friends with me and one of them (thanks, Jean!) pointed out that each of the things in the blocks (animals, trains, people, etc) should be facing in toward the center.  We also balanced color and size of designs as we played with the placement and frame colors.  It was very helpful to do this with a room full of friends!.

For some of the smaller blocks, I made the frames larger, and for some, I added to the white background.  One of the reasons that I used the 9-patch blocks is that they distracted the viewer a bit so that the different sizes of frames and focus blocks weren't as obvious.

The focus blocks were on very thin fabric- I think they are probably poly-cotton that was so popular in the 70's.

I backed them with a piece of the white background fabric so that they would be more stable and so that you could not see through them, which would have shown the seams.

Once I had the focus blocks framed, and the 9-patches made, this quilt went together in a flash.

My original plan was to give the quilt 2 borders- a smaller white inner border and a larger yellow outer border.  But I never make that final decision until I have the center of the quilt finished.  Then I lay out the border fabrics and "audition" them. When I did that, I decided to leave out the white inner border.  I thought it looked best with the the yellow from the 9-patches blending into the border.  This created the illusion of the blocks "floating" over the background.

Such a fun project!  Now to quilt it and send it off to Jane so she can present it to her new grandchild (and his or her parents, of course).  I hope that some of the women who made these blocks see the quilt and remember their gift of 36 years ago! 

I also have a funny story to tell you about Thad and Charlene's first date.  Thad had just met Char and thought it would be interesting to do a quick internet search to see if anything about her popped up.  Char is a doctor and his search did yield a few things- mostly relating to her professional life.  But I had once mentioned a quilt that her sister, Melanie, made for her.  This took him to my website.  So- by their first date, I think Thad knew as much about me as he did about Charlene!  Little did he know that I would become his Aunt (by marriage)!

Congrats to Charlene and Thad!  We're all on "high alert" waiting to hear baby news!  (Let's hope I get the quilt finished before the baby arrives.)


Elizabeth said...

You did wonderful work bringing all the special blocks together. The quilt top looks really beautiful. I have that pattern, and have made several baby quilts with it, but none of them are as beautiful and full of memories as the one you did.

Trines hobby said...

En flott gave og en god historie, dette blir et pent teppe til babyen.

Debbie said...

What a wonderful project, Sue. You and Jane are lucky that she chose you. It came out great. I so enjoyed reading this post!

PNWBookGirl said...

That is so cute!