I wasn’t able to do many handmade gifts for Christmas this year, but I did finish this quilt that I’m quite proud of!! I wasn’t planning on doing a tutorial when I came up with the idea. So I didn’t take many photos while making it, and this won’t be a “real” tutorial. But I wanted to share my idea and some knowledge I gained along the way!
I made this lap quilt for my father-in-law, and somehow conned my 20 month old into cooperating for the project. I didn’t even have to bribe her! It was a weirdly lucky day. Haha. It was also my first time ever making a legitimate quilt! *gasp*
I decided to make a quilt whose finished dimensions would be approximately 42″x60″ according to these handy guidelines. So for the quilt body I purchased 1 3/4 yds (or was it 1 1/2? 1 5/8? I can’t remember) of 45″ wide fabric – a quilting cotton for the front and flannel shirting for the back. The flannel shirting was soft and cozy, but the edges were super warped! Next time I would definitely go with a basic cotton flannel to avoid issues while aligning the edges. I also purchased the same yardage in a thin 100% cotton batting, and coordinating 100% cotton thread. This blanket is soooo organic ;)
To estimate how much contrasting fabric I would need for the “hug” silhouette applique (black quilting cotton), I measured my kids’ wingspan (fingertip to fingertip). It was less than 45″, so I figured I would just cut the applique out selvage-to-selvage. I then measured from the top of her head to mid-torso to estimate yardage. It was less than 18″, so I got half a yard of the black fabric just to be safe. It worked perfectly!
NOW, the difficult part…..tracing the child.
I have an “aisle runner” that I purchased a few years ago for the specific purpose of tracing/creating patterns. It is a semi-transparent material that is similar in feel to non-fusible interfacing. It doesn’t tear as easily as paper, which is why I love it and why it worked perfectly for this project!
I rolled it out on the floor, said “Hey! We’re going to lay down like this *lies face down with arms outstretched* and draw around your arms, okay?! It’s a special picture for Grandpa!” And just like that, the kiddo said “okay!” and laid down exactly as I had done. I can’t guarantee the same results with other children, and I can’t even guarantee that my daughter would allow this to happen again either! Haha.
I used a washable marker to trace around her fingers/hands, arms, neck, head, and face as best I could. then I let her jump up and scribble all over it with some more markers (she was in heaven).
Then I took a step back, realized it looked a little weird, and made some freehand adjustments. I even got the little one to lay down once more so I could re-trace her head in a different position. I decided to go for a stylized/cartoonish feel rather than trying to be ultra realistic. If you know you’re not going to be able to make it 100% perfect, it’s just going to end up looking stupid if you try to be uber detailed and all that. So go ahead and fudge it a little.
I took one more reference photo so I could add the signature whale spout atop her head….
And realized that I had taken a profile shot of her a few weeks before that I could use to freehand the face. Hallelujah!
After she went down for a nap (which included much despair over being forced to put the markers away….), I cleaned my tracing up a little more and cut out a pattern. I then traced the pattern onto the black fabric with a pencil and carefully cut it out! Then I placed and pinned it to the quilt top piece.
I applique’d the whole thing using the applique stitch on my machine. It is SO not perfect. The fingers ended up a bit pointy. Some details were totally lost. But you know what? Nobody cares! It still looks great!
After the top was finished, I sandwiched the batting between the flannel shirting and the applique top. Trimmed up the edges. Pinned it in place. And began the lengthy process of machine quilting the dang thing! You can’t tell in most photos, but the quilt top actually has a herringbone pattern. I used that as a guide to sew straight vertical lines through everything but the silhouette. I freehanded some funky curves through the silhouette applique last.
the applique is reversed from the pattern because I flipped the pattern piece upside down to cut it out! I liked it better with the head facing left, and it was easier to trace from the side of the aisle runner that didn’t have my scribbles all over it :P
detail on the applique and quilting
Seeing as I had never finished a quilt before, I had no idea where to start with binding. Luckily this tutorial is amazing and taught me all I needed to know! Pro tip: there is a reason they recommend to actually use a rotary mat and cutter while cutting your binding strips….I ignored this recommendation because I am lazy. I ended up with a super skinny binding because I had to go back and even out my edges later, which took a lot of the width off. The skinny binding then led to sore fingers and a much more frustrating binding process. DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, FOLKS.
so. hard. to fit all of that edge fluff inside that skinny binding!
Once the torturous binding was complete, I threw it in the wash so it would quilt up a bit and bam! Done! Beautiful and cozy! Throw it in the mail! Grandpa loves it and I think it is coveted by Grandma and Auntie as well ;) This quilt size ended up being perfect for my father-in-law. He is tall and has a favorite recliner that he always watches TV in, so this is long enough for him to snuggle up in and still cover his toes!
Anyway, hope that was interesting to at least some of you ;) I’m bummed I didn’t take more photos, I really love how it turned out! So here is a repeated picture from above. Haha.