Tiny quilts finished

This week I put together a set of seven 10 x 14″ mini quilts for use by premature babies in our local hospital. These were fun, easy things to make.

We were asked to minimise piecing seams and quilting lines to create a smooth surface. The babies will lie on top of the quilts rather than under them so they are more like mattress pads than true quilts I suppose.

I used the bagging out method to assemble them and then just top stitched around the edge to both seal the turning gap and quilt the finished piece.

This was a lovely way to use up leftover batting pieces and some of my stash. Hopefully they’ll be useful and will add some colour and fun for worried parents with their poorly babies. Whilst my little one keeps growing safe inside me and I contemplate becoming a mum, it feels nice to be able to do something for new parents who are having a scary time.

I used different fabrics for each side to give the parents some choice. Here are my two favourite combinations:


Hot/cold rice bags

A quick and easy finish today. With thoughts of getting ready for giving birth starting to loom in my mind I thought it might be useful to have a small stock of rice bags that could be quickly heated up in the microwave (or pulled out of the freezer) to provide topical heat or cold to provide comfort during early labour.

I used some of the leftover scraps of brushed cotton from Pip’s car seat blanket to make the outer covers for these bags. I love how soft these fabrics are so I thought it might be an added niceness for the bags when I’m feeling uncomfy. The bags are really scrappy, which I like. The sizes are also determined by the scrap pieces I had available. It was a real scrap happy project this one and just made me feel good.

I pieced together a single length of fabric with whatever scraps fit together and turned the two short edges over (with top stitching to finish the edges).

Then I turned the piece right side up and folded roughly 1.5″ over on one short end. I then brought the other end up to meet it.

All that’s then needed is to see down both sides and turn the right way out. I ended up making four slightly different sized covers.

I’m planning to add some aromatherapy oils to help with relaxation during labour. I love lavender so that will feature quite heavily as a relaxation aid. Clary Sage is also recommended as a labour aid so I’m going to try that too. I don’t actually know if I like the smell though because they recommend you avoid clary sage during pregnancy just in case it causes early labour. Each bag has a thin cotton lining that holds the rice. The brushed cotton outer is removable so it can be washed to remove the oil once I’m done with them. Sooner or later I’ll get to see how well they work and whether they help once the time comes.

March ‘One Monthly Goal’ Setting

A simple goal for this month: At least 4 more blocks for my I Spy quilt.

I’m linking up with Elm Street Quilts March OMG page.

I’d like to get lots of blocks done this month, but right now I only have the fabric for 4 blocks. I’ll be using up the rest of the images cut from the fat quarters I bought last month (blogged about here).

If I get more fabric I’ll try and do a few more blocks. Just to be on the safe side though, the goal is to complete the four blocks I know I can definitely do.

This quilt has been fun to make so far. It’s giving me lots of practice at machine applique and fussy cutting. I also love working with the brilliantly bright colours from right across the rainbow that are going into it. The finished quilt will be similar to this Jigsaw quilt I made last year. However, unlike that Jigsaw quilt, I’m not planning to have any large focus blocks in the new I Spy quilt so it’s proving challenging to find the necessary 64 unique images I want for the different blocks.

Car Seat Blanket

We’re full steam ahead with getting everything prepped for the upcoming arriving of our first baby (codename Pip).

Now that we have a car seat I was keen to make my own version of a very cleverly designed car seat blanket that I’d seen online here. I did basically follow the tutorial provided except that I didn’t include a hood.

I used two different spotty brushed cotton fabrics. I didn’t include any batting at all between the layers. This was partly because I thought it would be warm enough for our climate with just the fabric layers, and also because I didn’t want to add extra fluffiness underneath the harness.

My reason for wanting to make a bespoke car seat blanket is that I’ve seen a lot of warnings about the dangers of wrapping babies up warm in lots of layers or fluffy suits before putting them in the harness. In the event of an accident, the fluffy layers will just compress and mean that the harness is not tight enough to hold the baby. There have been reported cases of babies then slipping out of the seat at the exact moment you desperately need them to be held securely. The advice given is to make sure that any blankets or warm layers are outside the harness so you can tighten it securely against the baby without worrying about extra layers creating slack. Of course the practical problem with blankets sitting outside the harness is that they can be kicked off or dislodged by a squirming baby. So when I came across a design for a blanket that had just one flat layer beneath the baby and then lots to wrap around the outside of the harness for warmth it seemed like a fantastic solution.

I ordered a metre of each fabric. The first one I lay out right side facing up. The second one I squared up and then folded into quarters. I trimmed the outside edges to round the corners and bring the middle of each side in a little bit.


I then unfolded the top fabric on top of the bottom fabric (right sides facing). I then smoothed them both out and pinned all around the edges to secure them together. Don’t forget to mark a opening space to help with turning later.  I use two pins perpendicular to the edge to mark the start and end of the opening I want to leave.


Then I simply sewed all around the edge of the top fabric, leaving approx 3/8″ seam allowance. I then trimmed the bottom fabric to match the shape of the top fabric and then turned the fabrics inside out through the hole.

The next job was pressing the seams flat and then top stitching all around the blanket (including the opening). This both helps to stabilise the edges and prevent bagging, and it seals the hole neatly.

The next step was a little fiddly. I lay the blanket into the car seat and marked all places where the straps came out. I double and tripled checked my marks carefully here. I extended each line to make them a little longer than the holes in the car seat to give me a little flexibility. I also double checked the symmetry down the centre of the blanket to catch any weird wrinkles or ripples that might have introduced distortion.

When I was confident with my marking I then used a tiny tine zigzag stitch to sew a rectangle 1/4″ on each side around each line. You can see in the picture below I tried a straight stitch for the first one, but quickly changed to a zigzag. I just thought it would be better for preventing fraying or distortion during use.


Once I’d stitched all the boxes I then cut open the lines in the centre of each box. I found the best technique for this was to put a pin at the far end to ensure I didn’t accidentally cut too far. I then used the seam ripper to make an initial hole for the start of the cut.


Then I used a small sharp pair of scissors to cut a neat line up to the pin.


Then it was time for the moment of truth. I installed the blanket into the empty car seat. At the moment it lies underneath the newborn insert. This means it will still work once he has outgrown that initial extra protection and we’ve removed it. **Don’t ask me why it is okay to have a massive padded newborn insert beneath the harness, but not a snuggly snowsuit. I don’t understand that inconsistent logic**.


All of my cuts were in the perfect place. Whoop Whoop!!! I did a little happy dance to celebrate and then tested the blanket using a conveniently newborn sized teddy bear named Alfred.


Doesn’t he look snuggly!

I can’t wait for my little Pip to use this himself when he decides to come and join us out here in the big wide world.

Storage Box #2

The second storage box for the nursery is now finished. This one was definitely quickly and easier to assemble than the first one. Maybe it was the different outer fabric (perhaps a little stiffer), but it just behaved better whilst being sewn.

The lining is still not lying perfectly. This time I think the problem is that it is too small. I might have used too much creating the overturn at the top. I’m happy with the box overall though. It will do the job nicely.

So that’s two storage boxes finished for my February One Monthly Goal.

Storage Box #1

I’ve made a first attempt at a fabric storage box for the new nursery. It counts as my One Monthly Finish for February but I’m hoping I’ll have another to go with it before the month is out. The box isn’t bad so I’ll definitely use it, but a few design tweaks will be needed for subsequent attempts.

Fusible Interfacing

This project was my first time using a heavyweight fusible interfacing to stiffen the fabric. I’ve used non-fusible stiffeners (peltex) before when making bags but I hoped a fusible version might prove easier to control during sewing and easier to keep smooth when turning the box the right way out. It was definitely much easier during sewing but did crinkle a little during turning. Some judicious pressing with a hot iron solved most of the creases in the final thing. The only problem is that the finished box is still a bit sloppier than I would like. I think for next box I might use two layers of interfacing. I’ll trim the second layer so it doesn’t get added to the seam allowance and create more bulk in the corners.


This is a mess. The lining is far too baggy. Right now I’m not sure why. Although I cut both then outer and lining fabrics the same size I used a larger seam allowance for the lining to try and absorb the bulk (5/8ths for lining versus 4/8ths for outer). I also turned the top edge of the lining over to make it visible on the outside of the box. There’s still just way too much of it inside though and it won’t sit tidy in the corners.

For the next box I’m going to cut the lining fabric 1/4 inch smaller than the outer on each side and trim the seam allowance before assembling the box. This should reduce the bulk in the seams and so let it lie flatter. I’ll probably also increase the depth of how far the lining overhangs the top outer edge. I like the lining fabric (one of my grandmother’s old sheets) so I’m very happy for it to be visible. If necessary I might try putting some stay stitches in the corners of the assembled box to anchor the lining down. I would prefer to get the sizing right instead though.

Fingers crossed these design tweaks will improve the second box.

Pip’s I Spy Quilt – Blocks 40-46

Armed with my new fabrics I made up six new blocks this week. Some how getting into the 40’s makes my target of 64 blocks seem a lot closer than it did. Now I’m having to keep an eye on the balance of background colours to make sure I keep a steady rainbow effect. It’s been hard keeping my natural tendency to gravitate towards blues and greens under control.

The new fabrics have a nice range of different images so I was able to get multiple blocks out of the same fabric without breaking my rule of no repeated images. The hedgehogs are precariously close to a repeated image, but my logic is that the different organisation of the applique circles and the inclusion of one little hedgehog in a different pose makes the two blocks ever so slightly different from each other. It’s enough (I’m getting desperate).


I really like the little pigs. The one rolling in mud if particularly cute. I’m also quite glad to be able to sneak a little bit of pink fabric in. I’m not a big fan of pink myself anyway, and the ultrasound was pretty definitive that Pip will be a boy so I didn’t want lots of pink in the quilt. However, I have got purple blocks already made up so I think one little pink muddy pig square will be ok.