Monday, July 7, 2014


When my hairstylist Ali told me she was going to have a baby, almost the first thing out of my mouth was....Well, I'll have to make it a blanket.  She was thrilled.  I have been going to her long enough that she has seen several baby blankets that I have made for family members.  I told her as soon as she knew if she were having a boy or girl and had decided her color scheme, to let me know so I could get started on it. She assured me she would.

I thought long and hard about what design pattern I wanted to make for "him".  I had so many ideas and there were so many possibilities, but I finally decided to make him an "I Spy/Split Rail Fence" blanket.  I used a similar pattern for the first quilt I made for my oldest grandson Colby when he grew out of his baby bed and was ready for a youth bed. See requirements for this quilt below.

After I chose my pattern, the next step was to choose the fabric.  I like to make baby quilts so that they can be used and enjoyed even after the baby is bigger.  I also like to use vivid colors. The rail fence pattern is a favorite but I wanted to choose a print that had images that he could enjoy "looking at".  Here are the prints I chose. The brown would be perfect for the backing, while the striped and the orange would work for the split rails. The dinosaur print would provide him with many opportunities for discovery.

The dinosaur print caused me some thought about how to cut the squares.  You can see that the different images are irregularly placed on the material.  Remember I wanted the print to be used as an "I Spy" pattern.  

After much thought, I decided to simply cut the strips across the width of the material instead of "fussy cutting" all of the squares...all I had to do was decide where to cut the first strip. (I had bought twice the amount of material I needed just in case I decided to "fussy cut".)

Even though I decided to cut the strips across the width, I did decide to "fussy cut" the squares in the strips so that each square would contain an image he could "spy".

Once I had all 48 squares cut, I started placing them together to make the four-square "foursie".  I laid out all 48 squares before I started sewing them to make sure I wouldn't have duplicate images in the same four-square.

To ensure that my seams were uniform, I stuck a piece of blue painter's tape to use as a 1/4 inch guide when sewing.

My first "foursie" I Spy block sewed and pressed.


and back.....Remember to press the seams of the "twosies" in opposite directions so that the seams "nest" perfectly when sewing them together to make the "foursie".

I actually made all of the "foursies" before I cut out the rails and the posts.

The posts were simple enough because I just needed to cut 16 -- 5 inch squares.  To accomplish that I just needed to cut two 5 - inch wide strips across the width of the material and then cut 8 squares (5 - inches) from each strip.

The railing were a little different.  I wanted the pattern on the material to run the length of the rail (so that it looked like a rail).  All I had to do was cut the strips as wide as the rails were long. This isn't that difficult, I just needed to use two rulers to measure the 9 - 1/2 inches (the length of the rails) to cut my strips. 

Then I cut these 9 - 1/2 inch wide strips into 5 - inch strips making each piece a  9 - 1/2 x 5 - inch rectangle.

Something to remember.....after you cut the strips always start cutting the squares or rectangles from the selvage ends.  You can sometimes get another piece cut when you open up the fold (with a scrap leftover for your next project).

Once I had the rails and posts cut out I laid out the entire quilt to see how it was going to look. 

It was actually at this point that I decided to add the rails and posts across the top and "frame" the entire quilt. I had to cut 4 more posts (5 - inch squares from the brown) and 3 more rails (2 from the orange and 1 from the stripe).

Before sewing the strips together I squared up the foursies by checking all four sides making sure they measured 4-3/4 inches from center seam, cutting away any excess.

I worked across the blanket making strips that would then be sewn together to finish the top. I pressed the seams toward the rails on the strip with the foursies. Then on the strips with the posts and rails, I pressed each seam toward the post. This let the seams "nest" when I sewed the strips together to finish the top.  

When I bought the material for the backing, I planned on twice the length of the quilt top since the finished quilt top was going to be more than 45 inches wide. After I got the top finished, I decided I didn't really want to have a seam on the back and if I cut the outer rails in half, it would be just the right size to fit the width of the backing material. 

Asking for a second opinion from my husband that is exactly what I decided to do. I cut the outer edge of the quilt to measure 2-1/2 inches from the inner piece.

The top finished, I next went over to the church where I could put two tables together and have a surface big enough for the entire quilt.

First taping down the backing (right side down....

Then the batting down on top of it. (TIP--I threw the batting in the dryer before I went over to the church to get the wrinkles out. Worked great ... just about 5 or 10 minutes on low.)

And finally the top over that.

All that I had left to do, was pin the layers together with safety pins...lots of safety pins.

To machine quilt the blanket, I made an "X" in each brown post. (I started in the center of the quilt and worked out.)

I used scotch tape to use as a guide for the diagonal lines.

I stitched the foursies first before I did the rails. I stitched across the foursie on both sides the same distance from the seams.
For the rails I stitched inside them 3/8 inch. For both the foursies and the rails, I spaced about 6 - 8 quilters straight pins to keep the top from creeping (even with my walking foot on my machine).

You can see the finished machine quilting in the next picture.
My last decision was which material to use for the binding.  I wanted to have the colors from the dinosaur print.  Quilting Friend Kay liked the idea of the striped print I used for one of the rails.  Friend Fran liked using the brown backing.  So I cut the two prints and tacked them on to see what I thought. I'm glad I did this before I didn't like either one of them.  My husband suggested buying a red or yellow/gold (colors from the dinosaur print), but I told him I didn't want to buy any more material and had decided the brown would look good as Fran had suggested.

Using my ruler to get a 45 degree angle, I taped the outer posts to finish the border...Remember I trimmed the posts and rails to make a border for the quilt.

Cutting the brown material for strips to make the binding, I used a tip I learned from Quilting Friend Dorothy..
The blue painter's tape marks 2 inches on the ruler to speed up the process of cutting the strips.  Quilting Friend Kay started me using 2 - inch cut strips to make binding instead of the 2-1/2 - inch strips I used to use.
I love how neatly it folds around to make the binding.

Another tip I learned from Kay is using fine line washable markers instead of a tracing pencil.

Binding sewed on and slip stitched on the back, Baby B's blanket was finished.

Front and back views

And the best news ever, Ali loved it. She posted this picture on Facebook
... waiting for Beckett to make his entrance into this world.

Specifics needed to duplicate this particular pattern using material that is 44 - 45 inches wide:

Remember I decided to cut the border (rails and posts) down to make a finished 2 inch border after I had finished the top.

I Spy/Split Rail Fence (41 x 54-1/2 inches)

Rails - 2 prints - cut 16 rectangular strips 9 - 1/2  x  5 - inches from each

Posts - coordinating print with rails - cut 20 squares (5 inches each)

I - Spy blocks - picture print material - cut 48 squares (5 inches each)

Material needed for these sizes:

Rails - 2/3 yd for each (if using 1 print - 1-1/4 yds)

Posts  - 1/2 yd

I - Spy blocks - picture print - at least 1 yard ... the material was on sale that I bought so I bought 2 yards to be able to "fussy" cut each square if I wanted to.

Backing - I bought 4 yards but didn't use all of it since I was able to cut down the top so that I could use the width of the material for the backing.  The 2-1/2 yards would be enough to cut both the binding and the squares for the posts if you do as I did.

If you have any questions, please let me know.  I will try to answer them as soon as possible.  I have read and reread it so many times, and find different ways to write it every time I read it.

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