Stash-busting baby quilt

I do not want to think about how many unfinished WIPs I have on the go. The list is frightening. So, of course, I started another baby quilt project over the Easter long weekend.

I am trying to be good, though, by using up fabrics that have been languishing in my stash. The challenge I set myself for this project was to use up all of the leftover bits of an April Cornell jelly roll that my friends chose to make my birthday quilt a few years ago. I think the fabric range was called Nature’s Notebook. It was a big 0 birthday. I will not tell you the number in front of the 0.

April Cornell Nature's Notebook patchwork quilt

For my big 0 birthday, my friends made me this quilt top.

Patchwork quilted bag

One friend, Sharon, also made me this little bag with the scraps. I used it to take my knitting on the plane.

I had some complete jelly roll strips and some leftover bits, and a few larger pieces that had been used in borders and backing. I decided to make a scrappy quilt as I had varying quantities of each fabric colour and design. To bulk out what I had, I pulled three fabrics from my stash to use as backing and binding. My initial idea was to make a baby quilt of scrappy squares with wonky stars of different sizes randomly placed about. Later, I changed my mind and made four equal-sized wonky stars.

April Cornell Nature's Notebook jelly roll

This quilt started life when I tried to use up some leftover jelly roll bits. First, I pulled three spotty fabrics from my stash to add to the leftovers.

That night, I was reading in bed when I noticed the scrappy triangle quilt on my bed. I realised that some of the fabrics in that quilt would work with what I had. The next morning, I raided my stash more carefully, looking for any other blues and yellows that might work with this colour scheme.

The white fabrics used in the stars were also dug from my scrap bag.

Blue and yellow fabrics

I needed more fabric, so I raided my stash for pastel blues and yellows.

I wanted the finished size to be no bigger than 42 inches square so I could use a single fabric width for the backing. I stuck with this size even when I abandoned the single-fabric backing plan in favour of a use-all-the-scraps pieced back. The finished quilt is 40 inches square (about 1 metre square).

If you want to re-create this quilt, you need:

  • 364 2½ inch squares in a variety of fabrics for the background (the equivalent of about half a jelly roll)
  • 20 6½ inch squares for the stars. (Four squares should be precisely 6½ inches for the wonky star centres, the rest can be slightly bigger or smaller, depending on the scraps you have available)
  • 1¼ yard square (115 centimetre square) of quilt wadding
  • 1¼ yard square (115 centimetre square) of fabric for backing
  • 4–5 2½ inch width-of-fabric strips for binding.

I started by randomly chain-piecing all of the small 2½ inch squares into 120 strips of three and two pairs. I then joined 96 of the strips of three to form 32 nine-patch blocks. (The remaining 24 strips of three and the two pairs were set aside for a border.) I then used eight of the nine-patch blocks and five star pieces to make each wonky star block. A helpful wonky star tutorial can be found on the Silly BooDilly blog.

Blue and yellow nine-patch blocks

I chain-pieced the 2½-inch squares into threes before making the nine-patch blocks.

The only trick to this quilt’s construction is how you iron each nine-patch block so the seams lock together nicely. Before adding the wonky star points, I planned each block upside down so I could see what was going on, and I did not iron the last two seams of each nine-patch until I had the layout worked out.

Wonky star with pieced nine-patch blocks

I planned each wonky star block from the back, so I could press the seams so that they would interlock neatly.

I left piecing the outside row of squares, the border, until last just so I did not end up with two scraps of the same colour next to each other.

Blue and yellow baby quilt with cat

Max helped by supervising.

Blue and yellow wonky stars baby quilt

I machine quilted the wonky stars in the ditch and in 1-inch intervals inside the stars. The background was quilted with a big loopy stipple.

Pieced quilt back

All of the leftover fabrics fitted together nicely to make a pieced quilt back.

This is a good project for beginners as you only need to be able to line up squares and sew a consistent quarter-inch seam. My sewing group often chooses wonky stars for our group quilts as even the most inexperienced sewer can manage points when there is no need to match them up. I have learned that some quilters find the words ‘stars’, ‘points’ and ‘triangles’ all very scary if not preceded by ‘wonky’.

I have never bought a jelly roll for my own projects. I am torn when it comes to jelly rolls. I love the idea of lots of different fabrics in pre-cut strips, but I dislike having to trim them up on all sides as the pinked edges are not precise. I guess they cannot be all bad – one jelly roll made two quilts and a bag.

Blue and yellow fabric

In the end, this is all I had left, and half of the top fabric was used to make the binding. To prove I am daft, I later trimmed the scraps into 1½-inch squares.

The colours are very muted pastels, so much so that I worried the overall effect was insipid. I did not have the stronger colours my friends had used in the birthday quilt and so I worried mine lacked contrast. It was only when I was admiring another’s quilt that I realised this is not a bad thing. It is restful, and babies need rest. Right?

16 thoughts on “Stash-busting baby quilt

  1. It’s lovely: restful, frugal and beautiful. All very good quilt attributes. I used to dislike jelly rolls, but have become a convert due to the enormous amount of time saved cutting. But I always end up with a few strays because I don’t like the colour or the pattern. One day I’ll find a use…

      • All together now: “Finished is better than perfect….”. I loathe unpicking and will find almost any excuse not to, so perhaps my need for accuracy is less acute than yoursI find myself buying packs where the edges aren’t pinked, which makes life a lot easier. Moda tends to pink, others don’t so much.

      • I too hate unpicking. Fortunately, I only had to unpick one tiny seam on this quilt, and that was because I had sewn two squares together with the wrong sides facing. Whoops! (Even someone who is not a perfectionist control freak would have fixed that.)

  2. Pingback: Waste not, want not | Granny Maud's Girl

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