My husband’s niece is pregnant, and I planned to make her baby a quilt as soon as I heard the good news. When I saw her at my stepdaughter’s wedding in June, she had a dainty little baby bump. When we came home from our UK trip, I saw a photo of her on Facebook and freaked out. ‘How did her tummy get that big so quickly? I thought I had until November to finish this! Eeek! Sew faster! Sew faster!’
I had tried to be organised by starting a baby quilt before she announced the gender. I sewed this pink quilt top, knowing I had a 50 per cent chance of being right about it being a girl. Wrong!
But I had another plan in the wings: an economy block quilt with fussy-cut pictures in the centres.
Does anyone know where the name ‘economy block’ comes from? I suspect that in my case it is because over the years I have spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small developing nation’s economy on fabric.
Like my recent pink baby quilt, this quilt started with the backing fabric. I bought 1½ metres on sale as I thought it would be a good baby quilt back, and I made enough blocks to fit the backing I had. It is probably too long for a crib, but it will fold.
When choosing the colours for the top, I pulled out everything blue, green and neutral. I forgot to open the drawer where I had my Union Jack quilt fabrics set aside, so navy blue missed the cut. In its place, I added a little grey. I am glad I could not find the navy; I think it works without.
I upended my scrap box and stash, and cut squares until I had enough. I started by fussy cutting 54 squares of fabric for the centres. Each one is at least 3½ inches squares, sometimes a whisker larger to allow a margin for error.
I then selected 54 other fabrics, very roughly sorted into dark and light colours, and cut three 5-inch squares from each fabric. One 5-inch square was cut in quarters on the diagonal to become the first frame around the centre. The remaining two 5-inch squares were cut once on the diagonal to make four triangles.
I foundation paper pieced the blocks using this template. I could have made economy blocks without paper, I know, but I like how easily the blocks come together this way – without any pins or marking centres – and I do not mind the few minutes spent ripping out paper.
In fact, the only time I needed accuracy was when trimming the blocks and joining them to make sure the points and corners all lined up neatly. Matching the slightly bulky points was the only tricky bit. In a move that is rare for me, I ironed those seams open to help spread the bulk.
I do not waste ink or photocopy paper when foundation piecing. To make 54 blocks, I printed six copies of the template and stapled each one on top of 8–10 sheets of a cheap notepad. I transferred the design through all the layers by machine sewing along the lines with no thread and an old blunt needle to punch the markings.
Please note that I free-motion quilted it all by myself! Like a proper grown-up quilter! I had plans to add fun things like the outlines of stars and aeroplanes randomly in the quilting, but my husband agreed that none of that fancy-pants stuff would be noticeable among the riot of colour and pattern, so I went with simple circular loops.
It is now ready to post off to Canada, and the baby is not due for another two or three weeks. I need not have freaked out after all.