Freehand baby quilt

My college friend Phil and his wife welcomed a new baby into the world last month. Phil’s only my second close friend to have a baby. After five or six friends have kids I might tire of planning baby presents, but for now it’s still a new and exciting venture. A coworker once suggested that blankets make good presents because the family can keep using them after babyhood (Bethany: take note of this possible future market for your circle blankets). The practicality of that suggestion stuck with me, so for Sarah I started planning a quilt.

 I explained on this blog that quilting is a little too precise for me. The right angles and straight lines, the meticulous measuring…try as I might things never matched up. And then you’re sitting there at the machine, trying to figure out how EVERY SINGLE seam on this long strip of squares could somehow not align with the seams on this other long strip of squares (insert image of a ten-year old Katie scrapping her doll quilt project in disgust). 

So I gave up on the meticulous stuff. No set pattern. No preset size. Only freehand machine quilting. The trick is getting the quilts to read “off-kilter-on-purpose” but not “novice 4-H project” (depending on the day, it’s a fine line). In the end I like them imperfect and I seem to be in good company. Craftzine advertised a class for “imperfect quilters” taught by artist Andrea Zuill. Blogger Artsy-Craftsy Babe writes about quilting and the beauty of imperfection. But my favorite quote is from Joe Cunningham at  Threads magazine, who writes that in a world of high-tech quilting tools and perfect symmetry, there’s something to be said for inexactitude: “…the appeal of freehand quilting is that it prolongs the fun part—designing and figuring out what you’re going to do next.” 

Welcome to the world baby Sarah!

I started with this bird fabric, and put it at the center of each of the four crazy squares

I put this quirky bird fabric at the center of each of the four crazy sqaures



Each crazy square is quilted in a freehand radial pattern



The backing is a starry-night-inspired black flannel



through the middle and along the top/bottom is some checkerboard stuff...


my office bookshelf does double-duty as a quilt stand




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  4. Manuela · January 5, 2010

    How wonderful! I am sure it will be treasured forever! I love the bird fabric, can you tell me where you got it from? Thank you!

    • foxflat · January 6, 2010

      Thanks for the kind words Manuela. Isn’t that bird fabric awesome? I found it at Piece by Piece ( in Eugene, OR. I don’t know the name of the designer, but the shop owners are very helpful and knowledgeable.

  5. Kat Weber · December 27, 2009

    I am planning or attempting to make a quilt in the near future. any good advice? Im wondering if I should just try freehand or find some sort of a pattern.


  6. bethany · November 13, 2009

    katie! i am super impressed… it is beautiful and will be much loved for sure! i think it was a good idea to integrate some dark/black into the quilt … it makes the dark backing work really well! was that intuitive or did you think about it?

    ps i think hand-made = more love!

    • foxflat · November 15, 2009

      I chose the black cotton with the squigglies first because the hand-drawn style went well with the bird fabric. Then when I went to choose a backing, none of the colors were right. I thought black might be good anyway for hiding stains. (I would never back something in a pastel solid for ME, much less a baby)

  7. barefootrooster · November 9, 2009

    this is gorgeous! you make it sound so easy in your description, but whoa — what a lovely quilt.

    • foxflat · November 9, 2009

      Aww thank you, that is very kind. Phil is one of seven children so I warned him that if he has a similarly large family I don’t think I can continue with the baby-present-precedent that I set here 🙂

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