Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Testing the waters...

Do you ever have one of those days when things just seem to go smoothly and happily along? Today has been one of those days for me. I'm blogging with a smile. I'm even getting a little time to work on my little undersea-themed baby quilt.

For this quilt, I'm doing something a little different than the norm. A couple of years ago, I made a quilt using Elizabeth Hartman's "Simple Modern Baby Quilt" pattern (I don't think it is available anymore). She created that pattern with minkee/cuddle/chenille fabric in mind for use as the backing. She posits that in order to keep the backing super soft (and maybe also to avoid having to deal with the stretch that often goes with those specialty fabrics), it is better to do all of the quilting on just the top two layers, and then add the back at the point when one is ready to put on the binding.

I followed all of her instructions for my version and it turned out just fine. Even so, I couldn't help but wonder about the potential for "tenting" when one doesn't in some way attach the back to the front except at the sides. But I also really get that if you invest in something super cuddly for the back, you want it to stay super cuddly and not get all flattened out and stiff from quilting all over it. So for this quilt, I'm trying to see if I can find a happy medium between the two.

After completing my top, I basted it to just the batting and did the majority of my quilting. (Forgive my pictures today... there was thunder, lightning, rain and hail going on outside, so the light was definitely not on my side.)

mostly-quilted octopus ready for stage two quilting
Here you can see my mostly-quilted octopus. A note about the starch applique technique I used-- holy cow, was it weird to quilt through! I wonder if I'm supposed to somehow try and remove the starch before quilting? But then, couldn't that potentially cause a lot of distortion? I don't know. But it was weird quilting it. I guess we'll see how it does once it's complete and all washed up.

hand basted edges
Anyway-- now I've taken my mostly-quilted top/batting and have basted it to my minkee backing. I used safety pins in the center, using them only to stabilize the areas in which I plan to do some additional quilting. Then I went back to Elizabeth Hartman's instructions, pinning and hand basting along all of the edges in order to stabilize them. Initially I was concerned about how much effort/time it would take to hand baste those edges, but it turned out to be no big deal and went very quickly.

Now I'm ready to do my last bit of quilting. My hope is that just doing a minimal amount with all three layers will help keep the back nice and soft while at the same time stabilizing it and preventing it from tenting. So I'm just going to quilt around my applique shapes and a few straight lines. The goal is nice and flat but still soft and cuddly. I'll let you know how it goes!


  1. I made a quilt for my daughter with a minkee back and did straight line quilting about two inches apart, and it is still lovely and soft. I think you'll be just fine with your plan, and it will be really nice.

  2. Soooooo cute! I can't wait to see how your experiment turns out.

  3. I love your posts about this experiment. It's super helpful! I hope it all works out!!

  4. I am currently quilting a lap sized quilt that is backed in brown minkee fabric. I'm doing a small stipling pattern and so far (half way done) the back is still soft and smooth! Biggest problem I'm having with it is keeping the cat off it while I'm working on it! He loves the minkee fabric!

  5. Looks good so far. You are brave to work with the minkee.

  6. Sounds like a good plan for the quilting. I would also be hesitant not to have the backing attached at all except for the binding. I've used Minkee a couple of times on baby quilts, but I opted to use especially thick batting and I tied them. It got me out of the quiting-with-Minkee dilemma! Your quilt looks really cute - can't wait to see the finished product!