Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The thrilling story of the Robot baby quilt

So, I made this quilt for my first nephew. By the time my first niece was around, I had my Spoonflower account and wanted to use that to create the top for a whole-cloth quilt for her. My brother is a giant nerd like I am, and sci-fi figures heavily into our mental space. So, robots!

Robot baby quilt

The backing & binding is flannel cut from a bed sheet, like the first one I did.

Robot baby quilt

As you can see, I actually finished & gave this quilt almost three years ago. Amazingly for me, I actually got it done in time for the baby shower, before she was born! But only just barely - and there's a reason why I never got any photos of it until now.

I spent a lot of time getting the design the way I wanted it. I decided doing a grid of five robots by seven robots would produce nicely-sized bots. So I sketched 17 different robots, each of which was colored in twice (one flipped the other direction), plus an 18th robot which was only used once. Can you find the unique robot? Hint - it's a reference to a sci-fi TV show! My brother's favorite show, in fact. Next, I got the robots into the grid - I tried to make sure that duplicate robots didn't end up in the same column or row, and that there were no groupings dominated by a single color. It ended up being like a very colorful form of Sudoku. I suppose it would have been easier if I'd placed the robots first, and then colored, but no matter!

By the time I finished all that, there was no time to wait for a proof from Spoonflower before ordering the final cloth. There are a few tweaks I would have made...but heck, I'm pretty sure if I don't point those things out, nobody else would notice. So I'll say no more.

By the time I had the printed top delivered, and assembled it for quilting, there wasn't much time before the shower. All our family is up in Northern California, so we were going to visit my husband's family for a day or two on the way to the shower. I made sure to make the bias tape for the binding before we left since that's pretty much impossible to make on the road. I was still furiously quilting at the start of the trip. I went with a simple quilting scheme - an oval around each robot. I finished that up at my mother-in-law's house and started on the binding. The day of the baby shower, we left her house to drive to the town where the shower was (two hours away) and I kept sewing the binding in the car. I think I had two sides left where the binding needed to be sewn to the back when we arrived at my mother's house, just an hour or two before we needed to go to my brother's house for the shower!

Next, it got really hilarious. My brother, completely unaware of my frantic efforts to finish sewing, kept calling and asking me to prep things for the shower! I can't remember all of it, but at least one request was to look through our parents' stuff to find some obscure AV cable for the music setup he wanted to use for the shower. I delegated to mom instead, ha ha.

I still had a few inches to sew when we had to leave to make it to my brother's house on time - about 10 minutes away. I grabbed a gift bag, so I could just shove the blanket in and not have to wrap it, and kept sewing in the car. I finished just as we pulled in to their street and shoved it in the bag. That is cutting it close!

It was a hit. I had kept the whole thing a surprise from my brother and sister-in-law, so they were delighted to realize that I had not only sewn the quilt, but drawn the design as well. My brother recognized my drawing style. They later told me that it made a fun playmat as well - my niece would sit on it and poke at the robots.

Since the party was so hectic, and I only had the finished quilt in my possession for about five seconds, I didn't have a chance to get a picture of it. I never managed to remember to get a picture at visits after that either. However, this year at Thanksgiving I finally was able to make some time and grabbed a few quick snaps.

Robot baby quilt

Hopefully I'll have a few more finished quilts to post here soon!

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