Quilt Finish: Strawberry Hotcakes

I had a pretty clear vision for this quilt project. I wanted to make two quilts at the same time, nearly identical, from simple patchwork for two, close work colleagues that recently went on paternity leave. And they needed to be done within two weeks. Oh. I had been hoarding my Noteworthy fabric for years, so it was the obvious choice as the base fabric bundle. However, it just felt so Meghan-Trainor-pastel. That’s not an insult, rather a pretty apt description of a safe, predictable, and expected colour scheme for a baby quilt. Safe. Predictable. Expected. Not really three words that are usually used to describe lil’ ole me! I needed to turn up the volume, while keeping the treble dial in the traditional lane.

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So I drifted through my stash, back in time to find the ever reliable Notting Hill by Joel Dewberry. It is the fabric range that keeps on giving, and in my opinion, his best work ever! I started throwing in pieces from the magenta colour way, and it was exactly the look I wanted. It lifted the pink to a sharper tone, and picked up the tangerine detailing found in many of the Noteworthy prints. I was even surprised that the cream found in both ranges (manufactured by Moda and Free Spirit) was perfectly complimentary. On Instagram I coined the hashtag #whennottinghillmetnoteworthy inspired by one of my favourite movies! (“I’ll have what she’s having!”) Basically, these two fabric ranges combined to provide just the sweet edge I was looking to create. Kismet!

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For each quilt, I decided to make 12.5″ patchwork blocks, with sixteen 3.5″ squares in each. This meant I needed to make sixteen patchwork blocks (4 x 4) to make a square 48″ quilt top. I set about cutting approximately the same number of 3.5″ x 13″ strips from eighteen different fabrics. I cut up all of the fabric needed for both quilts. The idea being that I sew four strips together along the longest edge, and then cross cut four sections from each strip set. I made each strip 13″ long, because you know, it’s a half inch longer than the 12.5″ block, so that’s more than enough. I thought I was being so smart (keep reading).

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Um. If anyone was able to follow along with the above (I know, explaining math via words is hard!) you might have noticed my faulty logic. You can’t very well cut four 3.5″ strips from fabric that is 13″ long. You’d need at least 14″ to do that! (3.5+3.5+3.5+3.5=14) You might say that I had a mild rage session upon discovering my error. Every strip set was cut out! No fabric left! Design disaster! My friends Angie and Kristy talked me off the ledge. In the infamous words of Tim Gunn, “This is a make it work moment.” How’d he get so smart?

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So having 13″ to work with, meant I was able to cut out three 3.5″ strip sets and one that was 2.25″. (I forfeited 0.25″ to ensure the edges were squared up). So while I could have just made the quilts smaller, I would have wasted that extra 2.25″ strip set. Instead, I decided to break up all that patchwork with a Molli-Sparkles-pink border (otherwise known as Art Gallery Pure Elements in Raspberry Rose), and then use that extra 2.25″ strip set to carry the patchwork beyond the border. I cut the border out at 1.75″, so when combined with the 2.25″ strip set, it gives an overall dimension of 3.5″ (3″ finished) like every other patchwork square in the quilt. Basically–again excuse all the math jargon–I just wanted the borders to be at the same ratio as the rest of the quilt to create harmony and balance. How’s that for explaining my process?!

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Once the quilt tops were done, I was happy again! Design disaster? Not at all! Accidents have a funny way of making you think creatively outside of the box. I’m so glad that my funny math happened, just so I could stretch those creative wings, even the tiniest of bits, in what was otherwise just a patchwork (although, still lovely!) quilt. For the backing, I had just enough (and I’m talking inches to spare) of the Noteworthy bucket list fabric to use on both quilts. Thanks Grandma Sparkles for picking that yardage up for me ages ago!

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Due to my time constraints, I stitched in the ditch for the quilting, using 50 weight Aurifil #2600 Dove. It all but disappears everywhere except the Molli-Sparkles-pink border. I thought about doing a thread change out there, but really, I didn’t think the babies (ya know, vomit and poop) would really mind. I went back and forth about the binding. Machine or hand-stitch? Ninety percent of the time I hand-stitch my bindings, so you’re preaching to the converted. However, baby quilt, washing, time, my own needed practice, convinced me to go the machine route this time around. Surprising even myself, it worked out really well! It looks neat, crisp, and so close to the edge I can hardly stand it!

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These were also the first new quilts I was able to gift with my labels sewn into them. Woop, woop! Look at me, being all professional now. :::hair flick::: The labels have care instructions on the reverse, but I made sure to wash both prior to gifting. Good quality fabric rarely runs, but I wanted to make sure. Plus, they got all crinkly, with a slight vintage vibe after washing, which totally made me get all sentimental about them. Quilt making is so much fun! I never would have thought I’d find my groove with quilt making, but here I am!

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Both quilts were very well received by their recipients, with comments about how they were too nice to be used. Isn’t that always the case!? So that’s that. Two quilts, two weeks, design disaster turned into opportunity. I tell you all of this so you know that the Molli Sparkles quilt studio is rarely perfect. Instead it is a constant quick-change act, and I hope you realise you can do the same! A friend of mine said these quilts reminded him of Strawberry Shortcake, but I think they’re more akin to Strawberry Hotcakes! Hot, hot, hot!

18 Responses

  1. Janelle says:

    Just gorgeous! I love love love the colours! I totally agree that the Joel Dewberry fabrics really went well with the Noteworthy.
    Where did you put the seam in the backing fabric? Middle, to one side? Horizontally or vertically? I’m a beginning quilter and these types of small but artsy questions are tricky!

  2. Little Black Cat Quilting says:

    Everything about these little baby quilts is scrumptious! I’m not normally a huge pink fan, but with quilts like these, even I can convert. 😊 Thanks for sharing the story of the design and making the best of a oops in the studio, it’s always comforting for a novice to hear others goof up too! Lol.

  3. Rachael says:

    Just love these! The pink is the perfect compliment and your design disaster save completely makes the quilts.

  4. Alison Hingston says:

    At hey look fantastic Molli. And what design disaster, creativity to the fore!

  5. Cass says:

    They are stunning quilts, very lucky babies Molli. And your ‘mistake’ couldn’t be more perfect

  6. Jayne says:

    Having ‘make it work’ moments are maddening, but when they do work…perfect! How many times have we all made a simple math mistake?!

  7. Love these quilts! There is something so soul satisfying about simple patchwork. The new labels are perfect!

  8. Kathleen says:

    Very pretty! I have a small quilt I lay on the floor for my granddaughter. It was fun when she was much younger and beginning to see better, to watch her grab at the shapes and prints, thinking they were something to pick up.

  9. Lesley Gilbert says:

    I’m glad you made the mistake – that pink border finishes it off so sweetly 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    These are fabulous! You’ve made the other fabrics come alive with that pink… and I appreciate the quilt math explanations. I’m learning, but still quite poor at it, and especially appreciated your explanation about the border stripes. Good job!

  11. Bravo on both beautiful finishes! Hot cakes is right! Your creativity came through in rainbow colours.

  12. Kate says:

    Gorgeous quilts, genius with the hot pink. Notting Hill is my favourite JD range too 🙂
    And your cutting ‘error’ is one of my favourite things about them – that pink border is a triumph, it sets them off beautifully.

  13. Tiffany says:

    It must have been fate of something, because I think the extra border is what MAKES the quilt. 😊

  14. LINDA says:

    MY MY! I’m not sure which is more attractive the Front or the Back! Just so pretty!

  15. Sue says:

    Two beautiful quilts, love the colours and well done on the creative correction with the maths.

  16. Anita Sharp says:

    I simply love those quilts! You took a seemingly simple concept and elevated it with your fabric choices and the ‘make it work’ moment that inspired those great borders!
    You really inspire me to think more outside my usual box…Just so you know, because of you I recently bought several fat quarter assortments WAY out of my usual comfort zone in both colors and patterns! And I can already see them making an appearance in some upcoming projects! (But I’m still resisting mustardy-brown and greenish-brown- what I lovingly call baby poop colors!)
    Anyway- Thanks! I appreciate your blog and the creativity you share!

  17. Brenda says:

    Two great baby quilts. And two comments about washing them. Even though the fabrics aren’t likely to run, and even though they end up with that wonderful quilty feeling, a good reason to wash quilts before giving them, especially to babies, is that there are fabric finishes, manufacturing residues, miscellaneous exposures to who knows what that fabrics may run into before they reach you, and the like, and we don’t want any of those precious babies to be exposed to that. Or anyone, for that matter. And second. You can say to those recipients who say “oh, it’s too good to be used” that it has already been washed and is therefore considered already used. BTW, one of my traditions with any quilt I make that is large enough (and some that aren’t) is to sleep under it myself before it is gifted. I don’t know if I read somewhere or if I made it up in a dream, but I believe that it is supposed to bring good luck and sweet dreams to the recipient.

  1. August 15, 2016

    […] In a great example of others making the most of the unexpected, check out these fabulous baby quilts from Molli Sparkles. Click here to see more. […]

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