It’s always difficult to know what to do with precious baby clothes once your baby becomes a full-blown kid. While most of them can be donated or passed on to other families, sometimes there are a few that are just too special. These are the baby clothes that instantly conjure up a sharp memory, a smell, or a small but memorable moment from those fleeting baby days. But, without any real plan for what to do with them it can feel a little silly. Rather than let them sit in a bag in your closet, can I suggest you sew yourself a baby clothes quilt! Let me show you how I have made mine so you can make one yourself!
I have made about half a dozen of these baby clothes quilts and I really love the results every time. I made one each for my boys and a handful of others for families I am close with. Every time I make a baby clothes quilt, I get a bit emotional. Often my friends get emotional, too. It is not lost on me that I am being trusted with something really precious. They can be a bit of work, however, so I suggest setting aside some time.
+ Begin by sorting through your baby clothes and selecting 30 or so items.
+ Roughly cut up the baby clothes you selecting to isolate the designs or patterns you like the most. These will be a variety of shapes and uneven cuts. Don’t worry we are going to clean it all up. Keep some of the plain backs of t-shirts because you may need them for design purposes later on.
+ Next, with as many pieces as possible, cut your fabric into 6″ squares. Not everything will work when cut down this small but just do as much as possible. We will incorporate the larger pieces into the design when we get to that part.
+ For larger pieces, Just try to cut them down so that they have clean-cut and even sides.
+ Adding Interfacing: Cut up the same number of squares of lightweight interfacing as the number of jersey knit clothing squares you have. I suggest this product from Fairfield. (Note: I am a rep for Fairfield but I honestly love their interfacing. That said, any lightweight interfacing will do the trick.) Additionally, cut interacing pieces to match your odd-shaped clothing made of jersey knit.
+ Carefully iron the interfacing to the back of ALL pieces made of jersey knit, t-shirt material. This will help your sewing task IMMENSELY. By stabilizing your jersey knit pieces all of your material will essential behave like woven cloth. Trust me, don’t skip this step, it will save you lots of headaches later on! If your fabric has a printed design on it, be sure to place a pressing cloth over it while you iron so the image doesn’t melt.
+ Next, incorporate a few special items such as socks, buttons, hoods or tassels. To do this, cut a piece of woven fabric in a 6″ square and just simply stitch the item into the center.
Continue to improvise around those special items. These are really the details that make the quilt special.
For example, For one of my quilts, I wanted to incorporate the hole worn into a pair of jeans but didn’t want the quilt batting to poke through so I stitched the jeans material over a piece of plain, pink fabric.
+ Once you have all of your jersey fabric interfaced, your special pieces created and your odd pieces cut cleanly you are ready to create the design. To do this, decide on a general size. Probably around 40″ across and 50″ high. Translated into our fabric cuts, this is 7 fabric squares across and 8 fabric squares down.
+ Layout and design, for me, is a very improvised process. You may want to lay everything out precisely beforehand but I start by creating rows across that accommodate my odd-shaped pieces.. generally making sure that I am creating what approximates 7 fabric squares across.
+ IRON the seams after every stitch to be sure everything lays flat.
+ Continue to create rows in this same manner. Sometimes I am able to work in a bit of message that defines the child. Such as in this quilt when “Little Sister Love” looked so good together. Notice that I added bits of plain t-shirt to the sides of “Love” so that it fit under two standard-sized squares? This is the kind of improvising that this stage of the process requires. If you need to add an extra strip here and there, don’t worry. This isn’t about being perfect, it’s about saving a memory.
+ Once you have completely pieced together and designed your quilt top, it’s time to make the quilt.
+ Tape down your backing fabric, face down, and place quilt batting on top, I recommend my favorite Fairfield brand, which is 100% cotton. But , if you prefer a polyester blend that will work just fine, too. Your backing fabric and quilt batting should be a bit bigger than your quilt top.
+ Place the completed quilt top on the batting.
+ Pin through all three layers to hold it in place. I aim for 2 pins per quilt square to be sure it is secure.
+ Sew by stitching in the ditch on all seams of the quilt. If you have a walking foot, you will find it incredibly useful for this sewing.
(If you aren’t familiar with stitching in the ditch, it’s just a fancy way of saying that you want to sew in-between the seams as much as possible. )
+ Once you have sewn inside the seams as well as you can, you can sew one last stitch all along the edge of the quilt and cut off any excess batting and backing fabric.
+ Apply a quilt binding in your preferred method. This is my favorite way to do a quilt binding but follow this tutorial if you prefer hand-stitching.
You are done! Enjoy the beauty you created!
The best part is that while these quilts capture pieces from the fleeting baby days, it’s also possible to see more of the future in watching kids react to seeing them for the first time. My own kids giggled, pretended to fall asleep, and jumped up to point at things they recognized in the quilt and they suddenly looked so big. The days of onesies and swaddling blankets seem so far behind while SO MANY amazing and incredible moments seem just up ahead.
Note: As I mentioned, I work with Fairfield. They did not, however, compensate me for this post and my opinion about their products is my own.