Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WIP: Nautical Baby Quilt

In the housing market when a contractor speculates and builds a house without a buyer lined up he is said to be building it "on spec" and hoping the fruit of his labors will pay off in the future. I bought a pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop a several months ago "on spec", dutifully filing it away in one of the piles in my sewing room.

Coincidentally several weeks ago I bought a fat quarter bundle from my local quilt shop In Between Stitches from the fabric line Seaworthy by Jack and Lulu for Dear Stella Fabrics - also "on spec". (See doesn't "on spec" sound much more important and acceptable than "just because I liked it" or "because I caved"?) In Between Stitches has a clever, interleaving way of packing their bundles that I am still trying to figure out and hence my step by step photographic record of the bundle disassembly. The bundle contained these eight fabrics - sailboats, red zig-zags, navy with white stars, white with navy anchors, sea lions, miniscule two-blue chevrons, mermaids, and spouting whales. 

I did not intend for this bundle to be used for the Row, Row, Row Your Boat pattern. I find that fat quarter bundles usually need to be broken up or used with a pattern that is fat quarter friendly.

The pattern and fabric purchases were several weeks ago. A third happy happenstance came this week when a friend of my daughter-in-law, seeing a quilt I'd made for my granddaughter, hinted that if I had extra time and if I was inspired, that she and her little boy would love a nautical themed quilt. I was flattered and bemused. So this week I have been planning a nautical themed quilt for a baby boy.  It seems that buying fabric and downloading patterns "on spec" is not such a bad thing.

My goal is to make this gift quilt totally from fabrics out of my stash. That never works 100% but sometimes with my sizable stash I can come pretty close. The fabrics I will use from this Seaworthy bundle I just bought are the feature sailboats, navy stars, red zig-zag, and possibly minuscule two-blue chevrons and mini-anchors. The hulls of the boats will be these three bright fabrics - the red zig-zag and navy stars from this bundle and the orange dots from my stash. The white of the sails may be from the mini-anchor print, though one does not usually put such heavy weight up where the wind is supposed to blow... hmmm.

For the larger yardage areas, borders and background, I did go out and buy fabric specifically for this quilt. For the wide border I bought more of the sailboat feature fabric because I just love, love, love it. It has stripes and dots in the sails, both real favorites of mine.  The small inner border will be a red and white candy-stripe from my stash. For the background, the white fabric I had in my stash rows of hearts on it, which may be passable for a boy but I wanted something that was not directional. I hoped to find a blue background because it would be easier to keep clean for a baby, but I did not want a plain solid and I could not seem to find the right blue, that was non-directional but still had a bit of textural interest. Besides, I really wanted that sailboat fabric border and it would have been too much blue to have blue in a background as well. I bought some white with navy specks. If I change my mind, it is a neutral enough fabric to have in my stash. It may go in the sails as well instead of a mini-anchors print.

My undecided fabrics are for the three rows of half square triangles that represent waves. This is where I am stymied. I have a lot of fat quarters but the waves take 1/2 yard of a light blue and 1/2 yard of navy. I could use a fat quarter each and mix the two size navy dot fat quarters I have. Perhaps the larger ones are too graphic and distracting. I do have a 1/2 yard of the blue swirls but it is not quite the right blue. Maybe since it will be offset from the feature sailboat border fabric by the red candy stripe it will be fine. 

I am also considering not doing half-square triangles at all but instead using a wave-like fabric as a sort of sashing. I considered white/navy chevrons like this white/black chevron print from my stash. Each row is 3.5" high but the kicker is that the rows of a chevron print runs parallel to the selvage. I'd need 1.25 yards for the width of the quilt, unless I cut a bunch of short lengthwise strips and seam them several places. I'd have to find a place that sells it, too. I think it also may be a bit too graphic and compete with the boats for attention. It depends on how bold the chevron.

The chevron on the left below would be better than the one on the right. Even if I bought the 1.25 yards, I know from past experience that this chevron type fabric is not true to grain and so the waves would, well... waver. I think I just talked myself out of this option. Maybe. I may just get a half yard more of the minuscule chevrons and use that as a sashing for the waterline. Its waves run selvage to selvage - the right direction for my needs. After all it would be the least bold of the chevrons and the right blue, too. With its smaller scale, any off-grain would not be as pronounced. I could also use it alternating with two sizes of navy dot fat quarters I have in my stash to make half square triangle waves if I really feel guilty about leaving out the waves. It could be substituted for the not-quite-right-blue swirl fabric. 

I have other wave-candidate fabrics in my stash but the blues are wrong. They are more aqua or purplish. Looking at this subset of the blues from my stash, it is embarrassing to think I cannot make something work out of all these options.

I could also leave out this waterline row entirely. That would solve the problem and then I would not be buying even more fabric, either. Writing about my options has helped me clarify some of them. For now I think I will buy a half-yard of the minuscule chevrons from my local quilt shop. I will make up the boat blocks. After seeing them and after some some time has passed, the design will have mellowed in my brain and everything will be crystal clear... just like tropical waters!

The backing will be made of two or three of these nautical prints I had in my stash. I have a yard of each so I will combine them somehow for the back.

Cute as they are, I will not use the mermaids, sea lions, and spouting whales from the bundle. Although they are the right pale blue and the right navy, I do not want to chop them up for waves. They are "on spec" for something else someday.

So now I will link up to this week's Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and see what others are doing.


  1. It is amazing how hard it can be to find the right blue when your stash contains so many!

    I'm loving your fabric choices so far - nautical and crisp. Agree with the waiting on the waves - a little calming influence might not be amiss!

    1. Thanks for visiting and for your encouraging comments. I cut out all but the wave fabric today which is still undecided. But I do think the strong graphic fabric will not be in there for waves.

  2. I love the nautical theme you have going with all the stripes and polka dots. I especially love that anchor fabric :)

    1. Thanks for your comment. Stripes and dots are fun and with the added nautical twist, I am enjoying myself on this quilt.

  3. Diane, I love the fabric you picked for this project!! It is especially cute!! Doesn't look like you get nearly enough time to quilt these days.
    Used to be your quilter, Mary Ann

    1. It is so nice to hear from you again! Glad you are back to quilting more often and using all those pent up talents of yours. I have a long long way to go before I come close to matching them but I am practicing! Thanks for showing the doll quilt in your blog. That rooster you did is phenomenal.