Strip pieced Baby Quilt: To the Rescue

by Judy Tucker

Making this baby quilt turned out to be a good lesson in designing a quilt. A design that looks great on paper doesn't always look so wonderful once it is sewn together!

I wanted to make a quick baby quilt for a neighbor who just had a baby boy.  I wanted the quilt to be cute, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time making it.  I had 2 sets of left over fire and rescue children's fabric and and some text fabric that I didn't use in another project.  I had ample fabric to make a small baby quilt.

Here is my sketch for the quilt, and the initial cutting instructions.  One strip came turned out to be 1 inch too long when the pieces were sewn together, but I never expect a pattern I'm designing by hand to 100% mathematically accurate.

When I'm making strip quilts I put all the pieces of each strip between subsequent pages of my design book.  This does a good job of keeping the strips separate and in order.

The quilt top went together very quickly.  I was feeling really pleased thinking this pattern was going to turn out to be a zippy "quilt top in an afternoon" project. But before I finished sewing all the strips together,  I put them up on the design wall.  Hmm.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, but it just looked boring.

Appliqué to the rescue!  I had a bit of extra material from the bottom border.  I to cut out a fire engine, a fire hydrant and pair of boots. I machine appliquéd them onto the strips before I finished sewing the strips together.  The appliqués add a bit of movement and now I am pleased with it.  The back is a solid piece of the firefighter dogs which I fussy cut for the strips. It will give the quilt an extra depth and make it even more interesting.

What would I do differently the next time I'm designing a quilt like this?  Next time I would cut shorter focus blocks and space them out in a pattern designed to make the viewer's eye dance over the pattern.
Cutting the quilt, piecing it and sewing on the appliqués took me about 4 hours.  So this really is a quick quilt.  I'm going to leave sandwiching the quilt and quilting it for another day!