Finding a way to make a quilt from baby clothes
December 27, 2014 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I am going through several of my kids' old baby/toddler clothing, and many of them have sentimental value to me. I don't want to give them away or just put them in a box(es), and I'd love to make them into some sort of quilt or blanket.

I have a sewing machine, but only very, very basic sewing skills. So I have two questions: is this project doable for a sewing novice like myself, or is there any company you can suggest that makes quilts from old clothing. For the second option, I'd like to find reputable quilters so I could make sure I don't lose these clothes forever (and yes, I realize that the project involves cutting them up).
posted by bibliowench to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Making a quilt is totally do-able if you have a sewing machine and basic skills. It will also be much, much cheaper than having someone else make the entire quilt. (You can also piece the top and back and then send it to a professional long-arm quilter to do the actual quilting part of the job -- that'd be around $75-150 depending on the size, complexity, etc., but that is a LOT cheaper than having someone make the entire quilt.)

When choosing clothing, I'd go with only the woven fabrics, or if you want to use the knits as well, I would back them with a thin layer of interfacing to cut down on the stretch. Thinner wovens might work better with interfacing as well.

I really like the Penny Patch quilt-along for beginning quilters -- it includes tutorials on all the basic steps of making a quilt.

I'd also consider making a simple quilt with less sentimental fabrics first -- it might help you get used to the machine and get a feel for things while the stakes are lower. You can make a basic baby quilt with two packs of charm squares stitched together, for example.

For sentimental fabric, I'd highly recommend quilting the layers together densely rather than tying or finishing in some other way. Fabrics tend to hold up better when densely quilted than they do when tied.
posted by pie ninja at 10:51 AM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quilts are very easy for people with only very basic sewing skills, particularly if you make knotted quilts instead of quilted quilts. Random tutorial on knotting (tying) a quilt, instead of quilting it.. But quilting is not difficult, if you have a machine that can handle the bulk and are doing just a basically straight line quilting pattern.

I like cluckclucksews tutorials for various blocks and techniques. The biggest issue with using clothes, instead of quilting cotton squares, will be that all fabrics do not behave the same--some things will stretch as you try to stitch them together for instance and you'll want to face those blocks with something stiffer. If you have enough clothing, try to pick only the wovens for your squares (it will be easier), but you can mix them without too much trouble.

But quilts are really good beginner projects. It's how I started sewing.

I'd go to your library and look through the books for instructions and block patterns and then make a few practice blocks from fabrics similar to the clothes you want to use (or from toddler clothes you don't want to have as part of the finished quilt) and then just do it. Don't let the perfect be your enemy here--your finished blanket will be wonderful!
posted by crush-onastick at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: I don't have a name of a company for you, but Kelle Hampton, the author of this blog, had a quilt made from her babies' clothes, so I'm sure with a quick search through her site you could find the name of the person/company who made it. She seemed extremely pleased with the quality and workmanship.
posted by schmoo at 11:55 AM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: Yes, yes, yes you can absolutely do this. The posts here on the quilt from baby clothes are pretty timely.

Quilting can be as easy or complicated as you like. A simple block or rectangle motif with ties can be done in a weekend. Or, you can take several months to do a more intricate pattern. It's completely up to you. Just remember the basics - two large pieces of fabric sandwiching an interior piece of batting, etc - bound on the edges to seal it up and then covered with stitches to keep the sandwich intact. If you can sew a straight stitch, you can do this.

My one suggestion is to buy a rotary cutter and mat - it made my efficiency go up much more than I expected.
posted by umwhat at 1:09 PM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: Alternatively, you could make pillows from some of the clothes (If they won't quilt easily) I know there are lots of online how-tos for making pillows from old garments. You could also pick those you love the most/are the cutest and have them shadowboxed/framed (this is great for things like dressy outfits with matching tiny shoes). For very soft clothes, you might consider making a stuffed animal out of them, too. It's not much more complicated than making a pillow. And could be passed on to a grandchild.

I would definitely practice on non-important things first, though.
posted by emjaybee at 1:13 PM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: And if the standard quilt patterns are overwhelmingly complex to start with, go for crazy quilting - I think it's the very best for sentimental things myself. The pieces you cut are various shapes and sizes and you sew them to a backing material in any arrangement that you please, then when the entire backing piece is covered, you can use machine or simple hand-stitched embroidery to go over the seam lines between pieces, or add pieces of lace or ribbon or even a strip of shoelace from the baby's first shoes - whatever you like. Pinterest has great tutorials for quilting of all kinds, including crazy quilting, and they're free to use and print - plus there are thousands of books on quilting - your library has loads of them to check out. I find that what works for me is to check out a bunch of books, find the one or two I can't live without, return them all and order the ones I just have to have - you can usually get them second-hand for next to nothing.

I think this is a great idea and a wonderful way to keep the memories of baby's early days. You could even sew a strip of the snaps from onesies onto the top of the crazy quilt -

have fun!
posted by aryma at 4:18 PM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: Practice on other fabric first! Don't go cutting up your precious things right off the bat :) Basic quilting is not a difficult skill to learn, it just requires patience, and careful measurement.

If you find you have no time to learn quilting, or you dislike it or whatever, I'm sure you could find a local quilter on Etsy, that you could send your things to and have a lovely quilt made.

I'm guessing a lot of these clothes are knits though, as baby clothes tend to be stretchy and soft. Knits are notoriously hard to sew to woven fabrics because of the stretchiness, or to quilt with in general, and are prone to unraveling if not serged along the cut edge, which is a totally separate machine and skill set. You can kind of fake a serge edge with a zigzag stitch, but it takes some finesse (hence my recommendation to practice first).

You may want to see if there is a nearby quilting club -- they can give you good advice about the specific fabrics and pattern you want to use, and may even have fancier or nicer machines you can rent by the hour. Good luck!
posted by ananci at 4:40 PM on December 27, 2014

Best answer: Thanks for reminding me that I have two massive boxes of baby clothes waiting to be turned into quilts for my kids.

I did a little online research and here are some places that will do this for you:

Jelly Bean Quilts: $725 for 50" x 60"
quiltsbykandy: Starts at $200 for 58" x 72"
Project Repat: Cuts plain squares and not as fancy, starts at $120.

I did my own quilting 30 years ago and it's completely doable if you're confident about your sewing abilities and you don't get completely ARGH and overwhelmed by laborious piecework. I get frustrated, hence my boxes in the attic.
posted by kinetic at 6:42 AM on December 28, 2014

Response by poster: All these answers are best answers. Thank you so much! I'm not sure I'm going to actually attempt the process since I have never been on a first-name basis with straight lines, but I have a much better sense of the project now.
posted by bibliowench at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2014

They sell special quilting feet for your regular machine that make sure you sew in straight lines (you're not the only one with this issue!). They have plastic or metal guides on them, and they come in a variety of widths and styles.
posted by ananci at 11:20 PM on December 30, 2014

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