Friday, February 14, 2014

Charlotte Rose's Christening Quilt

Having a new baby in the family is so much fun!  We haven’t had one for several years and unfortunately, I don’t get the see them very often.   My great-niece, Lindsay, and her husband, Joel, live nearby so I get to see Charlotte Rose as often as I can.  She was born on Halloween last year, several weeks earlier than expected.  She’s a little bit of thing and cute as a button!  Here she is just home from the hospital with Mom, Dad, and their surprised/confused but loving dog Marvin.   (As you know I’m a cat lover but Marvin is one of very few dogs I actually like!)

Now before I get all crazy with the names and family connections lets start with this: my oldest sister Dutchy was married when I was just 3 years old and had her first daughter two weeks before I turned 4.  She was a very young bride, just 19!  That means my sister's kids are my age!  So while all the "great"s in this story makes everyone sound really old we're really not ;o) 

Maybe this will help, from left to right
Dutchy, sleeping Charlotte, Lindsay, and Sharon
This month Charlotte was baptized in the local church.  It was a fun family day!  It was pretty funny to see everyone (mostly the aunties and grandmothers) crowded around this tiny person just fascinated by her every move.  She was certainly the star of the day.  She wore the christening gown made by her maternal great-great-grandmother and worn by her mother, grandmother, and several other relatives at their baptisms.  It’s a beautiful hand-made gown with matching slip and bonnet.  The little shoes in the picture were made by her paternal grandmother.

I wanted to make a special quilt for Charlotte in honor of her baptism.  So I asked Charlotte’s grandmother (Sharon) if I could use her wedding dress to make the quilt.  Some of the lace from the wedding dress had been used on Lindsay’s wedding veil so it had already been cut up a bit.  I took the remainder of the dress apart and spent some time mulling over the possibilities.

First I had to change my design wall background to black by hanging up a black sheet to get some good contrast.  A quick shopping spree at the local fabric shop turned up some fun fabrics:  a sheer grey with some pretty flowers, another sheer piece in beige with a little bit of sparkle, two shades of pink satin, some beige satin, a shiny silver blouse from by crazy quilt scrap bucket, and some soft Minkie as a potential backing.  I pinned them all up on the design wall along with the pieces of the dress and some satin ribbon to get inspired. 

My typical mode of quilting is to put all the possibilities up on the wall and see what feels right.  This can sometimes take several weeks!  Well, I didn’t have that much time so I had to make some quick decisions.   The beige and pink satins were the winners.  The sheers were too busy and not the right colors to go with the white dress. 

The beige satin actually made the dress fabric appear much whiter than it really is.  After all, the wedding dress was going on 30 years old and had been stored in a box in the closet.  When I got it I took a chance and threw it in the washing machine.  I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, it had already been cut into right?  Well, it came out very nice.  Some of the dirt around the bottom didn’t come out but for the most part it washed beautifully!

I decided on a snowball block to make the most use of the white and the lace from the gown.  I used the darker pink satin on the snowball corners and alternated the beige satin squares with the white fabric from the underskirt of the dress. 
Then I cut lace squares (6 ½”) the same size as the finished snowball blocks.  I basted the lace onto the white and pink snowballs to get the overlay effect that was in the bodice of the wedding gown.  To minimize the pink and keep the focus on the white and lace I overlaid the lace on the pink.

Working with all the “fancy” fabrics was a challenge.  They were slippery and frayed easily so I did a lot of basting.  It was fast and easy to do and just made everything sit still while I worked.  I also used a dry iron on a cooler setting to make sure I didn’t burn anything!

I alternated the white/lace blocks with the beige blocks to give it a little interest.  I debated over using just the white but it was very blah even with the pink and lace.  The beige just added a little bit of depth.  It’s hard to see in the pictures because the fabrics are shiny but I think you get the idea.  There are better pictures at the end.  (And speaking of pictures I'm sorry these aren't better but I'm still using my phone to take them!)
I created a border with the white fabric from the underskirt.  It helped to frame out the blocks and bring the whole thing together.  Then I took the lace from the bottom of the dress skirt and used it as an embellishment on the border.  Since I was planning to “envelope” the finished quilt I had to sew the lace on the front/top of the quilt then add the border on top of that.

First I handed stitched in two rows of basting on the lace to be able to ruffle it.  Then I hand based and pinned the lace to the border before sewing it into place with the machine.  This was pretty tricky, and slippery, look at all the pins!

Here’s how the corners turned out.  I wish I had thought about the fact that the lace would be rounded so I could have made the borders rounded as well.  Still, the whole point was to have a quilt that would be a memento of the occasion and I know I accomplished that.

Now you won’t believe this but I didn’t take any pictures of the whole finished quilt!  I do have these two shots showing the lace border and you can kind of see what the whole thing looks like.

To finish it off I used the envelop method.  I didn’t include batting as I didn’t want to quilt it.  So technically it’s not really a quilt it’s a blanket but I’m calling it a quilt!  The backing is a cream colored plush with raised dots – I wanted it to be soft enough to use!  After turning it inside out I stitched around the border on the outer edge and along the inner edge under the lace.  This created a square that was just enough to keep the two pieces together without doing a heavy quilting pattern.

The size is 36” square.  Small enough to use on a tiny baby like Charlotte then pack away til the next baptism.  And best of all Charlotte and her mom loved it!

Once all the deciding was done, putting the whole thing together only took about two days – well, two very LONG days but it all worked out in the end and now it's my Friday Finish to add to Crazy Mom Quilts.

Now to clean up the lace and satin explosion that has taken over my sewing room.  :o)


Jenny said...

Just beautiful - what a lovely idea for a new baby, and any future family members still to arrive.
Jenny from New Zealand

Laurie from Oregon said...

What a great story surrounding this quilt! I agree that the beige certainly did enhance the white and made it stand out even more. I really like the border you used as I think it highlights the edges of the lace, which are lovely. I am certain that this quilt will be handed down and years from now, when you are baptizing Charlotte Rose's baby, they will use your beautiful quilt.