Pirate Quilts, Ahoy!

And the pirate baby quilts are finished! Just in time too, as the twins arrived early, last week.

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Rewinding a little, I’ve been working on two baby quilts for the now newly arrived twin boys of a good friend. She was planning a pirate theme for the nursery, so of course I needed pirate fabric. Tiny little problem – pirates don’t seem to be in this year. I couldn’t actually find any pirate fabric in the store. So the quilts are made entirely from stash fabric (mostly my stash, with a few pieces liberated from my mom’s stash). I’m going to ignore what that probably says about the size of my fabric stash.* Some of the fabric, specifically the center squares and the orange strip with the skull and crossbones is actually leftover from the baby quilt I made for my friend’s first son.

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Center block and strip with skull & crossbones are both leftover from an earlier baby quilt

Really glad I saved the leftover pieces. The corner squares (the lighter blue pirate fabric) and the quilt backing are both cut from thrift store sheets.

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Quilt back

I might have never thought to look at thrifted sheets as a fabric source, had it not been for finding Cation Designs. She does some pretty amazing things with sheets. Anyway, I had found the pirate sheets a while ago and just hadn’t decided what to make with them yet. It’s a good thing I still had them on hand, given the shortage of pirate fabric otherwise. Both sheets are 100% cotton, and close enough weight to work well in the quilts. The sheet I used for the backing is actually flannel, which I think is nice for a baby quilt.

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As for the pattern, I wanted the quilts to be similar, but not identical. I thought altering the pieced squares would be enough to get the effect I wanted.

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So that’s why one quilt has 4-patch squares, and the other has strips. The quilts are free-motion quilted with a large stipple pattern in a variegated blue thread .

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And had it not been for some machine issues, they would have been quilted in about a quarter of the time it ended up taking. I do my free-motion quilting on my old Viking 1+ machine, which usually quilts beautifully. For some reason (possibly because I haven’t had my machine serviced in I don’t know how long), the thread kept shredding every few inches of stitching. It was maddening. I tried everything I could think of – re-threading, new needle, different needle type, fiddling with the tension, different spool position for the thread – nothing worked. I fought with it through the first third of the quilting, cursing the whole way, before I finally gave up. Thankfully, my mom has a Pfaff Grand Quilter that I was able to borrow to finish the quilting on. And boy is that a nice machine. I may start cheating on my Viking and using the Pfaff to do all my quilting. We’ll see.

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Mega quilt! Prior to quilting or cutting

Here’s the fun thing about these quilts – they fit together like puzzle pieces! It was actually my husband’s idea, I love it. To get the best fit, I decided to make the quilts as one, and then cut them apart at the end just before adding the binding.

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Quilted and cut in half

To accommodate the curves on the cut edge I used bias binding to finish that edge. Generally I just do straight of grain binding when finishing quilts. But generally, I don’t have curved edges. Only the side with the curves has bias binding, the other three sides have straight binding. That’s mostly due to fabric limitations, not any particular design reasoning.

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Finished!

I’m thrilled with the way the quilts came out. Hopefully they’ll be well received. Not that the twins will care – they’ll be too busy spitting up on the them. Which is exactly what baby quilts are for. Now I’ve just got to get these in the mail!

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Side by side finished quilts

* I’m going to count this project as using two pieces of stash fabric. Just about the entire flannel sheet was used for the backing, and the rest of the pieces were really too small to count individually. So, two pieces it is.

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