Last year a good friend of mine, Kirsten, who lives in California commissioned 2 quilts for her sons’ bunk beds. When she asked me to make the quilts, she was pregnant with baby boy #3. She and her husband, Boyd, were in process of moving the two older boys into a room together to create a nursery for the baby. They wanted the older boys to have a cool and fun room that wasn’t too bold or juvenile. The expectation was that the room, and quilts, could grow with them for a while.
Kirsten’s only request was that the quilts coordinate with the colors of the room. And after speaking to the boys themselves, they requested that the quilts be identical. That just melted my heart and I was happy to abide! I hadn’t been to their place in a while (since I’m now living in NY). This meant I had to grasp the colors and the vibe of the room via photos and text messages.
Kirsten is a quilter herself and was making quilts long before I ever got interested in it. But now, she’s a working mom with 3 boys and hasn’t been able to quilt like she use to. Needless to say, I was very excited to make something special for them and really wanted everyone to be pleased!
I decided to go with a pattern called “The Elevator Music Quilt” from the book “Quilting Happiness” by Christina Lane & Diane Gilleland. My mom gifted this book to me one Christmas and it has some very pretty quilt patterns in it. I will say quite a few of the patterns seem a little more advanced for me. So, I haven’t tried any others quite yet. The original size came to 54″ x 68″, but I wanted the boys’ quilts to be a little wider and longer to fit the twin beds. So I added 1 column and 4 rows and they came out to 66″ x 101″. Fairly long, but I figured this would allow them to be tucked in well around the bottom of the bunks and wouldn’t hang out too much over the side of the top bunk.
This pattern was sewn up in rows rather than blocks. I had fun with that, but one thing I didn’t have fun with was the math! Because I was making two identical quilts and I added a whole column and many more rows, I had to keep going back to cut more fabric! For some reason, I just struggled with calculating and cutting enough strips for all the “blocks” in the beginning. I also kept adding to the length as I went to ensure it would be long enough. And the really annoying part was that I was buying fat quarters of the oranges since I used five or six different prints. So, I ended up having to re-order fabric a couple a times because of all the additional rows (but mostly because I was bad with the math!)
The pattern itself only called for 2 colors. Green and grey. I loved the graphic nature of the chain-link columns and thought it was so unique and fun and would be perfect for two young boys.
I did worry about lining up all the “blocks” or squares in each row so that they staggered correctly and didn’t get all wonky. Fortunately, it sewed up pretty easily and I didn’t lose too much in my trimming (I still need to work on my seam allowances and pressing. I tend to lose too much in my seams. And I always need to trim my blocks to be square).
I did keep to the boys’ request to make them identical, although the placement of the various orange and navy prints is varied among the two. However, I decided to quilt them differently, just so each one was a little more unique. I got mom’s okay before proceeding with that though because I wasn’t sure if the boys’ would approve.
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For one, I just quilted straight lines. I think 2″ apart. For the other, I sewed 1/4″ in columns on both sides of the grey ‘tracks’ and in the center of all the orange squares. This second technique took much longer than the first. It got very difficult to manage as I had to twist and turn the quilt as I feed it through my machine. I’m sure a different needle would’ve helped, but I only have one that came with my machine when I inherited it. I think its a 1/4″ foot, but I’m not even sure.
Here you can see my quilting-in-process and the color of threads that I used
Another something I tried on this project was quilting using various colors of thread. My thinking was that I didn’t want the quilting to stand out too much. I thought matching the thread to the fabric would help it blend in more. I wanted the pattern and fabrics themselves to shine. Plus, I thought the chain-link pattern already gave these quilts enough interest and I didn’t want to overdo it. Now, for the straight-line quilted quilt I only used white thread since I couldn’t really change the thread in each straight line. But for the other quilt, I used various colors to match the grey, white and oranges. So each vertical line I did I used the color of thread that matched what color I was sewing over. This is another reason why this quilt took so much longer to quilt!
For the underside thread on both, I used navy to blend in with the navy minky on the backs. I did notice that this resulted in the navy poking through just a bit on the front side where I used white. However, it didn’t bother me too much. I think it still ended up being the best option.
The boys and I really had fun photographing these two beauties at the park. I had fun playing with the colors of the bark and grass under the quilts. While the boys had fun swinging and sliding their cares away.
These two chain-link quilts were a fun, new challenge for me! I’m pretty sure they are the largest quilts I’ve made to date and I had two of them to make! And although they took me a while, I was so happy with how they turned out in the end. And the boys seem happy with them, so that’s all that really matters!
So which one is your favorite? Do you like the straight-line quilting or the 1/4″ outlined quilting? Tell me in the comments below!
Update: I made pillows to match!
Since I moved away from my close group of friends in the Bay area (of California), I have tried to stay connected with them all by sending little gifts to their kids on all their birthdays. So, after I completed these quilts, I thought I’d hang on to the scraps with the intention to use them to make matching pillows. I thought they’d be cute little gifts to give these 2 sweet boys when their birthdays came around next. I figured it would be a fun little surprise for them to receive in the mail.
These are the two pillows I made for the boys. For the front, I used the grey scraps from the quilts and made a fun block that is exactly the same on both pillows. For the backs, I used the various colored scraps and mixed up the designs so they were each a little different.
I mean, how cute are these???
To finish off the pillows, I added visible orange zippers and quilted them up on the front and back in different designs using white thread. They blend in with the boys’ room nicely and add an extra little pop to their beds.
I forget how fun it is to make pillows. There are so many variations with the quilting; how you add zipper enclosures, using a block pattern, whole cloth front/back, yo yos…the list is never-ending. The best part is they only take a day or so to complete and really pack a punch! You can add so much personality in such a small package. Probably why I love making them so much!
I hope these little guys bring the two little guys back in San Francisco some joy and finish off their room! Now I want to go make all the pillows!