When I was little, I remember laying in bed and studying all the different pictures, prints, and fabrics on my bed quilt. Some zigzag lines in orange and blue. Little girls in hats – there were several different versions of this same print, each with a different accent color. Then there were some solid colored squares. Even though there weren’t that many different patterns, I loved to look at them over and over again.
So I blame my grandmother, who made that quilt, for instilling the love of patchwork in me. The only thing that could have made me love that quilt more would have been even more neat fabrics to look at.
When I had my own baby, I was a fairly new quilter myself. I started collecting neat prints so that I could make her a bed quilt with as many different fabrics as possible. The one I made her has literally hundreds of pictures. And she loves it.
But, I also wanted something simple we could play baby games with. Learn colors. Make animal sounds, and learn animal names. Play peekaboo. The idea for the I spy security blanket was born.
I always include one square each of the basic colors. Colors are easy to learn, and babies love to show off when they know where the red square is. I think it breaks up all the prints to throw in some solid spaces too. The other squares are full of as many different, bright, fun prints as I can find. The easiest way to cut squares is with a rotary cutter, but I just can’t settle for that all the time. With larger prints, it’s too easy to get only the bottom half of an animal – or just an ear. What fun is that? The extra time and effort it takes to carefully cut out specific images from fabric, so that I get a perfectly centered animal, or truck, or whatever, is what makes these so special. I really love the way they look in the end.
Because they are so small, only twenty inches square, they would be to bulky with batting in them, so they aren’t true quilts. Yet two layers of thin cotton would be flimsy, so I use flannel for the backing. It’s soft, and provides just the perfect weight. Then I go ahead and stitch around each block, just like it really is a quilt. Those extra stitches let my blankets stand up to all kinds of rough treatment, and wash after wash after wash.
I keep thinking I should make new blankets for my new baby, but the ones I made four years ago are still in great shape. They aren’t just used for peekaboo anymore though. They’re superhero capes, and baby doll blankets. Something new everyday it seems at times.
And that’s why I love to make them.