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I Spy Forever

I think I’ve made it clear by now that I love I spy quilts. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl snuggled under the quilt my grandma made. So I don’t know why it should surprise me that my girls love them to. Maybe there is something universally appealing about all those neat pictures and patterns.

I made a twin sized I spy quilt for my first born when she moved from her baby bed to her big girl bed. My second daughter is still in her crib, and will be for quite awhile, but I’m already planning quilts for her too. I’d imagined that I’d make her something different. Couldn’t decide what exactly, but just different.

Then yesterday we were playing on big sister’s bed and she was just fascinated with the I spy quilt. We often play with the smaller I spy security blankets I made for her, and she just loves that. But the big bed quilt was even more amazing to her. She would point at a square and look at me waiting for me to tell her what the picture was. I was surprised how long she stayed focused and kept wanting to play (although I shouldn’t have been).

I think she’ll be getting her own I spy quilt one day too. Different is overrated when the good old stuff still brings in so much fun.

I’m actually working on an alphabet quilt for big sister now. It’s taking a while because I got the hot idea to find fabric with pictures for each letter (apple print for A, Blue fabric for B, etc.) Turns out some letters are a bit tricky to find. So that can be my fun and different quilt to make for now. Baby sister will get a different quilt too one day. It’s fun making new kinds of quilts, and no matter how careful we are, everything still needs to be washed from time to time. But the I spy is a necessity in this house.

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Personalizing and Customizing

For many months in my Etsy shop, I had a note in my announcement section that I was happy to take custom orders. After one or two custom I spy blanket requests I realised that making custom orders involved a lot more work, and frequently involved buying additional supplies, like special fabric. The problem was that I felt uncomfortable asking for more money than my regular listings were priced at.

The solution I came up with was to create a special listing for a custom I-spy blanket that took into consideration the extra time and money I had to invest. Another problem, that I hadn’t thought about that creating this special listing created for me was that about the timing of payment.

Because I’m a wimp about asking for money, I’d usually spend all the time corresponding with my clients about their request, gathering sample fabrics, and even making the item before asking for payment. I’d create a listing for them when the item was done. Luckily, all my buyers are wonderful and honest people, but I’m sure there was the potential for me to be left with an item that was to personalized to resell.

Now, I’ll still work out the details of an order with someone, but once we’re ready to start actually cutting and sewing, I can ask for them to purchase the listing from my shop. Once payment clears, I start sewing. Even timid little me can handle asking that, and so far every single client has paid for their listing the same day I asked.

Soon after making the custom I spy blanket listing, I also made a listing for a custom Soft fabric book. I’ll be creating a custom soft jingle block listing soon too.

The very best things that creating special listing for my custom work has done for me is that I now get far more custom orders than I used to. I think people don’t always like to ask questions. Maybe they don’t want to take the time, maybe they are worried that the answer will be no, maybe they feel silly bothering someone else, I don’t know what all the reasons are. I just know that now that I have custom listings, I am almost always working on a custom order.

The listing makes it easy for buyers. It tells them they type of information I need to start. It lets them know what I’ll be doing for them and how long it will take me. It gives them all the information they need to decide to buy. It also gives them permission to ask for exactly what they want without feeling pushy or picky. Everyone wins!

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The Quilted I-Spy Sceurity Blanket

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.