Before I got up the nerve to buy fabric for my first quilt -- I'll call it the Elephants' Party Quilt -- I bought a couple of those Cuddly Quilt Kits at JoAnn's. Natalie had started one that was really cute, and the kits were on sale. I figured making one would be a good introduction to quilting, because all you have to do is cut strips down to size, piece them, and sew the back and front together. Optionally, you can quilt it by stitching in the ditch.
I have a real love/hate thing for JoAnn's. I'm not mad at them when they're dishing out the 40% off coupons. But so many of the stores are like dungeons, and the help is often no help at all. What should be a bright, fun, and inspiring shopping experience is often drudgery. I really wish someone would start up another chain. A place that's beautiful and well lit, staffed by people who know how to make things and don't mind telling you, and that's stocked with quality merchandise, some inexpensive, some higher end. Is that too much to ask? Who wants to start this chain with me?
Anyways, while we're getting our investors together, more on the Cuddly Quilt.
Sweet design. Adorable prints. The center panel features a birdie playing with a dandelion and a snail -- just stop it. (I love dandelions. Blowing them away once they've dried out is so reminiscent of an Ohio childhood. ) But if the little birdie could talk, what would he say? He'd say, Cheap, cheap, cheap. Scandalously chintzy fabrics comprise these kits, particularly the flannel backing. It's flimsy business. And the stretchy orange whatever it is gave me fits. It sewed unevenly, even with a zigzag stitch, and kept coming out shorter than required to match up with the cotton pieces. Even sewing it to the backing was problematic, because one side was initially longer than the other, causing the whole affair to take on a lopsided shape. I had to rip and re-sew several times to make it passable. I probably would have worked it one more time, but the flannel wasn't likely to hold up. It shouldn't have taken me more than a casual day of sewing to complete this. Because of the materials, it took me hours longer. I was so relieved to finally have it together that I skipped the quilting part.
In the end, I can't recommend these kits (I still intend to cuss my way through the other one I bought) except for the instructions that come with them, which are pretty good. Now that I know the measurements of the strips and how to put them together, I'll use my own fabrics to make more. With good fabrics, these quilts are doable in a short amount of time. As they come, I think they'd be frustrating for someone with no quilting experience, and I'm glad I had the Elephants' Party Quilt under my belt.
I'm so busy giving Cuddly Quilts the thumbs down (Don't fall for the cuteness! You'll be sorry!) that I almost forgot to mention why I made this one. It went to my co-worker's new niece, Amanda Grace. She was born on March 3rd, but she won't be leaving the hospital for a while. She was premature, and she has Down syndrome, but she's a strong girl and according to the people who know about these things, she's doing very well.
I embroidered her name and birthday on the flannel, and reinforced the embroidery by ironing-on a piece of backing, because I feared the embroidery would pull through the thin fabric. Stitching on it was like walking a tightrope.
I went ahead and gifted this as intended, because although it was a pain for me, it does live up to its cuddly name, and is bound to provide softness and comfort to baby Amanda.