Friday, January 6, 2012

Max, Max, What Do You See?

My next two posts will be about my last two quilts of 2011. I finished this quilt early last week, but I haven't found time to post about it, despite my free time from a break in work and school.
My wonderful friend Mandy asked me to make a quilt for her nephew for his first birthday later this month. I was thrilled with this request because I love to make children's quilts, they are so quick and the fabrics are so fun and colorful! Mandy really wanted a "Where the Wild Things Are" quilt, as her nephew's name is Max, but there is no such fabric out there (someone should change this!). Her next request was Dr. Seuss, like her son's quilt, or Eric Carle. The preschool teacher in me immediately jumped at the idea of an Eric Carle quilt, an INTERACTIVE Eric Carle quilt!
I have wanted to make an interactive children's quilt ever since I came across this quilt made by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio, I guess the early childhood educator came out in the quilting portion of my brain when I saw this and I added her quilt to my inspiration to-do list. So here is my Eric Carle quilt for the soon to be one-year old. I made this quilt using a panel of the Brown Bear fabric which has the animals from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do See? the children's book written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by the very talented Eric Carle.

For Max, I wanted to make a quilt that a toddler could use to snuggle up with, as well as play and learn with. Originally I wanted to do a Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt, with a number on the top of the flap and the corresponding fruit underneath (for those of you that are familiar with this story, you will know what I am talking about.) However, that quilt would have been VERY expensive! Then I found a seller on etsy that had Brown Bear fabric available and snagged it up.
I cut out the animals squares and pieced them randomly into 12 by 15 inch blocks using a Kona grey (can't remember which one, sorry). I decided not to place the quilt squares in order with the story, this way Max's interactions with the quilt could be more challenging as he grows and develops cognitive skills.
I visited my favorite LQS for corresponding prints for the flaps, and put them together with batting in the middle to make them a bit more sturdy. Then I decided to quilt them too, using different quilting techniques. It was really fun to try out new quilting designs on these flaps, and each one is different. For some I quilted along with the fabric, like the blue, green and yellow squares:
For others I tried something new to me, like the purple flap loops, brown flap squares, and white flap pebbles.
I used corresponding thread for the flaps, and stippled the quilt all over with grey thread, except for the panel squares of the animals, which I stitched around with my walking foot a 1/4" on each side of the square. I didn't want the image of the animal to be distorted from the quilting lines. The brown bear is in the middle, without a flap. The idea is that brown bear starts the quilt just like the story so you would start by saying: "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" Then lift the brown flap.....
"I see a red bird looking at me.Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" Then move to the red flap.....
 "I see a yellow duck looking at me." And so on.
 For the back of the quilt I pieced together the fabric left from the flaps in order of the story. I also added gold fabric for the goldfish at the end of the story. My husband's comment on the finished quilt was "The back looks cool." I have to agree, I love the scrappy look of these colorful fabrics. For the binding I machine attached it using a darker Kona grey, I think the grey fabrics help to make the colors pop really well, and will hold up to a child's dirty play well.
This story has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, I still have my copy from the 80's! Every child I have ever taught has loved this story as well. My preschoolers "read" it frequently in our reading loft, and play along with our flannel board story as well. I think Eric Carle's artwork he uses in his illustrations is so appealing and inspiring for children. I have another set of animals left from the panel, I may have to make one of these quilts for my preschoolers to use in the classroom. :) Hopefully Max will love it as much as I do. Mandy should receive this quilt today or Monday, I can't wait to hear what she has to say about it.

What I learned:
I loved getting to try out different quilting techniques on the flaps. Usually I am afraid to waste batting and fabric as I try out new styles, this quilt was a great way for me to get my feet wet, without wasting materials. Plus, I think I have gotten pebble quilting figured out enough to try it on a full quilt!

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