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Applique Home Decor Quilting

The Bubble Quilt

Doesn’t time just fly? I mean zoom by? It seems just like yesterday that my niece called to tell me she was expecting her first child. I hung up the phone thinking what wonderful news. I really need to make a quilt for that baby. Well, that was four months ago, and now the shower is in two weeks. My niece’s nursery theme is a beach/surf scene and she’s going old school! What’s old school? She and her husband don’t want to know the sex of the baby before delivery. Almost unheard of today, wouldn’t you agree? So I don’t want to make a quilt that screams girl or boy. Hmm… there are so many things at the beach that just charm children, where do I start? How about simple circles? They could be bubbles, beach umbrellas or buckets. But time is of the essence so I’ll turn to Stipple! And I’m going back to a favorite – Stipple! Geometrics.

I had so much fun picking out the bright, fresh fabrics for the circles. I started with about a dozen fabrics and chose a simple white background for the strips. White just seemed like the right background for all the luscious brights. And the parents-to-be both hold doctorates in Chemistry; they ought to be able to get anything out of white cotton!

I grabbed fusible web to apply to all of the appliqué fabrics because this quilt will get used and washed, hopefully, on a regular basis.

I devoted some precious time to apply the fusible web to all of the appliqué fabrics. This is not my favorite chore. If you know me, then you’ll understand that I like to jump in and get started. Prep work bores me to tears. And apparently, tears were in my immediate future.

I always seem to struggle with fusible web. I apply the heat, let it cool (well, almost let it cool) then disaster strikes. It doesn’t release properly – oh no, part of the paper peels off with a good bit of the adhesive still stuck on it. In fact, it now looks like a hot mess – adhesive is no longer a smooth sheet – nah, it’s a jumbled mess. I hate this! I curse the manufacturer of the fusible web, (how can they put their name on this product!). I blame the store where I bought it (surely they’ve had this bolt in inventory for a century).

I stalk out of the sewing room and hit the chocolate stash. After a few moments, I realize I’m still in love with the fabrics. I still need a quilt. I still have to get this figured out NOW!

So I walk back into the sewing room and assess the damage. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t the fusible web. Maybe it was the iron. Oh yes…hmmm….I was supposed to apply DRY heat. Not steam. And let it cool – completely cool – before removing the protective paper.

But my iron is full of water. And when I switch it to no steam, steam still escapes, apparently too much for this task! Then it dawns on me, I need two irons in my sewing room!

I can hear you laughing as you read this, “Really? It took you 20+ years to figure this out?” I now have two irons on my board. Yep, one full of water set for steam and the other one – DRY – forever!

Embarrassingly, I actually had two irons in the sewing room. The second one was deposited by one of my college students who didn’t need it any longer. And it just sat on a shelf. Not anymore – it’s hobnobbing with its steamy partner on the ironing board – a lasting marriage.

Here’s what I learned from this sticky situation: read and follow the manufacturer’s directions. They really do know best.

Investing in duplicate tools makes sense – it saves you time and sanity!

Finally, start early – don’t wait until the last minute. Hmmm, wonder how long that will stick!




  • Dana Johnson

    My daughter has two boys. For the first one she chose the ocean. My daughter made a turtle hooked rug which took hours. For the second one she choose the beach. Her husband made surfboard bookcases that went on the wall. Well, now she is having TWIN BOYS and this time the nursery will be puppies. Since the first two, I have bought an embroidery machine. So, Grandma has been coming up with embroidery ideas with puppies; blankies with puppies, etc. I have 2-3 months but like you, I’ll probably be finishing things right up until the day.

    • eileenroche

      Hi Dana,
      When you mentioned puppies I remembered a quilt we featured back in Volume 51 July/August 2008: “Satin Smooth & Minkie Soft. This sweet little quilt features puppies from Anita Goodesign. You can check it out by visiting the digital magazine:
      Turn to page 58.

      Happy Stitching!

  • Karen Rilstone

    Two work colleagues also did not want to know the gender of their long-awaited babies. Their decision was cheerful and bright zoo animals. There are wonderful zoo fabrics now AND embroidery designs so I had fun making gifts.

  • Cheryl Ruhnke

    We’ll it is quite evident the traditional pink,blue,and pastels don’t seem to be as popular as brights,black/white,themes,and earthtone neutrals.When my niece was expecting,I couldn’t decide on a fabric for a quilt,since her home is decorated like a Starbuck’s(modern neutrals)So since I procrastinated long enough until her son was born, I found a flannel panel at a quilt shop with 9 printed squares of a family of cute bears going camping.It was perfect since her family goes camping and kids love animals.It was mostly a navyblue and green flannel.Now what to do with the stash of baby pastels?

  • Sue Duisenberg

    My daughter and her husband may find out the sex of the baby, haven’t totally decided yet, but they are doing their room in outdoors and animal scenes. He has already painted trees on the wall. I am thinking maybe monkeys (?).
    thanks for your wonderful insights into embroidery

  • Sherrie Davidson

    Since I do a lot of sewing for babies, I find that most do know the sex of the child beforehand. (My own dd, and dil, waited to find out.) I still see a lot of requests for pink and blue, but the blue tends to be teal (often with brown) and the pink is usually a “hot” pink (often with green). There are also many requests for leopard spots and tiger or zebra stripes in these colors which keeps it lots of fun!

  • Virginia T in Texas

    Many baby gifts for co-workers. The the biggest was a pink and brwon with a touch of green minky lap-size blanket. The most delightful for me to work on was a crib size one with Butterflies, and personalized, color scheme was pink and purple.

  • Jane

    My first grandchild is due shortly,a boy. When my children were babies I hand quilted a wall quilt with a rabbit holding balloons dropping down into a carrot patch. There was also a crib quilt from yellow gingham with a rabbit and carrot. My daughter seems to have carried on the rabbit theme, wanting a Peter Rabbit theme for her nursery. Luckily, Peter Rabbit isn’t copyrighted anymore and I was able to find machine embroidery designs with a lot of the characters from the story. I had 12 embroidered squares surrounded by green and white dot strips. I used some tips I’ve found in magazines and added a blue piping and a bias stripe for the binding. When I make another quilt I may try adding either some echo outline quilting or stipple quilting by machine to the squares when they are embroidered.

  • Shelly J.

    Non-gender specific themes are all over the place now. Up until now I’ve been crocheting baby blankets for those, and an adorable one in denim blue for the one boy baby I knew about…BUT I just bought an embroidery machine and I am looking forward to using it for many gifts – a package like “Adorable Decor” would help so much in augmenting my low-budget collection of appropriate designs!

  • Margie F.

    When my youngest grandson was born 20 months ago, my DIL selected dark brown/sage green with monkeys and other zoo animals. I made Levi (they had already selected a name, too!) a quilt for the baby shower with an appliqued monkey hanging from a branch. I didn’t have an embroidery machine at that time, but my sis-in-law did. She embroidered the cutest burp cloths with monkeys, etc.

  • Kris Reindl

    When my granddaughter was born almost two years ago, my DIL decided on a Raggedy Ann & Andy theme. I lucked out and was able to find an embroidery disc with Raggedy Ann & Andy designs at a quilting and embroidery shop in a town not far away. And through a couple of local fabric stores I was able to find materials such as cotton & fleece to make sheets, blankets & a valance. I used the design disc to make the designs on muslin for the curtains. I really enjoyed making everything. Raggedy Ann & Andy are really timeless. I was able to find the material in flannel & cotton, in pink, blue, green & purple.

  • Joanne Randall

    For my first grandson (now 9!) I did a jungle theme, including a dust ruffle for the crib-great storage under the crib! I did the bumper,quilt,window topper and drew large animals on the wall. First grand daughter I did a daisy kingdon “Flower Power” complete set including making the sheets for her crib. It was a flowered print with a matching check and another plaid. Then came the twins!! Two little girls. I made two complete sets; dust ruffles in a stripe, w/coordinating bumpers, dust ruffles and window treatments. All were a lot of work, but I loved every minute making them!!

  • Shirley R

    Unfortunately, we are in that space of time where grandchildren are going to college or busy with their careers, so we don’t have any little ones on which to lavish our attention and embroidery/quilting skills. (Bummer!) So, I am adding to my stash so I will be ready when the time comes.

  • Clare S. Lavorgna

    Eileen, I hope you’ll post a pic of the bubble quilt when it’s completed – the colors are wonderful – so upbeat.

  • Gail Beam

    My first two grandchildren born 6 months apart had Noahs arc and zoo animals for themes. I made stuffed zebras, lions, hippos, giraffes,and couple of other animals. I did both nurserys with sheets, quilts, curtains, pillows, painted matching jars for cutips, and cottonballs, diaper holders, wall hangings, etc.

  • Bonnie Gray

    My niece decided on the ABC’s to decorate the nursey for her baby-they did not know gender until she was born. She had already gotten bedding so I made 3 large initials that I framed and put on the wall using an alphabet design pack the had letters with a picture, like a is for apple. I also put the whole alphabet on a growth chart. Now she is pregnant again and I’m waiting to see what she wants to do for #2!

  • June Young

    Any baby sewing I do now is for babies of friends or family. I personalize burp cloths, bibs, onsies and/or decorative pillows with sayings that include the child’s name. On some items I embroider the birth date and maybe even the weight and length if it is for a newborn gift. I have also done this same type of personalization on small in the hoop stuffed animals.

  • Peggy

    I personalize fleece blankets for newborn babies. I embroider the name and birthday on a fleece blanket with satin blanket binding. This is a quick gift, and my daughter appreciates that it is one that can be gifted while Mom is still in the hospital! Seeing baby’s name embroidered, is thrilling for Mom!!!

  • Kathy Martin

    My daughter and hubby found out they were having a boy at their shower. I went to her first appointments with her and we let the DR know that neither mom or dad were to know, only grandma! What fun it was keeping it from them. On the invitations we let everyone know that it was a boy, but that it was a surprise. At the shower we had bags of blue balloons hidden all around the room and at the agreed upon time everyone opened the bags and let the balloons float around the room. There were tears all around as they found out the news. They had decided on a sports theme if it were going to be a boy so thats the types of things friends bought.

  • Diane Hargis

    For all three of my chldren I did not find out. They are all 9 yrs apart (not even planned that way LOL)the newest is 2 months old. My Oldest son (18 yrs old now) ended up in a farm animal nursery that was pastels. I made it as a second choice when I could not find Nursery rhyme themed nursery things. My second child is my daughter she is 9. I found the theme I wanted for my first child so she ended up with a Hey diddle Diddle nursery. My newest pride and joy has a forest animal theme I am totally in love with owls right now. They say the third time is the charm. Well it must be because I now have a nursery I want at the right time and I am able to make things. I made the quilt and bought chocolate brown bumper and sheet and even found a mobile with the animals similar to my fabrics. Now if only I could decide on a color for the walls…I don’t like blue and Hubby does not want green. I guess I wll worry about that tomorrow LOL.

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  • Deon Criner

    Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  • Kristy

    Hi just wondering do you put seam on your circles when doing machine applique ??? I’ve just made one and did tight zigzag around edges then i started thinking should I have put Seam on circles?.. Or will it not Frey with machine zigzag?????

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